Chapter 12: Begin the Counterattack!
Author's Note: Alright, we're speeding toward the climax now! All our slow, restful action is done. Now it's time to kick this adventure into overdrive, with plenty of what both series are so well known for: impressive action, massive creativity, movement, and of course, a whole lot of running.
Doctor Quote of the Day: "You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -7th Doctor
Lyoko Quote of the Day: "Don't argue! Run!" -Ulrich
Chapter 12: Begin the Counterattack
Rory's wireframe appeared a few feet above the ground in a large, open chamber. As his features filled in and consciousness took hold of his virtual body, the man took in his surroundings. It was very dull blue, and everything was built with large, flat pieces. The dome was so very geometric, very much unlike the other portions of Lyoko that Rory had seen. He wouldn't have had any trouble believing that this was the inside of a computer, that was for sure.
"Good to see you here, Roman!" Odd greeted Rory, stepping forward. His arms were open in a friendly gesture.
"He certainly looks… Accomplished," Yumi commented, seeing his Lyoko avatar for the first time.
"He definitely proved himself," Aelita interposed into the conversation. "But we don't have a lot of time to waste if we're going to get the drop on X.A.N.A."
She directed everyone's attention to the behemoth machine that dominated the chamber. It was like a great needle, with a dome cockpit at the head and two great pincers attached. Docked on the long shaft of the needle were four smaller craft, somewhat resembles space shuttles, but far more streamlined. Rory had to nod his head in appreciation at the design of the thing.
"This is the Skidbladnir," Aelita introduced with great enthusiasm. "The greatest ship ever designed."
It's a very nice ship, but that title still belongs to my TARDIS, the Doctor's voice resounded throughout everyone's ears. Rory's face screwed up in minor irritation, or perhaps it was exasperation. The kids all raised their eyebrows in unison.
"Doctor? Did you take over at the computer for Jeremie?" Yumi asked aloud.
Ah, no, sorry about that. I've just been fiddling around with the computer and hacked into the communication system. I'm making a few minor tweaks and adjustments here and there to improve performance.
"Doctor!" Rory shouted, a hint of anger in his voice. "If you accidentally delete me, I swear my ghost will haunt you!"
Relax, Rory. I know what I'm doing. Oh, that probably wasn't supposed to go there. Anyway, this Franz Hopper's programming might be above my capabilities, but the mechanics of this system are still rudimentary. Embarrassing, really. Plus, nobody has been maintaining it properly for a number of years. That was rather silly of them.
"Doctor, don't mess with anything! Only Jeremie should ever touch the super computer!" Yumi angrily shouted. A different voice echoed in the minds of everyone on Lyoko. This time Jeremie spoke.
Don't worry about it, guys. I already talked it over with the Doctor, and he knows what he's doing. Hey, watch it! Those sparks almost got in my eyes! Ugh. Anyway, stay focused, team. It's time to board and depart. Rory, I've tweaked the Skid's entry codes to allow you passage.
Odd was silently laughing to himself, obviously enjoying the whole exchange. Yumi groaned into her hand, holding her head up. Aelita merely sighed and gestured to a circular marking on the floor, near the ship.
"This is how we board the Skidbladnir," she educated the newcomer. "It's a teleportation pad that loads us each into a different cockpit. I pilot the ship itself, while you'll each be sitting at the controls of your own smaller ship. We call those the Nav Skids."
"Just as long as I don't have to fly one with my father," Rory lamented.
"Alright, let's get to boarding," said Aelita, ignoring the strange comment. She stepped onto the circle, and a moment later vanished in a flash of light. Yumi pointed her friend out to Rory, who was now sitting in the main cockpit, waving at the group with a friendly smile.
Odd was the next to board the ship, leaping onto the pad with a bound of enthusiasm. Once he vanished, Yumi went next, strolling casually. Finally, only Rory was left standing alone in the great chamber. With the weight of the world on his shoulder, he stepped forward onto the pad.
In the next instant, the nurse was sitting in the cockpit of a small ship attached to a larger one. He felt a little disoriented from the transportation, mostly because now his viewpoint was completely skewed, as he was sitting perpendicular to the Skidbladnir, looking forward at the ground beneath him from the Nav Skid's transparent canopy.
