Chapter 13: The Specter's Scheme
Chapter 13: The Specter's Scheme
Author's note: Looks like I've got my work cut out for me if I want to make it to my (second) deadline. So I'll stop wasting time and just get right to the story.
Doctor Quote of the Day: "Our lives are different from anybody else's. That's the exciting thing. Nobody in the universe can do what we're doing." – Second Doctor
Lyoko Quote of the Day: "Being sensible is just not sensible." – William
The bright light melted away, revealing a new landscape for the three Lyoko Warriors, and their ally. Most of it was barren, covered in tan sand. A few platforms were separated from the rest of the main land, but it was all open for the most part. The sky was brighter here than in any other virtual sector they had experienced.
"Looks like this replika resembles the Desert Sector of Lyoko," Aelita commented, mostly for Rory's sake.
Alright Aelita, the tower should be about five clicks to the northeast, Jeremie educated.
"Gotcha. Thanks Jeremie." The girl shifted the controls and began heading off in that direction. It wasn't long before the group could see a tower, perfectly resembling the ones from Lyoko. It was positioned on a plot of land barely large enough to hold it, connected to the mainland by a small strip of dirt. Around that plot was a chasm, about ten feet wide in each direction.
The Skidbladnir slowly moved closer to the tower, hovering above the ground below. Once it crawled closely enough, the beast of a machine halted, before switching position. It began to rotate vertically, until it pointed directly to the ground, and the wings folded inward, so that the ship took on the same shape it had when it was originally docked.
"Activating tower docking mechanism." Aelita flipped a lever, followed up by pressing a single button. Once this task was completed, a bright, luminescent beam of energy released from the ship, latching to the top of the tower. This beam kept the two tethered together, forging a powerful link.
Alright guys, I think we should let Rory know the rules for what's about to happen next, came Jeremie's suggestion.
Ah, rules. Rules do not rule. I find them to be mere suggestions, like traffic lights or mattress tags, complained the Doctor. Nobody paid him any attention.
"Alright Roman, listen up!" Odd volunteered. "Einstein already said a little about his teleportation thingy before we left, but here's the important stuff. Anybody that gets picked for the teleportation, will show up in the real world in their Lyoko body, all your powers in tact. Which is wickedly cool. Anyway, you'll still have a number of life points before the specter that makes up your body dissipates, and you're forced back here to the Skid. Try to avoid that, you'll usually be unconscious if that happens.
"If you lose your life points in the replika and get devirtualized, you'll wind up back home in the factory. So long as the Skid survives, anyway."
"The Skid is our link back home," Yumi interrupted. "As long as it's intact, your coding will follow the path that brought us here automatically to get back home. If the ship gets destroyed though, we'll be lost on the network for good."
"Which is why we'll need to leave behind a contingency to protect the fortress," Rory nodded.
"That's right," the young Japanese girl acknowledged. "Since Aelita is the only one that can run the program on the computer so that we can get Amy back, she'll have to be part of the away team. We need to decide who stays to protect the ship, and who gets to be Aelita's partner."
"Odd will stay with me," Rory suggested. "We have already spent some time in combat together, so I have more synergy with him. Plus, his long range style will back up my close range capabilities."
"Alright," Yumi nodded, expressing a strong impression by the man's tactical choice. Aelita smiled her approval as well. She and Yumi had always made quite the team, so she was very happy with the arrangement. Odd shuffled in his seat, performing a minor dance.
"Ah yeah! Normally I'd be totally grumpy about getting guard duty, but I just know that we're going to kick some serious butt, Roman!" The cat-like boy pounded a fist into his palm for emphasis. No doubt he was excited to see what sort of creatures X.A.N.A. would be throwing their way, and what kinds of modifications they'd have gone through.
Sounds like we've decided on a plan then, Jeremie spoke into his headset. I'm ready to teleport you whenever you're comfortable, girls.
