Chapter 15: Geronimo!
Chapter 15: Geronimo!
Author's Note: Well, I missed my deadline. Again. I had originally intended this to be the final chapter, then an epilogue afterward, but there was just too much that I wanted, and needed, to fit in. So I'm estimating there's going to be another 1-2 chapters on top of this one, plus the epilogue. Also, longest chapter to date. Have fun!
Doctor Quote of the Day: "I'm a Doctor, but probably not the one you were expecting." -8th Doctor
Lyoko Quote of the Day: "You may be under X.A.N.A.'s control, but you're still a rookie on Lyoko, William." – Yumi
People ran around the street in a panic, completely unaware of what was happening to their fair city. The rift was only growing larger, pulling more and more in, devouring everything. Some people couldn't make it away in time, swallowed by the monster in the sky, just like all the dirt, water, street signs, and other debris it picked up. Rays of light began to shine from the swirling gray mass at the epicenter of the continually growing cloud of energy. These beams of light vaporized everything they touched.
Adding to the escalating confusion and chaos was how the rift was depositing back as much as it was stealing. Monstrous humanoid figures spilled out into the air, landing into unknown alien territory. Some appeared near the ground, immediately terrorizing the local population, or running, just as frightened as the humans. Others were not nearly as lucky, plummeting from their point of origin high in the sky, becoming impressive smears on broken pavement.
All the while, Aelita maintained her due diligence underground within the walls of Torchwood Three. The computer system was highly impressive; she knew it would take her days to hack through the system. Thankfully, Jack had provided her with most of the inside information she needed to navigate the system. Frantically, she searched for a redundancy setting to close off the rift once more.
Aelita let out the breath she had been holding in upon hearing the sound of something growing behind her. Whipping back, she spotted one of the ugliest, meanest looking things she could have ever imagined. It vaguely resembled a person, like somebody made only a half attempt. It obviously didn't match the clothes it was wearing, the leather jacket and brown, stained slacks. Its skin was tan, and pulled back tightly, but still somehow containing numerous wrinkles. The creature had no ears, just small bumps where you would expect to see them. Its hair was almost nonexistent, starting nearly half way from the front of the thing's cranium, and so short as to be barely noticeable. Its brow appeared almost simian in how pronounced it was, yet instead of being one large forehead, it was pronounced just above each eye. To top off this nightmarish sight, Aelita spotted the thing's teeth: all pointed canines, with four particularly long and vicious looking. It was, without question, a predatory creature.
"Graaaagh!" it howled, making an impossible leap from the doorway, right for Aelita. The young woman reacted on impulse, falling back on the instinctive urge of self-protection.
"Energy field!" she called out, firing her glowing ball of death straight for the creature's chest. The two met in mid-air, causing the thing to shriek in pain and fall from the rafters.
Aelita stared at the creature's deceased body over the railing, her heart pounding so hard she could hear herself. No specter was repairing the body. No energy form was escaping. That thing, whatever it was, was alive. It was its own being. Not a robot, not one of X.A.N.A.'s puppets. And she killed it.
"… What am I looking at?" A single tear rolled down her cheek.
Let me take a look at that screen, brain boy, came the voice of Jack. Oh, we call those guys Weevils. They're mostly instinctive predators, barely appear to have any sapience at all. Occasionally we see one of them fall through the rift. I imagine I'll have quite a few of them to cleanup after this is all over.
Aelita turned away and went back to work on the computer, not because of the growing sense of urgency, but because she couldn't stand to look at her handiwork anymore. Barely sapient, were they? She pondered who, then, dressed it.
"The sooner I get the rift closed again, the less you'll have to cleanup."
Odd and Rory stood at attention, staring as a figure formed before them from thin air. The forewarning Jeremie provided was fantastic, but they couldn't interrupt Amy's virtualization process, and they couldn't deliver a killing blow until they knew for certain that Aelita was ready to input the program that would purge her mind of X.A.N.A. and save her. Unfortunately, she had her hands full trying to save an entire city from interdimensional incursion.
Odd put up his fists in a boxing style as he bounced lightly from one foot to the other, ready for a fight. Rory looked upon his wife entirely differently. Certainly, he had his gladius out and was fully prepared for a battle (though to be fair, every day with Amy was a battle). His stance was flawless, as was fitting for the training he had undergone in his past as a Roman centurion. His eyes even contained conviction, but it was not the conviction of a warrior ready for war. It went so much deeper than that.
Amy's body filled out the wire frame, and she landed on the desert ground, crouched with one hand touching the fine sand. Rory couldn't help but notice some distinct differences in her appearance now, as opposed to when she first came to Lyoko with him. Her leather armor was now completely black, dark as obsidian. Branded to her forehead was that damnable symbol that had caused so much grief as of late.
