Jade groaned, smacking her face with an open palm. "Oh, man! One of those guys from the past must've stolen it when nobody was looking!"
Sonata blinked. "So...what, now we've gotta chase the crystal into this world's past?"
Ron groaned heavily. "Bad day," he said.
"You said it," Jackie agreed with a sigh.
"Now hold on," Kim said, holding up a hand. "Think for a minute, guys." She began pacing. "As far as we know, these Monkey Crystals can't be destroyed. So if somebody from the past stole it from this shop, then went back to their own time—"
"All that means is that it'll turn up somewhere else in this time," Viper finished, nodding. "Good thinking, Red!"
"Oh. Yeah. That makes sense," Jade said, blinking. "Darn. That's a shame, I was kinda hoping we'd get to do some time travel."
"TIME TRAVEL VERY DANGEROUS!" Uncle thundered. "You no mess with flow of time while Uncle is around!"
"So what we need to do," Jackie reasoned, "is figure out which one of them stole the crystal, then begin searching for it in areas of the world where they were likely to have been active."
"Well, I know it wasn't Mr. Shatner," Dave said. "I mean, he's Captain Kirk. What would Captain Kirk want with a stolen trinket from a junk shop?"
"I bet it was the pirate," Jade said. "He looked shifty enough."
"It might've been the Arab," Viper pointed out. "He seemed like the type to go for a five-finger discount."
"Wow, that's not racist or anything," Kim muttered. "It could have been Hua Mulan," she added. "Just because she's a great historical hero doesn't mean she didn't pocket the Crystal. She might've thought she was doing the world a favor hiding it from the Monkey King or something, or mistaken it for some ancient artifact we don't even know about."
"So..." Jackie mused, "if it is not somewhere in Los Angeles, it is likely to be somewhere pirates were active, somewhere in China, or somewhere in the Middle East." He sighed. "This is going to take a very long time."
"We must do RESEAAAAAAAAARCH!" Uncle declared.
"Not me," Ron said. "Ron must get BURRIIIIIIIIIIIIITO! You in, Rufus?"
"Uh-huh, oh yeah, burrito, yum."
"I could eat," Viper put in.
"I guess we're headed back to Section 13 then," Jackie said. He paused, then added, "After we stop for Mexican food."
* * * * *
By the next afternoon, Uncle, Tohru, Jackie, Kim, and Twilight had finished researching, and called the team together with long faces.
"Well, we have some leads," Kim said. "The problem is, we have too many leads."
Ron sighed. "That figures."
"Our first lead is the Eye of Calypso," Twilight said. "A cursed gem said to have been found among the wreckage of a ship once sailing under the colors of a pirate named Bartholomew Roberts."
"Black Bart?" Jade asked excitedly. "You mean that pirate dude from the shop was Black Bart?!"
"More likely one of his captains," Viper said. "Black Bart had a lot of ships under his flag."
"According to this legend," Twilight continued, "the survivors of Roberts' final battle at sea claim the Eye of Calypso was brought aboard ship two days before the HMS Swallow engaged Roberts' fleet in the Battle of Cape Lopez."
"Every sailor who carried it after and every merchant it was ever sold to had bad luck and suffered some horrible fate," Kim put in. "They all traced its bad luck back to this pirate's death, so it's picked up something of a bad reputation."
"No kidding," Jade said. "So where is it now?"
Kim grimaced. "Greenwich," she said. "Evidently it's part of an exhibit aboard a ship that's been converted into a museum attraction."
"Arr, then it be a-piratin' we be goin'!" Jade said. "Where be me eyepatch, matey?"
Jackie facepalmed. "Jaaaaaaaade..."
"Oooh, nice pirate lingo!" Ron said.
"Shiver me timbers!" Rufus agreed.
"Nobody's shivering anybody's timbers!" Kim snapped. "We don't even know if this Eye of Calypso is the thing we're looking for yet! We've still got other leads to follow!"
"Okay, so...what're we doing, then?" Ron asked.
