Chapter 10: Enemy Revealed!
Author's note: Well well, some real bad stuff happened in our last two chapters, huh? Ulrich's incapacitated for who knows how long, Amy was reprogrammed by the Scyphozoa, and now X.A.N.A. has access to all her knowledge and memories. Since things are going so poorly, it should be about time for things to be turning around for our heroes, right? Nope. Let's see how deep we can dig this hole! That's right, prepare yourself, for you're about to learn what X.A.N.A. really is!
Doctor quote of the day: "Don't play games with me. You just killed someone I liked. That is not a safe place to stand. I'm The Doctor and you're in the biggest library in the Universe. Look me up." – 10th Doctor
Lyoko quote of the day: "How do people expect us to save the world if they don't leave us alone?" - Ulrich
Chapter 10: Enemy Revealed!
"How can Amy possibly be so important that X.A.N.A. could destroy the whole world just by having her?" Odd asked incredulously. Rory fidgeted a moment, feeling a pang of irritation, but said nothing. Odd meant nothing by it.
"It's really rather simple," the Doctor began, his voice dropping low. He took a seat and crossed his legs, getting more comfortable. "Amy and Rory have traveled with me for quite some time."
"On and off for about ten years," Rory interjected.
"Right. Well, it's been a lot longer for me. Anyway, they've seen marvels and wonders beyond your wildest imaginations, everything the universe has to offer. Vampire fish people, cyborg alien cowboys, shapeshifters, a time traveling cult that wants me dead-"
"I don't remember that one…"
"-And dinosaurs on a spaceship."
"I'm having some trouble believing that you've really seen these kinds of things, Doctor." Yumi raised an eyebrow at the alien sitting before her. "That's pretty outlandish."
"Yumi's got a bit of a point," Aelita commented. "Some of that just sounds really… Silly."
"Aelita, you spent ten years sleeping inside a computer, then another year thinking you were a sentient program," spoke Jeremie as he placed a hand on her shoulder. "Not to mention how I teleport your avatars around the world."
"Yeah, and let's not forget Teddy Godzilla!" Odd lifted a finger to show his point. "Some of X.A.N.A.'s attacks have been outright bizarre, you know?"
Aelita nodded in acceptance. "Point taken. I mean, we are standing inside a time traveling spaceship that's bigger on the inside."
Yumi shrugged, feeling defeated now that her argument had been overturned. "Alright, suppose we accept this all at face value. How do those memories give X.A.N.A. any more power than it already had? Like Odd said, it's attacked through some pretty bizarre methods before. As far as we've been able to tell, X.A.N.A.'s been infecting computers across the world and using their resources to build an army. How are the stakes any higher right now?"
"The stakes are higher," Rory began with a stern voice. "Because now my wife is involved."
"Quite right, Rory, and we'll be getting her back. But a more relevant answer is in order, I believe. It's rather simple really. Well, not as simple as Rory's answer. Well, more like needlessly complicated, but I'll do my best to make it simple.
"You see, the most dangerous thing about X.A.N.A. having access to Amy's mind isn't for anything she's seen wile traveling with me—It's for everything she experienced before traveling with me. Amy Pond, the Girl Who waited, grew up in a most peculiar circumstance, in a house that made no sense. Too big, and she was all alone. The town of Leadworth didn't make sense either, not the least of which was being completely boring. Duck ponds without any ducks, a hospital filled with comatose patients, and an interdimensional prisoner, but these were only symptoms of the bigger problem. Inside her wall was a crack in reality, two pieces of space and time that should never have touched. Its energies seeped out, taking hold of things and erasing them from existence in most cases-"
The Doctor gestured toward Rory. The children all looked at him for a moment, and he gave a small wave.
"While in the case of one stubborn, Scottish girl, it had a very different effect. The energies of the universe seeped into her mind, subtle, nearly undetectable, but the impact was unquestionable. Amelia Pond's mind is a truly magnificent and beautiful thing, linked with the fabric of reality itself. She's resistant to changes in the universe, able to recall things that shouldn't have happened. Sometimes she needs a little push, but the results are, well…"
Once again the Doctor looked up to Rory and gestured to him. Once again Rory gave a small wave.
"Let's just say that neither of us would be here right now if it weren't for Amy and what she can do."
"You mean to tell me that Amy's mind is capable of warping reality?" Yumi exclaimed, no longer crossing her arms, but leaning forward, painted over with complete shock.