"How does it look, Rory?" came Aelita's voice through a small radio speaker. Instinctively, Rory replied by flicking a nearby switch. "Feeling like a spider on the side of a carnival ride, but otherwise fine."
"Alright, so let me explain the controls for you," Odd said. Rory could practically hear the young boy rubbing his hands, relishing the opportunity to educate him.
"Sounds splendid," he replied, looking all the controls and buttons over himself. "But let's do it on the run."
"Sounds like a plan to me," Aelita assured. Rory could feel the ship humming to life. "Beginning launch sequence now."
The Skidbladner slowly began lifting straight up from its dock, toward a hole in the great canopy above them. Rory couldn't help but appreciate the scene as he lifted up, hovering over a great, gigantic dome connecting to many bridges. The Skid then slowly moved to the side, always oriented the same way. Below them, Rory could not make out what they had previously referred to as the "digital sea," the edge of Lyoko, and where it was connected to the Net. Spontaneously, the ship gave a great jerk, and plunged downward until it was engulfed completely.
Rory could barely contain his awe. The Skid had been traveling through the Net (and extended those pincer-like protrusions so as to actually resemble the wings of a ship) and it was a most wondrous feeling. For the first and likely only time, he was experiencing the Internet from the inside. It was like swimming through water in a great submarine. Everywhere he looked, there were numerous structures resembling pipes, wires, and building blocks. No doubt these were part of, or connected to, the various computers and servers across the globe.
"It's pretty breathtaking, isn't it?" Yumi asked. Rory nodded, not that she'd have been able to tell, and responded through the radio.
"One of the more impressive things I've seen. Which is a lot, mind you. Could do with a little less red, though."
"You got that right," Odd cut in. "It needs a serious makeover. Let's get some brighter colors here, liven things up. Bright blues, purples, some green, y'know. After that, I'm sure it'd make for a heck of a great music video backdrop!"
"Odd, why do you talk sometimes?" Yumi groaned.
"What? What'd I do?"
Now get along you two, before I have to separate you with anti-spin qubit redirections, resounded the jovial voice of the Doctor.
You know that would trap their cognitive parameters, forcing them from ever developing or learning further, Jeremie's voice fought back.
Well yeah, but they don't know that! The Doctor whined in response. The gang could practically hear Jeremie shaking his head, despite being in a completely different world.
Other than Aelita, none of them understood what you were threatening. At all. Jeremie sounded exasperated. Anyway, the Doctor provided me with a copy of Amy's genetic coding-
"Why do you have my wife's genetic coding?" Rory shot out. Jeremie continued as though he hadn't been interrupted.
And I've implemented it into the search program of the Skid. Think of it as your personal Google Map straight to the computer where X.A.N.A. has stored Amy's information.
"Understood, Jeremie," confirmed Aelita, as she punched in new coordinates and took control of the ship. "We're changing course now. Is everybody ready?"
"Ready," Yumi verified confidently.
"You know it, Princess!" Odd cheered with great bravado.
"Constantly waiting just in case I hear the wheezing from that blue box dropping on my doorstep has made me always ready." Rory gripped his controls, almost defiantly.
With a great force of the controls, Aelita caused the ship to twist upward and to the right, diving into a new zone. They maintained the course for several minutes, guided by the signal in the main cockpit.
"Looks like we're almost there, guys," Aelita informed the rest. She was checking the settings of a few instruments after having just guided the Skidbladnir around a large obstacle.
"It's about time!" Odd complained. "I've been getting bored outta my wits!"
"We've been traveling for less than ten minutes, Odd." Yumi shook her head. Under normal circumstances, she might have spared a smile for her friend's goofy behavior. Unfortunately, the stakes were set much higher this time, and she couldn't afford to fall back into any sense of comfort or complacency.
Rory listened, but didn't have much to say. He was keeping focused on the scenery around the ship. There was something hypnotic about how they were traveling. The Net was almost like an ocean, yet it clearly wasn't. They moved without waves, swimming through some sort of stagnant ether. The objects around were magnificent as well, being great spires and more tubes and pipes than he ever thought could possibly be fit in any one place. One caught his eye by the way it was undulating.
Wait, nothing out here ever moved. What was that thing?
