Chapter 1: Mourning After
Last night felt like a nightmare to all of them. Lloyd was currently laying on his bed in the hotel room he was sharing with Kai, a bandage over half his face. Kai entered the room with the others.
“Hey, I think we should talk as a team,” said Kai.
“What’s to talk about? The city is celebrating the defeat of Windigo and the SOG, I have my Mom and Dad back from the dead, all of you are back, I even got my powers back the moment I shoved that damn sword through his chest, everything is supposed to be perfect,” said Lloyd hollowly.
“We need to talk about Zane’s funeral and the funerals for all our fallen friends, Zane’s in particular before the people get ahold of him and want to throw him in a volcano,” said Kai.
“He married Harumi, she should be buried next to him, and he should be next to his father and his brother,” said Lloyd.
“Obviously, but I think the ceremony should be a private thing, family only,” said Kai.
“Some family we were,” muttered Jay under his breath. Lloyd rolled over to face the wall.
“Mom, Dad, and Wu are arguing because mom finally admitted the truth,” said Lloyd quietly.
“This whole thing has been one huge mess after another,” sighed Kai.
Lloyd began crying again and was pulled into a hug by Kai.
“I miss him,” cried Lloyd.
“We all do Lloyd, from the first day we had to spend without him, we missed him. But it’s over now, he’s with his dad and probably Harumi, she loved him too much not to forgive him,” said Nya.
“I still can’t believe it was only yesterday, it feels like an eternity,” sighed Cole.
“How’s Pixal doing?” asked Kai.
“Better than I expected, then again I think she mourned the moment he dumped her and knew deep down it would end this way so she moved on quicker so it would be easier to do what was needed, I think she’s acting as a go-between in the fight between Wu, Garmadon, and Misako, good thing too, she’s got more experience than the rest of us on relationship beginnings and endings, but I think losing her father hurt her more, I think she turned off her emotions for a little while so she could get through the paperwork making her the owner to her father’s tech empire, after that, she turned them back on and made herself too busy to think about it,” said Nya wryly.
“At least she’s okay, I don’t know what would have happened to her if Windigo got a hold of her,” said Kai, careful not to say Zane.
“He would have killed her,” sighed Nya.
“Were the families of Dareth and Tox located and told?” asked Jay.
“Tox’s dad was told, he’s holding a private ceremony for her,” sighed Nya.
“And Dareth?” asked Kai
“We’re still looking for any family he might have but as far as we can tell, we might have been all he had” sighed Nya.
Lloyd said nothing, only listening to the others discussing funeral arrangements as he clung to Kai’s gi like a child.
It was only yesterday, but as Cole had said, it felt like an eternity since Lloyd had battled Windigo. The Mask of Tyranny had taken such a deep grip on Zane’s soul the Green Ninja couldn’t find a way to save him. To put an end to Windigo’s reign, he had to put an end to Zane’s life. Hordes of angry citizens were out looking for Zane’s body to throw into Torchfire Mountain after Windigo had leveled almost half the city and plunged the entire continent into an almost eternal winter, so for his own safety, he was at the Samurai X cave until plans could be finalized of what to do with him.
The fight itself had been such a blur that Lloyd couldn’t remember most of it. But the image of him sending his sword through the angry demon’s chest that had consumed his brother was ingrained into his mind forever. The icy claws through his face, the wet crunch of the sword’s blade, the chill that had seeped into his skin as he held a dying Zane close. His brother’s final words, it all felt like a terrible nightmare that he’d wake up from and run crying to Zane for comfort. But the pain from the scratch on his face told him that this was no dream.
“So did Zane and Harumi actually love each other or were they both playing with each other’s hearts?” asked Jay.
“They loved each other, she was the only thing keeping the mask from taking him over completely from the very start,” said Nya.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner!” yelled Garmadon.
“Our lives were chaotic enough I couldn’t complicate it more with the truth,” said Misako timidly.
“And You! My own brother, how could you do that to me, did you know! Did you know he wasn’t mine or did you think you could cheat destiny like your other illegitimate kid! Oh wait, he’s dead!” shouted Garmadon.
“What’s done is done, but Lloyd had to take a life last night, maybe instead of arguing with each other you should be comforting him,” said Pixal.
“Garmadon please!” pleaded Misako.
“No! I may have been evil and I may have done the wrong things to get you to choose me but I remained faithful to you, I never so much as looked at another woman because I loved you, and you go ahead and cheat on me in my darkest hour with my own brother and lie to me about Lloyd, how many more lies have you told me!” shouted Garmadon.
“I-I’m sorry,” whimpered Misako.
“Master Garmadon may I have a word with you in private,” asked Pixal. Garmadon calmed down slightly and walked off with Pixal.