"No way!" Odd shouted.
"I can hardly believe it," Aelita murmured.
"Hmm. This does present a really big problem," mused Jeremie.
"Doctor," said Rory, grabbing the renegade Time Lord's attention. "I know better than anyone how powerful Amy's memories can be, but when we rewrote reality to fix things, that involved the Pandorica and your TARDIS. Without something like that, what can X.A.N.A. do?"
"X.A.N.A. has the resources of several military installations and top secret facilities around the world. I wouldn't underestimate it for a single solitary microsecond." Jeremie was noticeably agitated. The idea had clearly sunk in, and he was not the least bit pleased with his hated enemy having access to these things.
"Right. And on top of that, it also has access to all the adventures Amy's had while traveling with me. Amy may not have understood the various technologies she encountered, but how much are you willing to bet a sentient multi-agent computer virus can't piece some things together? It's clearly very clever."
"We've got one advantage over X.A.N.A. for the time being," Aelita commented. "We'll recover quickly enough to virtualize again before X.A.N.A. can launch another attack. It always takes it several hours after I deactivate towers before it gets enough energy to retaliate. Our bodies only need a couple."
"Then we use that time to prepare! I'm sure we've all got things we can do to contribute!" Odd practically cheered.
"We do," Yumi agreed. "But before we get started, I think we need to share a little more information"
Her eyes narrowed on the Doctor, and she once again became rigid. The previous shock and excitement had faded away.
"Oh come on, even after we've been through together, you still don't trust me?" The Doctor groaned, rolling his head in circles.
"To be fair Doctor," Rory added. "You lie all the time"
"Only because I can't trust people with the truth," he responded dismissively. "Honesty gets in the way of my brilliance."
"Before we were interrupted in the storage room," Yumi cut off. "You were telling me what you thought about X.A.N.A.'s origins, but it clashes with what we already know. I want you to pick up where you left off. You said that when you interacted with the spectre possessing the principal, you were telling me about a race that wants to destroy all life and hates you more than anything else."
The Doctor nodded. "Yes, I believe I was mentioning something like that. The pure undiluted hatred in X.A.N.A.'s eyes reminds me so much of them. I've never seen anything but the Daleks exude such intense disgust and loathing."
"So you think these… Daleks? Are responsible for X.A.N.A.?" Odd asked.
"It's only a working theory," the Doctor answered with a shrug. "But the only one I've got for the time being." Rory stepped forward.
"But that doesn't make sense, Doctor. All memory of you was erased from their collective consciousness at the asylum." Rory spoke with a mix of certainty and confusion.
"Yes, that is a major flaw in my theory. Like I said, it's still a work in progress."
Yumi sighed. "So what you're saying is that you actually have no idea?"
"No!" The Doctor jumped up in response, offended but obviously nervous. "I mean, I don't have the whole story yet but… I'm working on it. Got a good foundation… Kind of…"
"Well, that leaves us in the same position we were already in," Aelita shrugged. "I suppose only my father can really answer that mystery."
"So what are we still standing around here for?" Odd complained. "We've got preparations to make!"
Jeremie nodded. "It's time I made use of the Doctor's gift and got to work reading that Time Lord coding. I've no doubt we'll get answers from that." The young boy began to exit the TARDIS.
"Come on, Roman!" Odd called out to Rory, who followed the kid as he left. "I'll tell you everything you need to know about Lyoko, and we can show each other our moves! X.A.N.A. won't know what hit it!"
"Splendid idea!" The Doctor chimed in, guiding the rest out of his ship. "In the meantime, I'd like to do some research on the spectre I snagged. I'll be in the main console room if anybody wants to join me and gawk at how clever I am!"
"I'm staying here. Ulrich needs somebody to watch his recovery." Yumi didn't even nudge from her position, letting the rest of the group flow around her like a rock in the middle of a stream. The others wished her well as they departed. It was time to reverse the situation!
Yumi sighed deeply. She hadn't moved since sitting down next to Ulrich, staring at him as a cloud of golden little machines worked away at his body. She couldn't remember the last time she blinked, and it had felt an eternity since her last breath.
He continued to lie there, motionless. He looked much better than before, but he still showed no signs of consciousness. Yumi couldn't decide if this was normal, some sort of anesthetic to keep him under for the procedure, or if she should be worried.
