Chapter 17: Legacies
Chapter 17: Legacies
Author's Note: Here we are, ladies and gents. Finally, the last chapter. I hope you have enjoyed reading this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it. It's only because of my fans' continued support that I was able to finally complete it. The first actual accomplishment I can say that I have ever seen through to the very end. It's a great feeling. Stay tuned for the epilogue.
Doctor Quote of the Day: "Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame." – The War Doctor
Lyoko Quote of the Day: "My father stole my life from me. He was a totally crazy second-rate magician, and because of him, I'm nothing, I'm no one!" – Aelita
"Laser arrow! Ow!" Two doppelgangers, one of Rory and one of Yumi, were splattered apart by Odd's attack, just as one of his own copies struck him from behind.
Yumi and Amy had each others backs, having taken to fighting together. It was a combination that worked out well. Yumi parried any projectiles, while cutting down foes from a distance, while the enemies that got in close built up a fantastic relationship with the ground.
Aelita found herself in the greatest danger, bar none. Her duplicates had all concentrated their combined focus on her exclusively, which would have been bad enough, but she took it upon herself to distract the kolossus so that it would not end up crushing her friends and allies.
She danced through the air and weaved through attacks graceful as a ballerina. It was no east feat to dodge energy projectiles, sky fighters, and the tremendous force that was the kolossus's mighty limbs. That is, when it did not resort to merely transforming its flesh into long tendrils with which to restrain her.
"What is it with all the tentacles today?" Aelita grumbled, blasting one out of her way, clearing a safe path to travel through.
"I've got it, Princess! Get ready!" Odd cried out, taking careful aim. "Laser arrow!"
The boy let loose a small volley of arrows, knowing no single arrow would be potent enough, upon the eye symbol sitting upon the monster's bladed arm. For a moment, it appeared as though the assault would work, but of course it couldn't be that easy. Three of Aelita's clones saw what their parent did not, and took quick action, thrusting their bodies in the way.
Splattered apart, large chunks of flesh rained from the air, scattered about. A particularly large hunk of goop splashed directly onto Odd's feet. The boy wasted no time in hopping around in a mad dance, kicking his legs wildly.
"Ew! Ew ew ew ew! Get it off!" His voice was somewhere between a whine and an irritated shout.
"Ha! Pulverized!" Amy smashed one of the doubles directly into the icy ground.
"Pulverized?" Yumi asked, slicing a Rory clone in half, diagonally.
"Well, the rest of you shout out cool attack names," replied the Scotswoman, hurling one of her own doubles over the shoulder. "I thought it's what made you cool around here."
"Good luck, the only cool one here is me!" Odd chimed in, skipping by the girls. He was still busy kicking his foot like a total nitwit. Yumi and Amy groaned and chuckled, respectively.
"We've got a serious problem, everybody!" Aelita announced.
The other three took a moment to take a gander at what the princess of Lyoko was referring. While the doppelgangers kept them all busy, the kolossus was steadily making its way toward a completely different target. Or rather, pair of targets. As huge as the beast was, it would only take a handful of strides before it was within striking distance of the two glowing orbs. One hit, two kills.
"Oh no you don't!" commanded Amy. She took a running leap, crossing the distance incredibly quickly, and planting a powerful jab into the back of the kolossus's foot. The stone that made up its body cracked, but the wound sealed itself within seconds, and shapeshifted. Powerful tendrils shot out, which Amy avoided with a well-time backflip.
What are those two doing?! This would go a lot more quickly if the Doctor gave us that energy boost he was talking about!
"There it is, just like I was expecting! It always comes down to pedigree and politics with all of you!" The Doctor seethed, throwing himself up from his seat in a rage. "Throwing your superior years and experience in my face to justify your position, no matter how wrong it is!"
"There is absolutely no need to raise your voice, Doctor," the Sire replied, quite coldly. He did not react to the other Time Lord's provocations and barely blinked at the emotions this other man displayed for him.
"I do not justify any of my actions involving Xanadu. They were, and remain to be, horrendous. What I am interested to know, I must say, is how you justify using The Moment."
"I don't!" the Doctor shrieked. The sudden increase of his voice caused the Sire to stir, if only ever so slightly.
"I don't justify using it." The younger Time Lord reeled himself in, no longer shouting, but still very distressed. "I did what I had to do, because there was no other alternative."
"Then our situations are more alike than you would like to admit." The Sire cupped his fingers together and awaited what would no doubt be another childish outburst from his younger peer.
"Our situations were nothing alike! The war had become an all consuming Hell! If I hadn't stopped it when I did, then the only outcomes would have been universal extermination by the daleks, or even worse… What we had planned for the universe." The Sire raised an eyebrow, showing a hint of genuine curiosity.