Never really cared much for plans, spoke the Doctor this time. Too rigid, not enough room for improvising, and they never go well, I've found.
Aelita chuckled at the alien's antics, but largely ignored him. She recomposed herself, as did Yumi, before addressing their mission control.
"Ready for teleportation, Jeremie."
Alright then, teleportation is a go!
The bodies of the two girls flickered for a brief moment. An instant later found both had dissipated, their energy and consciousness transferred through the tower, broadcast back into the real world.
Rory and Odd were pacing around the tower, and the Skidbladnir, on opposite sides. Rory remained alert, his eyes and ears ever vigilant. If more monsters were undetectable like that kalamar was, then he knew he couldn't rely on Jeremie to give them forwarning. Meanwhile, Odd was kicking up dirt. He rolled his head around in its socket with a slight groan, before flopping down onto the ground with a pronounced thud!
"Uuuuugh! Soooo boooored! Come on X.A.N.A., where are your monsters? Where's Roman's warrior princess? Throw'em at me already!" The young boy gave a heavy sigh as he flipped back onto his front, holding himself up by all fours. The boy's ears twitched ever so slightly, while his tail stiffened.
"Calm down Odd," Rory called out to his young partner. "You said to me ten minutes ago that it won't take X.A.N.A. long to find out that we're here, since we attached to the tower and the girls are making a ruckus with the linked computer."
Rory was going through the same thing as Odd was, only far more intense. It was centuries of practice and duty that allowed him to hide his anticipation so well. Every moment his wife failed to appear was another white hot needle piercing his heart.
"Shh!" Odd cut the older man off, his ears twitching a little more. "Einstein, do you see anything approaching us? I think I hear something!"
Rory readied his sword and scanned the horizon. He could spot something on the horizon, something he was absolutely sure wasn't there before. It was small, but it looked familiar. It didn't move, completely still. Almost like the thing was some sort of statue in the distance.
Yes Odd, I'm picking up something moving your way, and it's moving really fast! Wait, that's strange. It just stopped. Odd, Rory is facing it. Looks like a small squad of kankrelats to me.
The older of the pair narrowed his eyes on the object in the distance as he searched his mind for something that could explain this. If X.A.N.A. was using Amy's memories to modify his creatures, what would it be using to just freeze them in place? What would even be the advantage of that? Rory couldn't remember anything he'd seen that matched up with this. With a small sigh, he delved deeper into the library of his brain, blinking as he was lost in thought.
They're on the move again! Jeremie shouted, alert and urgent. In the time it took for him to blink, the small figure off in the distance had become three small figures, less than thirty feet away.
"Whoah, how'd they get over here that fast?!" Odd asked, sliding up next to Rory. Without waiting for an answer, the boy took aim at the closest kankrelat and fired one of his signature laser arrows. The projectile flew true, striking his target right center in the eye of X.A.N.A.
"… Huh?" Odd raised an eyebrow and tilted his head in utter disbelief. The kankrelat, unquestionably the weakest of all the monsters he had to fight, stood solid after taking a direct hit from his attack. The arrow itself bounced off harmlessly, fizzling from existence as the energy dispersed across the ground it landed on.
"So… Any idea what just happened here, Roman?" Odd asked, glancing over to Rory.
"Don't take your eyes off of them!" the centurion commanded. The young boy immediately returned his gaze to the small, frozen creatures.
"I've never seen this before," Rory admitted. "But Amy has, and if they're what I think they are, we are in a lot of trouble."
"Right. So what are we up against here, then?" Odd inquired, taking aim with both his arms as he awaited his senior's answer.
A crackle of energy began to build up in an electrical line. The citizens of the fine city went about their day, blissfully unaware of the dangerous location they were inhabiting, or the massive electrical anomaly occurring just overhead. Once the charge reached its apex, it all released itself upon the sidewalk below. The energy struck, swirling round and taking solid form. Aelita and Yumi had officially arrived at their destination.