They went into the room Pixal was sharing with Nya.
“What do you want?” sighed Garmadon
“From my experience, a father isn’t always related to their son, I shared no DNA with Cyrus but I considered him my father, Dr. Julien put no biological component into-
Well my point is, just because Lloyd might not be your son by birth, you loved him as your own and he has known no one else to be his father other than you. And right now that boy has gone through hell and back more times than I care to recall and last night he was forced to take the life of someone he cared about, he needs the man he calls father more than the sensei who was hardly there to be a parent, Lloyd needs you. If you want to divorce your wife I can help you later but it has to wait because all the ninja are in mourning. The city's in ruins, and before the city can be rebuilt, the ninja have to be shown that they can still go on and for that they need their leader to be strong again, that means you have to be a father before being a mentor,” said Pixal.
Garmadon looked at the female nindroid before sighing.
“You’re right, my relationship with Misako cannot be allowed to adversely affect Lloyd right now, he might not be biologically my son but he sees me as his father so I need to be his father, thank you Pixal,” said Garmadon.
“You’re welcome, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go oversee funeral preparations for my father and the citizens,” she said before leaving the room.
Garmadon sighed and walked to the room where all the ninja were congregated. He knocked on the door.
“The door is open,” said a very somber Cole.
“Oh hi Master Garmadon,” said Cole as Garmadon opened the door.
Lloyd sat up and looked at him.
“Hi dad,” said Lloyd quietly.
“Come on, let’s let them have a moment alone,” Kai whispered to the others.
“Yeah,I need to call my parents, I-I need to let them know what’s going on and that I’m alive,” said Jay.
“Kai, you and I should probably do the same,” said Nya, Kai just nodded.
“Yeah I need to call my dad,” said Cole.
The four other ninja parted ways to get a hold of their parents. Jay sat down on his bed before taking out his phone and dialing a number. It rang a few times before someone answered.
“Hello?” Said his dad’s voice on the other end. Jay took in a deep shaky breath.
“H-hey dad,” He said, trying to hold himself together.
“Jay?! Is that really you?! Oh thank the FSM, I thought you were a goner! That beast covered everything in snow and ice, I didn’t hear anything of you and the others for weeks! How is everything? Are you okay? Is everyone else okay?”
Jay sighed and was quiet for a moment, not sure what to say.
“Uh...look dad...there’s been...a lot going on. Can I come over?”
“What? Of course you can. What happened?”
“Alot dad...I’ll explain everything when I get there,”
“Alright then, we’ll be here waiting for you,”
The two bade their goodbyes and hung up. Ed put the phone back in its place and turned to his wife.
“What was it Ed?” Edna asked from the kitchen. “Is Jay alright?”
“I...think so,” Ed said. “But something about the way he was talking...he said there was a lot going on,”
“What do you mean?”
“He didn’t say, but he’ll be over later today to tell us,”
Edna frowned. When Jay was like this, it usually meant something terrible had happened.
“Well,” She said. “Let’s hope it’s not too bad…”
The sun was bright and warm this day, thawing out the frozen landscape that Kai’s energy soared over. He and Nya had called their parents to tell them what happened and they asked them to come over to discuss it with them in person. Thankfully the flight to the old blacksmith shop in Ignancia was short, and soon the dragon touched down outside it’s door, Ray and Maya already waiting outside. They caught their children up in their arms and held them close.
“Oh, thank the FSM you’re okay,” Ray said, holding the two close.
Nya sighed. “Well dad, we’re...not really,”
A chilly breeze blew, making Maya shiver.
“Here, it’s still cold out, it's warmer inside,” She jerked her head to the blacksmith shop.
The shop itself was still in good condition, despite it not having been inhabited prior to Ray’s and Maya’s occupancy and taking some damage from Windigo’s wrath. There was a fire burning in the furnace, greeting the four with a welcome warmth as they entered. Ray pulled up some chairs and the four sat at the table, a thick, uncomfortable silence settling over them as they all mulled over what to say.
“We heard what happened,” Maya said, deciding to get straight to the point. “We’re sorry…”
“No, it’s us who should be sorry,” Kai said. “None of this would have happened if we had just treated Zane better…”
Ray raised an eyebrow. “Treated better? What do you mean? How did you treat him?”
The two siblings glanced at each other, not sure where to start. The terrible thing was, they didn’t realize how they were treating Zane until after it was too late. So where did this whole mess even begin? Where would they start in explaining to their parents?
“Not...the best…” Kai began.
“Terrible. Nothing like we should have,” Nya said.
The two took turns telling them everything that had happened. Ray and Maya just became more and more shocked as their children went on.
“You used him as a shield against the Mechanic?” Ray asked in disbelief. “Kai, how could you?!”