"The Final Sanction?" he inquired, receiving a solemn nod from the Doctor. "I had calculated that Rassilon would not go that far. I am sorry to hear that I was wrong."
"It's not the only thing you've been wrong about," shot the Doctor. The Sire took the remark rather well, things considered.
"You murdered innocent billions. My primary victim was willing." His voice was dry, matter of fact.
"And she loved you. You tortured her until she forgot that love, and now she's killing innocents as well."
For the first time, the Sire stood from his chair. Calmly, he strolled toward the Doctor, who for his part was unsure how to react, and so he continued to glare. Once the two were within arm's reach, the Sire placed a hand on the Doctor's shoulder. Obviously very unaccustomed and uncomfortable with providing any sort of affection, the older man stumbled through his next words.
"It's alright, Doctor. I know what it is you really need, what you are really asking for with this pissing contest between us. I have to say, it's not easy, but you deserve it." The Sire removed his glasses with one hand, pocketing them, so that his next words would be met eye to eye. "Doctor. I forgive you."
Just like that, the Doctor's anger ebbed away. Like dirty water, it spiraled down the drain, gone away. Instead he was flooded with a range of other emotions: elation, sorrow, surprise, confusion, all muddled up into one big ball of feely weely… Stuff. Unsure how to proceed, the Doctor broke down then and there. He pulled the Sire into the tightest embrace he could manage, wrapping his arms completely around the man.
"Thank you… Thank you," was all he could muster, like sweet nothings into the ear of a lover.
The two stayed this way for some time. The Doctor continued his affectionate embrace, while the Sire remained motionless, awkwardly unsure of what to do with his hands. He had had only ever shown affection for two people before, making this very much outside his realm of expertise. Yet he said nothing, did not make his lack of comfort known, out of respect for his younger colleague.
"Forgiveness is all I wanted." The silence finally broke, as the Doctor gently released his elder.
"It is something we all seek." The Sire took a step back, perhaps a little more hastily than was necessary. "Yet it is something I know I will never receive. You are correct, Doctor, in that we do what we must to protect the people of this planet. At this point, with what I have done to Xanadu, it feels more like a mercy killing than murder."
"Just like Ol' Yeller," the Doctor commented.
"Old what now?" the Sire inquired, raising an eyebrow.
"Nevermind. Doesn't matter. But you are forgetting something, Sire. There is someone you can be forgiven by. Someone that you may not have realized you have caused great harm and discomfort to." The Doctor began to recover his signature style, and while he was not as expressive as usual, it was clear he was coming back.
"Who might that be?" asked the Sire, genuinely curious. The Doctor merely shook his head.
"I can't tell you that. That's not the point." His voice grew somewhat more heavy, but the inflection was hardly noticeable.
"Well whomever you are prattling about, I must say that it matters not. I won't have to live with it much longer." With a wave of his hand, the black void surrounding the duo slowing began to change, morphing into something else entirely. Darkness, ever so slowly, gave way to small rays of weak, dull light.
"Xanadu is my responsibility, Doctor, my second Nightmare Child. The rest of the universe is yours. This is not your sacrifice to make." The elder Time Lord's words were spoken softly, but clearly they held great conviction, strong authority. Not even the universe's greatest known rebel, the Doctor, could dare to cross such a command.
"Do you have any regenerations left?" he asked, terrified he already knew the answer.
"Your destiny is to be alone once more." The rays of light grew in size and intensity. Wisps of darkness curled around these shining beacons in a futile effort of self preservation.
The Doctor nodded, solemnly accepting of this fate. He had never intended to survive his own genocide, but had found his solitude to be a far more fitting punishment. For once, the Doctor could not take the easy way out. For a second time, the Doctor would witness the remains of his people making the sacrifice he could not.
"This program of Jeremie's is truly marvelous." The Sire began to levitate, his body glowing in a golden-magenta aura. The lights around the two intensified to truly staggering degrees, threatening to blind them.
"Doctor, when you leave Lyoko, I would like you to give him a message for me." The Doctor listened to the Sire's request and agreed. The dying Time Lord could barely speak the words before erupting into an explosion of light and energy. The golden-magenta of his own body sought out the rays in the darkness, joining together. The rays siphoned his very life force, transmogrifying the remaining darkness, the combined force sweeping over the black expanse.
The Doctor looked on with a smile, basking in the rays of his peer. Beautiful. Simply beautiful. The alien took one final look around, admiring the majesty, before fading from this mental plane.
The kolossus moved in for the kill, swinging down that ginormous bladed arm upon its target. Odd was in the middle of the biggest battle of his life, defending himself against nearly the entire swarm of doppelgangers all at once. He never even had the chance to see the monster's attack until it was too late.