"Guys, I saw something moving nearby." Rory warned the rest of the group.
"Picking it up now, Rory," Aelita acknowledged. "Jeremie, what can you tell us about it?"
I'm not sure, Aelita. I'm not picking up anything on my scanner. Are you sure there's something there?
"I'm positive," she reassured. "Hold on, I'm taking safety measures."
The young girl began to pilot the craft upward in an effort to keep some distance from whatever it was lurking nearby. The warriors kept their vigil up. The tension in the air of the pressurized compartments was almost as thick as butter; clearly they were expecting some sort of foul monster or disaster to strike.
"That's odd," the pink haired girl commented. "I'm not picking up anything on our instruments anymore."
CRASH! The ship shook and jerked, forcing everyone from alert observation into maximum attention.
"What just happened?!" Odd cried out.
"No time to chat about that," Aelita replied, pulling a couple levers. "Nav Skid release!"
At the moment, the three smaller ships detached from the larger whole, their individual controls jumping to life in an instant. Yumi, Odd, and Rory were now piloting each of the Nav Skids.
The three twisted around, only to briefly catch sight of something as it slipped behind a large spire. Something very large.
I've got something on the radar, guys! It's… Wait, it just vanished. I don't get it.
"Yeah, the same thing happened on this end, Jeremie." Aelita eyed her systems warily.
"It's almost like whatever this monster is, we can't detect it unless we can see it." Yumi began speeding toward where the thing had slinked away, keeping her hands steady on her torpedo button just in case. "But X.A.N.A. doesn't have any monsters like that, does he?"
"None that I can remember," Odd chimed in, twisting a different direction to head off the creature from the opposite side. "It never had anything capable of that before."
"Well, X.A.N.A. does now, thanks to my wife's memories." Rory pushed the accelerator of his ship, diving down. This was to be a three pronged assault, with Yumi coming from the right, Odd from the left, and himself from below.
"Oh. That's big." Rory deadpanned upon gaining a visual of their target. The creature was nearly as large as the Skidbladnir itself. It loosely resembled a squid or octopus, possibly mixed with a virus. The main body was ovular, with a small break in the middle, housing X.A.N.A.'s symbol. Attached were four very long spindly legs with two joints each.
"Oh hey, it's the kalamar! We haven't seen this guy in a while!" Odd commentated as he fired a torpedo from his ship. The creature maneuvered in such a way as to avoid the attack, lashing one of its long legs at the ship that fired it.
Odd's ship was knocked aside from the blow, spinning round and round. The young boy inside was yelling, both in shock from the assault, and from the excitement, like a roller coaster. Fighting with his controls, he managed to regain command of his trajectory.
Be careful Odd, that hit did a major number on your shields.
Meanwhile, Yumi and Rory readjusted their vector and reengaged the creature. Each one let loose a torpedo, but again the kalamar avoided their attacks. As it did so, it managed to snag Rory's ship between two legs, taking advantage of his lack of piloting experience. Clearly this monster recognized the weakest link and meant to sever it.
"Ah! It's got me! Shields are going down rapidly!" Rory fought as much with the controls as with the monster, but to no avail. Each time his ship jerked on direction, the kalamar tightened its grip, continuing to crush the nav skid and its pilot within beneath two goliath forces.
BOOM! With an ear piercing shriek, the monster released Rory's ship, curling away in pain. Yumi swerved to the side, letting out a small victory cheer. It was her attack that had done the deed.
"It's not very maneuverable when its legs are holding on to something. That direct hit must have hurt pretty bad!"
"Don't forget me!" Odd added, zooming right passed Rory, barring down right on the creature. Licking his lips with that patented grin of his, he fired twin torpedoes right at the injured foe. The kalamar floated, limp and unmoving. A second later, and the weapons detonated. Once the smoke cleared, no signs remained of their enemy.
Great job, guys. I'm not showing anything on the scanner anymore. Odd's attack must have done it!
"Yeeeeeeah!" Odd cheered, spinning his ship back toward the larger carrier. "Who da man? Who da man? That's right, Odd's the mastah!"
Yumi could only roll her eyes in response. Rory shook his head as all three of them piloted back to the Skidbladnir, feeling victorious relief.
