Time & Again

Chapter 4 - It's Hard to Predict the Future When They Keep Changing the Past


Jack was exhausted by the time he and the Good Guys made camp several miles away from the dark forest they’d exited from.

They settled in a small alcove at the edge of a small lake. The alcove was formed on two sides by several large boulders piled together to create a natural windbreak. It was here that Chase and Guan piled driftwood together inside of a rock circle on the sand to create a small yet warm fire.

Jack sat as close to the fire as he dared; his knees drawn up and his arms crossed over them, with his chin resting on his arms. He began to relax when the heat from the fire seeped into his clothing and then his body.

Guan and Chase pulled jerky from their tunics to share with the two youths. Omi bowed his head in thanks and Jack sighed but said thank-you as well.

After the four of them had finished eating, Chase looked back and forth between the two teenagers and said, “Perhaps you had better tell us your tale now.”

Jack rolled his eyes up to the sky, noting how the black of the night sky was beginning to lighten to indigo around the edges. “It’s almost dawn!” he protested.

“And this matters how?”

Groaning, Jack buried his head in his arms.

“I shall begin,” said Omi, taking up the slack. “Chase Young, you—“

But Chase interrupted. “What did you call me?”

Omi frowned. “Chase Young. It is your name.”

The older man scowled and shook his head. “That is not my name. I am Long Jun-Han.”

“Aggressive Dragon? That works,” Jack said with a smirk, and was surprised when Chase – or Jun-Han, rather – smirked back at him.

“Very well, I shall call you Jun-Han,” said Omi. “Twelve-hundred years from now, you – who are known in our time as Chase Young – are one of the most powerful forces of evil in the world. You periodically consume a potion in order to stay young and strong forever, and in doing so, you have the ability to change shape – to transform into a large, powerful, upright-walking lizard.”

“You’re a walking, talking, humanoid dragon,” interrupted Jack. “Which fits, because the potion you drink is basically dragon juice.”

Jun-Han silently worked the word ‘humanoid’ around in his mind and figured it meant ‘resembling a human’.

“Why would I subject myself to such an existence?” he asked, his tone doubtful.

“Because you can only be the best if you’re around long enough to prove it,” said Jack. “After twelve-hundred years, you’ve earned a reputation as the Prince of Evil.”

“Oh? And what would that make you?” Jun-Han asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Eh… I’m still only a minor player,” Jack grimaced. “I’m, like, the Prince of Insufficient Light.”

“Jack failed in his single attempt to be Good and he messes up nearly every time he commits Evil,” Omi offered, and ducked the sand Jack threw at his head.

“If that is so, then why should I believe you?” Jun-Han asked.

“Omi is on the side of Good,” Jack snarled. “If you can’t accept that you-then sent me back to talk to you-now, then maybe you’ll listen to Mini-Monk; he’s got more to lose if you turn Evil as planned.”

Omi gave Jack a scowl and the taller youth sneered at him.

“Perhaps you should tell us how this happens,” Guan opined calmly.

Jack and Omi exchanged hesitant glances.

“I am not certain that is the wisest course of action,” said Omi.

Jack nodded. “It’s one of the unwritten rules of time travel – don’t tell the people in the past too much of the future, or you just might end up re-writing the future by accident.”

“But isn’t that what you’re trying to do?” Guan asked.

“Neither one of us wants to be responsible for achieving the opposite of our given missions,” Jack said with a shrug. “If I tell you what happens, it could end up that Chase – sorry, Jun-Han – does the exact opposite and stays Good. Or if Twinkie—ow! Okay, okay! If Omi tells you, then it might end up that he’s the one that made you be Evil, which would mean the future is all his fault. The idea of it makes me want to laugh, but there it is.”

“Then how do you intend to accomplish your missions?”

“We hang around Jun-Han until the Moment arrives,” Jack replied.

“Hang around?”

Omi sighed and shook his head. “In our time, we have a rather informal way of talking that is called ‘slang’.”

“And if there’s one thing you can’t accomplish, it’s learning how to use it properly,” Jack sniped.

“If there is only one thing out of several hundred things, then I am victorious in the competition!”

“That’s ‘winning the game’, dinkus o’realius!” Jack yelled, then sighed and facepalmed before gesturing at Omi and saying, “See? See? This is what I’m talking about! You make everyone wall-eyed crazy trying to translate your sentences!”

Omi pouted and crossed his arms over his chest.

“So, what does ‘hang around’ mean?” Jun-Han asked quietly, still processing the information he’d been given so far.

“Uh… stay nearby,” Jack replied, giving the simplest literal translation.

“Your plan, then, is to stay close to me?”

Both Omi and Jack nodded.

Jun-Han sighed. “If you must.”

Guan reached out and lightly touched the other man’s arm. “My friend – do you not wish to avoid this transformation?”

“Yes… of course I do!” Jun-Han replied, offering a smile to Guan. “It is difficult to accept that I am capable of such evil.”

“We all have the capacity for evil as we all have the capacity for good, which leaves us faced with a choice; what we do with that choice is what determines us,” Guan murmured.

“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Jack sniped, then yawned. “Do any of you Do-Gooders ever sleep?”

“We do, but why would we do so now? The sun is up!” Guan replied with a smile, gesturing towards the luminous disc rising into the sky.

Jack sighed and buried his head in his arms.


Chapter 3 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Xiaolin Showdown ~~~~~~~~ Chapter 5



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