"Odd!" Aelita cried out, barely catching a glimpse of his coding fading from sight. He had put up a valiant last stand, but had been devirtualized. Now there were only the three women remaining.
Yumi and Amy continued fighting back to back, quickly taking Odd's place as the bottom of the proverbial dog pile. The Flesh clones had a much more difficult time once they had changed targets. Not only were they working against a duo rather than a single enemy, but both women were far more capable of melee combat than the strictly ranged fighter that was Odd Della Robia.
You've got to hurry, girls! Urged on Jeremie. The kolossus is only a few strides away from being in range of the Doctor and Franz Hopper!
"We're doing the best… We… Can!" Amy punctuated between colossal punches.
Still flitting about like a hummingbird, Aelita did everything she could to slow down the monstrosity before it could extinguish the two orbs of light. Unfortunately, this was not a lot, as it largely ignored her tiny attacks. The situation was dire, but the princess of Lyoko furrowed her brow with determination and continued to pelt the kolossus with as many energy fields as she could muster.
The kolossus slowed to a halt, somewhat outside the range of its targets. Aelita breathed a sigh of relief, but that quickly gave way to confusion. Why did the creature cease its movement? Her two remaining friends were nowhere near it; they couldn't have struck any blows. She certainly hadn't hit the kolossus in any weak spot. So what reason could it possibly have for stopping?
That's when Aelita noticed that while the kolossus was no longer walking, it had by no means stopped all movement. The beast was lifting its bladed arm vertically, and began bringing it slashing down. The young girl's mind raced, and her body flew into action at the same speed as her epiphany: Range wouldn't be an issue for the kolossus so long as it was a shapeshifter.
"It's now or never!" she commanded, catching the attention of Yumi and Amy. She was right; the blade arm of the kolossus was extending as the creature swung the mighty weapon downward. There was no time to wait; she couldn't hit the face target. Aelita took the only action available.
Cupping both hands together as she rushed through the air fast as her wings could fly, she generated a mighty field of energy between her palms. Possibly the largest ever, it was not her usual pink, but crackling golden. With no time to take proper aim, Aelita let fly her attack, letting luck run its course.
Yumi and Amy recognized what Aelita was saying to them. What they did next was not so much a plan, but it was like a plan, just with far more uncertainty. Amy grabbed hold of her battle partner by the shoulders, then swung her round and round like a discus, before letting Yumi loose through the air. The doppelgangers took advantage of this momentary distraction, assaulting Amy one after another until she too was devirtualized.
"Grooooooooooorn," groaned the kolossus in a low low pitch. Aelita's energy field had made contact with the target mark on its bladed arm. Energy coursed throughout the massive behemoth's body, forming cracks throughout the stone. Its assault slowed, before coming to a complete halt, barely ten feet above the swirling, circulating orbs of light.
Meanwhile, Yumi soared through the air, wind rushing her hair back. The force of it all rippled through her clothing and tore the clips from her hair, mussing her locks. Speaking of hair, the Japanese warrior managed to grasp one of the tree-trunk size strands sticking up from the kolossus's mighty head and, with grace, redirected her momentum downward.
Flipping so that she faced the creature directly, Yumi pulled her war fans from her belt, then stabbed each simultaneously into the monster's great eye. The force of her body dragging her downward caused these weapons to tear two great wounds into the kolossus's face. However, gravity continued to take its toll, and Yumi found herself losing her grip. She fell to the bottom, crashing into the icy ground. This blow was the final nail into the coffin that was Yumi's lifepoints, and thus she devirtualized.
The kolossus let out another low groan, while Aelita cheered. Light emanated from the wounds it had taken, shining out from its blade and face, growing brighter, more intense. Meanwhile, each of the clones crafted of Flesh fell apart into large, messy goops.
"Oh no!" Aelita made a mad dash as she realized what was happening. The kolossus had been felled, this was true, but the sheer girth of such a creature, when combined with something as rudimentary as gravity, was still a terrible danger. It threatened to fall right upon the Doctor and her father!
Aelita's wings were true, and carried her safely to her goal. She was able to grab hold of the spinning orbs and push them to salvation just in time to avoid the crashing blow of the mighty beast's elongated blade arm. The shockwave generated by the creature's impact sent the young girl tumbling, but such a thing was a minor inconvenience.
Aelita recovered, still holding tightly to the glowing orbs, when she noticed a burning sensation. Recoiling with a small "ow," she released the orbs, which continued to orbit around one another in place. Something was definitely odd. The one with the magenta hue, her father, was steadily glowing more brightly. He was positively beaming radiance!