The girls took in their surroundings, surprised they had been materialized in such a public place. It was definitely European, based on the street they were looking upon. It was probably coastal, or an island, judging by the humidity and the smell of the ocean in the air. Right behind the girls was a tall monolith fountain, clear water streaming down the sides. They could feel the droplets lightly splashing their skin. All the while, people continued to wander right passed them, unconcerned by the sudden appearance of an Asian warrior woman and a pink angel in the streets.
"Ok, this is really weird. Normally we get teleported just outside of some big military base, or secret science facility. Not in the middle of a populated city. And what's with these weirdos just walking by?" Yumi felt the need to point out the obvious issues, but they warranted being said. Aelita nodded in agreement.
"Jeremie?" she asked the air around her. "Where are we?"
Jeremie's voice answered, wired directly into the girls' ears through a science almost incomprehensible. Checking on it right now, ladies. Sorry about the public drop, but something seems to be messing with the system's aim. Let's see… I can tell that you're somewhere in Wales. Ah, got it. You're in Cardiff.
"Cardiff?!" Yumi scoffed. "What's even in Cardiff?"
Apparently the computer that currently holds Amy's information. Unfortunately, I'm having some trouble locating it. Whatever is interfering with our scanners, it's pretty powerful.
"I know that finding that computer is our priority, but," Aelita gave a short pause before continuing, her eyes following a woman carrying some grocery bags as she wandered not even two feet right by. "Any ideas why we're being completely ignored by everyone here? It's like we're invisible."
Sorry Aelita, I don't have an answer for that one. I sure didn't do anything. In any case, you'll have to start looking for the supercomputer, but try not to draw any attention to yourselves while you do it!
"Easier done than said," Yumi chuckled with a shrug as she stepped off the sidewalk, near a young boy that had wandered too far from his family. The young boy, at most eight years old, instantly stopped what he was doing and looked Yumi right in the eyes. Taken aback, the girl's eyes widened a little bit.
"You're pretty," the little kid said, moving toward her. Instinctively, Yumi hopped backward, reclaiming her spot next to Aelita. His eyes illuminated with wonder, the little boy turned round, shouting to his family.
"Come look at the pretty lady!" he cried out, ushering them to his position.
"Come on, Johnny!" his mother commanded, latching to his hand. "Don't wander off like that! Play with your imaginary friends where I can see you."
The family wandered off, though Johnny spared a single glance back in the girls' direction. Yumi felt as though he were looking for her everywhere but where she was standing.
"That was weird." Aelita kept looking at the people ignoring them as she commented.
"I think this spot makes us invisible or something. That little boy spotted me the moment I stepped away, but once I got back, it was like he was trying to spot me through fog."
"Great," Aelita sighed, slumping back against the fountain monolith. "How are we supposed to find the supercomputer under these conditions?"
"Huff. Puff." Odd skidded to a halt, breathing heavily. He had just launched another volley of his laser arrows at the stone kankrelats, but still they remained completely impervious to damage.
Everyone's positioning had changed considerably. Rory was no surrounded by all three of the kankrelats, his sword positioned right at the head of one of the little creatures, incapable of piercing through. That monster, and one other, were facing the centurion, while the third was facing Odd, apparently frozen in the middle of charging its laser weapon. Odd was outside of the circle, keeping his eyes fixated on all three creatures simultaneously. His purple outfit had become saturated with dirt from his constant acrobatics.
"I don't get it, why can't we kill these little guys! I mean, X.A.N.A.'s weakest enforcers have officially become the biggest pain in my butt ever!"
"Amy told me about one of her first adventures with the Doctor, before I joined them." Rory kept his eyes fixated completely on the kankrelat at his feet, and hoped to god that Odd didn't look away from the others. "There are terrifying monsters out there, called the Weeping Angels. They only exist when you can't see them, and quantum-lock once they're being observed. Basically, they stop existing if we are looking at them and turn to stone, but once you look away, even for a second, even in the time it takes to blink, they become real and kill you! They move unbelievably fast, too."