"RRRAGH!" Wasting no time, Amy blasted forward, throwing a punch right at Rory's midsection. Caught off guard, surprised by this undocumented speed, Rory pulled back, but it was clear she would strike him. That is, until Odd placed himself between the feuding couple with his shield on full guard.
The blow struck, tossing Odd aware several feet, causing him to skid helplessly along the ground until he struck a stray boulder sticking up from the ground. Amy's punch did not break his shield nor harm him itself, but the force from him flying into the boulder still took a few lifepoints from his total.
"Ugh, did anyone happen to catch the license plate on that fist?" Odd rubbed the back of his head as he stood up and recovered his stance.
Meanwhile, Rory grew accustomed to the speed with which Amy was now fighting. He would not be caught unaware anymore! Unfortunately, he was still forced to fight purely on the defensive.
He knew that he could not afford to be struck by a single one of Amy's attacks. After all, he could not heal himself as he could others, any Amy was so strong that even if he were at full lifepoints, it probably wouldn't even matter. He dodged, ducked, dipped, and did everything he possibly could to avoid being hit even once by his wife's superhuman punches, while she flurried away at him like a man woman. A few of her strikes he only evaded by using his blade to parry, but with her incredibly resilience it did no damage without him putting the full force into his swing.
"Laser arrow!" Odd rejoined the fray and made his introduction the way he enjoyed most: by blasting an oblivious target.
The attack knocked Amy forward, throwing her off balance. Rory took advantage of the situation by sidestepping and directing the force of her body straight down, enhanced by a sword strike to the back. Amy hit the ground, hard.
"Alright! That's bound to have softened her up! I can't wait for Aelita to have that program running, we're practically ready as it is!" Odd was cheerful, but showcased a bit more intelligence and care than he normally would have, keeping his eye on their downed opponent, and more importantly, an arrowed properly aimed.
Actually Odd, that maneuver only docked her a total of ten life points. She's still at ninety!
"Oh, you have got to be kidding m-" Odd never got the opportunity to finish that statement, as Amy reacted. Quickly spinning in place, her leg hooked behind Rory's, knocking him over as she flipped herself back onto her feet.
As Rory hit the ground, prone but none the worse for wear, Odd let fly the arrow he had had trained on Amy just in case she attempted something like this. The warrior Scot did not attempt to dodge, nor did she merely take the blow, but instead met the projectile with her fist. Upon collision, black mist emanated from her knuckles, and energy crackled. The laser arrow fizzled out on the spot.
"That's not even fair! I call a do over!" Odd shot off another arrow, which met the same fate. During the exchange, Rory managed to recover, and took stand by his young partner.
"You did say X.A.N.A. would give her new abilities," the centurion reminded, a bit deadpan.
"Yeah. I also said that her normal power would get enhanced, so if we didn't want to get punched by her before, we definitely don't want to get punched by her now. Good thing this is a desert sector. She can't tear up the ground like she did back in the mountain sector, so she's lost any long range she had before. I am so in the advantage here!"
As if to prove him wrong, Amy thrust her fist into the open air toward Odd and Rory. For just a brief, fleeting glance of a moment, her knuckles had a red-white glow to them, but everything happened so quickly it was nearly impossible to notice. The very second her fist stopped in place, the two warriors felt an immense pressure flow by them. A second later, and they were struck by the full force of the attack, tossed back like ragdolls, rolling into a pile of one another.
"Unless she's strong enough to punch gusts of wind now," Rory deadpanned as he pulled himself up off of Odd. The young boy was quick to recover.
"Ugh, I better be getting frequent flier miles for all the knocking around she's doing to me." Odd shook his head, then looked in the direction of Amy, but found nothing there. "Wait, where did she go?"
"Dodge!" Rory pointed up, and Odd found what he sought. Amy was crashing down on them both, her legs outstretched for a mighty kick.
"HIYAH!" Two spinning fans flew from nowhere, striking Amy dead in the chest. The impact knocked her off course, giving the guys enough of a chance to evade to the side. Amy smacked the ground, but rolled to the side and recovered.
Rory followed the path of the fans as they flew back through the air, until a pair of hands snatched them from the air. Yumi stood just outside the tower, having just arrived.
"Glad Jeremie got me back here. Looks like you're really in need of some help." She smirked as she strolled forward. Once Yumi found herself near her team, she unfurled her weapons menacingly. Amy was not amused.
"You will fail. Once I have destroyed you, I will return to reality, and the universe shall become Xanadu!" Amy clenched her fist tightly in the sand.
"Xanadu?" Rory inquired.
"Come to think of it, the robots that attacked Aelita and me said the same thing. What the heck is Xanadu?" Yumi raised an eyebrow.
"I think it's a kind of Mexican pineapple," Odd suggested. It took everything Yumi had not to bite back with sarcasm.
