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Black Moon

By Jennifer Schilling

Horror / Adventure

Chapter 1

Yumi staggered out of the scanner in a foul mood. She slammed the elevator button with every intention of giving Jeremy what for: he hadn't warned her of the Megatank that had eliminated her. It wasn't until after the elevator remained closed for ten seconds that she remembered Jeremy had locked it because of Xana's attack.

"Of all the things Xana could have done," she grumbled while she started back for the ladder, "Why'd he have to possess an axe murderer?"

Yumi knew there was a problem the minute she poked her head through the trapdoor: the lab smelled strongly of blood, and there were crashing noises coming from the far side of it. Jeremy wasn't in sight from where she was; neither was Ulrich (who had stayed behind to protect Jeremy) or Odd (who had been devirtualized before Yumi).

"Jeremy?" Yumi called hesitantly. When she got no answer she tried again. "Ulrich?"

"Ulrich's dealing with our uninvited guest," Odd's shaky voice came from near Jeremy's chair. Yumi climbed all the way up and looked at Odd – and nearly choked.

Jeremy was lying on the floor next to his chair, in a pool of his own blood. Odd was sitting next to him, looking dreadfully pale and keeping one hand pressed to a gaping wound in Jeremy's side.

"When…" Yumi began, creeping closer. Then she gulped down a wave of nausea and tried again. "When did that happen?"

"Not long after I got up here," Odd admitted. "Things were getting pretty crazy. Speaking of crazy, how much longer till Aelita deactivates the tower?"

Yumi stared at Jeremy's blood as she rapidly calculated what she'd seen. William's massive sword was proving very useful against almost every monster, and he probably knew about that Megatank by now. Unfortunately, they still weren't all that close to the tower, and Megatanks were on the list of monsters that William struggled with. Add that to how much blood Jeremy had lost – and was still losing, given that Odd really didn't know exactly how to stop a wound like that from bleeding…

"Too long," she finally said. "Jeremy's going to bleed to death first."

Odd whimpered. "Are you sure? I don't really know what I'm doing here, but maybe you can…"

"First aid doesn't really cover this kind of thing."

That shut him up for a while. Then he eyed Yumi warily. "Well, couldn't you – bite him, or something?"

Yumi looked away from the blood and stared at Odd. That hadn't been an idle suggestion: he knew what he was talking about, at least as much as anyone with no official knowledge of how the supernatural worked. "How long have you known?"

"Since that glitch – remember? When we ended up in each other's bodies?"

Of course; her physical differences were obvious enough, given that Odd was mildly obsessed with oral hygiene. Put a mind like that in her body for more than a couple of hours, and they'll make the connection.

"Seriously, would that work?"

Yumi gave the suggestion some thought. "Not by itself: Jeremy's lost too much blood. Now, if you were to volunteer as an emergency donor…"

Odd whimpered again, this time in anticipation. "Well, okay…if it'll save Jeremy."

"Fine – get your vest off and press it over that hole. Jeremy can't lose any more blood." Yumi crept around until she was sitting next to Odd while he followed her instructions. "Are you sure you're ready?"

Odd gulped and nodded.

Yumi leaned in close, whispering one last instruction in his ear: "Don't pass out." Then she sank her fangs into Odd's neck. To give him credit, his only reaction was to flinch.

"Jeremy, is everything all right?" Aelita suddenly asked from Lyoko.

Yumi didn't have to be a genius to figure that one out: Jeremy was out cold (not to mention dying) and was unable to answer Aelita. Ulrich was still fighting the psycho killer on the other side of the Holosphere, and couldn't take the call. And Yumi was still sucking Odd's blood. That meant the duty of keeping Aelita posted was up to Odd, but he had his back to the computer. He couldn't see the earpiece that was hanging behind his head, and he certainly couldn't reach it. Yumi could see it, though, and might even be able to reach it without stopping what she was doing.

"Jeremy?" Aelita asked again.

"I'm going to have to answer that," Odd told Yumi in a voice that sounded ridiculously calm.

"Mmph," Yumi mumbled, leaning into Odd a little and grabbing for the earpiece. She had to try twice before she could get her hand around it, but then she drew it over and hooked it clumsily over Odd's ear.

"Hey, Aelita – are you almost at the tower yet?"

"Odd? No, there's been a slight setback…"

"I think 'slight' is an understatement," William interrupted. "Where the heck is Jeremy? We could have used a heads-up!"

"Ah…"

Please, Odd, Yumi begged silently; please don't tell Aelita that her boyfriend is knocking on death's door! She doesn't think as well when she's worried!

"You want the good news?"

"That would be nice, yeah."

"Yumi's going to save his life in another minute or so."