"Oh stop thinking like that, Yumi," she said aloud, chastising herself. The break in silence almost took her by surprise, despite being the one to break it. It had felt like she had been sitting in one spot for years. She sighed again, narrowing her eyes on Ulrich.
"You know, I'm going to look really stupid if you can't hear me. I won't forgive you for that, so please… Give me a sign that you're getting better. You don't want me mad at you."
Yumi waited for several moments, staring right at the boy's face. One minute passed, then two. Another five, followed by ten. Finally, the young girl sighed again, her severe expression melting away into confusion and sadness, but no less serious. Yumi hung her head down and rested her forehead on her hand, no longer able to support herself.
At that moment, something caught her eye. It was barely noticeable, on the edge of her peripheral vision. Like a man being startled awake, her gaze lifted at high speed, and her face contorted into a content, sly smile. Ulrich's finger was twitching.
For what seemed like the millionth time, Yumi breathed out a heavy sigh, but this one was different. It carried with it the sweet release of relief. Her eyes flicked up to Ulrich's face, and she could see him breathing more regularly, but there was something else. Something more. His lips, they were moving, mouthing something. She focused on it, trying to make it out, but it was a formidable challenge to see the movements beneath the semitransparent breath mask. Was he saying-
The sudden voice startled the young Japanese girl right out of her focus. She quickly spun around, seeing the Doctor standing in the doorway to the medical bay. He looked serious, but his expression quickly changed to one of excitement.
"Love is always a special sight."
"What are you…? Don't get the wrong idea," she retaliated, showing great irritation. "He's just my good friend… My best friend."
"You're a lot like Amy, you know." The Doctor winked at her. She rolled her eyes.
"What do you need?"
"Oh, right!" The Doctor reacted as if suddenly reminded that something exceptionally urgent was going on. "Jeremie says he's made a major discovery and that it's time to go back into Lyoko! Time to get moving!"
The Doctor rushed himself and Yumi out the door. She spared one final glance back at Ulrich, lying prone on the stretcher, before being overcome with a new determination, powered by great conviction.
"YAAAAAAAH! OMPH!" Odd jumped at Rory with a pipe, swinging it over his head and bringing it straight down. Rory was quick to react, swinging his own pipe sideways as he charged forward, knocking the kid out of the air and on his backside.
"You choreograph your movements too much," the man pointed out to his younger companion, thrusting the pipe to his face for emphasis. "You're energetic, and that's good, but you're reckless and easy to read."
"Huh. You don't say?" Odd tossed his pipe right at Rory's midsection. Rory reacted by jumping back and knocking the tool aside with his own. This gave Odd the opportunity to get off the ground and recover, but he wasn't settling for just his footing. Instead, the young boy jumped straight for his sparring partner with another of his war cries. Rory was taken by surprise, but not because his foe came right for him.
Odd managed to snag his pipe as Rory knocked it aside, catching it with the top of his foot and flinging it right back. Rory was struck right in his midsection and flinched just enough for Odd to collide and knock them both over. Rory lost his grip on his own weapon, which was tossed aside as they rolled around together. However, he found a new grip on Odd's shoulders, just as Odd did for his.
"Well, maybe not a total open book," Rory joked. Odd chuckled as they released one another and helped themselves back up.
"You've got good instinct, and you're great at improvising." Odd smiled widely at the compliment.
"I know, right? Hahaha! You've got great technique, too! Where'd you learn to fight?" Odd rested his hands behind his head.
"The Roman legion, a little under 2,000 years ago. I was a centurion. And plastic. It's rather weird and complicated."
"Woah." Odd was visibly impressed. That didn't happen very often. "Having a time machine is pretty cool. How long ago was that? From your perspective, I mean."
"A little under 2,000 years ago." Noticing the strange look Odd was giving him, Rory added, "Like I said, it's a bit weird."
"You remember all that?"
"Yes and no. Usually that life is stored away, but it's like an attic. I can access those memories when I need them."
"What were you doing for 2,000 years? Battling other cultures? Fighting wars as some amazing, unstoppable immortal soldier? Are you the Highlander?" Odd picked up his pipe again, mimicking various battle poses as he spoke. He glanced back to Rory as he took a particularly strange stance that wouldn't have been the least bit effective.
"…" Rory let his head drop for a moment, and Odd felt the weight of the man's emotions as he answered. "I protected Amy."