It's the perfect place, informed the voice of the Doctor. Xanadu, Shambala, Arcadia, Eden, Paradise, the Promised Land, it's all the same thing, the same concept passed down in multiple cultures across the universe in all times. Even at the end of the universe, humanity is seeking their salvation at Utopia. It seems that whatever image our enemy wants to force reality to become, X.A.N.A. has a very high opinion of itself.
"Not at all like you, right?" Rory replied.
"I think we need to focus, guys." Odd was having one of his rare serious moments, and it was oh so warranted. Amy was moving again.
In a large sweeping motion, the warrior woman hurled all the sand she had grabbed at her friends turned enemies. With her super strength, the small grains struck them with the force of a shotgun. As they recoiled, she showed her teeth in a wild smile, and thrust her fist through the air, like a bullet.
Aelita performed her best under the pressure of the situation, yet the challenge was proving insurmountably difficult. The computer was highly sophisticated; not as much as with the supercomputer she had lived within, but sophisticated all the same. The additional pressure of knowing so many were being robbed of their lives and livelihoods mere feet above her was bad enough, but the rift's energies were becoming, as Jack warned prior, cataclysmic. Why, she struggled just to maintain her balance, nevermind actually navigating the systems of this computer!
The young woman gave a frightened sigh upon checking one of the gauges. It read that the rift was nearing critical mass, the point at which it could no longer be sealed off. Mentally she chastised herself for the lack of progress and redoubled her efforts.
Meanwhile, the objects being taken by the rift, as well as everything it was leaving behind, grew bigger and bigger. Cars and buses were either swept up into the sky, or completely vanished from the spot, while large debris, and in one case, a strange elephant like creature, appeared in the streets.
A single echo of a scream found its way into the depths of Torchwood Three, motivating Aelita even further. Finally, she found what she needed, and implemented every ounce of her programming skills. Working with the most basic foundation of the coding, she redirected the power of the complex into a rift seal redundancy grid. The results were almost immediately noticeable.
The first to go were the vaporization beams. These were immediately cut off, preventing the continued devastation of the city. Next, the energy coursing through the giant black cloud began to subside, and the swirling mass of gray began to retard. Its growth had been amputated. With only the local energies to feed on, the rift lost its size, slowly but surely.
"Yes! I did it!" Aelita exclaimed, loudly as possible.
Aelita, you are just THE GREATEST!, praised Jeremie.
Bewm! Sparks flew as a red laser bolt narrowly missed Aelita, instead blasting the computer interface. The system was unharmed, so her redundancy program continued to run, but no longer would she be able to interact with the system.
"No!" Aelita's eyes traced the path of the laser back to the point of origin. Behind her, crawling across the damaged catwalk, was a severed robotic arm, clearly belonging to one of the cybermen she had previously trashed. Several cables whipped around from the severed portion of the stump, pushing it comedically along the floor, while the wrist-mounted laser fired blindly, literally.
Aelita scowled at the thing, combusting it with one of her energy field blasts. Cardiff was safe from continued rift activity, but that blasted robot arm, its actions absolutely wreaked havoc on their plan. What hope did they have to save Amy now?
Alright guys, quick update for you. It looks like Amy has still got seventy lifepoints left. Yumi is at eighty, Odd's got forty, and Rory, you're barely hanging on with ten points. Don't take ANY risks! Jeremie urged his friends to take the situation very seriously.
"I'd like to see you try that, Einstein!" Odd replied, flipping over Amy's outstretched fist, landing a single arrow into her shoulder.
Yumi and Rory attacked each of her flanks in an absolutely relentless assault. Blade and fan whipped and swiped away in a frenzy, blocked and parried by armored fist. Yumi's reappearance evened out the odds and put Amy on the defensive now, but she was still able to hold her own, and the strikes they got in were both few and far between.
"I've got an idea!" Odd shouted. He changed tactics, running toward the tower where the Skidbladnir was docked.
"That's… A… Scary concept!" Yumi managed to grunt out, narrowly preventing her face from becoming a mush pie.
"I'm not even gonna dignify that with a comeback!" Odd shouted over his shoulder. He took a running dive, and then disappeared into the tower.
"Right, only good can come of this, then," Rory snarked, expressing his irritation on the matter. He quickly thrust his blade forward, but found it knocked aside.
Yumi swung one of her war fans diagonally from Amy's chest to her head. Amy dipped below the attack, twisting her body around, jutting out her leg. Her foot caught Yumi square in the chest. The young woman's eyes bulged, threatening to pop from their very sockets as her body flew back like a rag doll, tumbling along the desert ground.
"Yumi!" Rory dodged to the side and rushed off to the young girl's aid. "I got you, hold on!"
"Eyes off her, pretty boy!" growled Amy. She moved to intercept her husband.
"Eyes over here, Warrior Princess!" Amy stopped and turned to where the voice had come from, and became visibly shaken at what she saw. One of the nav skids had released from the larger ship and was now flying right for her. Odd decided enough was enough, and broke out the big guns.
