Chapter 3: XANA Attacks!
Author's note: Oh my god, what is this? What can it be? Do your eyes deceive you? Is it… But it is! A new chapter of Digital Doctor! As I had said previously, chapter releases have no set schedule, and now I'm sure this proves it. I've had a great deal of things to deal with, including a new job, new girlfriend, new apartment, fires and floods (I live in Colorado) and numerous other things. However, no matter how long the wait, rest assured, I am always working on this project. I have the entire story planned out (minus little details) and I'm very excited to see it all put to paper. I appreciate your continued loyalty and enjoyment of this story. It amazes me when I see more subscribers and comments even after several months of no updates, and I really appreciate it. On a similar note, you'll notice this story has an image now. It was given to me as a gift, courtesy of The Insanity Master. Thanks a lot, buddy! And now, enjoy your chapter.
Chapter 3: X.A.N.A. Attacks!
Ulrich stepped into the lounge room, his eyes fixed on the couch across from the television, where Yumi sat waiting. He crossed over by a couple of younger students playing foosball, setting his backpack down, and sat by the Japanese girl.
"I got your text. So what's this important thing you wanted to tell me about?" she asked, leaning back against the cushion. Ulrich casually leaned back himself, at first, but then he leaned forward and his expression became a little more serious.
"Have you had a class with the new substitute science teacher, yet?" he asked her.
"We have a substitute science teacher?" she responded, confused yet curious. "I've never known Mrs. Hertz to take a day off."
"Yeah, none of us either, but that's the least weird thing about it all."
"Really? You think it might be X.A.N.A.?" Yumi suddenly became quite serious. Her bodied stiffened up, and she brought a finger to her chin as she thought about it.
"No, we don't, but we can't be sure yet," Ulrich shook his head before continuing on. "Anyway, our new substitute is an English guy, Doctor John Smith, except he wants us to just call him Doctor."
"What's so weird about that?" Yumi asked, raising her eyebrow.
"Is this a conversation about Doctor Smith?" Ulrich and Yumi turned their heads at the high pitched, girly voice coming their way, to see its owner, Milly, a younger student and head of the school news.
"Everywhere I go, students are talking about the strange and mysterious new substitute science teacher. As an investigative journalist, I have made it my mission to uncover whatever secrets surround this enigmatic being! So, Ulrich, Yumi, do either of you have any comments for the Kadic news on this shadowy figure?" Milly took out a pen and notepad, flipped a couple pages, then looked up expectantly, waiting for their responses.
Yumi and Ulrich looked up at the smaller girl with somewhat blank expressions at first, but then they chuckled. Milly puffed out her cheeks as they flushed red in slight irritation.
"No comment, Milly, but where's Tamiya?" Yumi asked, leaning forward over the side of the couch.
"Oh, she's running late," the little red-haired girl replied, looking up and tapping her pen on her chin. "She's still getting ready in her room, but then we'll be investigating the masses together."
"You know, Milly," Ulrich chimed in, resting his chin on his arm. "If you really want to get the scoop on the Doctor, you could just go interview him yourself…"
"Hey, yeah! You're totally right! Great thinking as always, Ulrich! Thanks!" With that, Milly ran away and out the door, waving behind her as she left.
Ulrich sat back in his previous position, wearing a pleasant smile. Yumi chuckled. Leaning forward, she playfully tugged at his sleeve.
"You look smitten there, Romeo. Something I should know about you and Milly?" she teased. Yumi couldn't help but joke. If it had been anybody but Milly, she wouldn't have even considered it. Seeing the scowl come over Ulrich's face, she started to regret that she did, but she'd never say it aloud.
"Let's just get back on track, Yumi."
This was real secret agent stuff! Here he was, the great and amazing Odd Della Robia, tailing his target, like a shadow on the wall. He watched the mysterious, strange Doctor Smith like a hawk stalking its prey, drinking in every detail! Every strange, oddly dressed, socially challenged detail.
Odd had kept a good distance behind the Doctor, following him through the hallways of Kadic for a time. He could easily blend with the student population around, so the Smith guy wouldn't be able to tell he was being followed specifically. Unfortunately, this advantage dropped away as the other kids filed into their classrooms, leaving the halls considerably more bare.
With a sigh, Odd straightened up his face with determination, then caught himself and relaxed to look more natural. Nothing would have been more conspicuous than for him to look like he was up to something, right? Well, maybe following a substitute teacher into the faculty only section. That might be a little more telling of a sign.
Odd shook his head and growled internally as Smith disappeared behind a door students were not allowed to enter unless accompanied by school staff. That wouldn't deter him, though. Odd still had some tricks up his sleeve. No way would he let his friends down, or give up the chase, or stop following this guy that was just so cool. If he missed the guy doing anything really awesome, Odd could never forgive himself!