"We'll go to Greenwich and scope it out," Viper said. "Shouldn't need the full team for this one, just me and Red. If it's the thing, we'll break in after dark and snatch it."
"VIPER!" Jackie howled.
"What?" Viper complained. "Our new friends need it to save the world, right? It doesn't belong here. It shouldn't be part of history in the first place!"
Jackie frowned. "But stealing is—"
"Totally necessary and justified in this case," Kim said. "I hate doing it, it's not cool, but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do."
"No fair," Jade pouted. "I wanna go on the pirate adventure."
"Jade needed for second lead," Uncle said. "Collector in Hong Kong showing heirloom called Monkey's Jealous Eye. Said to be beautiful green gem with gold inside. Has not been seen outside of owner's family for generations. Owner claims to be descendant of Hua Mulan. You will go with Uncle to Hong Kong to investigate."
"Aww," Jade pouted.
"Look on the bright side," Jackie said cheerfully. "You will have a chance to visit your parents."
Jade shrugged. "I guess."
Ron blinked. "Huh? I thought you and Viper were her parents."
Jackie's eyes bugged out. Viper raised an eyebrow. "Do I really look old enough to have a kid Jade's age?"
Ron shrugged. "I'unno."
Jackie coughed. "Err, no. Jade is my niece. Her parents sent her to live with me here in America for...reasons."
"Third lead," Uncle continued, "is artifact called Luck of the Oasis. Arab traders lusted after it for many years, said to bring prosperity to any man who possessed it. According to research, it is either in Iran or Turkey. Cannot narrow it down any more than that." He looked around the table. "Jackie, Tohru, you will take ropey-face boy and go to Middle East to search."
"Ropey-face boy?" Ron echoed, a whine in his voice.
"Your face is fine, Ron," Kim said. "I mean, yeah, it's kinda ropey, but you've got your dad's genes, what're you gonna do?"
"Ouch!" Jade said.
Ron sighed. "Fair enough."
"What about me and Twilight?" Sonata asked.
"The two of you are staying here at Section 13," Jackie said. "Sorry, but your strange skin color is likely to draw too much attention."
"Not to mention you're both attractive teenage girls," Viper added. "There are a lot of people out there, especially in some of the more dangerous parts of the world, who'd love to kidnap you and force you into—" She glanced at Jade, then coughed. "Well, let's just say it isn't safe for young girls."
Jade rolled her eyes. "I know what sex slavery is, Viper. And yeah, I agree. You girls would totally be targets for that kind of thing."
Jackie did a double-take at Jade. "How—what—" he spluttered. "Why does a child your age know about sex slavery?!"
Jade stared at him as though he were an idiot. "Uhh, because I'm also the kind of girl who'd be a target for that kind of thing in some parts of the world? Why do you think my folks are so cool with me learning kung fu?"
Jackie turned green. "Sorry I asked," he muttered.
"Wow," Kim said, blinking. "I didn't even know what sex was until I was fourteen."
"I, uhh...yeah, I think staying in this heavily fortified secret military base and letting the rest of you handle the hard work this time is a really good idea," Twilight said, eyes wide behind her glasses.
"Alright!" Kim said loudly and brightly, clapping her hands together briskly. "I suggest we all get rested up and packed for our missions! I imagine we'll be leaving first thing in the morning?"
"Will leave as soon as arrangements can be made," Uncle agreed.
"Actually, if Kim's got a mission pack ready, the two of us can leave right now," Viper said. "I've always got a private charter ready to go at a moment's notice."
Everyone stared at her. "Do I even want to know?" Jackie asked.
Viper shrugged. "Just because I've gone straight doesn't mean I'm not ready for anything," she said. "What do you say, Kim? Wanna get going?"
"Please and thank you!" Kim said. She gave Ron a peck on the cheek. "Be careful, ropey boy."
"Yeah yeah," Ron said, cheeks heating up. "Good luck with your pirate adventure."
As Kim and Viper left, Jackie looked around the table. "Everyone else, rest up. We leave tomorrow."