Aelita! It's working! We're getting the energy we need for my program to run! The Doctor is doing i-Wait, that's not right. Jeremie was silent for a second before his cheery tone of celebration transformed into one of studious confusion. According to these readings, the high energy output isn't coming from the Doctor, but from Franz Hopper!
"No daddy, don't do it!" Aelita pleaded, falling onto her knees, her voice cracking like a clay pot. "We can finally be together, after so long! Please, don't sacrifice yourself!"
"Aelita." The second orb, the greenish one, spoke to her. "I came here with every intention of releasing my remaining regenerative energy to save thousands of lives, but it turns out that is not my place. Your dad is holding himself to a higher responsibility, for all the lives he has ruined."
"What about my life!?" the young girl lashed back. "What about his responsibility to his own daughter, and all the pain and suffering his playing God has put me through?!"
"Aelita-" The Doctor tried to talk her down, but was cut off.
"His work took my mother away from me! I'll never see her again, because his experimentation attracted bad people to us and drove her away! The same attention that got me trapped in Lyoko in the first place, for my own 'protection!' Ten years of my life were taken away; my memories of who I even was were stripped from me!"
Aelita! Calm do- Jeremie's words were an exercise in futility.
"And X.A.N.A.'s constant threats, torture, and evil, this entire war has been horribly taxing! All because he felt the need to wave around his magic wand! And now that I can actually walk around outside these virtual walls again, now that I remember who I am, I still can't reclaim my real identity, because I look ten years younger than I should, and as far as the world is concerned I vanished! Legally dead! So please, daddy, give me just this one thing! Please, just be in my life!"
"Aelita!" The voice was shrewd, stern, and harsh. It commanded respect, filled with pride. Yet it also carried with it a deep concern born of undying love.
The crying, tortured girl gave pause, looking upon the now blinding sphere that was Franz Hopper. Strangely, that voice was different from how she remembered him. So different and yet she did not doubt for a moment that it was truly her father speaking.
"I love you, Aelita. I must say, you've made truly marvelous friends. Have a fantastic life."
Aelita looked on, frozen. The anger and desperation had left her. All that remained was utter shock, and acceptance. She felt the warmth of her father's love as his body broke itself down. Tiny bits of the shining ball flaked off, shooting upward and outward, geysering into a magnificent vortex.
That's it. It's all the power we need. I'm executing the multi-agent program now. Jeremie sounded sad, almost regretful, but there was still work to be done.
The Doctor and Aelita caught a front row viewing of the show. All around Lyoko, every single tower was lighting up like candles on a birthday cake. Not just in the ice sector, but the forest, desert, mountain, and even sector five. Each one became a great beacon, as their light erupted into boundless pillars stretching to the sky.
Bits and pieces broke away from the main pillars, shooting off every which direction, completely saturating the sky. Intelligent, these particles synchronized, moving with clear direction and purpose. Countless bits descended upon the corpse of the kolossus, engulfing the thing utterly and completely. Within seconds the bits of light scattered again, leaving behind absolutely nothing.
"Jeremie," Aelita managed to breathe out, awestruck by the program he had created. "It's beautiful."
The Doctor looked on in silence, thankful not to have a face in this form. It was apparent that Aelita was witnessing a fantastic light show and, perhaps, taking a little pleasure in the destruction of a hated foe. The Doctor did not, and could not, see things that way. To him those gorgeous shining lights, flitting about every which way, were harbingers of destruction. This was the agent of death for a being that never should have needed to be killed. Silence was the Doctor's gift to his little associate. There was no need to ruin her perception of these sad events. At least, not when she had already been through so much.
"I think we're ready to come back now, Mister Belpois." The Doctor decided to focus on other, happier, things. Seeing the rest of those little tykes, for one. Amy and Rory's beautiful faces. That sexy sexy TARDIS of his. After this entire ordeal, he truly missed her.
Gotcha. I'm running the devirtualization program right now, just hold tight. We finally did it, Aelita.
"It's almost unbelievable." Jeremie was as close to being dumbstruck as he ever could be, looking over the information on the various monitors of the supercomputer. "My multi-agent program is working like a charm. It's already purified the supercomputer, and now it's working its way through the entire Net!"
"Way to go, brain boy." Amy ruffled Jeremie's hair.
"Oh yeah! Who's bad? We're bad!" Odd cheered, jumping into the air, pumping his fist. "Especially you, Einstein!"
"I'm picking up reports from all over the globe." Jack was off to the side, fiddling with some holograms being projected from his wrist bound vortex manipulator. "The attacks are stopping. Weapons are failing and robots are shutting down. No doubt about it kid, we've won."
"It's finally done," Yumi quietly commented, glancing off toward the freight elevator. "It doesn't feel right without Ulrich being able to see it."
"At least the destruction and pain is finally over. Now the healing can begin." Rory gave the young girl a smile, one which she returned.
