|This tale has been told! It's done!|
|Story date||September 14, 2018 — October 5, 2018|
A mysterious adversary roams the Antarctic continent, performing mysterious tasks and targeting certain individuals. After Falco becomes a target of one of these attacks, he loses his powers over the element of fire. Struggling to cope with the absence of his powers, Falco's Journey follows Falco's dangerous, obstacle-ridden quest as a regular ninja to track down this mysterious individual before they can take control of the Pectosphere, and in turn, the whole world.
- 2 Prologue
- 3 Chapter 1: Six Years Later
- 4 Chapter 2: Winds of Change
- 5 Chapter 3: Steaming Magma
- 6 Chapter 4: Leaping Shadows
- 7 Chapter 5: Islands In The Sky
- 8 Chapter 6: Violent Storms
- 9 Chapter 7: The Lost Element
- 10 Chapter 8: Dwindling Flames
- 11 Chapter 9: Two Quests
- 12 Chapter 10: The Earth Card
- 13 Chapter 11: Calm Before the Storm
- 14 Chapter 12: Battle of the Elements
- 15 Chapter 13: Eternal Flame
Large, dark storm clouds obscured the night sky. Every few seconds, bright flashes of lightning streaked across the clouds, followed by the low rumbling of thunder. The whistle of powerful winds could be heard as snow and debris circled around the Dojo Courtyard as the entrance's lanterns flapped wildly and the wooden doors shuddered.
Sensei sat with his flippers together, a look of great concern on his face. The dojo was devoid of any light, with the only light source being the glow from the magical pot beside Sensei's cushion. Its contents continued to transition between colours as the entrance doors shuddered from the wind and the windows creaked.
Suddenly, the wooden doors flung open, slamming against the walls of the dojo with a loud bang, followed by the sound of rushing winds and rumbling thunder. Leaves and snow swooped in from the open doors, surrounding the dark, shadowy figure of a penguin standing in the doorway. The penguin donned a cape and a hood. The winds quietened slightly as the penguin waddled forwards a couple steps.
Sensei's expression hardened.
????: Greetings, Sensei. Your dojo seems a little empty tonight.
Sensei: The elements foretold your arrival. Your very presence here is disrupting the natural balance of the Pectosphere.
????: Oh, I assure you, I'll leave you and this island in peace...once I get what I came for.
Sensei: I know what you want. I'm afraid you cannot have it.
The winds began to pick up again, increasing in intensity. The leaves scattered across the entrance began to float, swirling around the figure in a whirlwind.
????: I wasn't going to ask for your permission!
The penguin raised his flippers. The winds resumed to howling and small clouds began to rapidly rotate around the penguin, forming into a miniature tornado.
Just as quickly, Sensei drew a blue card, seemingly out of nowhere, and slammed it down, facing upwards. The card was surrounded by its own glowing aura of green. It shimmered, and suddenly the sound of low rumbling could be heard as an avalanche of snow appeared around the entrance, flattening the penguin.
After a moment or two, the penguin burst out from the snow pile, floating in mid air for a few seconds before dropping to the ground. Sensei swiftly drew several more cards and flicked a fire card at the penguin. The penguin swiped one of his flippers to the side. The card stopped travelling in mid-air for a second, then turned on its back and began spinning in Sensei's direction. He just had enough time to draw a water card and summon a wall of water as the fire card exploded into flames.
The penguin did another motion with his flippers, summoning a violent gust of wind. Sensei struggled against its force, staggering backwards. Just as it looked like he would be lifted into the air and thrown backwards against the wall, he drew another card and placed it down, creating a shield of ice.
????: You can't keep this up forever!
The penguin did another motion. The winds seemed to change direction, and were now coming from the other direction, hitting Sensei from behind, where he was exposed. He was suddenly lifted several feet into the air, spinning around with no control over what was happening. Sensei tried to use his deck of cards, but they were sucked out of his flippers by the dojo and expelled across the dojo floor.
????: Now, where were was it hidden...?
The penguin thrust one of his flippers forwards. Sensei's green cushion, the glowing pot and all of the card jitsu mats levitated upwards. The penguin casually waddled around as the several objects remained suspended in mid air, inspecting the areas where the objects had been.
After a moment or two, he stopped mid-search in the center of the dojo. The floorboards under his feet creaked.
????: How interesting. Sounds hollow. Mind if I take this?
Sensei, who was still helplessly suspended in the air, tried to escape as one of his cards flew from the floor towards the hooded penguin.
The hooded penguin placed the card on the creaky floorboard. On the card was a picture of a jackhammer. Seconds later, a cloud of smoke appeared, and the exact same jackhammer materialized on the spot and began to strike the ground repeatedly, drilling into the wooden floor. Suddenly, the spot where he drilled broke open, spraying bits of wood and splinters everywhere.
The jackhammer disappeared as the penguin reached into the hole and pulled out a rectangular block of wood. The block had a triangular shape carved on it. Inside the shape were the three symbols of Fire, Water, and Snow.
????: Well, it looks like I'm going to need another thing from you. I would be sorry...but unfortunately, I'm not!
Sensei struggled even more to try and break free of the vortex as the penguin created another controlled rush of wind, lifting Sensei's amulet off of his head and bringing it to his flippers.
For a second, Sensei thought he could see the penguin smile as he placed the amulet onto the triangular shape on the wooden block. It fit perfectly. A glowing pink line appeared around the block. The block separated itself along the pink line, revealing itself to be a wooden box.
The penguin opened the lid and took out a dark red circular object with a white symbol on it.
????: Yes! Exactly what I need!
Sensei continued to struggle.
Sensei: What you are doing will only lead you down a dangerous path. You will find nothing but darkness there, as many others have while walking down your path.
????: SHUT IT! I'll show you...I'll show ALL of you! I will—OUCH!
The penguin was suddenly pelted in the head with a water balloon. It appeared to have loosened his control over all the other objects, as they ceased floating and dropped to the floor, clattering and banging. Sensei was released from his wind prison and had just enough time to jump across and catch the glowing pot before it hit the floor. He settled it down carefully and turned back towards the hooded penguin, who was staring at the entrance.
Three ninjas stood at the entrance, brandishing cards, hot sauce bottles and water balloons. The hooded penguin growled, and pushed his flippers forwards, causing the wind to howl loudly. All three were thrown backwards as the hooded penguin ran past them and jumped down the mountain, disappearing amongst the snow and trees. The ninjas got up, looked around and then rushed to Sensei.
Speeddasher: Toshi! What was that? And who was that!?
Pop Cat: Should we warn the other ninjas, Sensei?
Sensei: No, do not. It would be best not to. Especially not after what he stole.
Sensei: I do not know. Whatever powers that they possess upset the elemental balance. This cannot be good.
Sensei waddled over to get his cane. He stared at it for a few moments and sighed.
Sensei: The path that they take is a dangerous one. Like the darkness of an unexplored cave, one can fall to the depths of the dark if they cannot see clearly. Their judgement is clouded.
He turned around to face them.
Sensei: Be on watch. He may return, he may not. But If my suspicions are correct, he will eventually return.
Chapter 1: Six Years Later
Two ninjas stood at the edge of the Fire Dojo's large volcanic lava lake. One of the ninjas was fully suited and donned a maroon ninja mask and a flame-patterned ninja suit. The other was also fully suited, but had blond hair visible over the top of his head.
Several other Fire Ninjas stood around the two in a circle. One of them held up a chalkboard and was scribbling something onto it.
Ninja O'Dark: But that's impossible! It's still not fair! I should have won that!
Falco: But that's the rules! Technically, I did win fair and square.
Spider880: That's 17 overall games won by Falco and 17 overall games won by Ninja O' Dark! IT'S A TIE, EVERYONE!
Ninja O'Dark: WHAT?!?
Falco: Well, I guess neither of us are better than the other then.
Ninja O'Dark: NO! I demand a rematch!
Black DJ: Oh, come on guys! You both won an equal amount of games, fair and square.
Ninja O'Dark: Fair!? How!? I had a strong enough card!
Falco: Yeah, but I still had a higher value card than yours!
Aelios: Hah! You should've used fire!
Ninja O'Dark: Again, I demand a rematch!
Falco's flippers burst into flame. Ninja O'Dark was just as quick to react, whipping out what seemed to be two ordinary bottles of hot sauce. He then squeezed both of them, and the burning liquid of both bottles oozed out and conjoined to form a link, creating a nunchaku. He held it up and spun it rapidly, creating fire. A lot of the ninjas looked uneasy, but some were starting to chant.
Ninjas: REMATCH! REMATCH! REMATCH! REMATCH!
Fire Sensei, who looked especially troubled, stood up and addressed the crowd.
Fire Sensei: NINJAS, PLEASE!
The chanting ceased and all eyes focused on him.
Fire Sensei: Ninja O'Dark and Falco, that is enough. You both have played from dawn till dusk and both won the same amount of points. The game is over, it ended in a tie. The sun is setting, I suggest you leave it there.
Falco and Ninja O'Dark both exchanged scowls.
Ninja O'Dark: Fine!
Ninja O'Dark retracted his fire nunchaku and stored it back in his inventory. Falco's flames extinguished themselves, vanishing in puffs of smoke. The entire group of ninjas melded into a large crowd and left the dojo together. The few ninjas anticipating a rematch looked disappointed and disappeared in the crowd of ninjas.
Falco: Jeez, what was his problem?
Falco was waddling his way down the dojo's steps towards the Plaza. The sky, which was fairly cloudless that day, was tinted red by the setting sun.
Falco: I guess a tie victory wasn't enough for him...
Just as the university was in sight over the treetops of the nearby forest, Falco heard a slight shuffling. His ninja senses went on high alert. As he listened intently, he could hear the faintest sound of nearby footsteps. Despite that, nobody else was within sight.
Falco: Is somebody there?
The moment he asked that question, the footsteps ceased. Now it was obvious something wasn't right. Falco's senses spiked once again. The footsteps had returned, but this time, they were behind him. He whirled around.
Standing behind him was indeed a penguin, and a suspicious looking one at that. The penguin's arms were hidden behind a cape, which appeared to morph from black to maroon, though it was possibly only the sunlight. Most of his head, including his face, was cleverly hidden under a dark hood. Strangest of all, the penguin was starting directly at Falco.
Falco could've sworn that penguin was nowhere near him a moment ago.
Falco: I'm sorry, is there something I can help you with?
The penguin said nothing. He seemed to be studying Falco. Deciding he'd better leave, Falco started to back away and continue back to the Plaza until the penguin suddenly spoke.
????: Yes...yes...as a matter of fact, there is!
Falco turned back to face the mysterious stranger, but before he could say anything more, the penguin touched an amulet attached to his cloak. It had some sort of glyph that looked like a white lightning bolt.
Falco felt a chillingly cold, uncomfortable sensation wash over him. He looked at the penguin and saw that the amulet was glowing.
Falco: HEY! What're you doing to me? What's happening here!?
He looked around, then at himself and froze. Bright, ghastly flames, a mixture of fiery orange and bright yellow surrounded his entire body like he were the center of a candle. As far as Falco was aware, he was not willingly creating any fire. The flames all seemed to be drawn to the glowing amulet on the penguin's cloak, like a powerful vacuum.
A second or so later, the aura of fire vanished as the last few flames were pulled into the amulet. The cloaked penguin touched the amulet, which was still glowing.
????: Heh heh heh heh. Another one down.
At that point, Falco was just about done wasting time with some random stranger wondering what in burnt waffles was going on.
He put his flippers together and willed them to summon flames. An entire moment passed until Falco became aware that he couldn't do it. He tried readjusting his flippers, trying other positions, and concentrating hard on the power of heat but not even a spark appeared in his palms.
Falco: I...I-I just—what just—how—?
Falco realized he suddenly felt abnormally cold. Though the weather was quite pleasant and the chilling sensation had passed, it felt like he was freezing. To make even matters worse, he felt a wave of nausea wash over him.
????: I'm only doing what's necessary. You'll see in the end. All of you will!
Falco staggered backwards and grabbed the trunk of a tree for support. He tried to muster the strength to fight, but he was too dizzy to focus properly. He thought he saw the penguin raise his flippers and vanish in a cloud of smoke before his vision started to go hazy while an aqua blue penguin ran over to him from the distance.
Chapter 2: Winds of Change
As soon as Falco returned to the Dojo, he recounted everything that had happened when he lost his powers. Sensei listened intently to Falco's story, looking heavily concerned and scratching his beard every once in a while. An aqua blue penguin stood beside him.
Sensei: Hmm....most worrying...
Sensei turned to the aqua blue penguin.
Sensei: That was when Pop Cat found you. Is that what happened?
The aqua blue penguin nodded.
Pop Cat: Yes, Sensei.
Falco: He used some sort of amulet on his cloak. It was dark red and had this glowing symbol thing on it.
Sensei: A glowing symbol? Do you still remember it?
Falco: Mostly, yeah.
Sensei: Could you draw it out?
Sensei handed Falco a piece of parchment and a pencil. Falco drew the glyph from the amulet as large and as best as he could remember it. As soon as he handed it back, Sensei's expression tensed.
Pop Cat: Wait! Is that?
Sensei: Yes, I'm afraid so. My suspicions are confirmed.
Falco: What is it? What does it mean?
Sensei: Around six years ago, a terrible incident happened. The Pectosphere's power over the island was being influenced. A ninja, of which faction I did not know at the time, attacked the dojo. He stole a very valuable object, named the Absorption Charm. I believe Pop Cat was also there to witness the ninja fleeing.