You might as well be hunting rabbits with a tank, Odd! Jeremie shouted.
Incidentally I've been hunting for rabbits with a tank, it's a lot more difficult than it sounds. Well actually they weren't rabbits, they were skuzzles, a sort of reverse-skunk like creature, and it wasn't a tank so much as it was a giant tripod mech powered by glow-in-the-dark fish. At this point I should mention that skuzzles are approximately two stories high and travel in packs. Anyway, the principal is the same. That said, using a ship on Amy is probably the most appropriate method to go about. I know what Amy is capable of, believe me. She's very Scottish.
Of course, just because the Doctor was rambling that didn't mean the action had stopped. As the alien continued prattling about doing whatever he was doing at the time, Odd locked on to his target and overclocked the throttle. If ramming was good enough for that kalamar, it would be good enough for Amy!
Amy dug her two feet into the sand, anchoring herself in place. Odd scoffed at how silly she was, preparing to take a whole ship head on. And people said that he was reckless!
Odd's nav skid collided with Amy's outstretched palms, knocking the woman back. Her stance held, the ship refused to plow through her, but that didn't stop her from plowing through the ground. Both figures moved through the sand and dirt of the desert, Amy's body slowly sinking down into the trench she was digging up, passing right by Amy as she received Rory's healing hand. Second by second, they lost momentum and velocity, until finally, the duo came to a standstill.
Odd pushed the thrusters beyond maximum, but there was just no more give in Amy. She clenched her fingers, digging into the metal nose of the ship. She gave a crazy smirk, as Yumi and Rory watched on in utter horror and amazement.
Oh no, Odd! Jeremie cried out, slamming his fist onto the armrest of his chair so loudly the sound passed through the headset.
Odd looked into Amy's eyes through the cockpit canopy. He felt the weight of malice pouring from her gaze, and traced his vision down to the insane smirk carried on her face, and then… He matched it.
"Gotcha!" Odd slammed his fist onto two buttons simultaneously. The lighting turned dark warning red, while sirens began blaring. The canopy shot off, and Odd found himself launched through the air, limbs flailing wildly.
Large chunks of shrapnel and bits of disintegrating data blasted every direction, engulfing Amy's form in a cloud of smoke and desert dust. Odd landed, none too gracefully, several feet away, whereupon he was quickly met by his friends.
"I hope that added to your frequent flier miles," Yumi joked, helping him up.
"Hey! That's my joke!" Odd cried back indignantly.
Rory looked on at the scene. It was still difficult to make out what exactly had happened, but a little logical thinking made the answer obvious. He had only hoped the aftermath was ideal to their situation.
"That was beyond reckless, that was stupid. What are we going to do if that self-destruct devirtualized her, Odd? When could we possibly try again to get my wife back?" Rory's gaze never left the cloud of smoke and sand, but it was clear that had he been looking at the boy, he'd be piercing Odd's soul with his eyes.
"As tough as Amy is, I had to bring out the big guns just to get more than some scratch damage on her. Relax, I'm sure she'll have been softened up enough to deal with, soon as Aelita gives the word!" Odd gave an optimistic thumbs up.
Rory shrugged, ignoring the kid's body language. He was only interested in one thing, and that was what was left from that explosion. Any moment now, and the smoke would clear enough to see if Amy were still there.
"She's… Gone…" Yumi muttered quietly. It was true; the only thing left was some black, burned sand, and a small crater. The nav-skid's self destruct really was too much for Amy to soak up.
"Oh… Oh, man…" Odd couldn't bring himself to look up at Rory, or his friend Yumi. His eyes could only get acquainted with his own feet. For once, that empty feeling in his stomach wasn't hunger. What could he say? What could he do?
"We'll have another chance if we just wai-"
"Don't, Odd. Not this time." Yumi interrupted him, placing a hand on his shoulder.
This small action spurred Odd to finally look up, and see Rory. The man still had not taken his eyes away from the site of the explosion. His gaze was endless, like he wasn't really looking at anything physically in front of him. Not really. Odd could only imagine how this hardened warrior would react to losing the best opportunity they had at rescuing his wife. Rory was right, Odd thought. That was stupidity beyond recklessness, and whatever scolding or punishment Rory thought up, he'd deserve it. The young boy silently awaited his elder's judgment, as Rory finally stirred.
"Then I guess we wait." Those words nearly crushed Odd into the ground. He accepted it? They would just try again? The cat boy was shocked and wondered how anybody could possibly not be absolutely livid with him, or completely break down. Then he remembered something Rory had said before. Something about protecting Amy for 2,000 years.
"Do you guys feel that?"