“I don’t know…” Kai said, dropping his head into his arms, unable to meet his father’s face. “It just happened so fast...I thought we could just fix him after…”
“Fix him? Fix him?! Son, you didn’t fix him, you broke his spirit into a million pieces! No wonder he snapped…”
“Ray, stop,” Maya said, being his voice of reason. “He knows what he did. Don’t rub salt into the wound,”
Ray sighed and rested a hand on his head. “I just can’t believe he would do something like that. And to Zane of all people…”
“I know.” She said. “But they’re already broken enough. We’re supposed to hold them up, not tear them down,”
Ray nodded in understanding. Maya reached across the table and gently rubbed Kai’s arm.
“Honey, it’s okay. You know what you did, and you learned from your mistake. I know you may never forgive yourself for this, but the important thing to remember is Zane isn’t in pain anymore. We all knew him well, and I know he forgives you,”
“See, that’s the fucked up part,” Kai said as he cried quietly. “You could drag him through hell and back and he’d still forgive you without a second thought. The world’s too cruel, and he was too pure. None of us deserved him. And he didn’t deserve any of this. And it’s all our fault…”
“I...couldn’t have said it any better,” Nya muttered, tears in her eyes as she thought of the selfless nindroid turned into heartless, hellbound demon.
Ray and Maya looked at each other seeing both their children in pain. They both got up and Kai and Nya found themselves in the comforting embraces of their parents, the first feeling of any sort of comfort since the deceased ice ninja left the palace that fateful night.
“Oh, Kai,” Maya sighed as she felt the fire ninja cry into her shoulder. She looked over to her husband and saw him holding Nya as she did the same.
Cole stood outside of his dad’s flat in Ninjago city, trying to ignore the destruction and black chunks of ice that still littered the streets. While cleanup and rebuilding efforts in the city were already underway, it would be a very long time before it was anywhere back to normal.
Cole hated the way his hand trembled as he knocked, and even more so as the cold wind made tears spring in his eyes as his dad opened the door.
“Cole,” Lou said softly, not waiting to take his son into his arms. “It’s so glad to have you back, I was so worried for you.”
“I’m here now,” He said as he followed his dad inside.
“I...heard about Zane. I’m really sorry you couldn’t save him,” He said as they sat on the couch. “What do you plan to do?”
Cole sighed, not wanting to think about it. “A private ceremony. We want him to be next to Harumi and his family. We have him at the Samurai X cave so no one gets ahold of him,”
Lou nodded in understanding. “I see…” He said.
“I’d seen Zane-well, Windigo’s rage firsthand. Zane was always such a gentle soul, and for him to break like that…” Lou trailed off, unsure of what else to say. “What happened? Why did he snap?”
Cole sighed, staring glumly at the ground. “I think the better question to ask is what didn’t make him break…”
“But what do you mean?” Lou asked. “I’m just trying to gain some sort of understanding, I just can’t fathom how he would be pushed to that point,” Lou rested a hand on his son’s arm. “I am your father, Cole, you can tell me anything,”
Cole didn’t even know where to start. So much had happened, and the worst part was that he couldn’t pinpoint where it all started.
“I don’t know if you want to…”
“Maybe not, but I don’t want to spend the rest of eternity wondering why. I think it’s important we all know what happened so something like this never happens again.”
Cole nodded solemnly and took a deep breath. “I noticed something was off when Zane and Kai came back from a mission and he was all tore up…”
Jay’s dragon flew on the cold breeze over the city and towards the Sea of Sand, to his parents’ junkyard. He kept his eyes fixated on the horizon, trying not to look down at the devastation below, he’d burst into tears if he did. The air was so cold around him, he could see his breath. He tried to find some sort of warmth, like the big bright sun in the sky above him, but even it couldn’t break through the frigid atmosphere. Soon he found himself at the gates of his parent’s junkyard and walked up to the steps. But before he could knock on the door Ed and Edna beat him to it.
“Jay!” Edna cried. She ran forward and scooped her son up in a smothering hug. “Oh, my baby, I was so worried!”
“Hey mom,” he said, returning the hug and mustering a weak smile. “I’m okay. At least I think so…”
“Well, come on in, let's talk about it.” Ed said.
The three walked inside and sat at the small kitchen of the trailer.
“So, what’s going on, son?” Ed asked once they had settled. “You seemed like you had a lot on your mind on the phone.”
Jay felt his eyes sting as suddenly everything became blurry. How was he gonna tell them? They loved Zane before he went bad, they were going to be so heartbroken. But he couldn’t lie to them.
“Sweetie?” Edna said softly, her eyes full of worry as she saw him on the verge of tears. “Is something wrong?”