Falco: So that's what it was? That guy used some amulet to take away my powers?
Sensei: Yes, however it was not any regular amulet. The Absorption Charm is believed to be fragment of the Amulet of Absorption, one of the original Elemental Amulets. Though the original amulet was destroyed due to its keepers fighting over possession of it, a fragment found its way to the ninjas, who crafted it into a charm.
Falco: Okay, I see...
Sensei: Despite conflicts over it beforehand, the charm was eventually left mostly untouched. It was only when the Order of the Shadow, a secret group of ninjas, stole the charm and attempted to depose the Fiftieth Sensei of Ninjas was the charm confiscated. The charm was hidden in plain sight, underneath the dojo for hundreds of years, only accessible by using a ninja's own amulet.
Falco: ...Until that guy took it.
Sensei: Though the charm itself isn't as strong as the original amulet, it is still dangerous. The charm is capable of absorbing energy, especially that of an element. Only the united power of all three elements can destroy it.
Sensei took his walking stick and stood up.
Sensei: It is very important that we locate this charm and find our mysterious adversary. I find it very unlikely he removed your powers without a reason, Falco. If anything I fear that whatever he does next will have consequences on the elemental balance, perhaps the Pectosphere. It would not only affect ninjas, but all others who reside on this continent.
Sensei scratched his beard, thinking hard.
Sensei: Hmm...perhaps you both could help by being the first to go search for him.
Pop Cat: You're giving us a task?
Sensei: Well, yes. I think you both will be fit for the task. Like the gliding crane, you both have soared high in terms of mastering your abilities.
Falco: Uh...A task? B-b-but I've lost my powers! I'll be useless!
Sensei: Power alone is not what defines a ninja, young grasshopper. Even without your fire powers, this is a journey I have faith that you will succeed in.
Falco contemplated for a few moments then made up his mind.
Falco: Oh, alright...I suppose I could try, then.
Sensei's smile grew wider.
Pop Cat: Alright, where do we start?
Sensei: From what I remember, the ninja was quite proficient in controlling the winds. The Pectosphere dislikes his use of it, and I think you will be able tell quite easily. Today, the winds should be peaceful.
Pop Cat: Thank you for your help, Sensei!
Sensei: I wish you good luck, young grasshoppers.
With that, the two ninjas darted out the doors and vanished down the stairs.
The sky, now a light purple colour, was streaked with red and orange. Stars were visible thanks to the absence of all but one dark, puffy cloud that hung over the university. The cloud looked very out of place, especially after it lit up with flashes of lightning a moment later. The Mine Shack entrance whistled with wind, the wooden structure creaking slightly.
Falco: I'm pretty sure that air isn't supposed to be coming out of the Mine Shack entrance?
Pop Cat: That can only mean we're in the right place.
Pop Cat whipped out a water balloon.
Pop Cat: Alright, let's check it out.
The two ninjas zoomed down the staircase, several steps at a time, eventually emerging at the bottom of the Mine. Everything from the flickering oil lamps to the glow of the gold mine seemed perfectly normal. The black puffle beside the puffle rescue snored lightly, sound asleep.
A breeze was coming from the Cart Surfer entrance, despite being underground. Falco waddled into the tunnel and surveyed his surroundings. Two tunnels stood before him. The train tracks led to one large, lamp-lit tunnel, where one would usually play Cart Surfer. The other was dark and slightly more concealed by the rocks, having a visible hole in the side of the wall nonetheless. Train tracks were visible on the other side, as well as two carts. Falco traced the wind to the small hole and beckoned Pop Cat over.
Falco: There's an air current down this tunnel.
Pop Cat: This tunnel? But it leads to Diamond Falls!
Falco: Yeah. Wait, Diamond Falls? The secret ninja location?
Pop Cat: Indeed. The birthplace of Card-Jitsu Fire itself.
Falco: This only makes things more interesting.
They both climbed into the carts. Falco sat in the back cart.
Falco: Here, I'll give us a boost—Oh...wait...
Just when Falco stuck his flipper out to produce flames, he remembered he couldn't. He sighed sadly.
Falco: I guess this'll have to do.
He pulled out a bottle of hot sauce and pointed it in the opposite direction. He squeezed the bottle tightly. A steady stream of flames spurted out, propelling Falco's cart forward. As soon as it touched Pop Cat's cart, it began pushing both of them forwards, making them quickly pick up speed. Falco put the bottle back just as the mineshaft sloped downwards, deeper towards the earth, making the carts rattle.
Pop Cat: Compared to Cart Surfer, this might be a more bumpier ride! Quick, TURN RIGHT!
Falco did as instructed, leaning heavily to the right, and both carts lurched in that direction, making a sharp turn.
The rest of the ride continued that way, with both of them having to perform several gut-wrenching and sometimes unexpected turns to avoid crashing or going off track. Eventually, the tunnels ahead began to glow with red and orange light.
Pop Cat: Okay, I think we're almost to the end.
Falco: What's that up ahead?
Something dark moved ahead of the track, casting a large shadow on the wall.
Pop Cat: Uh oh—Slow down! SLOW DOWN!
Both of their carts collided with each other forcefully, throwing both passengers out as they attempted to stop at different times. The figure ahead of them moved quickly, just in time to avoid the two ninjas and the toppled carts.
Falco and Pop Cat got up dizzily, and came face-to-face with another ninja.
Ninja O'Dark: What're you doing down here!? And what's with all the noise!?
Chapter 3: Steaming Magma
Falco: What are we doing here? What are you doing here yourself?
Ninja O'Dark: Trying to track down this rogue ninja. You?
Pop Cat: Wait, how did you know about the ninja?
Ninja O'Dark: Well, I don't even know if it is a rogue ninja at all. I just heard that something scared all the other penguins out of the mine. Most of them said it was haunted, but it sounded like baloney to me. Others said it was this rude ninja that kicked them out, so I decided to try investigate.
Pop Cat: Well, either way, we're all here to investigate this strange case. How about we team up?
Falco and Ninja O'Dark looked uneasy about that idea.
Fortunately, the sound of deep rumbling saved them from having to say anything more. They quietly crept along the tunnel end, eventually reaching an opening where the source of the wind appeared to be.
The opening revealed a fairly large cavern, glowing with orange light. A tall cliff stood in the back of the cavern where hot lava poured down the side. The fiery liquid collected at the bottom, where it flowed into a glowing river that cut across the cavern and into a hole. Across the room, close to the lavafall was a cloaked and hooded ninja. He appeared to be conducting the air, forcing it to gather under a large boulder. He then made the boulder levitate, apparently with great difficulty, and slammed it into the side of the lava cliff, right through the lavafall. The entire cavern trembled once again, releasing dust and debris from the ceiling.
Not being able to hold the mighty rock much longer, the ninja dropped it into the lava river and began breathing heavily. In the light of the lava, his mask could be seen — a deep shade of red.
Falco couldn't seem to contain his excitement and whispered to the others.
Falco: That's him! That's the same guy who took my powers!
Pop Cat: What's he doing down here, though?
Ninja O'Dark: Something dubious no doubt.
Pop Cat: How are we going to do this? How should we attack him?
The ninja eventually caught his breath and began trying to lift another nearby boulder.
Falco: I've got it! Pop Cat, as soon as the boulder is above him, shower him. Wait for my signal. After that, we'll jump him.
Pop Cat: Got it.
Utilizing the power of the air through his flippers, the hooded ninja had the boulder almost in the right position. Suddenly, as it was aligned with his head, Falco signalled Pop Cat.
Pop Cat did a quick movement with his flippers and pointed them at the ninja. Large jets of water surged from both his flippers, in an angle the hit its target directly on. The ninja was doused in water, getting soaked completely. He yelped, and loosened his control over the air. The breeze stopped and the boulder stopped moving. Unfortunately, the hooded ninja rolled to the side as it crashed down beside him with a loud crunch.
Ninja O'Dark: That's it, I'm going in!
Falco: No, DON'T—!
But it was too late. Ninja O'Dark leapt into the scene, whipping out his flaming nunchaku, spinning it around for extra charge. He did a flip in mid-air and plummeted down, ready to smite the ninja.
Ninja O'Dark: HEEEEEEYAAAA-!
Moments away from striking, the hooded ninja used a single blast of wind to repel O'Dark, who was thrown back and tumbled across the floor. Pop Cat leapt down and attempted to help O'Dark. Falco leapt down in front of the ninja and assumed a fighting position.
????: I should've known you'd be onto me!
The hooded ninja touched the gem on his cloak, the Absorption Charm.
????: Time to kill two birds with one stone. Literally!
The gem glowed bright white. The ninja did several movements with his flippers, causing them to burst into flame. The entire lavafall began to slow down. The river of lava gradually began to grow to a colossal height, reaching towards the ceiling of the cavern. With a tidal wave of magma behind him and at his command, the hooded ninja looked nothing short of insane.
The lavafall began to shift sideways, the lava joining up with the massive wave. As it moved aside, a small cave was revealed to be behind the lavafall, in the side of the cliff. As soon as the lava had left the cave completely exposed, the ninja leapt across the boulders in the river and into the hole.
Falco: I think we'd better run!
Pop Cat ran up to the lava wave, dug into his pocket and pulled out several powered Card-Jitsu cards, all water.
Pop Cat: Water...beats...FIRE!
He slammed them all down, one by one. The result was an equally large tidal wave of water. With all his might, Pop Cat forced the wave forwards. The two waves collided, making a loud hissing sound. The lava was forced backwards and quickly cooled into a crusty layer of rock. The light level in the cavern was significantly reduced as the river cooled, with the only source of light now being the lavafall.
Pop Cat collected the cards and almost staggered backwards, somewhat out of breath.
Ninja O'Dark finally seemed to have recovered.
Ninja O'Dark: My head! Wait, where is he-?
Falco leapt across the boulders to the hidden cave. The hooded ninja was indeed inside, and was drawing something on a scroll of parchment. Images of what seemed to be buildings on clouds were carved into the stone wall. A large image of a sword surrounded by clouds was carved above the cloud buildings. Two ninjas with paper fans and cloud-patterned suits were shown to be reaching for the sword.
Below the cloud-supported buildings was the peak of a snow-capped mountain, its base obscured by forests. A winding river led out of the forest and into a puffle shaped lake directly next to what appeared to be the waves of an ocean: a lagoon. Several small houses surrounded the puffle lagoon. The hooded ninja seemed to be taking note of all these details intently, muttering to himself.
????: Yes...exactly where I thought it would be!
Falco whipped out his hot sauce bottle, aimed it at the unsuspecting ninja and blasted. The ninja was hit where his cloak was and thrown forwards directly into the wall. The fire from the hot sauce should have burned his cloak, but it only steamed and seemed undamaged. The ninja tried to get to his feet, just as Falco squeezed the bottle again, creating another stream of fire.
This time, he combatted the fire with a more feeble breeze of wind, stopping it from reaching him. Falco didn't release his grip from the bottle, keeping the fire going as the breeze got stronger.
????: You won't stop me, Falco Hochstadt. Not without your powers!
The breeze turned into a gust of wind, continuing to grow steadily stronger. Falco realized that he was running out of sauce, as the stream of fire began to turn to a small squirt and he was pushed out of the cave.
Just when he would have fallen into the small pool of lava from the lavafall, Ninja O'Dark zoomed from the side and grabbed him. They landed on the floor somewhat roughly, but otherwise fine.
Ninja O'Dark: Whatever.
The hooded ninja leapt out of the hidden cave and froze. Pop Cat pulled out a water balloon while Ninja O'Dark took out his nunchaku. The ninja began to run as Pop Cat threw the balloon upwards, burst it in mid-air and sent a controlled sphere of water in his direction. Ninja O'Dark span the nunchaku, creating flames, and blasted them in the ninja's direction.
????: Time to disappear...
Just when they would've hit the ninja, he ducked and faded into mid-air.
Ninja O'Dark: WHERE DID HE GO!?
Pop Cat: Hurry, let's search!
Moments later, they all heard a creaking from the cavern entrance. Just as they approached to investigate, one of the carts shuddered and took off. The hooded ninja materialized inside the cart. He laughed quietly, having successfully evaded them. O'Dark attempted to chase him, but the cart was already too fast, disappearing down the tunnel.
He threw his nunchaku on the floor in frustration.
Ninja O'Dark: Lost him.
Falco: It's fine! I think I might know where he's going.
Pop Cat: You do?
Falco: There were these carvings on the wall of clouds and ninjas that the ninja seemed to be drawing down. I saw a mountain and a river, leading to this lagoon that looked like a puffle. There was a sword in the picture, too...
Pop Cat: Lagoon? Puffle shaped?
Falco: Yeah, why?
Pop Cat thought for a moment.
Pop Cat: I think I know where that is!
Chapter 4: Leaping Shadows
Falco, Pop Cat and Ninja O'Dark leapt silently from rooftop to rooftop, hiding wherever possible. Below were the dirty, muddy streets of Penjuana.
Ninja O'Dark: Why are we even here again? This place is horrible.
Pop Cat: The carvings in the cave had a puffle-shaped lagoon, right?
Pop Cat: It was said that Patchy99, who claimed to be "the first ninja", settled an island somewhere named Bottoms Up, after his boat was diverted by a dangerous storm. The island was said to be the home of many ninjas, who went there to live a relaxing life.