"Oh," was all Odd could say. He relaxed again and thought for a moment, before picking the conversation up again. "That's pretty fairy tale. I like it. The heroic soldier protecting his strong-willed princess for centuries. Don't worry, Roman. We'll kick X.A.N.A.'s butt and get your princess back!"
Rory smiled. "She'd probably smack us for talking like she's a damsel." Rory shook his head, bringing back his senses. "Well, you said you'd tell me everything I need about Lyoko, right? Let's get on with that."
Odd nodded. "Yeah, no problem. I guess I'll start with the things relevant to Amy. The first thing you need to know is that, no matter what she says or does, it's not Amy. That's X.A.N.A.'s control."
Rory gave a nod and took a seat. Odd eased himself down as well before continuing with the explanation.
"If this is the same as what happened with William before, then the next thing you need to know is that she'll be more powerful than before. X.A.N.A. will give her access to powers she didn't have before, make her normal powers stronger, and she'll have total control of all of X.A.N.A.'s monsters too."
"Even stronger?" Rory shifted uncomfortably. "She could already crack the ground."
"Yeah, I don't even want to think about how that'll go when we see her again."
"Ok, well this happened to someone else before; William you said? How did you get him back to you?"
"With a lot of effort and problems. Unfortunately it's gonna be butt tons harder for Amy, unless Einstein comes up with something different this time. I don't exactly have the best understanding of what we did before, but basically it involved finding which of the many computers around the world X.A.N.A. has infected was where William's information was stored, and running some kind of program on it at the exact moment we beat and devirtualized him."
"What's going to make it so much harder this time?" Rory asked, almost afraid of the answer.
"Weeeeeeeell… We used to have a ship we used to search the Net, buuuuuuut…"
"'Used to?' Don't even finish, I know where that's going." Rory sighed, placing his palm to his face in an attempt to relieve some stress.
"Hehehehe, yeah," Odd remarked nervously. "But hey, nothing to worry about. We're a couple of top notch warriors with a couple of very capable girls and two geniuses. There's no way we can lose!"
"Odd! Rory! It's time!" called the voice of Aelita. The two looked up toward the freight elevator in time to see her standing there, beckoning them.
"Jeremie's found some information and says it's time to start our counterattack."
"I can't believe you managed to capture a spectre at the moment I deactivated the tower!" Aelita uttered with marvel and wonder. She and the Doctor were standing together in the TARDIS control room while the alien tinkered with some pieces of machinery and the storage cube. He had hooked up the cube to a tube which in turn was connected to a large container that appeared to be glass, though according to the Doctor was actually some form of naturally occurring crystalline forcefield with a powerful electromagnetic charge that repelled all charged particles attempting to make contact. Aelita was actually quite glad to be alone with the Doctor. It meant having an intellectual conversation with the man that he wouldn't have to dumb down for the sake of her friends. Sure, Jeremie was on the same level as her, if not better, but Yumi and Ulrich were average at best comparatively. And Odd, well… It would be rude to continue that train of thought.
"Oh, it was pretty simple once the creature was forced from its host," the Doctor commented, flipping a couple switches and turning a dial. "I had determined the exact frequency of electron charge that kept the creature stable and managed to run that through my storage cube, which in turn attracted the spectre like a big ghosty magnet thing. It's a word now."
"Well, how do you intend to keep it alive inside the case if it repels all charges?" Aelita questioned.
"Ooh, brilliant question, Aelita! You're very clever, aren't you? Once it's inside, it's just a simply matter of reversing the polarity on the neutron flow to lock the spectre in electro-plasmic stasis." As he spoke, the Doctor pressed another button, reached around the case to flick a single switch, then stuck what appeared to be a long, straightened clothes hanger into a small hole. It was then that a slight crackling of purple energy gave way to a thin black mist oozing from the tube and into the glass case. After a moment, the spectre took full form, pulsating within the case.
"Wow," Aelita breathed, fascinated by the sight. A second later she shook her head in realization and spoke to the Doctor. "Hold on. Neutrons have no 'polarity' to reverse. That's why they're neutral!"
The Doctor spun around to face Aelita. "Oh, right, terribly sorry about the confusion. Almost forgot that you're still a human child. The words for this science don't exist in any human language. Far far too advanced, you see. The concepts can only be properly conveyed in Gallifreyan, and so when the TARDIS Translation Matrix attempts to process this information for lesser developed species, it ends up a bit jumbled."