It was time for an old classic of secret agent movies. Spotting an air vent up on a nearby wall, he immediately went to work dismantling it. Odd pulled a pocket knife from his trousers and began working away at the screws with one of the many tools it provided, wishing he had one of those totally awesome sonic things like the guy he was following.
With a little pop, the third screw came out, and the vent grating swung down, the final screw acting as a hinge. With a smile and a little self-appreciating, "Mhmm," Odd hopped up and climbed into the vent shaft.
It wasn't quite like the movies or video games he played. For one, it was actually really dirty and dusty. Windy too, but hey, air vent, he should have realized that much. Of course, it was also pretty cramped. A tight fit. He was lucky to be as sm-To have the body build that he had. No way anybody else could be doing what he was doing right now. There was one more difference between his video games and real life, too. He had absolutely no idea where to go!
Grumbling to himself, Odd pulled himself through the air vents, trying to drag as little as possible (to avoid the absolute nastiness around him) and keep as quiet as he could (for rather obvious reasons). Every vent grate he came across, he looked around as thoroughly as possible and listened just as intently, hoping for some trace of his target.
"-Have to be as careful as possible. There's no way these children know what they're dealing with."
"Doctor, we still have no idea what we're dealing with. You haven't explained anything to us."
Odd stopped and peered through the grating. A joyful grin danced across his face as he restrained himself from giving a victory cheer. He had found the substitute science teacher! In the break room! There were two other people with him, too. There was that new lunch lady he didn't like, and some other guy he'd never seen before. Accomplices, eh? Time to stick around and see what they were talking about.
The Doctor locked the classroom door behind him and pocketed the key with a hop and a skip. That was fun and successful! He had betted that none of the children had ever learned so much in a single class their entire lives. Yep, he definitely touched some hearts and minds in that room.
It was a lot to think over and be proud of on his way to his meeting with Amy and Rory. He didn't have a class to teach for the time being, it was a teacher planning period, or so they called it. He was definitely going to be using his time to be planning, alright.
Yes, it was very much a great deal to think over, his experiences in the classroom, and his newest adventure too. It was enough to boggle ones mind and keep them quite occupied. It wasn't quite enough to keep him from noticing he was being followed, however. One of the children he was certain were at the focus of these temporal anomalies was following him around, slinking behind corners and generally acting like he was the star of some sort of James Bond film. It was all really quite silly, but the Doctor found it charming and entertaining. Rather than calling the boy out, he carried onward acting natural: shaking the hands of all the students he came across, waving and cheerfully calling out to others, and just generally being the Doctor.
He wouldn't have to worry about the kid too much longer. His destination was in the faculty only section after all, where there would be plenty of other organized and responsible adults capable of keeping an eye out for him. That's what schools did, right? Responsibly restrict their students' freedoms?
The Doctor was right, of course. As soon as he passed through that door, he was no longer being shadowed. Of course he was right. He's the Doctor, after all. For him to be wrong would just be… Wrong. But he wasn't, of course. The Doctor smiled cheerfully to himself as he continued on his merry way, until he reached a staff break room.
Already waiting for him inside were Amy and Rory. Amy had on a cooking apron and a hairnet, along with an annoyed scowl, while Rory was dressed in overalls and boots.
"Janitor work?" Rory started up as soon as the Doctor closed the door behind him. "Really? With all my years working in the medical field, you get me an undercover job as a janitor? What's wrong with you, Doctor?"
"I thought you might be tired of working with sick people," the Doctor replied with a smile, in a way nobody was sure if he was genuine or not. He crossed the room and hung an arm over Rory's shoulders, as if comforting a child. Rory could only roll his eyes in response.
"It's better than being a lunch lady," Amy shot at the both of them. "Seriously, do you have any idea what I have to deal with? Earlier today, this wee little boy with an attitude starts demanding triple portions! And when I told him no, he started with the name callin'! Honestly Doctor, what made you think I was qualified for this?"
The Doctor froze for a moment as his eyes met hers, and she could tell he was debating whether or not to tell her the honest truth of the matter. A moment later, and he broke the silence.
"Because you're Scottish," he said simply, as though that explained everything. To Amy, it did.
"I'm going to hit you now," she said with narrowed eyes. The Doctor resigned himself to his fate, as she did exactly that. It stung, but it was all still worth it.
"Right, time to let you know what I've done so far," The Doctor began excitedly, pretending he hadn't felt the blow to his shoulder. "After teaching five classes today, I can deduce that the schooling system of your time period is utter rubbish, so I've taken to modifying the curriculum."