Ninja O'Dark: But what does this have to do with anything?
Pop Cat: The island is said to be off the shores of the Antarctic Peninsula, near a puffle-shaped lagoon, and can be seen from the top of a nearby mountain. There's the mountain over there.
Pop Cat pointed to a snow-capped mountain in the distance. Falco and Ninja O'Dark followed his lead as he leapt across to another building and pointed ahead of them.
Pop Cat: There's the lagoon right there. This should be the place.
Falco: So it's only a matter of finding our slippery friend.
Ninja O'Dark: And we cannot allow ourselves to be seen why?
Pop Cat: Let's just say the locals are a little...um...hostile to those who have more than they do. Most of the people here don't have much money, and almost all of them are thieves. The moment they see someone they don't recognize from this region, they'll ransack you for coin.
Falco: Oh, gee...
Ninja O'Dark: But how're we going to find him in this mess?
Falco thought for a moment.
Falco: Split up? We could meet back here in 30 minutes. If any of us find him, we can send a signal into the sky or something like that.
Ninja O'Dark: Sure.
Pop Cat: Alright. But like I said, just try not to be seen.
Ninja O'Dark: Yeah, yeah, we know!
The three of them then went their separate ways, quickly sneaking and vanishing into the city as quietly as a gentle breeze.
Falco sat on a stony building ledge. He could've sworn he saw a cloaked penguin run across the streets a number of times before vanishing. Not only that, but he was fairly certain he heard the whistle of rushing wind whenever the penguin was nearby.
Just as he was thinking about it, he looked down and saw a penguin in a cloak. The penguin used their flippers to create a vortex of wind, propelling themselves into the air. They definitely weren't part of his imagination.
He leapt down from the ledge, landing as lightly as a feather and took off after the penguin. Unsuspecting civilians just had time to turn around and dive out of the way as Falco leapt across crates, makeshift shopfronts and dodged crowds. The cloaked penguin didn't seem to pay any regard to the fact Falco was catching up, or that he was even chasing them.
Falco used a nearby wooden plank as a ramp, catapulting himself forwards and landing in front of the cloaked penguin.
Falco: Don't think you can get away this time! You're not gonna—huh?
The cloaked penguin standing in front of him was not the same as the ninja he'd seen before. It was a female penguin with lime green feathers. Red hair could be seen sticking out from under the hood. Unlike the hooded ninja, she wasn't wearing a red mask, or any mask at all. She looked incredibly confused about what just happened.
Falco: I—I'm sorry! I thought you were someone else—
Before he could complete his sentence, she stepped around him and continued running.
Falco: Okay then...
Just when he was about to head back, a line of penguins moved together, blocking him from leaving the street. Falco turned around to see that another group of penguins had done the same to the other side of the street. Crowds of penguins were beginning to gather behind the blockades, all of them staring at Falco. None of them looked particularly friendly.
Civilian: You're not from around these parts, are you?
Falco: Relax everyone, I'm only here to find someone. Have any of you seen a ninja in a maroon cape? Red mask? Has an amulet with a bolt-looking symbol thing? No?
Civilian: Does it matter?
The circle of penguins began to close in. In any old situation, Falco would've just summoned his flames, wiped the lot of them out, and carried on with his day. But this time, he couldn't afford to pick fights.
Civilian: What've you got on you?
Falco: Nothing that I'm going to give away, that's for sure.
The penguin scowled. He signalled to one of his henchmen who grinned. The henchman pulled out a wooden plank with a single sharp nail sticking out. Everyone else in the crowd followed suit, using whatever they could as a weapon.
Just when the first henchman stepped jumped forwards to whack Falco, he was thrown back by a sudden burst of wind and crashed into the side of a wooden house. They all turned to see the lime green penguin Falco had bumped into before. Her flippers were raised, with her right one brandishing a hand-held fan.
Civilian: Forget it! ATTACK HER INSTEAD!
The crowd of penguins charged forwards. Falco darted to the side to avoid the stampede. Though they outnumbered the lime penguin by a large margin, she took care of every one that lunged her way. She managed to block, punch and create bursts of gale force winds to fight off the crowd of thieves.
Those in the outer parts of the crowd who hadn't yet gotten their chance to fight looked worried and were backing off. As the few remaining civilians made a last attempt at an attack, she summoned a miniature whirlwind, throwing them all back. The rest of the penguins took off, not looking back. She then turned to Falco, who seemed lost for words.
Lime Penguin: Quick, follow me!
Falco: I—okay, then...
Falco followed her into secluded and empty alleyway.
Lime Penguin: Sorry you had to run into them. They're always so unpleasant to visitors. Did you say you were looking for a penguin in a dark cloak and red mask?
Falco: Yeah...uh, thanks by the way. But who are y—?
She took off her hooded cloak, revealing a white and yellow outfit and a full head of red hair. A bright yellow ninja belt was strapped around her waist.
Lime Penguin: My name is Denise, I'm an Air Ninja.
Falco: I'm Falco. And wait, Air Ninja?
Denise whistled a quick, high-pitched melody. A moment later, a bronze-coloured puffle descended quickly from the sky, surrounded in a flurry of clouds. He touched the ground lightly and shuffled over to Denise.
Denise: Good boy, Aero. Now I'm going to need you to take us home.
Aero the puffle smiled happily and nodded.
Denise: Come, Falco! We need to go now!
Falco: Go? Go where?
Denise: To the Floating Islands. I'll explain everything there.
Falco: Wait, but I still have to tell—
Denise grabbed his arm. Her bronze puffle span rapidly on the spot, creating a vortex around them. Before he knew it, Falco was rocketed into the air, the ground below him shrinking rapidly as they zoomed upwards for the clouds.
Chapter 5: Islands In The Sky
They were new cruising through the air at exceptional speeds, high over the Weddell Sea at cloud level. Ahead of them was a massive, grey storm cloud. It lit up with blue light, followed by the sound of thunder.
Falco: Are you sure we're supposed to be going in there!? That's a thunderstorm!
Denise: Yeah, we are!
Falco wasn't sure whether he could trust them with this. Then again, if he let go of Denise, he would plummet hundreds of feet down before hitting the ocean. The storm cloud grew closer and closer, and the sound of violent winds grew stronger. Falco shielded himself and closed his eyes, preparing to get ravaged by the storm. The winds howled deafeningly loud as they entered the storm cloud. But a second later, it all went silent.
Falco opened his eyes.
Spread out before them were several floating chunks of rock and material, all varying degrees of size. Several of them had houses or buildings built atop them and bridges to link them all. Strangest of all, many of the levitating islands had grass, trees and vegetation growing on top. Falco could see penguins wandering around the islands, flying kites and waddling across the bridges. An entire society was thriving on this hidden paradise, all within a hollow storm cloud.
Falco: Whoa. This place is unbelievable!
Denise: Welcome to the Floating Islands. Home of the Air Ninjas.
Falco: You live here?
Denise: That's right. We've lived here for 100 years, protected by the storm that encompasses the islands. Anything that tries to get too close can't.
They continue to glide across the islands, heading directly for one of the bigger islands. A large building was present atop it, one Falco could only assume was their dojo.
Falco: So...what happens if you fall from this place?
Denise: If you fell, you'd be pushed right back up by the powerful storm that surrounds us. Besides, everyone here knows Windjitsu. The Pectosphere is strong here, so you could easily control the winds and fly back up.
Falco: Windjitsu? Flying?
Denise: Yeah, Windjitsu. Unlike the other ninjas, us Air Ninjas don't focus on studying the elements. Instead, we learn the ways of the wind and how to channel it.
Falco: Cool. Where are we headed now?
Denise: To see my uncle at the Air Dojo. He's our sensei.
The two ninjas and one puffle touched down on the large island, at the entrance of the equally large dojo. They began waddling across a stone path that led to the entrance.
Two ninjas stood in the courtyard, flanking the entrance to the dojo. They wore attire similar to that of an elemental ninja's, donning yellowish-white helmets, masks and coats. Their coats were patterned with curled shapes and clouds. For some reason, Falco felt something about the patterns on their coats. Like there was some sort of connection he should have been making.
As Falco neared, both of the ninjas' eyes widened in surprise. Falco could only assume that non-Air Ninjas weren't very common in these parts.
Their eyes continued to follow him as they opened the large wooden doors to the dojo, allowing Denise and Falco to pass. Aero the puffle hopped around happily behind them, following them into the dojo as the two ninjas closed the doors behind them. They closed shut with an echoey, ominous sounding clunk.
The inside looked similar to Club Penguin's dojo, only much larger. The windows were made of paper wall and the floor made of light wooden planks. The ceiling was rather tall, with an overhead second-floor balcony visible above them. At the very back of the room was a cushion where an elderly penguin sat, presumably the Sensei. Two long, olive-coloured banners hung from the ceiling next to the Sensei, with one on each side. They both had swirly, spiral-like symbols on them.
Several penguins, all wearing the exact, if not similar clothing to the ninjas outside, appeared to be practicing Windjitsu. Some of the penguins were waving paper fans to summon their own flurries of wind while others used their bare flippers.
As soon as the doors had shut behind them, all of the ninjas turned towards the newcomers, and silence ensued. At the very back of the room, the Sensei looked at them. He looked similar to the Sensei Falco knew best, with greyish feathers, thick eyebrows and a long beard. Only the Air Sensei had much lighter hair colour and a slightly shorter, curlier beard.
Air Sensei: Denise...you have returned...
Denise: Hello, uncle.
Air Sensei: Were you successful in accomplishing your task?
Denise looked disheartened.
Denise: No...no I was not.
Air Sensei: Yet you have brought before us an outsider?
Some of the other ninjas began to whisper to each other.
Denise: Not just any outsider. He could help us!
Air Sensei: You must understand that this is a very dangerous move. It is very much possible that anyone from the outside world could working for any of the hostile organizations of Antarctica. We cannot trust them.
Air Sensei: May I ask who this ninja is?
Falco: Um, Falco. I'm a fire ninja.
The whispering became louder. Air Sensei stroked his beard.
Air Sensei: A fire ninja...
Denise: Uncle, he has seen Crimson! He knows what the Absorption Charm looks like!
The Air Sensei continued to think. Denise turned to Falco.
Denise: Is there anything else that you know about the ninja you saw?
Falco: Well, yeah. There was this picture he was trying to copy down. It was carved into the walls of Diamond Falls. Here, I have a picture of it.
Falco pulled out a piece of folded paper and flattened it out, revealing a photograph. It was only then that he realized how similar the ninjas' coats in the picture looked like compared to the Air Ninjas around him.
Falco: Hey, wait a minute...
Denise studied the picture, her expression shifting into astonishment.
Denise: Uncle, I think you should see this.
She waddled over and handed the photo to the Air Sensei. After what felt like an entire minute, the Sensei stood up and addressed the crowd of ninjas.
Air Sensei: Prepare your defences! Let no outsiders into our borders. Starting from tonight, we must be on guard.
After a confusing next hour or so, Falco sat out in the dojo courtyard, right next to the edge of the island, studying the photograph of the Air Ninjas. Orange and purple light shone faintly through the thick clouds. Penguins ran around on some of the smaller islands, using the wind to fly kites while some others soared around the sky on hang gliders. The wind around them, meanwhile seemed to be growing increasingly turbulent with every few minutes.
Denise: Hey, Falco!
Falco: Oh. Hey.
Denise: I'm sorry everything's been so hectic. My uncle has just authorized the order to put this place down on full lockdown mode. He's letting you stay until he thinks it's safe.
Falco: Because of one picture? What does it all mean?
Denise: I'll explain.
The wind was now whistling softly, growing stronger.
Denise: That picture in the photograph is a very old drawing made by the first Air Ninjas. They came to Diamond Falls and forged a sword. Not just any sword, but a particularly powerful one.
Falco: Okay...I'm following.
Denise: The sword was supposed to be some sort of new weapon. One that the leader of the Air Ninjas could use to exert their power even further. It was made for my uncle, who was still the Sensei at the time. He was having to deal with Khanzem, who were attacking the ninjas in the name of expansion. My uncle didn't want to use such a dangerous weapon, so he declined it. Sooner or later, we fled to the Floating Islands where we live today.
Falco: So where is the weapon now?
Denise: I don't know, most things about that weapon are kept secret by my uncle, since he's so afraid it'll fall into the wrong flippers. Not even he knows how to use it. I'm guessing it must be here, otherwise we wouldn't have tightened security.
Falco: That ninja...he's coming for it, isn't he?
Denise: His name is Crimson. And knowing him, he probably is. Anything to complete whatever plan he has in mind.
Falco: Wait-you knew him?
Denise: He used to be one of us. An Air Ninja. At least, until he was banished.
Falco: For doing what?
Denise: He had such a hatred for the non-ninjas. He hated having to live in secrecy. He wanted a ninjas-only continent where we would all dominate any who opposed us with our elemental powers. Eventually, that got in the way of almost anything he did and well...my uncle and the other ninjas made the decision to kick him out.
Denise: We all thought he would've calmed down and lived peacefully somewhere else. But as it turns out, for the next eight years, he went around doing all kinds of cruel things with the same attitude he had eight years before — ninjas should rule the continent. Whatever he's been doing, it's all apart of his plan to get there.
Falco thought about it all for a moment. The sound of the wailing wind was all that could be heard for a few seconds. Then came the sound of thunder. A flash of lightning lit up the sky around them. The clouds around them seemed to have darkened and thickened to the point where the outside light was no longer visible.