"Aelita and the Doctor are on their way back now." Jeremie twisted his chair around, so as to better face the group. His face was absolutely beaming. "This is all so unreal. I really can't thank you enough for all of your help."
"Don't sweat it at all, short stuff." Amy smiled pleasantly. "I need to thank all of you too. For saving me, and for a brilliant experience."
"I can give you a pretty brilliant experience," suggested Jack, sliding himself right into the conversation. The way he raised his eyebrows left little imagination as to exactly what he meant.
"Uh, no." Rory stepped between the handsome man and his wife, his eyes showing intense irritation as he held up his wedding ring. "I really don't think that's going to happen."
Jack was visibly disappointed, letting out a deep sigh. "Well that's a shame. It's hard to say which one of you is cuter."
"Um, uh… Er, I'm sorry… What?" Rory stumbled over his words, alternating between confusion and annoyance. Amy herself, unknown to her husband, responded with a devilish smile. Jack picked up on it and returned the favor. Rory quickly turned to see Amy, who tried to cover herself through some whistling.
"Not that this conversation isn't, uh, riveting," interrupted Jeremie, obviously blushing quite a bit. "But don't you think that Aelita and the Doctor should have gotten up here by now?"
"That's a good point. I wonder what's keeping them?" Yumi glanced back to the elevator doors.
"I don't even hear it running. Weird." Odd shrugged it off. "Maybe they're having a personal counseling session or something."
Two scanners popped open, releasing a cloud of smoke and mist which crawled around the floor before dissipating. From one stepped out Aelita; from the other, the Doctor. Meanwhile, the Doctor's TARDIS still sat in front of the third scanner, untouched and unmoved since his little ploy to drop Amy back into Lyoko.
"Well, that was a fairly fantastic venture then," commented the Time Lord. His attempt to mask his sadness with his usual flamboyant manchild tendencies worked quite well.
"I suppose." Aelita chose to lean against her scanner, looking down as she spoke. "X.A.N.A. is finally gone. We can all start living normal lives now."
The Doctor approached the young girl, maintaining his goofy grin. Once he had gotten to her, he kneeled down, placing both hands on her shoulders. This caused Aelita to look up, where they met eyes with one another.
"That's all you ever really wanted, isn't it? A normal life?" Aelita nodded. "I can't say that I'm surprised. It's not the first time I've run into someone clever and extraordinary, and they just wanted to live that boring sensical lifestyle. Definitely not for me."
The Doctor maintained his gaze into the young girl's eyes, his smile slowly becoming sincere and genuine. "Just remember, Aelita, one very important thing, because this one thing is why you shine like a beautiful sun."
"You're being so silly, Doctor," Aelita chuckled. The Doctor appreciated that he got some genuine joy from her.
"What is it?"
"No matter how simple your life becomes," the Doctor began. "No matter how normal or boring or conformist your life choices, just remember that you, Aelita, are completely and utterly remarkable. For reasons that I cannot even begin to describe."
That right there did it. The young girl gave a warm smile, and the Doctor knew that his work had been done. No more crying children around these parts, no sir-ee. He straightened himself back up and developed a warm smile of his own. This was not his usual smile of self-satisfaction or smugness. It couldn't be. This little girl, she had no idea what she really was, but he did. Every fiber of his being, every last strand of his DNA cried out to him, demanding that he invite this special young Time Lady. To show her the universe, to share their culture (well, the interesting bits anyway), but he couldn't. All that she wanted and all that he could offer her were completely opposite. Still, just knowing she was out there was enough.
"What was that?" Aelita quickly reacted, looking around. "I think it came from inside your TARDIS, Doctor."
"Hopefully Ulrich has made his full recovery. He had better not be touching anything."
The Doctor approached his magical blue box, Aelita following close behind. Slowly he reached forward, sliding his key into the lock. A small bit of wrist action later, and he pushed the doors open, gazing into the interior of the main console room.
The first thing the two noticed upon gazing into the marvel that was the TARDIS, was a distinct flickering of the normally infallible lighting. Dark energy crackled between the lights, causing them to fade in and out. The cause of this anomaly was immediately apparent: swirling around the main console was a black wisp, one of X.A.N.A.'s specters.
"How?! Jeremie's program destroyed X.A.N.A. everywhere!" Aelita cried out, but a single glance between the two and they understood where to look next.
The sophisticated casing that the Doctor had used to entrap the specter he had captured before no longer sat in one piece. It had been shattered, fragments littered all about the floor of the console room.
"Congratulations, really, I commend you!" The Doctor approached the specter, slowly clapping his hands as he did so. "Your backup plan truly is brilliant, Xanadu. Too brilliant for this stupid head to have seen it coming."