Yumi brought the men back to reality. They each nodded yes as they looked down at their feet. The ground, it was rumbling, shaking. Something was moving beneath them, shifting the sands. Pressure was building…
"Dodge!" yelled Rory, throwing himself to the side. The others did the same, and just in time. As they tossed their forms in three separate directions, the ground beneath them erupted into a geyser of sand. The culprit made herself known quickly, as she dusted off her leather armor and took a battle ready stance.
"Amy!" cried her husband. The sight of her was a tremendous relief.
"I was right!" Odd shouted, performing a small jig. "She DID survive it!"
"Not the time, Odd!" Yumi scolded. She matched Amy's battle stance and unfurled her fans. "The important thing is that we didn't miss our chance. We can still rescue Amy from X.A.N.A.'s influence!"
"Silly little girl!" Amy half-growled, her voice altered and influence. "You've all lost me."
"What do you mean?" Rory inquired, getting into position himself. Any information he could get X.A.N.A. to voluntarily give up would surely provide them some manner of advantage.
"She's just baiting us, don't even listen," Odd commented, writing it off. Once Amy began to laugh, he had to admit that even he was interested.
"The computer console has been destroyed. Aelita cannot recover this body and mind for you. Your battle is lost." The woman-possessed stared right into Rory's eyes, and for the first time since he had begun this fight, the man faltered.
"What?" he asked, consciously lowering his guard. "That can't be true…"
Amy sneered proudly, and launched herself at her now poorly defended husband. She charged forward like a freight train, ready to hit like one too. There was nothing he could do to stop it. The other two were spread out, and he was too busy being exploited.
The virtual woman's assault was abruptly halted, as she nearly faceplanted into the ground. The cause of this sudden lurch in her body? A large rock had materialized from nowhere, encasing her legs. Amy let out a growl of frustration as she tumbled forward, while everyone's attention was attracted to a single voice nearby.
"She's not lying. One of those cyberman robots shot out the console." Aelita approached the group, every ounce of her vocal expression and body language carrying with it absolute sadness.
Amy struggled to get back up. Just as she balled up a fist to smash into the rock encasing her legs, Aelita fell to a prayer position. Her eyes closed, her lips parted ever so slightly, and like a gift from the heavens the stone imprisoning Amy grew to encase her entire body, up to the neck.
Aelita, be careful! You know your Creativity cuts your lifepoints in half! Jeremie voiced his concerns.
"Then it's a good thing we have a nurse on site," Aelita replied, semi-cheerfully. Rory nodded in acknowledgement, and a few moments later, Aelita found herself back to one hundred life points.
Right. Well then, now that that's out of the way, Jeremie began, feeling a little embarrassed about his oversight. Odd's stunt knocked Amy down to five lifepoints, but like Aelita said, it doesn't really matter. X.A.N.A. destroyed the computer console in Torchwood Three. Rory, I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry, but unless X.A.N.A. decides that he's going to move her information to another computer we can actually access… This is it.
The Lyoko Warriors all looked upon Rory, waiting to see his reaction to this news. Aelita was barely holding herself together. This mission being a complete and total failure, despite how much was riding on it, was bad enough. The sacrifices that she had made to get here though, that made it all the worse.
Yumi thought about Ulrich, lying on that stretcher back in the TARDIS, recovering, and how she would be in Rory's situation if Ulrich could never… But he WILL recover. There is always a way. They've fought too hard, sacrificed too much. Right?
Odd tried to looked everywhere but at Rory. To be honest, he wasn't that great at these introspective soul searchy kinda things. He was always able to express what he was feeling when he was feeling it, but right now? He wasn't feeling much of anything at the moment. He saw Yumi and her frustration that echoed his own. Of all his friends, she was the one he didn't always outwardly get along with best, but they shared similar passion of spirit. He was getting pretty tired of all this too. He saw Aelita and how she looked about ready to just break down. He found this both completely expected, and very surprising. She had easily been through the most grief out of all of them; a person could only take so much. At the same time, she always came out on top with a smile, just like he did. Aelita was the strongest person Odd knew.
Seeing himself reflected in his friends, Odd finally looked upon Rory, the one person here he had the least connection with. By the end of this adventure, that was going to change, and it would change right now if he could make it. Aelita and Yumi shared his optimism and passion, respectively, so surely Rory would get something of his. Silently, he closed his eyes and concentrated, replicating every psychic movie he'd ever seen.
"I don't need a computer to save Amy," Rory said defiantly.
"It worked!" Odd cheered. The girls stared at him, confused.
"Amy is strong. She'll be able to fight off X.A.N.A., with my help." Rory kneeled in front of his struggling, possessed wife, meeting her gaze. On the surface, they reflected nothing but pure malice, undiluted hatred. Rory could see past that. Deep down, beneath the mask their enemy placed upon her, he could see so much more. Like a tiny twinkle of that sunken treasure, it was buried at the bottom of a sea of loathing, just waiting to be brought back out.