Denise: Now, that's weird...We don't usually have stormy weather on the inside of the cloud...
Yells could be heard in the distance.
Falco: Hey, what's going on over there?
Denise: Let's find out.
Denise whistled for Aero. He appeared by their side a few seconds later. A swirling vortex of wind engulfed all three of them as their were lifted into the air.
Denise: Aero, over there!
They glided over the many islands, over and under bridges as the vortex carried them. Falco looked down and saw the source of the noise. A small crowd of ninjas had appeared on one of the larger, outermost islands. Aero directed the small tornado downwards, and they all landed on the island.
Falco and Denise weaved their way through the crowd to the very front.
Denise: Hey, what's up?
An annoyed looking Air Ninja stepped forwards.
Air Ninja: We caught two intruders! We don't know how they got past the cloud barrier, yet here they are.
The ninja gestured to two penguins who had their flippers raised in surrender. One was aqua blue and the other was wearing a full ninja suit.
Falco recognized them almost instantly.
Pop Cat: Look, this is all just a misunderstanding! We can explain—
Air Ninja: SHUT IT, OUTSIDER!
Pop Cat: Alright, fine...
The fully-suited ninja suddenly met eyes with Falco and looked temporarily stunned.
Ninja O'Dark: FALCO! There you are! Falco you fool, where the heck have you been!? And get us out of here already!
All the ninjas in the crowd turned to look at Falco.
Denise: Uh...Falco, do you know these two?
Falco: Er, can we release them, please?
The Air Ninjas stepped away from the two captives.
Ninja O'Dark: Thank you! Honestly, if this is how you treat all visitors...
Falco: But how did you guys even get up here? How did you know I was here?
Pop Cat: We didn't.
Ninja O'Dark: Just after you literally abandoned us, we saw that ninja running around the town. We eventually found him stealing a boat and we chased him by sea, thanks to Pop Cat's water powers.
Pop Cat: The ninja went up to this storm cloud out in the ocean and created a hole under it. I just had enough time to create a tidal wave to throw us in before it closed.
Falco: Wait, wait, wait. You're saying that–?
Pop Cat: The ninja. He's here!
Chapter 6: Violent Storms
The ninjas had just enough warning to rush back to the Air Dojo. They all leapt and somersaulted into the already open entrance. The dojo was dark from the absence of sunlight. Occasional flashes of lightning revealed the inside of the dojo temporarily.
The Air Sensei was absent from his cushion at the back of the room. Right in the center of the room, with a shiny golden sword in hand was the hooded ninja himself — Crimson. Four fully-suited Air Ninjas were standing in a square formation around him, cornering him from all sides.
Denise: No...No! He has it!
Crimson: You're already too late! I have what I need.
Falco: But you're not getting away with it so easily.
Crimson: Just watch me!
Denise: Falco! Catch!
She tossed him a long metal object. Falco caught the object in the air. In his flippers was a katana. Falco wasn't the greatest with swords, but it was much better than no weapon.
Pop Cat drew out water balloons while Ninja O'Dark whipped out his nunchaku.
Clearly, there was no way for Crimson to escape when they outnumbered him 8 to 1. Crimson remained still, standing in one position. The ninjas surrounding him began to close in slowly. Then, as they neared closer, he pulled his cape over the rest of his body. His entire form turned completely transparent, and he vanished completely.
Pop Cat: Not again!
Falco: We should've accounted for that...
Air Ninja: Where is he? Can he teleport!?
The four ninjas seemed stunned, as well. They looked around the room for Crimson, but he was nowhere in sight.
Air Ninja: Is he outside?
Suddenly, Crimson materialized exactly in the same place he disappeared, with the sword strapped behind his back. The ninjas were quick to react, but he was faster. He slammed his flippers on the ground. A ring-shaped wall of wind sent the ninjas flying backwards, though they rebounded off the walls and landed safely.
Ninja O'Dark: Let's get him!
Ninja O'Dark spun his nunchaku wildly and summoned a blast of flame from it directly towards Crimson. In turn, he summoned a jet of wind to block it.
Pop Cat threw the two water balloons, followed by blasts of water.
Crimson raised his other flipper to block the stream of water and the two balloons, which were lifted further into the air where they remained levitating. Falco, meanwhile, darted up the stairs silently.
Crimson then launched the two water balloons at Ninja O'Dark, who was preparing another attack.
Ninja O'Dark: Take this, you—WHOA!
Ninja O'Dark span his nunchaku, slicing and evaporating both of the balloons. Denise took out a paper fan and waved it once, creating air to block the stream of water, which collided and collapsed into a puddle on the floor. She then used it to create another controlled air blast, and sent it towards Crimson. The other Air Ninjas did the same, launching blasts of air forwards.
Crimson meanwhile, simply pressed his Absorption Charm. The blasts of air was subsequently swallowed into the charm, which glowed. Crimson put his flippers together proceeded to create a ball of spinning clouds - a mini vortex out of the controlled blasts of wind. He then hurled it at his opponents, who darted out of the way. Denise attempted to combat the air, but was knocked back.
Ninja O'Dark: Get that sword!
Pop Cat, Ninja O'Dark, Aero and the other four air ninjas then charged forwards, calling forth their elemental powers and readying their own unique attacks. Crimson summoned Falco's flame abilities from the Absorption Charm, just as Pop Cat created a floating stream of water. They each took turns trying to strike Crimson, who was unusually swift to dodge and block their attacks.
When they had Crimson pushed back towards the end of the room, he threw his cape over his head again.
This time, however, he didn't get very far. Aero took a deep breath and exhaled, creating a tornado. Just then, all of them heard a thud against the wall.
Pop Cat summoned a jet of water and directed it at the source of the noise. Before it could hit the wall, it splashed against a large, invisible figure. The figure stood up and realized that he wasn't so invisible anymore.
Just when he started to try and run off, Falco appeared out of nowhere and unexpectedly kicked him right in the stomach, knocking him over. Falco withdrew his katana and swung down, only for Crimson to draw out the golden blade and block his attack.
Crimson: Sword fight much? Let's put that to the test!
Falco didn't like the sound of that.
Crimson leapt to his feet and removed his cloak, reverting back to his visible form. The two proceeded to clash, both metal blades clanging against each other.
Eventually, Crimson disarmed, knocking his katana out of hand.
Crimson: Face it! You are defeat—
The four air ninjas took the opportunity to blast him. Crimson dropped the sword and reached for his charm as he was once again slammed back against the wall with the force of a violent storm, his movements greatly restricted. Aero and Denise joined in, amplifying the power of the air. Falco meanwhile, yelled over the howling wind.
Falco: Guys! The Absorption Charm! DESTROY THE CHARM!
Ninja O'Dark and Pop Cat both put their flippers together, summoning the strongest streams of fire and water possible and directed it to the amulet. The two elemental forces hit their target, creating steam as they collided. The Abosprtion Charm, strangest of all, began to vibrate.
Just when the charm started to become a blur, Crimson finally managed to touch it, absorbing the fire, water and the powerful wind blasts. They all immediately ceased feeding the charm, which was once again glowing. Crimson was freed from the winds and dropped to the floor.
He raised his flippers. Both of them were engulfed in a swirling whirlpool of clouds, flames and droplets of water. As he raised his flippers, the atmosphere around them went completely silent. The winds stopped and no noise could be heard until Falco spoke.
Falco: Oh, no.
The air suddenly glistered, exploding with a powerful shock wave of the combined elements. A majority of the paperwall windows ripped open from the force of the resulting explosion, and the banners on the ceiling flapped and fluttered around wildly. Everyone was thrown back at least 20 feet. Falco and Denise, who were both still somewhat weak, dizzy and out of breath, attempted chasing after Crimson, who had retaken the golden sword and used what was left of the absorbed wind to catapult himself onto the balcony.
Denise mustered the remeinder strength to do the same, lifting both her and Falco over the railings and onto the balcony, by which time she was breathing harder and Crimson was standing in front of a destroyed window. The paperwall frame had been completely destroyed, leaving the outside exposed.
Crimson: You're too late, Denise! I already have the Zephyr Katana.
He began to waddle backwards, until he was at the edge of the destroyed windowframe.
And even better, I'm a centimeter away from escaping!
Denise: You'll...never succeed!
Crimson: As I've been told. But when has any of that been true so far?
Denise said nothing.
Crimson: They deserve what's coming for them, Denise. If you're so tired of living in secrecy, join me! We'll make them pay for making us live this way. We'll change this continent for the better! We'll show ALL of them!
Denise: I'd rather not.
Crimson: Well, have it your way then. But sooner or later, the Pectosphere will fall into my flippers, and then you'll have no choice.
Falco noticed that the Absorption Charm on his cape was slightly cracked down the middle, which he was certain wasn't there before.
He leapt out the window, plummeting several feet downwards, past the edge of the island. He then vanished beneath the clouds of the magical barrier surrounding the island.
Falco: The Zephyr Katana...so that's what the sword is called...
Denise: He was using special shadow fabric. I remember now.
Falco: Shadow fabric?
Denise: The special material used by the Shadow Ninjas to craft their suits. It lets them become invisible. His cape is made out ofit.
Falco: So that's how he kept disappearing.
Denise: Yeah. I'll go alert the other ninjas to try search for him. If we're lucky, we might still be able to catch him.
Denise turned to Falco.
Denise: In the meantime, I think I know someone who can help us. Especially now that we know he's looking to control the Pectosphere. We'll have to go for a little trip.
Falco: To where?
Denise: Nightlife City.
Chapter 7: The Lost Element
Falco, Pop Cat, Ninja O'Dark, Denise and her puffle Aero, had found the nearest airport and travelled straight to Nightlife City. The city itself was a massive collection of stone streets and classic Japalandese-style architecture. Torii gates marked the entrances of bridges and smaller streets. Lit paper lanterns stretched across buildings. Dojos were present around almost every corner. In the distance huge snow-capped mountain dominated the skyline, where a river flowed out of a cave at its base.
Everywhere they went, they saw ninjas brandishing shurikens, challenging each other to card battles and jumping across the roads.
Pop Cat: This place is truly bizarre.
Denise: You should see the card mines.
Ninja O'Dark: Sorry, "card mines"?
Denise: Well, yeah. The Pectosphere is so strong that cards can actually grow underground.
Ninja O'Dark: Huh. wow.
Falco: Who're we looking for, Denise?
Denise: Someone who can help us. If you ever want to know anything about ninjas, their history, or their many secrets, he's your guy. He probably knows more about ninjas than many Senseis do.
Denise abruptly halted before a small two-floored building wedged between two larger ones. The others stopped as well.
Denise: Oh, look. We're here!
A sign hung above the entrance of the building.
Denise: Come on inside.
She pushed open the door and the others followed her through the doorway. They had to squeeze together slightly, as the inside was rather cramped with several objects lining the walls. Banners and lanterns of all shapes with unique patterns hung from the somewhat short ceiling, over the cashier desk.
Rustling noises could be heard behind the desk, where a penguin was rummaging through some cardboard boxes. He continued to scavenge around its contents as they crowded themselves around the cashier.
Penguin: Wait there! I'll only be a few more seconds!
Gunther immediately stopped rummaging, straightened up and turned around to look at them. After a few moments of staring at them, he smiled widely.
Gunther: Well, well, well, if it isn't Denise. Long time no see, eh? And I see you've brought friends, too.
Denise: Gunther, this is Falco, Pop Cat and Ninja O'Dark. Everyone, this is Gunther. He's a good friend of mine.
Ninja O'Dark: Hey.
Gunther: So, ninjas, what can I do for you? You want to buy something? Extra cards? Outfits? Antiques?
Denise: Actually, we were hoping you could do something. About a particular antique. It's very important.
Gunther: I see, I see. Do tell.
Denise: It's this sword called the Zephyr Katana. Nobody knows how to use it, and we don't know much about the katana, but we were hoping you could tell us something about it.
Gunther scratched his beak for a moment, thinking.
Gunther: "Zephyr Katana"...Anything else?
Falco: It's been stolen by this ninja guy...Crimson...he wants to use it to control the Pectosphere somehow.
Ninja O'Dark: But its just a sword made of gold. Why is it so important? For all we know, it could do nothing at all.
Falco: It does do something. As unclear as it is, its still dangerous.
Ninja O'Dark: Yeah, but-
Pop Cat: How about we just hear what Gunther knows about it?
Ninja O'Dark: Fine.
Gunther waddled over and pulled out a box from under his cashier desk. It was full of parchment scrolls, which he took out, unravelled, and skimmed through their contents before moving onto the next.
Gunther: If I recall correctly, that sword you were talking about - the Zephyr Katana - was one of many lost items forged out of some metal. A special kind of elemental material imbued with Pectospheric magic that could amplify any ninja's control over the Pectosphere, if they knew how.
Ninja O'Dark: But nobody knows how to control the sword. Chances are, he's just as clueless.
Gunther: Exactly. Which is what leads me to believe that this isn't the only item he's stolen. Do you know of anything else that he's taken?
Falco: Well, yeah. There's the Absorption Charm...
Pop Cat: Which he used to take Falco's fire powers.
Gunther: The Absorption Charm...yes, I know about the item too...and he's doing all of this to take control of the Pectosphere?
Denise: That's exactly what he said.
Gunther looked deeply unnerved.