Rory interrupted. "That's well and good Doctor, but why don't we just cover what's relevant to the whole temporal perception field danger thing?" The Englishman gestured with his hand, palm facing upward, in order to bring the Doctor back on track.
"Oh, right. How stupid of me. Thank you, Rory." The Doctor slapped himself on the forehead before carrying on. "All but one of those children were in my last class. I'm guessing the Japanese girl is in a higher grade, she looks the oldest. Anyway, while I was giving them a lesson on sonic physics-"
"Sonic physics?" Amy asked with eyes wide, cutting the Doctor off. "You were educating them on your screwdriver?"
"So much for preserving history," Rory snarked.
"It'll be fine, time is always in flux. The vortex has a way of sorting these things out. Or has a certain former plastic robot forgotten that? Anyway, where was I? Oh yes!" The Doctor rubbed his hands together excitedly as he prepared to spill into one of his famous million mile an hour speeches. "While I was giving them all a lesson and demonstration of sonic physics, I took the liberty of scanning the children, and what I found was completely fascinating. Their bodies show signs of having been taken apart, piece by itty bitty piece, and put back together multiple times. Like a well worn jigsaw puzzle, or a house of brick and mortar that you knock down and paste back up. Well, mostly like that, but on an infinitely smaller scale. Except the youngest boy, anyway, the one with the glasses. He showed signs of it too, but significantly less. Speaking of which, that boy is incredibly intelligent, and I don't mean 'for a human' as I usually do. I mean that boy with glasses could give most advanced species a run for their money. Still, something tells me that they won't be the most cooperative of groups, and there's still the temporal perception field to deal with. We'll have to be as careful as possible. There's no way these children know what they're dealing with."
"Doctor, we still have no idea what we're dealing with. You haven't explained anything to us." Amy waved her hands around, gesturing for the Doctor to actually update them on the foundation of the entire situation. "You say this problem could destroy the entire universe and is so terrible, but we still don't know what we're doing. Would you mind explaining that to us?"
The Doctor stood up straight, staring back at Amy with a look of genuine bewilderment. Then realization hit him and he straightened his little red bowtie. Amy couldn't help but smile at this display from her childhood fantasy come true.
"Apologies, Pond. Sometimes I can forget that, despite all our adventures together, you're both limited by human knowledge. The Temporal Perception Field is a particularly dangerous piece of lost Time Lord technology that-"
The Doctor never got to finish his explanation, for at the moment the door to the lounge burst open and a small, red haired girl came running in, waving a notebook and pen. "Doctor Smith, Doctor Smith! My name is Milly and I'm going to interview you for the Kadic School News."
A land of ice and snow, thick tundra sprawling outward in all directions like a system of frozen bridges and platforms. This strange land hovered high in the sky, above an ocean of bits and data. All across the strange arctic wasteland, dotted in various locations, were tall white towers with a white glowing aura, each connected to the others in a system of large, thick wires that criss-crossed the land, diving in and out of the platforms and ice itself.
Suddenly, one of these towers is no longer surrounded by a white glow. Instead, it turns red, and the connected wires begin to pulsate…
Jeremie and Aelita sat next to one another in the math classroom. Both were completely engrossed in their work, confident that nothing could take their minds off of the numbers they were scrawling onto their lined paper. Nothing, that was, until Jeremie's laptop began to vibrate in his bag, beneath the desk.
Slowly, inconspicuously, the young boy pulled the mobile computer from his bag and opened it up on his lap, hidden by the top of the desk. The readings he saw confirmed his suspicion, and his excitement for imaginary binomials dropped away, replaced by a serious need to confront danger.
"And who can tell us the answer to question forty-two?" asked the teacher. Instantly, Jeremie and Aelita's hands went up in the air. "Well, of course you two can. Anybody besides Jeremie or Aelita want to take a crack at number forty-two?"
"Actually, this is something completely unrelated," Jeremie chimed in. The teacher raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, today's lunch didn't agree with us. Can we go to the nurse's office?" Aelita said, throwing in a couple stomach rubs for good measure.
"Hm, ok. But try to be back quickly. The both of you are excused."
The children thanked their teacher and left the classroom, slowly at first, so as to complete the illusion, but broke into a full sprint once the door was closed.
"X.A.N.A.'s not giving us much breathing room this time, is he? Think his attacks will pick back up like they did before?" Aelita asked as they turned down the hall.
"Maybe," her partner replied, opening the door to the school grounds. "Maybe he doesn't want us decoding that information you got from our last trip to Lyoko. Either way, we've got to contact the others and let them know that X.A.N.A.'s launched an attack!"
