Chapter 9- Fight Fire with Fire
Pippa, still half asleep, lifted her head drowsily at the sound of her name being called. She was startled awake when something crashed into her window.
“Whoa!” she screamed instinctively. She looked over at the glass, now stained with a white patch. She cocked her head to the side, her facial expression complete confusion. She heard her name being called from outside again. She swung her legs over the side of her bed and hurried to the windowsill. She opened it up, looking down to see Jamie standing in her front yard. The whole ground was covered in a layer of snow.
“Get down here!” he shouted up at her with a smile. Pippa smiled back.
“I’ll be right out” she told him. She closed the window and stepped away. She rolled her eyes playfully once she was out of his view. She loved how he was always so enthusiastic. Hastily, she threw off her nightgown and replaced it with her jacket and pants. As usual, she was already wearing her cap. Grabbing her scarf, she ran out of her room, downstairs and out to where Jamie was waiting for her.
“Snowday!” she exclaimed, giving a leap of joy. “Jack’s really outdone himself this time.” She meant it. The entire ground was white, sparkling beautifully in the sunlight. Jamie smiled at the mention of his friend.
“Yeah, he really has. We’ll thank him when he gets here.”
Pippa’s face dropped. “Gets here? Jamie, he’s a guardian remember? He has responsibilities now. He can’t just hang out with us all the time.” Jamie’s grin didn’t fade, much to Pippa’s surprise.
“True but he’s our friend. I’m certain he’ll come.” Jamie turned to leave.
Pippa wasn’t so sure; though that wasn’t the reason she had gotten so disheartened when he mentioned him coming. Truth was she didn’t want him to come. She liked Jack, she really did, but he and Jamie had such a great friendship, it made her jealous seeing them together. She had never had that with anyone. Even though she and the others believed in him too now, because Jamie was his first believer, Jack was especially close to him. Pippa wanted to have that kind of closeness with someone but it looked as though she would never receive her wish.
Jamie halted, looking back at her, “You coming or what?”
Pippa nodded sadly, though she was well aware that Jamie wouldn’t pick up on it. She slowly trailed after him.
The guardians clustered together at the Pole, trying to find a way to put things back on track. North frantically tried to craft together toys but it wasn’t much use. Most of his supplies had been damaged, leaving him with hardly anything to work with. He let out an exasperated sigh, holding his head in his hands. Unknowingly to him, Jack stood in the doorway. He had never seen North like this before; he couldn’t even begin to think how much loosing Christmas must have hurt him. Jack remained in the doorway, looking out at the rest of the workshop. Sandy was relocating the injured fairies to a safer place in the Pole where they would be tended to. Tooth did her best to help but with her fairies wounded by the nightmares, she had become very weak. Bunny raced around the place, doing what he could to rebuild the toys. There was still no sign of the yetis or elves.
Jack felt hollow inside of him. Despite all the devastation around him, it was Jaz that made him feel most empty. Even if he truly wanted to believe it, she wasn’t his enemy. He just couldn’t grasp the idea that she would have done this to them, and there was still something that didn’t add up. If it had been Jaz that planned the attack, then why were there nightmares in the workshop when they had first returned? It didn’t make sense. He wanted answers, and he was going to get them.
He flew across the workshop to where Sandy and Tooth were.
“I’m going to go look for Jaz” he announced. Sandy raised his hands, shaking them wildly in front of his body. He was trying to warn Jack not to proceed with his plan but he wouldn’t listen. Tooth staggered to her feet.
“Jack, no” she begged. Jack supported her weak form.
“I have to” he said, looking into her eyes. “I need to know why she did it.”
“Then I’m going with you.” The three of them spun around as Bunny walked over. Jack looked at him, his gaze firm.
“No. North needs you here” he reminded him of the crisis at hand.
“She’ll listen to me before she listens to you” Bunny pointed out. “What makes you think she’ll tell you anything?” Jack stepped forward to meet him.
“I have my ways.” He didn’t give anyone else a chance to counter his decision. He flew off at a swift speed, out of the workshop. He had no idea where to even begin searching for her; there were a million places she could be. But he wasn’t about to let that stop him. He had made up his mind and was going to find her no matter what.
“What do you mean he’s gone?” North bellowed. Bunny, Sandy and Tooth stood opposite him. Bunny had his arms folded across his chest.
“I mean,” he rephrased. “Jack’s gone looking for Jaz.” North’s lowered head shook from side to side as he tried to take in the knowledge he had been given.
“This is bad” he murmured. “Very bad.”
“North, we have to go after him. He could get himself killed out there,” Tooth spoke up. Sandy nodded. North was conscious of the boy’s actions and what could take place if they were not there. He hated the thought of something happening to him, though in the situation taking place it was a likely occurrence. He had to make a decision. Christmas was in less than 48 hours but Jack’s life was at risk. There was only one choice.
“She’s right. Knowing him, he’s likely to do something foolish.” Bunny paused for a moment, his eyes closing with pain. “And knowing her, she will do something she’ll regret.”
“We leave at once” North decided. Sandy formed a present above his head.
“Is too late” he told the golden man forlornly. The others were shocked when he spoke those words. “Right now, Jack needs us.”