Gunther: My thinking is that your enemy here is already on the way to having everything that he needs. With that katana, he can find a powerful Pectospheric location - here for instance - and use the absorbed energy as a power source, assuming it is powerful enough. All he would need to do is channel the charm's absorbed power through the sword to tear a hole into the Pectosphere.
Nobody spoke. Gunther still seemed to be the most disturbed out of all of them.
Gunther: I should've known about this sooner. It might be too late now.
Ninja O'Dark: You're saying that there's nothing we can do to stop him?
Gunther: Well, not exactly. Once he tears a hole into the Pectosphere, he'll likely need another elemental item, one that contains the power of all 3 elements. The easiest way to do it would be to steal a Card-Jitsu master's amulet, which we can only hope he hasn't done yet. As soon as he acquires that, he'll be able to control the elements however so he likes.
Pop Cat: And it will affect the entire world?
Gunther: Most certainly. Fire, Water and Snow will all be his to command. All ninjas will be affected. And if he really wanted to go the extra mile, it is possible that he could create another element. Or even make Air or Earth an official element. Either way, both would likely cause everlasting imbalance.
Denise: No wonder why my uncle kept the sword a secret.
Falco: And now it's too late to stop him?
Ninja O'Dark: Hold up a second. Earth?
Gunther: Well, that ties into what I wanted to talk about next. I hope you're all comfortable, because I've got more to say.
Gunther pulled out one of his rolled up parchments and untwisted it. On the parchment were several illustrations of penguins.
Gunther: Long before the widespread popularization of ninjas, there were...others.
Ninja O'Dark: "Others"?
Gunther: These others studied and practiced Card-Jitsu, but in a much different way. They called themselves the "Earth Warriors".
Gunther gave the scroll to the other four, who studied it intensely.
Gunther: These Earth Warriors studied Card-Jitsu as best they could, but didn't call themselves ninjas. Rather, they were farmers and teachers, often leading more peaceful lives. They had learned much about the Pectosphere that the other regular ninjas didn't, and discovered they could tap into forces that moved the earth itself. Legend has it that The Three Masters had unfinished plans for there to be a fourth element, and that these warriors were the pioneers of this undiscovered element.
Gunther returned to his desk to fish around for more scrolls, while continuing his story.
Gunther: In time, the Earth Warriors had created their own version of Card-Jitsu, creating their own specialized Earth cards that controlled said element. For a time, things were mostly very peaceful, with the Warriors living distanced lives far up in the mountains, away from the ninja community. But eventually, the Second Sensei of Ninjas rose to power. He split the ninjas into different factions based on their strongest elements, causing a chaotic civil war that lasted until the Fifth Sensei's reign.
Gunther then handed them a second scroll, depicting ninjas wielding fire, water and ice, sporting vicious expressions. A group of terrified farmers could be seen in the background, some of which were descending into a cave.
Gunther: But in the duration that the civil war lasted, the Earth Warriors became very upset. Their peaceful and pacifistic lifestyles were not so peaceful as the ninjas' fighting was beginning to affect them. Some of the Earth Warriors became samurais, looking to join the ninjas in the fight and end the war with the unopposed power of Earth. But the others refused, becoming even more unhappy to watch some of their own students and fellow friends go off to war.
Gunther pointed to the farmers in the picture, who were descending into the cave.
Gunther: The warriors decided to vanish from sight, rumored to have sealed themselves deep underground, where they would truly become one with the earth and be free of disruption.
Ninja O'Dark: How do you know all this stuff?
Gunther: Almost nobody nowadays knows the legend of the Earth Warriors and the strength of the Earth element. Only the descendants of the true Earth Warriors can recount such a tale.
Gunther waddled over to a shelf and pulled out a coppery brown-bladed sword. It gleamed and shone in the shop's light.
Falco: Wait. You're saying you know all this because...because you're one of them?
Gunther continued to look at the blade. He seemed kind of sad.
Gunther: My father was descended from one of the warriors who deserted the others to join the war. To become a samurai.
He took the copper sword off the shelf an examined it more closely.
Gunther: This sword here has remained in our family for generations. And ever since the civil war, we have never forgotten our history. Or...been more ashamed to have been the ones who tried to desert it.
He put the sword back and took back the first scroll he gave them.
Gunther: The Earth Warriors were known to posses great power, which they almost always used wisely and sparingly. And if my assumptions are correct...
Pop Cat: We can use the element of Earth to overpower Crimson!
Gunther: Hopefully, that's the case. Though Earth was never officially an element, just like Air, I think it'll be very useful against him, as he'll likely never have heard of it. Kind of like how a mountain is unaffected by the wind.
Falco: So we're going to learn Card-Jitsu Earth?
Gunther: Well, no. The details of the way the Earth Warriors controlled the Earth have been mostly lost to time, and I definitely have no idea how they did it themselves. What you'll have to do to is find an Earth Card.
Denise: Earth Card?
Gunther handed her a scroll.
Gunther: According to the old scrolls, there is a high-powered card hidden deep in the mountains of the Great Forest. I have no way to confirm it, but I think it's your best shot.
Ninja O'Dark: So we know what we need to do. Find this card, locate Crimson and crush him to a pulp. Got it.
Denise: Wait, but there's another thing. Crimson was wearing a cloak made of shadow fabric. He keeps using it to turn invisible and hide his true appearance.
Gunther: Shadow fabric? Made by the Shadow Ninjas, right? I think I know who can help.
Gunther suddenly pulled a rolled up piece of paper off of a shelf and twisted it open, revealing a map of Freezeland. He pulled out a pen from his desk behind him, circled one of the cities on the map and scribbled something down. He handed it to Denise.
Gunther: There's this guy I know who lives in Freezeland. His name is Bau Kax, or as he's called by everyone else, "The Lightpenguin". It's a bit of a trip, but he knows exactly how to remove the effects of shadow fabric. Just tell him about your situation, and he should be able to help.
Denise: Thanks for all your help, Gunther.
Falco: Yeah, thanks a bunch.
Gunther: Anything for friends.
Falco: Then let's go find this Earth Card.
Chapter 8: Dwindling Flames
As soon as they left the shop, Aero leapt down from the roof, hopping around his owner agitatedly.
Denise: What's wrong, Aero?
Aero pulled out a paper airplane from his hammer space and gave it to Denise.
Falco: A paper airplane?
Denise: Not just any paper airplane.
Denise showed them wing of the paper plane, which had an inking of three spirals attached to each other - the air ninja emblem.
Denise: It must be a message from the other Air Ninjas...
Ninja O'Dark: From that far away?
Denise: Well, yeah.
Denise unfolded the plane, revealing a message scrawled on the inside.
Denise: It says..they found him...
Pop Cat: Crimson?
Denise: He's just stolen Sensei's amulet.
Falco: Sensei? As in the one from Club Penguin?
Denise: Yeah. Last the ninjas heard, he said he was heading straight in the direction of Hackzon Valley, Trans-Antarctica.
Ninja O'Dark: Then let's get 'em!
Pop Cat: But we still have tasks to complete...
Denise: But what if this is our only chance to capture him? We could at least try.
Ninja O'Dark: What about you, Hochstadt? What do you think we should do? Get him or leave him?
Falco: Well...I think Denise is right. That Amulet was the very last thing he needed. This might just be our only shot at stopping him before he does what he wants to do. If we leave him or wait too long, it might already be too late. The Pectosphere will crumble like a cookie.
Pop Cat: Alright, then. But how will we all get there in time?
Denise: Leave that to us.
She beckoned to Aero.
Denise: Aero, give us the strongest tornado you can manage. We need to get to Hackzon Valley. I'll help you as much as I can.
Aero looked unsure, but nevertheless nodded. The four ninjas gathered around the puffle, who began to spin, creating a miniature tornado that began to grow. Denise raised her flippers, adding power to the tornado. When the tornado grew wide enough to encircle all of them, they were suddenly pulled off the ground, lifted into the air at incredible speeds. Nightlife City shrunk rapidly behind them, as they soared passed the peak of Mt. Propeller.
Denise had to shout over the wailing of the surrounding tornado.
Denise: We should be there soon if we're lucky! Nightlife is close to the Trans-Antarctic border, and I know the way to the valley from here!
She looked at the others, who seemed to be paralyzed in states of shock from the extreme speeds and harsh winds. Ninja O'Dark seemed at least five times beyond that level of shock.
Denise: Is everyone alright!?
Falco: Uh...Y-Yeah! F-fine I guess!
Ninja O'Dark: WHEN ARE WE GETTING BACK DOWN!?
After what seemed like an eternity of deafening winds, vertigo-inducing heights and fast-moving scenery, the tornado of ninjas finally quietened down and they descended upon a bank of snow. Though it was daytime, the sky was dark with thick clouds. Tall, menacing mountains surrounded them, all snowcapped. The sky glowed with an eery green light as bright neon-green numbers of varying sizes floated around the sky. A winding river stretched through and around the mountain range just behind them, where a closed tourist building sat. The weather was windy, with flakes of snow falling quick and fast around them.
As soon as they touched the floor, everyone stumbled and staggered. Denise and Aero seemed completely exhausted, and collapsed immediately upon landing.
Ninja O'Dark: I'm never traveling by tornado ever again.
Falco: You should've seen the look on your face the entire time.
Ninja O'Dark: Oh, shut up.
Pop Cat: This is the place?
Denise: Yeah...*cough*...the winds are abnormally stronger here...
Ahead of them was a mountain that towered higher than the rest, surrounded by a ring of clouds. At its base, not too far ahead of them, was a worn-down sign with a faded picture of the mountain, with text below that read: "WELCOME TO BINARY MOUNTAIN!"
Falco: I think that's our guy over there.
Standing near the sign was Crimson, in his dark hooded cloak. As usual, his face was somehow completely obscured. He appeared to be fidgeting with something in his flippers.
Denise attempted to stand.
Denise: Wait...for me...*cough*...I'll-
Pop Cat: No, you should stay. Find somewhere to rest.
Falco: He's right. There's a tourist building behind us. You can stay there for the time being. We'll handle whatever it is this guy wants.
Denise looked like she wanted to keep going, but nevertheless complied.
Denise: Come on, Aero...let's go.
Ninja O'Dark and Pop Cat drew out their weapons. Falco drew out a Fire Sword and a bottle of hot sauce, one in each flipper. Together, they advanced towards Crimson. The ninja himself simply stood there, continuing to fidget with the object as they as they approached.
Crimson: Well, if it isn't you three. Knew it was a matter of time before we'd cross paths again.
The thing in his hands glinted slightly. As soon as he caught Falco looking at it, he pocketed it.
Falco: That's Sensei's amulet...
Ninja O'Dark spun his nunchaku.
Ninja O'Dark: You'd better hand that over!
Falco: And it'd be nice if you could throw in that golden sword, too.
Crimson: Ha! What, this?
He withdrew a long, metal object from behind his cape. The greenish glow of the floating numbers reflected off the blade of the Zephyr Katana.
Crimson: You want it so bad. Why don't you come and get it?
Ninja O'Dark stepped forwards and slashed down with his flaming nunchaku. A wave of flame was sent in his direction. Crimson tapped the Absorption Charm on his cloak, setting his flippers on fire. Absorbing the flames, he blasted it back at the three, just before Pop Cat summoned a water shield to block it. The water wall began to wobble as Crimson summoned a blast of wind to push it back. Falco leapt high above the wall, his flaming drawn back.
Just as he was about to strike Crimson, the latter raised his sword. Falco's strike was subsequently blocked, the two swords clashing against each other, sending showers of sparks and embers flying. Crimson tried to sidestep Falco and draw his sword back to counter, but Falco was quicker than the last time, striking again and forcing Crimson to be quicker to block.
Crimson: Getting better, are we? Try this!
Crimson's grip on the sword tightened. The wind began to whistle.
Out of the ground, a vast funnel of erupted around them, rapidly circling and rotating. Through the thick wall of water, Falco was just able to make out Pop Cat with his flippers raised, maneuvering the funnel. The funnel of water then arched inwards at the top and closed the gap, creating a kind of enclosed, dome-shaped bubble. Crimson obviously noticed this, and found out that the wind wasn't responding to his command.
Falco: Oh, what's wrong? You don't like that?
They exchanged blows a few more times, quickly blocking and striking each other. Crimson suddenly raised up one of his flippers. Falco was picked up and thrown back. Fortunately, the water bubble seemed to protect Falco from flying out of the bubble, breaking his fall and allowing him to rebound and land on the floor.
Crimson: I may not be able to throw you around us much as I could outside, but I can still control the air in here!
His raised flipper balled into a fist. Again came the noise of rushing wind. Falco suddenly staggered backwards, feeling out of breath and struggling to breathe.
Crimson: Which is great for me, but for you?
His raised flipper burst into flame.
Crimson: Not so much.
Falco, who was somewhat helpless, raised his sword in an effort to block the incoming jet of flame. Pop Cat seemed to know what was going on inside, as the water shield bent to try and protect Falco. Though most of the flames were blocked and extinguished by the water in clouds of steam, Falco felt a searing heat on his arm, and looked to see the sleeve of his ninja suit was slightly charred and ripped from the blast.
Crimson looked ready to blast him again, but just before he could do that, the water shield diverted down the middle. A furious-looking Ninja O'Dark with his nunchaku ready, leapt high into the air, right through the gap. Using the momentum, he sliced downwards right on top of the unprepared Crimson.