The Last Centurion positioned her head with both hands, and placed a single thumb upon her forehead. He continued to stare deep into those eyes, looking for that tiny twinkle amidst the ocean of blackness. It was there. He knew it was there.
What are you doing, Rory?! Her life points are climbing again! Ten! Fifteen! Twenty! If you don't stop, she'll be strong enough to take you all on again!
Rory didn't care. He didn't even hear Jeremie's warnings. As far as the man was concerned, the only thing that mattered right now in the entire universe, earth, or Lyoko, was the most beautiful woman in them all, and bringing her back to him. There it was! He could see it, now he just had to bring it back.
Eighty-five! Ninety! Ninety-five! That's it. Amy is back to her full lifepoint count. I just hope you know what you're doing.
The Doctor wouldn't have chosen him to come traveling if he didn't trust in him, Jack interrupted. Right Doctor?
The Doctor remained completely silent. Not that it mattered, Rory was almost there. He had latched on to that spark of light, that true beauty. Now he was bringing Amy back.
"Oh Amy, I hear the song of your sadness. You've lost someone I think."
What was this? Where was it coming from? Amy tried to blink, but found herself unable to. So was seeing things, hearing things. Events from… Somewhere.
"I'm not sad." Was that her voice? She was certain it was her own voice.
"Then why are you crying? It's all right. I understand."
"I'm not sure I do." But she did. She knew she understood. Something deep down, it was coming back. Something was missing, but what was it?
"You're very sure? This could be the real world." That was the Doctor. Was he what was missing? No, he wasn't. Amy knew that wasn't it.
"It can't be. Rory isn't here. I didn't know. I honestly didn't until right now. I just want him." Rory. That was it. Where was Rory? Why was he missing?
"Williams. Rory Williams from Leadworth. My boyfriend. How can I forget you?" That was a good point, how could she forget Rory? She hadn't. She never would, never could. So what did she forget? What was coming back to her?
"Whatever they did to me at Demon's Run, I can't ever give you children. I didn't kick you out. I gave you up. So don't you dare talk to me about waiting outside a box because that is nothing, Rory, nothing! Compared to giving you up." Gave him up? That's right… She did, she did give Rory up. It was the most painful feeling she had ever had. She felt so completely incomplete since doing that. But why, why on earth did she give him up again? No, she didn't give him up. Not this time. She was taken from him. That ends. Right. Now.
Rory smiled at his wife. The twinkle he saw, deep in the back of her eyes, it was growing. It grew and grew and grew, until it completely engulfed both her eyes entirely. Finally, light shone from her eyes, emanating from the two of them. Their entire surroundings illuminated in purifying radiance.
"What's wrong?" Rory asked. Only he didn't. Amy remembered him asking.
"Nothing. It's like... it's like I'm happy. Why am I happy?" That was a stupid question. Of course she knew why she was happy. It was him. She was coming back to him and that stupid face of his. That face that held all his kindness, his strength, his love.
"GRAAAAGH!" Amy's mouth shot wide open, but it was not her screaming. A black mist, glowing red, escaped her body. The mist coalesced into a single pulsating cloud, before it dispersed, vaporized by the purifying light shining from the loving couple. A moment later, and the light show ended as well.
Amy's head drooped down, lazily. She was still encased in stone, but there was no doubt in anybody's mind. Amy was free.
"Amy? Talk to me, Amy." Rory lightly shook her head.
"Uuugh," she moaned, lifting herself just enough to meet Rory's eyes. "Well what are you waiting for? Get me out of this stupid rock before I have to wallop you all."
Rory smiled back for just a second. A second is all it took before he completely broke down and embraced her. The two began sobbing like small schoolgirls.
"I'm so glad you're back, Amy. I love you so much."
"Rory, I remember it. Everything I did."
"Shush now. It's only a virtual world, remember?" Rory gave her another cheerful, tear-laced smile, swinging her previous attitude back at her.
"I don't believe it," Yumi muttered. What she had seen was truly remarkable.
"It must have something to do with Amy's unique memory, and Rory's healing ability intertwining to purify her avatar of X.A.N.A.'s influence," Aelita theorized.
"Pfft, you girls don't know anything," Odd smirked. "It was obviously the power of love, plain and simple."
Aelita and Odd got into a minor debate on the topic, but nobody else was paying attention. Rory and Amy were too preoccupied with one another, while Yumi mused on the possibility. Obviously it wasn't just the power of love. If that alone could solve their problems, then they wouldn't be one man short right now.
Yumi caught herself and blushed a little. Looking around to make sure nobody saw it, she recomposed herself.
Alright Mister Pond! That was brilliant, absolutely brilliant! Cheered the Doctor.
"You took your wife's name?" Once again, everyone ignored Odd.
Haha! The Doctor's companions do it again. Now let's finish saving the world. Well Jack was on point.