"Doctor, what are you talking about?" Aelita inquired, cautiously approaching the ghostly being herself.
"Oh you're a clever girl Aelita, you can figure it out!" The Doctor gestured with gusto at the swirling specter. Aelita thought for a moment, when she was hit with a sudden epiphany.
"X.A.N.A. used to be a TARDIS! And everything made by X.A.N.A. has got his programming and influence inside of it, so that specter is trying to reintegrate with a working TARDIS!"
"Ding ding ding! We've got a winner!" The Doctor grabbed Aelita's hands and held them into the air, celebrating. "Yes, this specter essentially has X.A.N.A.'s programming. It was able to be protected from Jeremie's multi-agent program by biding its time within that containment unit I put it in, waiting for the perfect time to strike back!"
The specter's black, misty form continued to swirl round the console, seemingly ignoring the two that had discovered it. That is, until thin wisps began to siphon off from the main body. These thin wisps invaded the various pieces of machinery all around the console room, depositing the will of Xanadu all around.
"Oh, well, that's definitely not good," the Doctor mused, but still the avatar of confidence.
"Doctor, we need to do something!"
"I am!" the man shot back.
"What?" she cried.
"I'm going to talk to it!"
"Hey you big beautiful thing!" the Doctor began, throwing his arms out to the side, dramatically. "Don't worry Sexy, you're still mine. Anyway, yes, Xanadu! Is this really what you want?"
Aelita stared on, open mouthed. She could hardly believe what she was seeing and hearing right now. The Doctor really was trying to talk to it! She couldn't decide if he was the bravest man in the universe, or the maddest!
"Aelita, what's going on?" Aelita turned to see her friends, along with the Doctor's companions, running into the TARDIS.
"We came to check on you. How on earth did part of X.A.N.A. escape my program?" Jeremie hurriedly asked, taking hold of Aelita's arm. "We should get out of here!"
"Hold your horses, kiddo," Amy interrupted. "If I know my Doctor, then this is about to get good."
"Nobody messes with his TARDIS," Jack commented, leaning on the railings. The kids looked at the adults like they were absolutely bonkers. They were treating this more like a movie than the interstellar threat that it was.
"You've been hurt, and I empathize with that! But look deep into yourself, and you'll find that you remember a lot more than pain and suffering! Remember the good times you had with the Sire! All that love and devotion, a Time Lord and his TARDIS, isn't that the most beautiful thing in the universe?"
The specter responded to the Doctor by flaring up and outward. The crackling energy surging throughout the TARDIS intensified greatly.
"If you want to kill me then do it, but I don't think that's what you really want! You escaped the Time War and survived the destruction of all our people, Time Lords and TARDISes alike! Do you really want to continue that legacy? Will all that remains of Gallifrey be death and suffering?" The Doctor's voice rose from dramatic presentation to righteous anger. "Because I do not want that! There has been enough killing, enough suffering, enough destruction for a thousand lifetimes! You and the Sire ran away to escape that, not cause more of it!"
The specter flared again, in a fashion that could only be taken for intense anger. The swirling mass began to coagulate in one portion of the air, mere feet from the Doctor. The same energy that pulsed throughout the TARDIS was writhing within the wispy mass of the specter, threatening to burst forward at any moment.
"But what can I do to stop you?" the Doctor asked, dropping his arms down in a defeated manner. "Like I said, your backup plan was so brilliant, I couldn't possibly have accounted for it."
That was all the signal the specter needed. At that moment, what remained of X.A.N.A. shot forth at the renegade Time Lord, clearly possessing murderous intent. The console chamber echoed with gasps and cries of the Doctor's name, all the while the man himself stared down the abomination with a face that just said, "Bring it."
The specter froze in mid-air, mere inches from the Doctor's face. The crowd looked on, bewildered. Why had it just halted completely? The Doctor had nothing on him. No weapons or defenses of any kind, and there was no way that X.A.N.A. would stop on its own accord. What had just happened?
"Rule one. The Doctor lies."
That voice was familiar. Everyone looked around until the source had become clear. Ulrich stood halfway up some stairs in the distance. In his hands was a gun-like object made of an assortment of odd materials, pointed right at the specter's frozen form.
"Ulrich!" Yumi shouted. The kids all went running toward their friend, while he charged down the stairs to meet them halfway.
"You uh, didn't miss me too much, did you?" he asked with a shrug. In response he received a slug to the arm from Yumi, before she took hold of him in the biggest embrace of his life.
"You were just in time to save all our butts," Odd complimented. "And here I thought I was supposed to be the hero of the story."
"It's good to see you made a full recovery, Ulrich." Aelita beamed, giving Ulrich a hug once Yumi was finished.