Crimson barely had any time to react, and was bludgeoned on the back by the flaming weapon, making him fall over and drop the Zephyr Katana. Falco finally caught his breath as Crimson's control of the air loosened and lunged for the katana. The walls of the water bubble parted and began to sink into the ground, causing fresh air and snow to flood in. Ninja O'Dark spun around and whacked Crimson again with his nunchaku, sending him rolling over in the snow.
As he staggered to get up, Ninja O'Dark spun his nunchaku and released a steady stream of fire towards Crimson. At the same time, Pop Cat pointed his flippers at Crimson and sent out a torrent of strong water. Overwhelmed by this, Crimson was struck by both and fell over, his entire body steaming.
Falco: Aim for the charm under his neck! That's the Absorption Charm!
The two ninjas did as told, and targeted the Absorption Charm. Still bound to the floor and restricted from standing, Crimson slowly raised one of his flippers into the air. A second later, a firm wave of cold, snowy air exploded from his direction, pushing the three ninjas over. Falco lost his grip on the katana, which flew threw the air. Just before it could touch the ground, it levitated upwards and glided into Crimson's flippers.
Crimson: Enough of that!
Falco could see that the Absorption Charm was now cracked slightly down the middle as Crimson stood up. The falling snow began to revolve around Crimson, forming a kind of whirlwind. Pop Cat heaved himself to his feet, exhausted. He put his flippers together, and a ball of water formed in between them. Crimson pointed at Pop Cat, and he was subsequently stormed with snow and ice as what looked like all the falling snow around them targeted him. In no time, he was overpowered, and almost completely buried by the weight of the snowfall.
Crimson: Snow beats water, fool!
Ninja O'Dark picked up his nunchaku and span it, creating flames.
Ninja O'Dark: And Fire beats Snow!
Crimson sent the snowstorm in his direction, but Ninja O'Dark span the flaming nunchaku as fast as he could, evaporating the snowflakes.
Crimson: Then I'll just fight fire with fire.
Crimson then touched the Absorption Charm, then pointed at him.
Fire spouted from his flippers, this time in huge clusters. On instinct, Falco leapt from his spot and shoved Ninja O'Dark out of the way.
Ninja O'Dark: Falco, no wait–!
But before Falco could do anything, blinding yellow and red lights engulfed him completely, just as he put his flippers out to block them.
Chapter 9: Two Quests
A bright white light above Falco blinded him as soon as he opened his eyes. He looked around and was met with an unfamiliar sight: he was lying on a hospital bed in a tall, spacious room with a high ceiling and seemingly no windows. The walls were plated with a mixture of light and dark shiny metal, and blue lighting, giving the place a strange, futuristic vibe. Various machines, desks, and holographic devices were scattered about the place.
????: Greetings. I see you've awoken.
The noise startled Falco, who almost leapt out of bed. He turned to his left and saw a bespectacled, dark-heard penguin standing close to his bed, wearing what looked like a lab coat. His feathers were an Old Blue colour. In one of his flippers was a tablet, which was displaying a holographic diagram.
????: My name is Dr. Kelvin Kamiya. You've been out for a short while.
Falco: Hi. Um, where are we?
Dr. Kamiya: You're currently in my laboratory in Blizzardville. While you were unconscious, I've been doing my best to heal any damage.
At first, he didn't quite understand, but then looked down and saw he was still wearing his ninja suit, which was completely ruined. It was torn and shredded in several different places, and had been blackened by burns.
Dr. Kamiya: I'm afraid there were quite a lot of burns. This on the other hand, was still recovered.
Dr. Kamiya handed Falco his ninja mask, which was thankfully still more or less in one piece.
Falco: How long exactly have I been unconscious for?
Dr. Kamiya: It's been about 8 hours since you were brought here.
Falco: But who—?
Denise entered the room from an entrance on the right, Aero hopping closely behind her.
Denise: You're alive! We weren't sure if you were even going to wake up. We thought you got completely cooked by the flames.
Falco: Yeah, I thought so too. What happened?
Denise: Well, as soon as I saw Crimson blast you with flames, I rushed outside just as he escaped by disappearing. I immediately decided to take us to Dr. Kamiya here, who's the best I know of at helping people make fast recoveries.
Falco: What about the others?
Denise: They're fine. They left not so long ago to find Lightpenguin to try and find a way to stop Crimson from simply vanishing. We decided it was best to split up if we're going to complete the two quests. Otherwise we'll never be able to stop what Crimson's about to do next. They'll meet us at Nightlife City.
Falco: Alright, what's that guy up to now?
Dr. Kamiya: I'll show you.
He waddled over to one of the holographic displays. He typed a few things into a keyboard below it. Suddenly, the display changed to a live news broadcast. Nightlife City could be seen with huge, swirling clouds circling Mount Propeller. The streets were mostly empty, and the lights in most buildings turned off. The headline below read "Freak Storm Terrorizes Nightlife City".
Falco: Oh, no...
Dr. Kamiya: It's been like this for the past few hours now.
Denise: And it has to be Crimson causing that storm. Nightlife City has one of the strongest Pectospheric connections in the entire continent.
Falco: Which means he can execute his plan any minute.
Denise: Yeah. Which is why we have such little time. Do you feel hurt?
Falco: Strangely, I don't really feel anything.
Denise: Did you find anything Dr. Kamiya?
Dr. Kamiya: There was some minor burns on the arms, but otherwise, he seems strangely, if not, almost completely unscathed.
Falco: But that shouldn't be possible. I don't have my powers anymore, I should've been completely toasted.
Denise: Perhaps the suit protected him?
Dr. Kamiya: Possibly, but at the same time, I am inclined to think that was not the case. Falco would still have felt the burns.
Falco: That's weird. Maybe Crimson didn't mean to burn me completely?
Denise: I don't know...knowing what he's become now...
Falco: Well anyway, we should leave soon. The sooner we find the Earth Card, the better.
Falco: Yeah, I feel completely fine.
Denise: Uh, okay then. In that case, we should leave soon.
Falco: Yeah. I think I'll need to get a new suit first, though.
Denise: Well, we did get some spare outfits back at Nightlife.
Denise: Well, what do you think?
Falco examined his new outfit. Instead of his usual all-dark ninja suit, he now wore an outfit similar to that of a Hot Sauce Gi and a flame-patterned Cloud Bracer.
Falco: It's not a ninja suit, but I actually kinda like it. Plus, it's got a hot sauce bottle on the front, so that's a bonus.
Denise: Alright then. Let's gather our supplies and leave for Earth Mountain!
Falco: I wonder how the other two are doing?
Ninja O'Dark and Pop Cat arrived in front of a large, four-story house in Freezeland.
Ninja O'Dark checked the business card Gunther had given them.
Ninja O'Dark: You're 100% sure this is the place?
Pop Cat: Positive.
Ninja O'Dark: Okay, well you'd better be.
They waddled up to the doorstep of the house and knocked on the door. A few moments later, the door swung open. Strangely, nobody was standing behind the door.
Ninja O'Dark: Um.
Down the corridor of the house was a penguin. He had bright yellow feathers and horns that grew from his head over his eyes, which had no pupils. Large black wings spread out from his back. Most mysteriously of all, instead of waddling over to them, he hovered several inches off the floor.
Penguin: My name is Bau Kax, but you can call me Lightpenguin. What brings you two here?
Pop Cat: We seek a solution to remove the vanishing powers of a shadow fabric cloak.
Ninja O'Dark: Basically there's this one rogue ninja called Crimson that we're hunting who wants to takeover the world. He's got this magic cape he stole from the Shadow Ninjas that lets him disappear, which he used to escape us who knows how many times. Right now he's plotting the doom of the Pectosphere in Nightlife City.
Lightpenguin: I see.
Pop Cat: Gunther from Nightlife City sent us. He said you could help us.
Lightpenguin: And that, I can. Wait here a moment.
A loud whoosh suddenly filled the room, followed by a bright light. Lightpenguin now had a jar in his flipper.
Lightpenguin: Alright, I'm back. I found this upstairs.
Ninja O'Dark: Wait—but, you didn't go anywhere.
Lightpenguin: Oh, but I did. I ran upstairs at the speed of light.
Ninja O'Dark: Wait, you can do that?
He raised his other flipper. A basketball-sized orb of bright, glowing yellow light materialized there, glimmering brighter than the sun outside. Lightpenguin then somehow shrank the orb, fitting it inside the jar. Inside the jar, it hovered in mid-air, glowing faintly.
Lightpenguin: Take this. Don't open it until this "Crimson" person of yours goes invisible. If your timing is right, it'll reveal him and remove anything that his shadow cape conceals.
He handed the jar to Ninja O'Dark.
Ninja O'Dark: This feels...warm.
Pop Cat: Thank you so much for your help, Lightpenguin.
Lightpenguin: No problem! Anything in the name of ridding evil. Did you say that the Crimson person is in Nightlife City right now? I could run you both directly there. Instantly.
Pop Cat: You can?
Ninja O'Dark: Wait! Lightpenguin! Do you think that we could grab a few other people along the way, too?
Chapter 10: The Earth Card
Denise ran across the snowy floor of the Great Forest, her puffle Aero hopping closely behind her. Falco leapt between and around the trees, swinging around branches and speeding across the ground.
Denise stopped abruptly, just Falco leapt down beside her from the nearest tree. They had arrived at a clearing in the forest, in front of a large mound of rocks and boulders. Denise studied the scroll of the Earth Card that Reuben had given them, looking between the boulders and the scroll.
Denise: We're here! This is it right here. The entrance.
Falco: These boulders...they look like the head of a penguin.
Denise: Which only confirms that this the place we're looking for.
They both started waddling around, feeling the rock and searching for
Falco: Is there a trigger around here? Maybe a lever or something?
Denise: Hey, where's Aero? Aero, where did you go?
Denise waddled around, calling out Aero's name. Falco noticed an opening under the massive rock pile, almost large enough for a penguin to crawl through.
Falco: Hey Denise, what's this—WHOOOOA!
When he got close and crouched down next to the opening, the ground under him suddenly crumbled and he slipped into a hole.
Falco fell down a long, dark tunnel. As soon as he realized he was falling, he got close to the wall and propelled himself off it, bouncing from wall to wall until he landed safely at the bottom. Back at the surface, daylight shone through the small hole. Falco pulled out his bottle of hot sauce and squeezed it once, creating a bubble of sauce at the tip. A flame appeared on the bubble, illuminating the vicinity in orange light.
Falco looked around to see he had fallen into a cave, surrounded by massive, protruding stalagmites.
Something shuffled next to him, and he turned to see a slightly dazed and cofused bronze-coloured puffle staring up at him.
Falco: Aero! There you are! We thought we lost you.
A voice called from above.
Denise: Falco! Falco!? Are you alright down there?
Falco: Yeah, I'm fine! And I found Aero, too! Come down here, but be careful, it's a bit of a long drop.
A second later, Denise jumped through the hole and using Windjitsu, created a current of air to slow her fall. Aero hopped over to his owner as soon as she landed.
Denise: Please be careful next time, Aero. Is there anything else in this place?
Falco pressed the bottle again, expanding the bubble of sauce. The light now lit up the entire cave. On the walls were ancient, large-scale carvings: penguins in conical hats like Sensei's and long, wispy beards doing various poses on the tops of mountains and rocks.
Denise: Earth Warriors. Just like the ones in this scroll!
Aero ran across the room, stopped and began hopping. Behind him was a large, round tunnel.
Denise: Let's go this way.
They waddled down the tunnel into a larger cave. Sunlight appeared to be streaming in from a large hole in the middle of the ceiling, shining down on a wooden chest propped up on a podium in the center. Strangest of all, vines seemed to be growing all around the cavern, sprouting glowing flowers and flora of several colours.
Falco: You think the Earth Card is in there?
Denise: It's got to be.
Then came the sound of rumbling. Then, out of the rocky, earthen ground, a pile of dirt began to form in front of them. It gradually grew as more grains of dirt flew across the ground and coalesced into the pile. Soon enough, the pile had materialized into a the shape of a penguin in a sensei hat, looking just like the ones in the entrance cave. In his dirty flippers was a katana.
Falco: I guess he's not friendly?
Sure enough, the dirt penguin charged forwards, katana in flipper. Before he could skewer any of them, Falco pointed his bottle at him and blasted a fireball at him. The dirt penguin immediately exploded, scattering and dissolving into mounds of dirt on the floor.
Falco: That felt easy.
Just before they could progress forwards, the dirt mounds began to reform, instead this time, they formed into two earth warriors instead of one.
Denise: Too easy.
When the warriors attacked, Falco did exactly the same, shooting fire at one warrior, who exploded once again. Denise tried to push the other with gusts of air, but for some reason, it didn't seem to be working on the warrior. Falco then did a spin-kick on the warrior, breaking him apart. Aero created a mini-whirlwind, scattering the pieces of dirt.
Denise: Thanks. I guess this is what Gunther meant by how Air couldn't stop Earth.
Though the pieces were scattered, four more warriors materialized before them.
Falco: What!? There's more?
Not only this, but more mounds of dirt were appearing, gradually spawning more reinforcement.
Falco created one giant wave of fire from his hot sauce bottle, dousing them all in flames. Though the penguins were slightly charred, the hot sauce didn't seem to be as effective. He then vaulted into the air and crushed one warrior, before punching and kicking the others. Denise drew out a sword and sliced the others, then used a strong gust of wind to disperse their remains.