"Huh… So that's why I can't stop looking at them. But how the heck are we gonna beat them if we can't even blink?!"
"Timing," Rory responded. His eyes began to twitch as they lost moisture.
"Ooooh, I gotcha. Launch an attack and blink at the last possible second!" Odd took aim on the kankrelat that was facing him, being sure to keep the others in his peripheral vision. "Ready when you are!"
"Right. One… Two… THREE!" Rory thrust his blade with all his might. Odd blasted one of his patented laser arrows. Each attack came bearing down upon a different target. Just before they struck, each warrior closed their eyes for just a fraction of a second, a simple blink.
"Agh!" Odd flew back, a laser having struck him square in the chest.
"Oopf!" Rory tumbled forward, shot in the back.
Both fighters met their gaze with the battlefield, and although each had taken a hit in the process, were relieved to see that it was not a fruitless endeavor. Only one kankrelat remained, the other two had been shattered, littering the ground.
"Alright! Only one left!" Odd cheered and hopped back to his feet, making sure he kept both eyes on the remaining enemy.
You need to be more careful guys! Odd's got sixty life points left, and Rory, you have seventy. There may only be one kankrelat left that you can see, but you know that X.A.N.A.'s got more monsters and more tricks up its sleeve. Not to mention Amy!
"Speaking of more monsters," Rory trailed off, gesturing to his side. He made sure to keep watch on the kankrelat before Odd checked to see what he was pointing out. The young boy groaned at the sight of two tarantulas approaching. Fighting an enemy with the powers of these angels was already taxing enough, but now he had to divert his attention against those guys too?!
"I'll keep an eye on our little friend here," Rory suggested. "You can focus on those monsters."
Odd nodded and took off running toward the new arrivals while Rory readied his blade and slowly approached the immobile creature. His mind raced, trying to conceive a safe way to dispatch the monster so he could go and support his partner against the new threat. All possibilities carried huge risk, it was just too fast once he took his eyes off of it.
Meanwhile, Odd raced toward the tarantulas with total abandon. These guys were always fun, but they were really difficult to fight, especially without backup. Add in that they were long-range artillery and he had no close-combat ability, and Odd knew he was in for a hell of a fight. That's not even counting what sort of new surprises these guys might have in store for him.
The creatures ceased their forward charge, adjusting themselves into a more battle-ready position by sitting upon their hind legs. They prepared their front leg cannons and took aim at Odd, which is when he took notice of something strange. Their cannons definitely looked different. Rather than a round, ovular shape, they were more stream-lined, straight edge. Even the coloration was different, a shimmering silver instead of a dull gray.
The tarantulas fired off their first volley, the energy beams streaming right at Odd. He took a defensive position, crossing his arms to summon his shield, and noticing another difference. Whereas their lasers used to be red, the beam about to strike him was strangely white.
Most of the beams missed their target, but one succeeded where the others failed. The moment it made contact with Odd's energy shield, the boy cried out in pain. Energy surged throughout his body, his shield completely obliterated. His body flashed for a brief moment, his skeletal structure showing. In less than a second his body hit the desert ground.
Oh no, this is horrible! That attack completely destroyed Odd's shield and left him with only ten life points!
"What?!" Rory twisted around, concern overriding caution. He paid the price with two lasers to the back, dropping him down to thirty life points.
Girls, you had better hurry and find that computer! Things aren't going very well for the guys!
"Ugh!" Yumi grunted, slamming her hand into the fountain. "What the hell are we supposed to do?!"
I might be able to help with that! Interrupted the voice of the Doctor. Yumi was almost glad to actually hear from him. My tinkering will shed some light on this. Well, not shed some light so much as boost a signal through the disturbances and white noise through utilization of sonic resonance translated into electrical output. Oh, a loose wire. Pretty sure that's supposed to go… Right… here!
Doctor, you did it! I've got a much cleaner signal! Alright girls, I'm picking up the signal and it's… Right beneath you!