"I was wondering when you'd be finished healing." Jeremie adjusted his glasses, attempting to look cool. It didn't work.
"Actually, I've been good for a while now." Ulrich shrugged. His friends pulled back in bewilderment.
"What do you mean?" Odd asked.
"Well, it's kinda like this," Ulrich started, gesturing with the gun in his hand. "I guess sometime after you all put me in that healing contraption, the Doctor came back and implanted a message in my brain."
"You need to clean that thing out, by the way," the Doctor threw in. Everybody glanced back, but ignored him.
"He told me everything that had happened, about Amy getting possessed and X.A.N.A. being a TARDIS and all that, and left me with some instructions on what to do. I found this weird thingamabob-"
"Little Doohickey," corrected the Doctor. "Mark V."
"-And I played the guard until the specter broke free."
"You mad genius, you," Jack affectionately jibed, pulling the Doctor into a noogie. "So what's going to happen to the specter?"
The Doctor managed to pull himself free from Jack's arms before providing an answer, whilst straightening his bow tie. "Without anything to possess or keep it stable, the specter will atomize and dissipate into the immediate troposphere."
"Say what now?" Odd scratched his head.
"It's going to break apart into the air," Yumi translated.
"Quite a wondrous conclusion to this entire ordeal, I must say." Jeremie adjusted his glasses before crossing his arms together. Something in the way the young boy spoke attracted the Doctor's attention.
"That reminds me, Mister Belpois," he began, rubbing his hands together as he approached the youngest in the room. "Franz Hopper had a message he wanted me to deliver to you."
"Really?" Jeremie asked.
"What did Hopper have to say to Jeremie?" Ulrich chimed in.
"He asked me to tell you that you are no longer the sorcerer's apprentice." The Doctor shrugged, not even bothering to attempt to figure out the meaning behind that message.
Jeremie's jaw dropped, leaving his mouth agape. Slowly, his lips curled up into a big smile. Aelita gave him a truly magnificent hug, while he let out an uncharacteristic "wahoo!" The rest of his friends moved in closer to congratulate their team leader.
"Looks like you've graduated, Einstein!"
"Be careful your ego doesn't get too inflated, like Odd's head."
"Don't forget us little people when you're altering the course of mankind, ok Jeremie?"
Once the group had shown their appreciation for Jeremie, in their own way, they spread out once more, giving one another their space. It was the natural order for such a large group of introverts (save the rambunctious Odd). The adults each found the moment rather touching and appreciated the sight before them. Amy and Rory snuggled up against one another, while the Doctor nodded at the children with a goofy smile. Captain Jack bridged the gap between them by placing his arms around the shoulders of the other three.
"This is one of those Kodak moments, isn't it?" the 51st century immortal commented.
"Shush, don't ruin it!" Amy chided. Jack just smiled in response.
"Wait, what's going on?" Odd brought everyone's attention back, gesturing at something they had all forgotten about: the frozen specter.
The electro being was moving, at least in the strictest definition of the word. It vibrated and writhed in the air, looking to be in a great deal of pain. Thin wisps broke away from the main body of the formless mass, evaporating away.
"The process has begun," the Doctor informed them all. "You'll see it vaporize until nothing remains."
The being continued to writhe, more and more quickly now. It was visibly losing size as portions of its body broke away into thin smoke, before vanishing from sight altogether. Something was wrong though. Something everyone could just feel, like a premonition of absolute dread, that dead feeling in the pit of your stomach.
"That can't be right," the Doctor whispered to himself. "The effects should be far more effective on a naked specter than one actively possessing something… It's breaking free."
The Doctor spun around, facing everyone, his tone matching his expression: complete urgency. "Run!"
But there was no time to run. Though dying, the specter broke free of its paralysis, darting through the air on a one way course. It shot straight for its oldest, most hated enemy of the entire group: a certain pink haired young woman.
The Doctor tried to pull up his sonic screwdriver, but he was too slow. Ulrich fumbled with the device in his hand, and so he could not disrupt the specter again. The adults were each too far away to be able to make any difference, no matter what they could have tried. Yumi and Odd did what they could to pull their friend out of the way, but to no avail. Jeremie could only look on as he was unsure how to react, being completely out of his depth. Aelita's mind seemed to have divorced her body, and she witnessed the creature assaulting her without being able to muster so much as a trembling lip.
The specter struck, molding into the young girls' body, not possessing her, but enveloping her. Purple and black energy ran through her entire body, coursing from end to the other, dancing between her joints and cells. Aelita was alight, squirming on the floor of the TARDIS, crying out in afflicted torment. By the time Ulrich had taken another shot at the thing, disrupting it, Aelita was motionless.