"Good teamwork, guys. Nav skid docking protocol engaged." Aelita began to work her magic, and the smaller ships reattached, just as designed. "Looks like the kalamar wasn't any threat to us even with that modification."
"Yeah, you say that," Rory started, a certain disappointment in his tone. "But it was only easy because it was so focused on taking out the clear target."
"Don't get down on yourself, Rory," Yumi assured. "It takes a while to learn how to pilot these things. Unfortunately it's do or die, but I don't expect you to be an instant expert."
"True that, Yumi," Odd added in. "We'll just carry the slack, but we shouldn't run into too much trouble. Whenever we're traveling in the Net, X.A.N.A.'s only ever attacked us on-"
Odd's explanation was cut off, bound by fate and horrible timing, just to prove him wrong. The ship gave a mighty lurch, jerking all the warriors around violently. Small gasps and a single high pitched scream (from Odd) echoed throughout each cockpit. The group began checking all sides for what had happened, but it was painfully obvious.
Four long, spindly legs had wrapped around the ship and forced it into a halt. The kalamar had returned, injured but unbeaten.
"Crud! Where did that thing come from?!" Yumi punched one of her control panels, grinding her teeth in aggravation. She attempted to release her ship again, but found herself blocked. The creature had locked them all in.
"It must have detonated Odd's torpedoes early, and escaped using the explosion as cover!" Aelita added frantically, as she struggled to regain control of the situation. "Since we can't detect it without visual contact, it easily fooled us!"
The ship jerked again as Aelita attempted to break free from the monster's grip, but it was to no avail. They were being held tightly in place, like a hogtied calf. The group reacted with unified fear as they witnessed the monster's main body opening up, revealing a syringe-like drill. Ominously, the kalamar lowered its body toward the ship.
"We're blocked in, I can't release!" Odd cried out in a frenzy. He repeatedly smashed the control that would normally launch his ship, only to be met with resistance. It was an exercise in futility.
"Think Aelita, think!" The princess of Lyoko threw her hands into her palms, fighting her own mind for an answer. This couldn't be it. They couldn't meet their end like this! Her own thoughts were drowned out by the sound of metal being shredded by the large drill of the creature accosting her precious ship.
"Aelita!" Rory shouted, grabbing her attention. "I saw a fourth nav skid here, is that right?"
The girl lifted her head back to attention. "Yes. We designed it for William originally, but-"
"I don't think that one is being blocked off. We can use it!"
"How, there's nobody inside to pilot it!" Odd complained. The ship shook again, and a crunching resonated.
"No, I see what he's talking about!" Yumi cheered, her eyes lightning up. "Aelita, launch William's nav skid!"
Aelita perked up in realization. With a nod and a forced grin, she wasted no time in throwing the switch.
Outside, the kalamar was still working hard to drill through the Skidbladnir's hull. It had finally pierced the outer shielding and made it to the actual metal, much to its delight. The beast gave pause when it detected a slight rumbling of the ship. It held the smaller craft tightly against the larger one, so it was in no danger, it knew. All the ships were blocked off. Well, all of the occupied ones were, and they were all that mattered, right? At that moment, the fourth nav skid, attached to the mid-section of the larger mother ship, launched forward at maximum speed. The poor kalamar didn't even have a chance to react, and if it did it was too stuck in the ship to pull away quickly enough.
SMASH! The nav skid crashed right into the kalamar, forcibly ripping it off the Skidbladnir's hull. Both figures careened into the distance, tiny bits of shrapnel and debris following in their wake. Once they had traveled a few hundred feet, the large beastie promptly exploded, as X.A.N.A.'s monsters are want to do upon defeat.
Alright, it worked! Go Aelita!
The crew all breathed a collective sigh of relief. Once the hearts stopped pounding, Aelita was the first to break the silence, once again taking hold of the controls so that she could pilot them to their destination.
"Well, like I was saying before, we're just about to the replika, guys." The ship started up again, diving down and off to starboard. Seconds later, a large construct dominated their field of view. A large dome, similar to the one they had left originally, was connected to all the other pipes and wires around, with a few small openings.
As Aelita brought the ship in closer to the large dome, and guided them through one of the openings, Rory couldn't help but wonder to himself just what other kinds of modifications had been made to those monsters they would be fighting.