"Right beneath us?" Aelita asked aloud. "How are we going to get under the streets?"
Got you covered there too! I happen to know the area pretty well, if I do say so myself. In fact, you're standing right on top of some leftover psychic residue from my TARDIS's perception filter. It's why you're all being ignored like the outcast child in public school. Oh, lovely little tidbit, did I mention that you're standing on top of an elevator? Activates with a signal sent from the base underground, or from a very fancy wristwatch of an old friend of mine. Very old friend. Well, I say friend. Point is, I've got the access codes, and you're welcome.
Without further warning, the patch of stone Aelita and Yumi stood upon began to sink, smoothly. Down down they went, slowly emerging into a large underground chamber, illuminated by florescent lights. Several computers and desks were strewn around. Multiple tunnels and doorways lead out of the chamber, including a large vault-like door. The chamber was overlooked by a single room lined with glass windows.
"Impressive," Yumi admitted.
"Shreeeek!" A large, winged reptile shot by, perching atop a large tree. Both girls stared blankly.
"Is that… A pterodactyl?" Aelita asked nobody in particular.
The Doctor smiled as he heard Aelita's disbelief through the earpiece he had constructed for himself. He sealed up one compartment of the supercomputer and climbed out, heading toward the freight elevator, musing on the wonder of the universe. He really would have to ask Jack how he got a pterodactyl in that base. With a hop and a skip, the Time Lord punched the up button, beginning his ascent back to the control room with Jeremie, sparing one glance back to his TARDIS, which he had moved to have easier access to the unique tools it contained.
The freight doors opened, allowing the Doctor to saunter on in. He whistled as he brought himself up next to the young boy sitting in the large computer chair.
"Things are not looking good, Doctor," Jeremie commented, his eyes glued to the various images on the multiple monitors.
"Have faith in your young friends, Jeremie," the alien reassured, placing a hand on the young genius's shoulder. "I do. In mine, too."
"I'm still confused about Cardiff though," Jeremie postulated, ignoring the Doctor's touch. "What's so important about it that it has a secret underground base hidden by a perception filter, supplied with a world class supercomputer?"
"That's an easy one," The Doctor responded, spinning Jeremie around in his chair. "Cardiff is home to-"
The Doctor gave pause. Though his expression was still one of confidence and fun, his eyes betrayed him. That ancient mind had spent so much time working in overdrive, he realized, that he failed to see the obvious right in front of his face.
"Oh no. Oh no. Nononononono!"
"Doctor, stop being dramatic and tell me what you just realized!" Jeremie found himself growing tired of his peer's mood swings.
"The Rift. It's worse than I thought, little Jeremie. Cardiff sits right on top of a Rift in space! It's a naturally occurring phenomenon, normally very safe, a bunch like it all over the universe. But…" The Doctor and Jeremie's eyes met together and they reached an understanding. Young though he was, Jeremie understood the full weight of their situation.
"Let them know, I'm heading for my TARDIS!" The Doctor called over his shoulder, heading toward the doors in full sprint. Jeremie readjusted his chair and headset before speaking into it.
"Guys, the situation is critical! Cardiff sits on top of a rift in space and time! If X.A.N.A. gets Amy into that Rift, it can use her special mind to spread itself throughout the entire universe! X.A.N.A. used to be a TARDIS, a being that exists in all points of time and space at once, and now it's found a way to take that back, and I don't want to know what it plans to do with the rest of us once it does!"
The Doctor stopped at the freight elevator, and gave pause. Something caught his ears, some strange noise. The elevator, it was moving. Peculiar. He readied himself as the door opened.
Standing just feet from him was a tall, silver figure. Robotic in appearance, the head was adorned with what looked to be a handlebar sticking from one side to the other, while emblazoned upon its chest was the increasingly familiar insignia, the eye of X.A.N.A.
"The universe just doesn't want to give me a break today, does it?" he complained.