This goes against absolutely every possibility and every calculation I could have ever run. I'm completely dumbstruck, guys. I guess, sometimes, miracles do happen. Now that Amy has been saved, let's get everyone out of the replica, back to Lyoko proper, and we can run my special multi-agent program to take out X.A.N.A. once and for all! Jeremie's plan was met with much cheer and rejoice, save for one lone voice in the crowd.
"So, are you actually going to get me out of this rock, or what?"
Not much time had passed. The group had only had minutes to rest and recover since Amy's rescue from X.A.N.A.'s control. In that time, Jeremie had translated the group back to Lyoko, in the super computer at the factory, through the connection provided by the Skidbladnir. The ship was properly docked in its place back in Sector Five, while the group was all together, outside of a tower in the Ice Sector.
"It feels good to be back home!" Odd enthused, stretching himself a bit. "In a manner of speaking."
"Yes. It really does." Amy playfully pat the boy on his back, accidentally knocking him down. "Ooh, sorry. Still getting used to the super strength thing."
"You sure had it down pat when you were fighting us," Yumi commented. "But I suppose that was actually X.A.N.A.'s doing."
"Naw, I've just had a lot of practice beating up my stupid husband, here," Amy retorted, smiling back at Rory. He returned the smile.
"She's not kidding, either."
Back in the factory, three figures remained amidst a litter of destroyed robotics. Jeremie still sat in his chair at the computer, going over the final details of his program. It had to be completely perfect, not a single piece of coding out of place.
Captain Jack Harkness and the Doctor were standing in the corner, chatting away and catching up.
"So what happened with that whole Demon's Run thing? Why didn't you call me to help you out?" Jack holstered his laser pistol, then leaned against the wall with one arm, allowing his trenchcoat to open ever so slightly.
"Didn't think to ask," the Doctor shrugged. He was toying with a busted robotic leg.
"Didn't think to ask?" Jack shot back incredulously, his sudden raise in volume punctuated by the robotic leg spontaneously kicking the Doctor in his gut. "You go out of your way to collect on the debts of a bunch of people that owe you something, but you don't even think to ask the people who owe you the most? Your friends?"
"I don't like risking my friends," the Doctor sheepishly admitted.
"Come on, be honest with me here. Being with you is a risk itself. Besides…" Jack narrowed his eyes, shot a look over to Jeremie to see how well he was paying attention, then focused on the Doctor again. "What could they ever do to me?"
"The headless monks were there," replied the Time Lord, still not taking his eyes off of the difficult little gizmo he was working on. "They could decapitate you without death. That's not a fate I imagine you'd like very much."
"Oh please, you know what a head can do?" The look in Jack's eyes was highly suggestive. Then again, everything about Jack was suggestive, so the Doctor needn't have looked to get the point.
"I thought you'd be busy with other things," he finally relented, with a shrug.
"Other things?!" Jack threw his arms up, accidentally knocking the leg from his conversational partner's grip. "Well, I guess it has been a very busy couple millennia for me."
Jack settled against the wall again. "I went the long way back to the 51st century, then got another vortex manipulator. Came back to finish some old cases I could figure out the first time. Don't worry though, no interference with my own timestream. Actually, I think I might have been the cause of me not solving them the first time around. Huh."
The young looking man appeared quite reflective for a moment. He pulled a small chip from the vortex manipulator he wore on his wrist, showing it to the Doctor.
"This is how I found you. Vortex alignment capacitor. I was actually working to solve the mystery of the Flash Fatalities. After some research, I discovered a unique temporal signal just happened to take place everytime people fell over dead in droves. I used this to track the signal here to this factory. Mind telling me what all is going on?"
"Temporal signal," the Doctor scoffed. "Shows just what you know about temporal physics. It's a Temporal Perception Field, not any real time travel energy. Silly. But yes, turns out there's an insane TARDIS personality matrix that was forcibly converted into an earth-based sentient computer program that inhabited this big computer right here, and now it wants to destroy all life, rewrite the universe, and become an infinite being lording over all time and space. The computer is able to generate Temporal Perception Fields as well, effectively like pressing the rewind button on an old VHS tape, only the characters that die in the story are still dead, it's very advanced and confusing so I won't bore you with the details, but at this time Jeremie is making sure that his multi-agent program is ready to destroy X.A.N.A. once and for all, thus ensuring a happy existence until the next inevitable disaster that I'll have to stop. Oh, and there's a virtual world, but you got that part already I think. Double oh, I just heard the IHOP is bringing back unlimited hotcakes. Not sure why I thought of that. Not sure why I didn't know about that before, what with being a time traveler and all. Actually, scratch that, not sure why I know about that at all, it really is a tiny detail. Oh sod it, why'd you have to bring up hotcakes, Jack?"
Jack stared at the Doctor, his eyes open wide. After a moment, he found his voice. "Wow. I mean, you really like to hear yourself talk in any of your regenerations, but really? Actually, hold still a moment."