“Z-Zane’s dead…” He sniffed as more tears fell. “He...he…”
Jay tried, but failed to say anything else before breaking down into a sobbing mess. The two gasped and rushed to hold him.
“Oh, oh Jay.” Edna said soothingly, running her hand through her son’s hair. “It’s okay, baby, its okay.”
She looked up at Ed. “Is it true?” She whispered. “Is he really gone?”
“Look at him, Edna, would anyone acting like this be joking?”
Edna wiped some stray tears away from her eyes, trying not to break down herself. Her and Ed both loved Zane very much, he was such an amazing being that no one could replace. The world would never be the same without him.
“Oh, Jay, I’m so sorry.” She said, her and Ed holding their son closer as he cried.
“What happened?” Ed asked once he had calmed down somewhat. “How did he die? Was he killed by Windigo?”
“H-he was Windigo…” Jay sniffed. “Lloyd killed him to save Ninjago...b-but it wasn’t Zane’s fault, we made him…”
“What? Son you’re not making any sense.” Ed said. “What happened?”
Through tears and sobs, Jay barely managed to tell Ed and Edna the story of how Zane was pushed around and finally pushed to his limit. They were shocked to say the least.
“Zane’s dead, a-and it’s all our fault!” Jay wept. “H-he didn’t deserve to die!”
Ed and Edna said nothing, only looking at each other with despair for Zane and their son. The only thing they could do was hold Jay close. It would be a very long time before he would start to heal from this traumatic mess.
It pained Ed and Edna the greatest to see Jay in this pain, but the only thing they could do for him was hold the lightning ninja in their arms as he wept.
Lou sat on the couch, forehead resting on his hand as he tried to process everything Cole had told him, everything from start to finish.
“Oh my FSM…” Lou said. “Yeah, that...that would do it alright.”
Cole said nothing, face buried in his hands as tears streamed silently down his face.
“The worst part is…” Cole mumbled. “I could have stopped this. I’m the team leader for FSM’s sake, had I just seen what was going on, maybe I could’ve put an end to it before it started. But now he’s dead…”
Lou rested a hand on Cole’s knee. “I know how you feel, boy. But we can’t dwell on what’s in the past. Now you do know, and now you can stop if it ever happens again.”
“B-but it’s not fair…” Cole said through his tears. “He didn’t deserve to pay the price for something that wasn’t his fault.” He looked up at his dad, his eyes red from silently crying. “I have you, Jay has his parents, Kai, Nya, Lloyd have theirs, and Pixal had Borg, but Zane? The most deserving person in the world? He had nothing. We were supposed to be his family, and we failed him, and...and now he’s…”
Cole couldn’t hold it any longer and started very visibly crying. Lou felt his heart break as he watched his son grieve. He was a strong person, and it was very difficult to make him cry. The last time he had seen him like this was when his mom passed away.
Saying nothing, Lou scooted closer to Cole and drew his son into an embrace and he practically broke down into his arms sobbing. Lou sighed, knowing this was something that his son would never forgive himself for.
Lou ran his fingers through his son's hair in an attempt to comfort him, but not even a father’s love could heal the earth ninja’s broken heart.
Garmadon and Lloyd sat in silence for a while, Garmadon holding Lloyd close and gently rubbing his sobbing son’s back.
After a while Garmadon sighed.
“I know my usual advice isn’t going to do very much for your right now and frankly I can’t even say I’ve been in your position before, but I will try to help you get through this,” said Garmadon gently
“Everytime something goes wrong it’s always started with Zane getting hurt or being gone but he always came back and got us back on track and now I don’t even know what to do because I know he’s not come back this time,” said Lloyd
“You act like he’s there, you pretend to hear his voice telling you what to do and treat every idea you get that works like he’s the one who suggested it to you, he’s still with you in spirit and you need to acknowledge that even though he’s not physically with you he’s always by your side, treat every cold breeze like it’s his presence,” said Garmadon
“But won’t the balance also be thrown off now that the master of ice is gone?” asked Lloyd
“Ice may not be able to be controlled by another master but the realm will control it just like it did before the masters came into being,” said Garmadon
“Are you going to leave mom?” asked Lloyd
“That's my plan, but I will still be your father for as long as you want me,” said Garmadon
“Even though you’re biologically my uncle?” asked Lloyd
“Pixal reminded me that blood has nothing to do with being father, so long as you see me as your dad I will be,” said Garmadon. He thought about mentioning the Oni, but the ninja did not need another enemy to worry about right now. He also secretly blamed himself for this mess, if he hadn’t killed Echo, Zane never would have been pushed over the edge. Lloyd eventually fell asleep, wrapped in Garmadon’s arms, just like last time.