Even so, at least twice the number of warriors appeared from the ground in their place.
Falco: How!? They just keep coming! And my hot sauce doesn't seem to be working so well on them, either.
Denise: I can't stop them from reforming, either.
Falco blasted the warriors again, but sure enough, it didn't seem to have much effect at all this time. Aero tried to summon tornados to stop the warriors, but that wasn't of much help. As three warriors charged them, Falco ducked, swept them off their feet and swiftly kicked the fallen warriors. He proceeded to continue jabbing and striking the others.
Falco: Ouch...It feels like they're getting tougher skin, too.
Just as Falco seemed to eliminate most of the newly-formed warriors, yet another wave of them seemed to appear much faster than the others. They also seemed to becoming increasingly more stone-like and less earthy, both in appearance and in form. Sooner or later, they had an entire legion of dirt penguins, each and every one of them just as eager to destroy them.
Falco, Denise and Aero were now being cornered by the warriors, who were in a circle formation around them, closing in quickly. Denise struck one of the warriors with her sword, but it simply broke open impact, not affecting the penguin.
Denise: There's no way...we're not getting to the Earth Card like this...
Falco: Can't fly over?
Denise: The plants don't seem to like that.
She demonstrated by levitate off the floor, but sure enough, the vines around the ceiling suddenly became aggressive like an octopus' arms, trying to lash out at her. As soon as she touched the floor again, the vines stopped flailing.
Falco: What if...this is some sort of test? What if we don't fight them?
A warrior charged forwards. Falco ducked under his sword and dodged his second swing. The warrior immediately froze, then crumbled into earth. No new warriors appeared in his place.
Denise: Of course...the Earth Warriors were pacifists. A true Earth Warrior would have known to do that from the start.
Denise leapt over a fast-moving warrior, who was attempting to impale her. The warrior crumbled into soil, disappearing from sight. Aero observed this, and followed suit, approaching some warriors and rolling to the side when they tried to swipe him. Immediately, they crumbled.
Falco: It's working!
The three went around dodging and sidestepping the warrior's attacks and swipes, causing them to disintegrate and sink into the floor. The very last earth warrior didn't seem to regard the fact that he was the only one, and attempted to assault them anyways. As soon as Falco stepped back and avoided his sword, the warrior froze, but this time bowed at Falco before crumbling.
Denise: See? You didn't need powers. You're not completely useless without them.
Falco: Hm. Maybe you're right.
They approached the wooden chest's podium. No dirt penguins appeared to stopped them. Falco took the chest in his flippers and opened the lid. Inside was an orange card. It seemed to radiate with an aura of energy.
Denise: So it's true.
Falco: Yeah. We got the Earth Card.
Falco closed the lid and looked up to the hole in the ceiling, which was plastered with vines.
Falco: We should get back to Nightlife as soon as possible. Do you think the vines will let you past this time?
Denise: Only one way to find out. Aero?
Aero happily bounded over and created a tornado around them. They began to rise, and ascended straight into the sky. The forest underneath them shrunk rapidly as they flew higher, before gliding straight towards Nightlife City.
Chapter 11: Calm Before the Storm
Falco and Denise waddled through the gates of Nightlife City, Aero trotting along behind them.
Falco: This place looks like it's seen better days.
Every shop in the city appeared to be closed. Leaves and the occasional piece of rubbish rolled along the empty streets in the strong winds. The sky was packed with a thick layer of black storm clouds, casting a shadow over the once lively town, which was now as dark as night. The cloud revolved around Mt. Propeller like a funnel cloud, it's snowcapped summit obscured completely.
Falco: Where is everyone?
Denise: Must be in hiding. Either that, or they've fled.
Falco: It's too quiet here.
Denise: Yeah, I know. Let's head to Gunther's.
They waddled across the silent streets of the city, alert for any sounds of movement. They almost jumped when rounding a corner, as two other penguins appeared at exactly the same time.
Ninja O'Dark: Hey, watch where you're—!
Denise: Ninja O'Dark? Pop Cat?
Pop Cat: Yes, it's us!
Falco: You scared us. This place is creepily silent.
Ninja O'Dark: By the way, look what we got!
He held up a jar. Inside was a glowing sphere of yellow light.
Ninja O'Dark: This should fix our cloaking problem. But only when Crimson goes invisible.
Falco: Alright, cool.
Denise: How long have you guys been here? What's been going on?
Pop Cat: Not sure of it ourselves. It just doesn't seem like anyone stood around when Crimson arrived.
Ninja O'Dark: And for good reason too.
Falco thought he saw a shadowy figure disappear behind the roof of a building. His flipper flew to his hot sauce bottle. Apparently the others noticed, too.
Falco: You saw that, right?
Ninja O'Dark: Yeah. Up on the roofs.
Pop Cat: Someone's watching us.
Denise: Stay alert. There's got to be more of them.
A dark figure then jumped across a rooftop, silent as the ongoing breeze.
Pop Cat: Reveal yourself. We know you're there!
A moment later, a group of ninjas appeared from behind buildings, around alleyways and down from balconies. They were all wearing regular ninja suits, save for the fact that their belts and masks were crimson red.
Ninja O'Dark: Alright, what do you want from us?
One of the ninjas stepped forwards.
Ninja: Nightlife City has fallen. It now belongs to Crimson and the Ninja Syndicate.
He drew out a katana.
Ninja: Are you here to join us? Or are you scum?
Falco: I think we're neither of those, thanks.
The other ninjas drew out katanas. Falco and the others pulled out their weapons.
Ninja: Then you're not welcome here—AUUGH!
The ninjas whirled around as their leader was knocked out with the flat of a bronze blade. As they attacked the mysterious perpetrator, they soon found themselves on the ground, unconscious as the penguin sliced, blocked and swung his sword.
Gunther: Yeah, that's right. It's me.
He slung his sword behind his back.
Gunther: I'm really sorry about all this. Ever since Crimson took over Nightlife, he assembled this band of lackeys that joined his cause. Ever since then, they've been patrolling the streets, attacking anyone they can find who isn't one of them. Everyone's panicking. The city has never seen worse days.
Gunther: And it's all my fault.
Denise: What are you talking about?
Falco: Yeah, if anything you've been the biggest help so far. We wouldn't have found the Earth Card if it wasn't for you.
Ninja O'Dark: Or asked Lightpenguin to help us. Speaking of which, I hope he finishes with what he does soon.
Gunther: No, I'm serious, it is. I haven't been completely honest with you all.
Denise: What's wrong...?
Gunther: I was the one who told Crimson about the Zephyr Katana and the Absorption Amulet, and where they were hidden. I was the one who told him how to use the items he needed to collect to manipulate the Pectosphere however he wanted. I was so hopeful for someone to one day control the Pectosphere and use its power for good. I wanted to be that person so badly. I was gullible enough to trust Crimson when he first came to me years ago, having just been kicked out of the Air Ninjas, telling him everything I knew about controlling the Pectosphere. It was only until recently did I realize my greatest mistake, which is why I sent you out to find the Earth Card in order to stop him. If anything, I'm the villain. Not him.
Nobody said anything.
Denise: But Gunther, you—
Before she could finish her sentence, the sound of over a dozen katanas being unsheathed from their scabbards filled the air. Several Syndicate ninjas had them completely surrounded, and in addition, outnumbered.
????: Well, well, well...
Falco heard a harsh, metallic-sounding voice. An aqua-feathered penguin in front of them was smiling maliciously. He was wearing samurai armour, and seemed to have pieces of metal replacing certain parts of his body, including the sides of his head, his eye, and his entire left arm. He carried a glowing red sword in his metal flipper.
Metal Penguin: Looks like we've cornered the pests!
Falco: Who are you supposed to be?
Metal Penguin: Does it really matter? It's MEK, by the way. M-E-K.
Ninja O'Dark: Let me guess. You're here to take us to Crimson.
MEK spun his sword, his robotic flipper spinning full circle.
MEK: Correct! My computer calculates it'll be easier if you just comply and surrender. Trust me, it'll be more easier if you do.
Falco: Thanks, but no thanks.
MEK: Alright, you asked for it.
MEK charged forwards at inconceivable speeds, becoming a literal blur. Somehow, Gunther managed to block his attack with his own sword. Gunther attempted to counter, but MEK's robotic arm seemed to give him an advantage, and he was quick to block it.
The other ninjas charged forwards the help MEK, but Falco and the others rushed to his aid, defending Gunther from the many ninjas. Together, they managed to take down the entire group of ninjas, blasting them with whatever they had. Falco alternated between pulling out shurikens, shooting with hot sauce and throwing down Card-Jitsu cards at whoever he could see. Ninja O'Dark and Pop Cat stood back to back, throwing fireballs and water balloons. Denise punched and threw enemies into the air while Aero swept them away with tornadoes.
Gunther managed to unhook his weapon from MEK's. He raised it upwards with both flippers and quickly brought it down, planting the blade straight into the ground.
An overwhelmingly powerful shockwave erupted from the sword, shaking the whole neighbourhood like a strong earthquake and knocking the rest of the ninjas back. MEK, Falco, and the rest of the team desperately tried to hold onto something. Gunther pulled the bronze sword out of the floor and pointed it at MEK, who was on the floor and seemed to be overcome by the shockwave.
Ninja O'Dark: What...what was that?
Gunther: That was the power of Earth.
MEK: I'm telling you, it's not too late to join the Syndicate. Fighters like you would be very useful, wouldn't you say?
Gunther: I'm not helping you or Crimson ever again.
MEK: Oh, well.
The Syndicate ninjas were soon joined by another wave of reinforcements, this one much larger. It looked like all the ninjas in the neighbourhood had been alerted by the earthquake.
Denise: Not good...
Ninja: What happened, MEK? Was it these guys? Are they rebels?
MEK: It looks like it. Get them!
There was no way Gunther could pull off another earthquake on this many ninjas. Just when it looked like all hope was lost, a water balloon hit the head of the nearest ninja, drenching him completely. Several snowballs, fireballs and water balloons rained down on the ninjas, hitting them and forcing them to disperse.
Falco turned around and saw many familiar faces.
Sensei: Greetings, young grasshoppers. It appears we arrived at the right moment.
Psyche: Obviously, we couldn't miss out on the fun!
Green Ninja: Ditto!
Dev66: Hey, I might finally earn my black belt for this!
Winston: Who wants a ninja hug?
Everyone backed away from Winston at that comment.
Speeddasher: Alright! So, who's first?
Chapter 12: Battle of the Elements
Both sides immediately rushed each other, flinging projectiles and blasting each other with fire, water or snow.
Ninja O'Dark: Now this is fun!
Gunther sliced at a couple of Syndicate ninjas before slamming his sword on the ground. Rocks sprouted out of the ground, making a few incoming ninjas trip over.
Lightning flashed overhead, and thunder boomed. He looked at Falco.
Gunther: There's not much time. You have to get to the top of Mount Propeller now before Crimson takes control of the Pectosphere! Make sure you have the Earth Card!
Falco: But what about you?
Gunther: I'll be fine! I'll help the other ninjas handle the mess down here. GO!
Falco signalled Denise, Ninja O'Dark, Pop Cat and Aero to head directly for Mount Propeller. He grabbed the wooden chest containing the Earth Card and made a dash for the mountain.
Ninja O'Dark: Aw, come on! I was just starting to enjoy that.
They sprinted past incoming Syndicate ninjas, avoiding their lunges from the rooftops and attempts at dueling with katanas. As they neared the mountain steps, several Syndicate ninjas crowded in front of the entrance, blocking their path. Pop Cat summoned a large wave of water from a nearby river, making it land above the steps, soaking the ninjas from behind and forcing them forwards. Aero then formed a tornado with the remaining water, while Denise manipulated the tornado to chase the ninjas away.
Thunder rumbled again, this time much louder. Several more ninjas leapt out from behind bushes and houses, throwing projectiles and shurikens at the team and leaping up the side of the mountain.
Pop Cat: This won't do. We wont make it up the stairs in time.
????: Not if we can help.
The wind picked up. The Syndicate ninjas levitated into the air and were propelled several dozen feet away, screaming and yelling. Several more ninjas arrived to try and resume the attack, but the wind seemed to be fighting against them. They looked like they were running in slow motion as they couldn't seem to get past the barrier of wind.
Falco and the others turned to see the Air Ninjas, with Denise's uncle, the Air Sensei standing near to them.
Denise: Uncle! You...you came to help!
Air Sensei: Yes. This mysterious horned yellow penguin arrived outside our islands. He told us the Pectosphere was in danger. I knew that something was changing with the Pectosphere, and I couldn't afford to let my ninjas be affected. So we decided to come out into the open. Just this once.
He gestured to the mountain.
Air Sensei: You'd better stop Crimson. We'll help you up there.
The Air Sensei and the other Air Ninjas all moved their flippers in unison. Falco suddenly felt his feet leaving the ground.
The ground beneath them began to shrink as they ascended towards the mountain peak. The Air Sensei called up to them one last time before they were reduced to specks.
Air Sensei: Good luck!
Denise: Thanks, uncle!
Thunder rumbled loudly as they neared the clouds covering the mountain top, supported by the wind. Eventually, they descended, landing lightly on the snow covered top of the mountain.
Crimson stood near the peak, Zephyr Katana in flipper. The katana was surrounded by clouds and mist, and appeared to be spurting out golden flames. It was vibrating intensely, glowing bright yellow. His damaged Absorption Charm shone bright white, pulsing with energy.