The specter dissipated far more quickly now. Great chunks of its body severed away, disintegrating before the on looking crowd. It was only a small handful of seconds before the thing withered away entirely, dust in the wind. All that had been left behind was a tortured, unmoving girl.
Everything seemed to blur in a complete rush, but remain perfectly still. The four youths found themselves by her side, each one doing their best to comfort their injured friend. Odd had his ear to her chest, listening for a heartbeat, while Jeremie had kneeled by her head, murmuring things. Yumi and Ulrich stood slightly to the side to give the other two the space they needed, but were no less concerned.
"She's got to be ok. We've all survived more punishment than that." Ulrich attempted to reassure everyone, but from the way she wasn't moving, he hadn't entirely convinced himself.
"It's not that simple," the Doctor chimed in, shaking his head, voice full of sorrow. "While the specter was breaking apart, all the energy used to compose it was escaping, being released in large quantities. She was affected by all of it at once."
The Time Lord held his head down, averting his eyes. He could not bring himself to look upon the scene.
"Hurry, let's get her to the medical bay!" Yumi urged. She moved to grab Aelita's legs, but was interrupted.
"It won't do any good," the Doctor informed, still looking away. "She's already too far gone."
"No way!" Odd called out. "There's no way Aelita's going to die, I can hear her heartbeat!"
"I didn't say she was going to die."
"Odd, how can you hear her heartbeat?" Ulrich asked. "You're listening to the wrong side of her chest."
Odd looked up blankly, and then glanced back down to Aelita. He looked between Ulrich, then Jeremie, and finally the Doctor. It was then that he seemed to understand what that meant. His eyes widened, but the implication was lost on a few others. Ulrich and Yumi looked between one another, not understanding it.
Jeremie began to shake and fidget. His hands balled up into fists as he trembled, his head down low. Aelita's eyes began to fidget open, slowly, grabbing his attention. He placed his hands on either side of her head and spoke softly to her. She was barely conscious herself, and seemed incapable of responding.
"It's going to be ok, Aelita. Everything is going to be fine. I'm here, there's nothing to worry about." Jeremie's tears betrayed his words.
"Everyone clear away," Jack urged, stepping in. "You don't want to be right by her for what's about to happen."
"What IS about to happen?" Yumi demanded, stepping away all the same. "You have to let us know!"
"I'm not leaving her side!" Jeremie shot back, his voice almost a snarl. He held her more tightly to him.
"Jeremie," the Doctor kneeled next to the sorrowful and angry boy. "You know what's about to happen. You've known almost as long as I have. It's not safe to be near her when it happens."
"I don't care," the boy responded simply. "I'm staying by her side."
"Come on Einstein, we all love Aelita, but something big is about to go down." Odd tried to pull his friend away, but received a surprisingly strong shove for his efforts, knocking the older boy right on his backside.
"Jeremie." Aelita finally managed to gather the strength to speak. "I feel strange. Like a sun is being born inside of me."
The young girl's skin began to glow, steadily getting brighter and brighter.
"I don't know what's happening to me, but I know that I trust the Doctor. And I trust you." She lifted a hand up, using all her remaining strength, and touched Jeremie's face. She managed to crack one more smile as specks of glowing gold energy peeled away from her body.
"I love you, Aelita." Jeremie's voice had been threatening to crack the entire time, but those words were completely solid.
"You too. You're the wind… Beneath my wings, Jeremie."
As Aelita's hand fell back down to her side, the Doctor snatched Jeremie up and forcibly relocated him amongst his friends. No sooner had they gotten away the process began. Aelita began hollering, completely enveloped in a bright aura. Golden energy mixed with shades of pink erupted from her limbs and head; it was as though her body were composed of blow torches. Everyone gathered around watched open mouthed, in complete awe of the scene they played witness to. Aelita's features, her body, was visibly changing, altering itself from within the geyser of energy.
The entire event took only a moment or two, but to everyone else it felt an eternity. Once the energy died down, cascading away into nothing, a completely different person was laid out on the floor, passed out and unconscious. The Lyoko Warriors slowly moved toward the unconscious woman, baffled and amazed at the magnificent scene that brought her there.
"What in the world just happened?" asked Ulrich, almost completely at a loss for words. He wasn't sure how to react.
"Regeneration," informed the Doctor. "It's how Time Lords cheat death. We mix around our DNA a fair bit and heal ourselves right up. One could call it the ultimate survival mechanism. Aelita's continued life is thanks to the work of her father, the man you know as Franz Hopper, and the man I know as the Sire. It will be thanks to me…"
The Doctor looked back down at the unconscious woman on the floor of his TARDIS. Yes, a woman, most definitely not a girl. He took in her features, seeing her for who she truly was.
"It will be my job to make sure she gets the normal life she always wanted."