Jack shot through the air like a bullet. His staff firmly in his grip, he made his way to Australia. Nightfall had just fallen. This was where he assumed Jaz would be. It was her home, where Man in Moon had brought her to life. It was also a special place to her as she shared her home country with Bunny.
He landed on the street of an abandoned town. Here was as good to start looking as anyplace. Jack made sure to not only look for Jaz but to feel her presence too. Warm winds, fires—any sign that would indicate her being there.
“Frost” a voice sounded behind him. Jack’s head shot up when he heard it. He spun around, aiming his staff at Pitch.
“Not happy to see me?” he taunted.
“Where’s Jaz?” Jack demanded. Pitch smiled.
“What makes you think I know where she is?” he asked. Jack kept his staff fixed on him. He knew that Pitch was hiding something.
“The nightmares in North’s workshop” Jack was careful to prepare his mind for whatever trickery Pitch had in store for him.
Jaz stepped out from the shadows behind him.
“Jack.” She made her presence known. Jack twisted around, lowering his staff when he saw her. A smile grew across his face. The same could no be said for Jaz. She walked past him, over to Pitch’s side. His grin immediately vanished. Pitch’s hand grazed up and down along her spine, stroking her back. The sight of it made Jack’s stomach turn over.
“Let her go” he threatened Pitch. The nightmare king laughed at his accusation.
“I’m not holding her prisoner, if that’s what you’re implying. Jaz is free to do as she wishes.” Jaz nodded her agreement, much to Jack’s discomfort.
“Y-You’re…You’re with Pitch?” Jack stuttered. Jaz’s eyes narrowed.
“Don’t act so surprised” she snapped, pacing towards him. “It’s not like you ever trusted me. That ‘truce’ of yours was nothing more than a wretched lie!” She continued to advance on him.
“Something goes wrong,” she sneered. “Blame the fire spirit, blame Pyro!” Jack winced as she repeated the name he had called her.
“If I’m going to be accused of causing destruction, I might as well actually cause it.” She drew her dagger.
“Now it’s your turn to feel stabbed in the back, alone and helpless.”
She launched herself at him, dagger raised into the air. Jack jumped back just in time to dodge her. She spun to face him, her eyes full of fury.
Using the wind, Jack flew up onto the roofs of one of the abandoned houses. His eyes darted wildly, awaiting her next attack. She followed him up, sending a wave of vicious flames around the top of the building. Jack was trapped in a ring of fire. Jaz called Blaze from her blade. The feline snarled at him, his unsheathed claws scrapping against the rusted tiles that lined roof. There was no trace of the bond he had formed with him mere days ago. He saw Jack as an enemy or worse, a meal.
Jaz stood behind the tiger, her eyes full of the same bloodlust that filled Blaze’s.
“There’s no escape, Jack.” Jack’s heart was racing.
As the flames grew ever closer to him, a familiar sound filled the air that made him smile in relief. He gazed up to see North’s sleigh shoot through the sky. Jaz followed his gaze, gritting her teeth in anger. Resummoning Blaze, she leapt down off the building to where Pitch was awaiting her. As soon as she was gone, the fire around him weakened. He flew off the building and onto the side of the sleigh.
“Did you find her?” Bunny asked. He was agitated, more than usual. Jack nodded. He opened his mouth to explain but was cut off by Tooth.
“Pitch!” she exclaimed, spotting him on the ground. Jaz was no longer with him.
In anger, Tooth pulled at the reins North held and brought the sleigh down for a rough landing. The guardians stepped out of the sleigh, heading towards Pitch. A dreamsand whip formed in Sandy’s hands. He swung it straight at him. Pitch didn’t move. He didn’t have to. In a single movement, Jaz, out of nowhere, flung herself in front of him, grabbed the whip in her free hand and slashed it in half with her dagger. The stream snapped, sending flaming grains of dreamsand flying. Sandy was knocked backwards by the impact. The guardians stood unmoving, their mouths wide-open in disbelief. Jaz had just saved Pitch. She turned to face them, her expression fierce and full of vengeance.
It was only then Jack noticed there was something different about her. The streaks in her hair were no longer red. They were cold silver. He hadn’t realized before due to the smoke from the fire or the shadows she had been standing in. But now he had a clear view of them. It was then he knew he had been right. Pitch had definitely done something to her.
Right now however, they were weak and close to defeat. With Jaz on his side, the guardians didn’t stand a chance against Pitch. If they were to keep fighting, they would not win. Jack turned to Bunny.
“I have an idea” he told him. He whispered his plan to everyone. At first, Bunny wasn’t convinced.
“It’s the only way to save her.” Bunny nodded, pulling out his boomerang. Everyone else prepared themselves for what needed to be done.
“Get ready” Jack whispered. “Now!”
Bunny threw his boomerang at them. The two ducked, their attention being drawn away from the guardians for a moment. They made a run for it, back to the sleigh. Jaz ran after them. Bunny tossed several egg bombs. Colourful smoke surrounded her. She coughed as the noxious fog filled her lungs. The smoke eventually cleared but they were gone.
Jaz kicked at the ground in anger. They had slipped from her grasp. Pitch would not be pleased. Slowly she made her way back to the shadows where he would be waiting for her.
“I failed” she muttered, her head low. Pitch scowled at her news, making her shun away.
“They won’t be so lucky next time.” As Pitch vanished into the shadows, his words were left echoing in the silence of the abandoned town.