"Already on it." Aelita had her mobile pulled out and began dialing, just as the two reached the secret passage hidden in the school grounds.
"Wow, you're right, Ulrich. This Doctor Smith guy sounds like a real nutter." Yumi crossed her legs as she repositioned herself on the couch a bit, having listened to Ulrich's story. "I agree that he doesn't sound like he's with X.A.N.A., but what else could it be?"
Ulrich shrugged. "Maybe those guys in black that were chasing after Aelita and Franz Hopper all those years ago? I mean, if they had something to do with Project Carthage and Franz Hopper making the supercomputer, who knows what else they could have?"
"Makes sense to me. Until we have proof otherwise, I think it's safest to operate under that assumption."
Just then, Yumi's mobile phone rang. Her face straightened up into a sterner expression, and she plucked the device from her pocket, checked the name, and answered. "What's up, Aelita? … Do we know where or how yet? … Right, Ulrich's with me, we'll be there soon."
"Come on, Ulrich," Yumi half-requested, half-ordered. She needed have said anymore, Ulrich already knew what was coming next. "X.A.N.A.'s launched an attack."
Odd could only stare through the air vent with a mix of confusion and excitement. If he were honest, he really didn't have a very good idea of what these guys were talking about, but it was strange and weirdly fascinating. And more than a little dangerous.
These three were hunting him and his friends for something, that much Odd could understand. It would have made his blood boil, had he not thought the prospect of secret enemies were so cool. Plus, he had the upper hand on them at this point, so why feel threatened? They had no way of knowing he was there, collecting all that information for Einstein to put together.
The Doctor really was a strange one, and really smart, too. Apparently, this Doctor guy was convinced he wasn't human (and to be fair, so was Odd), but what in the name of Heaven and Earth was a Time Lord? Or a temporal perception field? Well, patience pays off well. At least, that's what his last fortune cookie told him. The Doctor was about to go into that explanation for his cohorts' benefit, when suddenly Milly burst into the room demanding an interview with him! Gah! Odd nearly slammed his head against the vent wall in frustration, but decided instead to keep watching and listening.
"Wha-What are you doing in here, little child? This is the faculty only section; you're not supposed to be in here!" The evil lunch lady nearly shouted.
The other guy straightened himself up and gave a little chuckle, but otherwise did nothing. The Doctor gave a half amused smile and clasped his hands together, but did not immediately answer Milly's demands.
"Freedom of the press means I have no restrictions, ma'am. The people have a right to know the truth and it's my job to bring it to them! Principal Delmas agrees with me, too, ya'know. That's why he gave me this official press pass!"
Milly held up a small card attached to a lanyard, laminated and everything. Emblazoned upon it were the words, "School Press Pass." Still, it carried no legitimate authority, and was instead given to the young girl as a way to placate her.
"Very well," the Doctor conceded with a warm smile. "I've never been interviewed before. Who knows, this could be fun! You've got to keep an open mind, Pond."
"Really!?" Milly exclaimed with total joy. Obviously, she was used to being shut down. She quickly recomposed herself. "Alright, first question. You just showed up out of nowhere to replace a teacher that's never been gone before. Very mysterious circumstances. Is John Smith even your real name?"
"No," the Doctor answered firmly.
"Then what's your real name?" Milly narrowed her eyes at the man, looking like a predator attempting to intimidate her prey. The Doctor found it cute.
"Just the Doctor is fine."
"That's an unusual name."
"There are stranger ones. I assume Milly is a nickname. What is yours?"
"That's brilliant! My lady friend's name is Amelia!"
"That's Amy, actually," the evil lunch lady cut in. "I prefer Amy."
Break break break break-dance! Break break break break-dance! Odd's mobile custom ringtone began to ring, resounding through the air vent. The boy grit his teeth and squinted so hard he thought he might explode his own head. He reached desperately for his pocket to shut the thing off, but he just didn't have the space to maneuver. Break break break break-dance! Break break break break-dance!
"In the words of Lewis Carroll, 'Curiouser and curiouser,'" the Doctor nearly whispered, glancing toward the wall.
Luckily, Odd didn't need to think of anything to escape or cover himself at that moment. Unfortunately, new trouble came. The wall cracked, and then burst open in a cloud of rubble and dust. Standing there in its place was another small girl, this one black in skin tone, about the same age as Milly. She appeared to be breathing heavily, and her body looked… Distorted. Like an image that wasn't being viewed with the correct resolution, pixilated. And her eyes, those were the strangest of all. Her pupils were replaced by a strange symbol, like an eye with three lines on the bottom, and one line at the top.
"Tamiya?!" Milly cried out, reeling back. The Doctor raised an eyebrow at the sight.
"Curiouser and curiouser indeed."