Denise: STOP THIS NOW, CRIMSON!
Crimson looked at them.
Crimson: I knew you'd be here! And YOU!
He pointed at Falco with his free flipper.
Crimson: You survived!
Falco: That's right, scarlet.
Crimson: Ha! Well it doesn't matter either way! Sooner or latter the Pectosphere will be mine to control!
Pop Cat: Not if we can help it.
Crimson: Don't you understand!? We have the opportunity to become the most powerful force Antarctica will ever see! We'll be unstoppable! With the Pectosphere in our control, we'll destroy the ones who forced us into secrecy! We won't have to remain hidden anymore! The Air Ninjas won't have to hide anymore! They'll be afraid of us. All of them!
Ninja O'Dark: Sorry, scarlet.
He drew out his nunchaku.
Ninja O'Dark: But we just can't let you do that.
Pop Cat took out a water balloon. Aero growled at Crimson. Falco put down the wooden chest and slipped the Earth Card under his sleeve.
Crimson: So it's gotta be this way, huh? Fair enough.
Ninja O'Dark made the first move, slinging fireballs Crimson's way with his nunchaku. Crimson absorbed the fireballs and pointed the Zephyr Katana at him. It ejected continuous golden flames, which Ninja O'Dark quickly dodged. Crimson summoned air in his direction. Ninja O'Dark was caught in mid-air, and was promptly thrown off the mountain.
Ninja O'Dark: AAAAAAAAGH!
Fortunately, Aero leapt off the mountain just in time, and summoned a tornado to fly them back. Pop Cat and Denise combined powers, creating a spinning vortex of water, throwing it at Crimson, who created more golden flames to beat it back, masking the snowy mountaintop in steam. Denise cleared the steam with air, though Crimson appeared to have disappeared.
Just then, he materialized out of thin air behind Falco and smacked him with the sword. Pop Cat summoned a wall of water around Crimson, forming it into an impenetrable bubble like he did before.
Crimson: Not this time!
Crimson pointed his sword into the air. Clouds began to swirl on top of it once more.
An ear-splitting explosion reverberated throughout the mountaintop, knocking Falco and the others over. The water bubble exploded, and the clouds seemed to become stormy as ever. Rainbow-hued cracks appeared in the sky like shattered glass - the Pectosphere was beginning to break open.
Crimson: Yes...it's working!
He pressed his glowing charm and pointed at the cracks in the sky. Rainbow energy surged from the Pectospheric cracks into his charm, which began to vibrate intensely. Crimson's flippers glowed brightly with rainbow energy. Ninja O'Dark charged forwards and blasted Crimson with fire. Crimson's rainbow flippers spouted water, counteracting the fire. He summoned a forceful jet of water with the sword, pummeling Ninja O'Dark in the head and making him flop onto the floor. Pop Cat tried to absorb the water, but Crimson waved his flipper, turning it into chunks of ice, which in turn crushed him.
Denise and Aero tried to summon powerful winds, but Crimson merely dissipated them. Falco meanwhile, had an idea and quickly ducked behind some rocks.
Crimson: I'm afraid not this time, Denise.
He created ice around them, covering Aero completely and trapping Denise's feet.
Crimson: Now you'll burn.
Flames appeared in his flippers and he pointed it at them. Before the flames could get to her, Gunther rushed in seemingly out of nowhere and created a shield of dirt with his sword.
Denise: Gunther, what are you doing!?
Gunther: Trying to protect you all!
The shield quickly crumbled, and before the flames could melt the shield completely, Gunther pulled Denise out of the ice and grabbed the crystallized Aero. The shield suddenly broke and Gunther leapt out of the way, his sword clattered to the ground. Crimson floated over to him before he could get up.
Crimson: You're done for, Gunther. It's too late for you to turn back now. You've already helped me in becoming the most powerful ninja on the planet!
Gunther: At least...I tried.
He struggled to get up, still steaming from the burns. Crimson readied his flippers and pointed the sword at him. It glowed bright rainbow, vibrating wildly. Before he could, the sword was suddenly wrenched from his grip. Crimson's flippers stopped glowing rainbow.
Falco: I used your own weapon against you. You can't fight what you can't see.
The sword struck Crimson in the chest hard, knocking him aside. Falco materialized out of thin air, holding the shaking sword. He raised his right flipper, which had a Cloud Wave Bracer on it.
Crimson: Oh, you...Clever!
Crimson suddenly threw his own cape over his head, vanishing.
Falco: Pop Cat, NOW! THE ORB!
Pop Cat, who was staggering to his feet, pulled out the glowing orb jar.
Pop Cat: Everyone turn around and close your eyes as tight as possible!
He smashed the jar on the ground, engulfing the whole mountain in a blinding light, brighter than day. They heard a shriek of terror.
Crimson: No...no, no, no, no!
Crimson was seen looking at his own flippers, not being able to believe what just happened. His face and eyes were now completely visible, and his feathers were a dark greenish. His outfit seemed less monochrome and more colourful now, instead of the darker greyish shade Falco was used to seeing.
Ninja O'Dark: Ah. So now you reveal your true colours!
Crimson was furious.
Crimson: This doesn't change the fact that I'm going to throw you all off the mountain!
He pointed at Falco.
Crimson: Starting with YOU!
But Falco was quicker. Before the gust of wind could start, he flicked the Earth Card out from under his sleeve. A torrent of dirt and dust shot out from the card, countering the strong air current.
Gunther suddenly charged, preparing to strike. Crimson tried to create a vortex to slow him down, but Gunther created a shower of earth from his bronze sword to block the air while sprinting forwards. Pop Cat stamped on the ground once with his foot and raised his flippers.
The same water-bubbled structure formed around Crimson, but this time, it was much tighter, restricting him to barely any space. Aero created a tornado aronud the bubble, reinforcing it and holding it in place. Crimson attempted to wriggle free, but couldn't seem to breach the strong water shield. Pop Cat manipulated the shield to open right over Crimson's neck, exposing the cracked Absorption Charm. Gunther jumped right forwards and yanked the charm off of Crimson's cape.
Crimson made a cry of protest that sounded something like "Blub blub!"
Ninja O'Dark: Oh sorry, we couldn't hear that! Why don't you speak up?
Gunther threw the charm into the snow. He looked at the others. Falco stuck the still shaking Zephyr Katana in the ground and created a protective shell of rock around the captive Crimson. Pop Cat released him from the bubble.
Gunther: Shall we do the deed? The combined power of more than one element is needed. I think Earth and Air should be good enough substitutes for Snow.
Denise: Let's destroy it.
Pop Cat: Let's do it. That charm has caused enough trouble.
Ninja O'Dark: Yeah.
Denise, Gunther, Pop Cat and Ninja O'Dark surrounded the amulet in a square formation.
Crimson: WAIT! That charm contains your powers, Falco! If you destroy it, you will never get them back!
They all looked at Falco.
Falco: Just do it. We shouldn't not destroy it because of me alone.
Denise: Are you sure about this?
Falco: Yeah. I'm sure.
Ninja O'Dark: Alright. Here goes.
All at the same time, each of the four ninjas fired their respective powers at the amulet: Gunther using his sword to create Earth, Denise producing Air, Pop Cat using Water and Ninja O'Dark using Fire. Crimson could only watch in disappointment as the Absorption Charm glowed bright white, cracking and quivering until it exploded in a bright and colourful burst of energy, which swept over them.
Pop Cat: We...we did it!
Ninja O'Dark: YEAH! Finally!
Gunther put his sword down and heaved a great sigh of relief. Falco was just about to celebrate when he saw that Crimson was no longer stuck in the earth shell. He turned just in time to see Crimson holding the Zephyr Katana before he was engulfed by a blinding light as he was engulfed by golden flames. There was just enough time for him to put his flippers up to shield his face just as Denise and the others realized and stopped cheering.
Chapter 13: Eternal Flame
Denise and the others seemed too shocked to speak. Crimson seemed proud of himself. Clouds of steam and smoke wafted around where Falco once stood.
Crimson: Hah hah hah hah. Finally. I've pretty much lost everything...my ninjas. The Absorption Charm. I've failed epically to accomplish my end goal.
He threw the Zephyr Katana on the floor.
Crimson: But at least I got rid of the one who took it all from me. Lock me away if you want! It won't bring Falco back.
Denise looked just about ready to explode. The wind began to pick up, howling fiercely. The clouds above began to swirl.
Ninja O'Dark: Wait...what's that?
The wind had began to clear the smoke and steam, revealing a glowing figure to have been behind it. Standing with his eyes shut, surrounded and seemingly unaffected by an aura of ghastly glowing red, orange and yellow flames, was Falco Hochstadt. His flippers were together, and his expression seemed to be emotionless.
Crimson seemed thunderstruck. Falco's eyes suddenly flew open. Burning red flames could be seen in his pupils.
Still shimmering with flames, Falco waddled to the Zephyr Katana. He picked it up in his flippers and tightened his grip around it. The golden katana began to dissolve, disintegrating completely into sparkling golden ashes. Falco turned to look at Crimson. He lifted a flipper and pointed at him.
His voice sounded echoey. Crimson seemed frozen in place, unable to move.
Falco: We have had enough of you!
A loud crack filled the air. A blindingly bright and vibrant swarm of red, orange and yellow flames exploded right in front of Crimson. The force of the explosion made the entire mountain tremble. Crimson was thrown off the edge by the sheer force, his outfit burning. Falco's eyes suddenly flickered back to their usual colour and closed, while the aura of flame disappeared. He staggered forwards. Denise and Ninja O'Dark came to his aid.
Denise: Falco! FALCO! Are you alright!?
Falco: That was just...surreal.
Ninja O'Dark: Y'know what, I think you were right. You won that last match we had. You are flippers down a better fire ninja than me.
Cheering could be heard. A crowd of ninjas emerged from the mountain stairs and crowded the entire mountaintop, cheering about their victory over the Syndicate Ninjas. Winston tried to give everyone celebratory hugs, which surprisingly, some ninjas allowed him to.
Among the celebrating ninjas was a smiling elderly ninja.
Sensei: Congratulations, young grasshoppers. It appears your quest was successful. Well done.
Pop Cat: Thank you, Sensei.
The clouds in the sky were now parting quickly, revealing a beautiful purple, indigo and caramel orange sunset. The Pectospheric cracks had repaired themselves and vanished.
Falco: But...I have no idea what just happened...
Ninja O'Dark: I'm not too sure anyone did.
Sensei: I think I do. It appears you entered a very mysterious state. The Sensei State.
Falco: "Sensei State"?
Sensei: Yes. It appears to run in your family, too. It means that you might just be the future candidate for Fire Sensei one day.
Falco: Oh. But I don't think I can.
Sensei: Worry not, young grasshopper. It takes time and patience before you become a Sensei. Much too learn before you get there. Of course, you have the option to not become Sensei if you wish.
Falco: Uh, okay. What about my fire powers just then? I thought I lost them when the Absorption Charm was destroyed?
Sensei: Ah, but I think not. Fire power is something that has existed within your family for generations, Falco. Just like being a ninja. It resurfaces in the most unexpected of family members.
Falco: But when I was younger, I thought I got my powers from the Amulet of Fire? That's what my grandfather said...
Sensei: I think, perhaps, the amulet merely appealed to you because of your connection the the flames. It revealed your hidden powers, and from there you learned how to use them. It showed a step of the path for you, and you continued on your own. I believe your powers resurfaced today in your determination to stop Crimson. The same thing that unleashed your Sensei State. All you needed to activate your powers was a little push.
Denise: This must explain what happened to you when Crimson tried to burn you the first time. You used your powers to stop most of the flames from burning you.
Falco: Yeah...no wonder. But what happened to Crimson? Is he still alive?
Denise: I'm sure he is. He always survives somehow. I guess I've lost all hope for him at this point.
Sensei: Indeed. A dark path he was leading. One that only lead to his defeat. I tried to warn him when he stole the Absorption Charm.
Ninja O'Dark: Do you think we'll ever find the guy?
Air Sensei: We'll find him. Eventually, no doubt.
Denise's uncle appeared by Sensei's side.
Falco: Hey! Uh, sorry for destroying the Zephyr Katana. I kinda didn't have control over the Sensei State.
Air Sensei: It is fine. I think it is for the best. Too much power in one's flippers, that katana was. But I guess I must thank you all for saving the Pectosphere. Perhaps the outside world may not be so bad...
Denise: So we'll not be so secretive anymore?
Air Sensei: With time, perhaps. For now I will keep in contact. We still have much to exchange with the other ninjas.
Sensei: Yes, I think we'd quite like that.
Gunther waddled up to the group.
Gunther: In the mean time, I think I'll head back and fix my shop. Big mess to clean up.
He looked at everyone sadly.
Gunther: I don't expect you all to forgive me for what I did. It wasn't right.
Ninja O'Dark: What!? It's fine! If anything, you've only redeemed yourself by helping us destroy the charm!
Denise: It's fine, Gunther. We all forgive you.
Gunther: See you soon, I hope.
He was the first to descend down the steps. Falco looked up at the sky, where a few stars were visible.
Falco: I guess that ends it, huh?
He rubbed his flippers together. A few sparks appeared.
Ninja O'Dark: Guess so. Rematch when we return?
Falco thought about it.
Ninja O'Dark: Hey, speaking of which, Lightpenguin brought us all here at the speed of light. Are we getting a free ride back?