Jack looked the man over. As he did, the Doctor posed himself with a bit of boyish pride. Once he was done, the immortal human gave his opinion.
"Not sure about the chin, and your ears are a bit weird, but you pull off the style and I'm digging the rest of it. You're looking very sharp, Doctor." The captain gave a wink.
"Thank you, Jack. I did my best this time." The Doctor unconsciously adjusted his bow-tie, with a smug bit of pride.
"Alright everyone, I'm certain this will work," Jeremie announced, both to the men in the room, as well as to his friends translated on Lyoko.
"How certain is certain?" came the voice of Odd through the computer's speakers.
"Certain means one hundred percent, Odd. Seriously, pick up a dictionary sometime." Jeremie rolled his eyes.
"Not when he's around." Jack nudged the Doctor, who nudged him back indignantly.
"The only problem is that it'll take some time to get the energy we need generated to fully launch the program, and X.A.N.A. can launch an attack in that time. It'll probably go all out on us, and the modifications to its monsters from Amy's mind are probably still going to be there."
"Not a problem, Einstein! We're practically home free at this point!"
"Not if X.A.N.A. can take out the towers on Lyoko that'll be generating that energy, or the factory, or me." Jeremie wasn't annoyed, just pointing out the facts.
"Right, which is why I'm playing bodyguard. I have to admit, it's been a long time since I was the group leader. I'm kinda liking the dynamic." Jack stretched and loosened himself up. No doubt there was going to be more fighting before the day was through.
"Alright, I'm implementing my program right now. Be prepared for anything!" Jeremie's keyboard strokes had never been so efficient, nor so quick. His hands flashed like lightning until he finally rested a single index finger on that magic enter button. In that moment, a new window popped on one of the monitors, containing a progress meter. Ever so slowly, it began to crawl from one end to the other, like molasses moving uphill.
"Damn, looks like we'll have our work cut out for us, won't we Doctor?" Jack asked. When he received no response, Jack looked around the room, only to find there was no trace of the man.
"That man," Jack said, shaking his head. "Always running away from me."
The Doctor stood before one of the scanners, its door open to him. So empty inside, so inviting to those on the outside. This machine resembled him in that way. Of course, it was cold and hard. He was warm and exciting. At least, that's how he felt right now. No way of telling what it would show him, if it really did build a virtual avatar around your subconscious. Would it be just another face? He's had so many. Would it be something more? Possibly.
The Doctor stared into the machine, focusing on his reflection in the polished metal. Distorted. That's what it was. What he was. He had come a long way, hadn't he? The Doctor mused on that fact. The cantankerous old man. The music loving, trolling space hobo. The charming action hero. The antiauthoritarian wanderer. The optimistic humanitarian. The criminal. The manipulative schemer. The romantic with a lust for life, broken by a series of unfortunate events. The murderer. The sassy brooder. The psycho, trying his best behind the mask of a good man. And of course, who he was now: An old man with a young face, desperately out of touch.
Of course, he knew all that. The question was, what didn't he know? What would the scanner reveal to him, about himself? Whatever the answer, he wouldn't have to live with it for very long. With a heavy sigh, the Doctor stepped into the scanner.
He whipped out his sonic screwdriver, and pressed the button for a fraction of a second. The scanner door reacted, sliding shut. He pressed the button again, locking the controls. Now Jeremie couldn't stop him.
"By now you were probably wondering where I'd buggered off to," he spoke into the mic he had fastened for himself. "The fact of the matter is, X.A.N.A. has got too much pull and influence across the world at this point. We need that program running as fast as possible, which means generating as much energy as quickly as we can. This computer is plenty powerful, but not powerful enough. Not nearly powerful enough. No doubt X.A.N.A. has already detected the launch and is now prepared to take the lives of innocent people in an effort to dissuade us from completely launching it. We all know that's not an option, but we also all know that it's completely going to follow through with that threat.
"I'm a Time Lord. My body is composed of regenerative energy, but I don't have a lot left. In fact, I'm on the last cycle of my life, and I have lived for a very, VERY long time, so don't you even think about stopping me! I'll give this multi-agent program of yours the kind of boost it needs to wipe out X.A.N.A. like a drugged up football player on eight different kinds of steroids!"
The Doctor gave one more smug smirk as he activated the scanner process remotely, using his sonic screwdriver. Nobody could see it, but it was a confidence statement. Besides, what if someone actually were looking?
"Transfer: Doctor," he announced through the mic. "Scanner: Doctor."
The man gave one pause, waiting for the perfect moment. In all his soul searching, all his introspection, all the different faces he's worn and all the personalities and styles he's had throughout the centuries of his lifetime, there was one fact that had never changed. One that never would change. The Doctor loved to make one hell of a dramatic presentation.