There was silence for a minute. "Odd?" Aelita finally asked, "Is Jeremy in trouble?"

Odd let out a giddy-sounding laugh. "That's an understatement, I'm afraid. We're definitely going to need a return trip, so shut that tower down ASAP."

Yumi unhooked her fangs from Odd's neck and opened Jeremy's mouth. Odd would probably think in his light-headed haze that she was going to give Jeremy mouth-to-mouth breathing. She had no intention of correcting him; not yet, anyway.

He probably really will pass out if I tell him what I'm really doing. Or throw up. Yumi set her thoughts aside and started coughing blood into Jeremy's mouth, rubbing at his throat to encourage him to swallow. If enough of her toxins had permeated that blood, they would turn Jeremy into a vampire; if that happened fast enough, he would heal himself.

If.

"Yumi," Odd said dreamily. Yumi ignored him: she didn't particularly want to think about what she was doing in any sense of the word, and coming off of instinct to respond to Odd would require her to think.

"Yumi," Odd repeated, a little more urgently. Yumi tried to speed up – if it was important, then she wanted to be done when she responded to Odd.

Then something went down with a heavy thud and a loud clatter, very close to Jeremy's feet.

"Oh," Odd said faintly.

Yumi spared a glance; the axe murderer was unconscious on the floor. Apparently, Aelita had made it to the tower in time, which meant a return trip could be safely launched now. But where was Ulrich?

Ulrich came limping around the Holosphere, minus his shirt and with blood streaming from his left shoulder.

"Hey, Ulrich," Odd said in dreamy cheerfulness. "Can you launch a return trip? I don't think I can get up there."

Ulrich shook his head slowly. "I don't think I should try: I'm too tired. I might push the wrong button or something. What happened to you?"

"I got to be a blood donor for Jeremy."

"Oh." He didn't seem surprised, which probably meant he'd already been suspicous about exactly how human Yumi was.

Jeremy suddenly convulsed, startling Yumi into jerking backwards.

William came up the ladder. "I think somebody should get to Lyoko, right now."

"Why?" Odd asked. He sounded half-asleep.

"Because that giant jellyfish grabbed Aelita while I was driving off the last of the Hornets. Then Aelita blew me away."

Ulrich groaned. "Fine…we don't need to lose another sector. Yumi, do you think you could virtualize me?"

"Uh-huh," Yumi answered as she got to her feet. She felt a little woozy, but she could still move.

Ulrich grinned fiendishly at William as he walked past. "Beautiful, isn't she?" he asked.

William didn't answer: he was too busy staring in horror at Yumi's fangs, which were still dripping blood.

Yumi dropped into the chair and started typing. "Transfer, Ulrich...scanner..."

William's voice came back with a rush. "You're a vampire?" he exploded.

"Shut up…virtualization."

"Why the hell didn't you tell me?"

"You mean you'd tell everybody if you were a blood-sucking creature of the night?" Odd asked vaguely.

William rounded on him. "And why'd she tell you, anyway?"

"She didn't: I found out, when a scanner glitch made us switch bodies."

"I kind of wish he'd figured it out five hours sooner than he did," Yumi commented dryly. "It would have given him second thoughts about acting stupid in my body."

Jeremy shifted and groaned. Then he opened his eyes and blinked at Odd. "Odd? What…happened?"

"Oh good, you're awake," Odd replied. "Well, the guy with the ax nailed you one, and Yumi turned you into a vampire to save your life. Aelita deactivated the tower, and then devirtualized William when Xana possessed her again, and now Ulrich's chasing her around trying to devirtualize her before she destroys the Mountain Sector."

Jeremy gave Odd a strange look. "Are you all right? You sound…drunk."

"Yumi had to take a lot of my blood to give to you, because you'd lost too much of your own; even turning into a vampire couldn't fix that. Speaking of which," Odd tilted his head to look at Yumi upside-down, "Am I a vampire too, now?"

Yumi spared Odd a glance. "No…it's not a vampire-bite thing, it's a vampire-blood thing. You'd just be more sensitive to light for a while."

Ulrich's and Aelita's life points suddenly plummeted to zero at the exact same time. Yumi let out a sigh of relief.

"Jeremy, could you launch a return trip? I really don't think you want to be a vampire for the rest of your life: it's not an easy life for the turned."

"Seriously, though," William spoke up crossly, "Does anyone else know you're a vampire?"

"The principal does," Yumi told him. "That's one reason why I'm just a day student. Everyone else at school is kept informed on a need-to-know basis."

"What?" William shouted.

Jeremy pushed enter. "Return to the past, now."

"Later," Yumi told William as the white wave enveloped them.

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