"TARDIS Translation Matrix?" Aelita asked, a bit taken aback. "You mean your ship translates languages automatically to facilitate communication? Of course, that makes sense. How else could you travel through time and the universe and hope to get anything done?"
"Oh, please," the older man scoffed. "I speak everything. It's for your benefit."
"You can't speak everything," Aelita retorted, meeting him eye to eye. She was passive, but solid and unyielding. The Doctor shrugged and dismissed the statement altogether. Aelita chuckled, figuring that he was pouting, like a small child too proud to admit he's wrong when confronted.
"Let's see what makes you tick, you beautiful little abomination!" the Doctor excitedly cheered under his breath. Just as the Doctor began running some diagnostics and checking a view screen, the TARDIS doors burst open as Jeremie ran inside.
"Aelita! Doctor! I've got some announcements to make. It turns out that that Time Lord coding we found is X.A.N.A.'s source material! Now we know what we're dealing with, and everyone has had enough time to recover for another virtualization."
The Doctor spun around, switching off his view screen. "Right then! Time to gather around in the computer room, then? I'll fetch Yumi!"
Aelita nodded. "And I'll go get the boys. I think they're up on the main factory floor."
Jeremie and Aelita rushed out the doors. The Doctor stopped midstep, spinning around and heading back to the containment field holding the spectre. He paused just a moment, observing the creature inside.
"Don't you go anywhere, you lovely thing. We've still got ourselves a date." The man gave a wink before rushing out toward the hallway, and further to the medical bay.
The spectre contained within continued to pulsate, billowing in and out of multiple forms, holding none for longer than a moment. It reached out to the edge of its confines, but quickly pulled back, as though harmed by the container. A purple energy crackled through it, showing its anger. It reached out again…
Jeremie sat in his usual place in the chair of the supercomputer. He had the seat turned around so that he was facing the room, and kept his fingers weaved together, his legs crossed, lost in thought. What he had found in that coding, it was truly magnificent. No doubt that knowledge gave them a huge advantage. Unfortunately, it was equally terrifying. They had always been working under the assumption that X.A.N.A. was a computer program that had gone rogue, a tool that they could destroy for the safety of mankind, or a monster that needed to be put down at worst. The truth of the matter was far more disturbing.
The Doctor and Yumi emerged from the TARDIS. They ran on up to Jeremie, both looking rather relieved.
"Three more, then, and I can deliver the fruits of my research."
As if right on cue, the freight elevator began to open up, and out stepped Aelita, Odd, and Rory. The three approached the already assembled group.
"What's the word, Einstein?" Odd asked. Jeremie unfurled his fingers, lifting himself up from the armrests of the chair to readjust himself. Once he was comfortable again, he addressed the assembled group of five.
"I've read through and analyzed the Time Lord coding, and I've made some startling discoveries, my friends. First off, I want to thank the Doctor for his gift. Without it, we wouldn't have been able to come this far. But now we can plan a proper method of attack. It wasn't easy. Even knowing Gallifreyan, it was extremely complicated. The coding seemed to constantly shift and change, like it was alive and knew I was reading it. That's because it is."
"Uh, come again Jeremie?" Yumi asked, dumbfounded. "I mean, how can coding be alive?"
"That's the thing, Yumi. It's only part code. From what I've extrapolated, the consciousness that is X.A.N.A. used to be something more, but was forcibly converted into computer language. X.A.N.A. is a living, sentient creature."
"Not to rain on your parade, but I thought we already knew that much?" Odd pointed out. "What's the part that we don't know?"
Jeremie fixed his glasses a moment before answering. "The part we didn't know before, Odd, was what sort of creature X.A.N.A. was before being converted into computer coding. It was something much bigger than all of us. You too, Doctor."
The Doctor did not react with bemusement, scoff, or any other humorous manner. He was taking Jeremie's words very seriously, and at face value. For a brief moment his brain began to race at a billion lightyears a second, piecing all the variables together. To the others around, it seemed less than a second, but to the Time Lord, it was an eternity of thought, but he came to his conclusion, and was overcome with the appropriate shock when he realized the answer. His eyes slowly widened and his lip quivered for just a moment.
"It can't be…" he whispered in disbelief.
"That's right," Jeremie nodded.
"Enough with the dramatics already!" Odd shouted, throwing his arms up in the air. "Just tell us what the heck X.A.N.A. is!"
Jeremie sighed before speaking the words he had trouble believing himself. "X.A.N.A. is the consciousness of a TARDIS."