Chapter 5: Secrets Revealed
Author's Note Part I: Happy Thanksgiving and Black Friday, everybody! This chapter was intended to go up last Saturday during the Doctor Who 50th anniversary, but, well, life happens. So I figured that the second best way to celebrate a legendary British tv series and a French cartoon would be to release the chapter on an American-exclusive holiday that nobody cares about! Am I right? Anyway, I think it's about time to clarify where I've positioned the continuity for both shows. For the Doctor and his companions, this event takes place not too shortly before Angels Take Manhattan. For the Lyoko group, think of this as being an alternate universe right near the very end of season 4, just after William was de-xanafied, but before the reveal of the Kolossus or Jeremie's multi-agent program that destroys X.A.N.A. The facts of the Lyoko world will be different, and that will be made evident later this chapter. Also, I have no knowledge of the expanded universe for Code Lyoko, nor have I watched Evolution (nor do I ever plan on doing so), so no details from either of those will be included. Just fair warning. Now, without further adieu…
Chapter 5: Secrets Revealed
It was as if time had been reset. In a flash, the blinding curtain of light had passed through everyone and everything, and once it cleared away, the world was as it had been only a few hours ago. Every location, every object, every detail, and yet… Not everybody. All around the world, a handful of people dropped dead where they stood, as if all their brain activity was simply cut off and their bodies shut down.
Though nobody knew where this mysterious epidemic came from, it had hardly gone unnoticed, as it was far from the first time it had happened. Dozens, if not hundreds of the mysterious "flash fatalities," as they had been called, were documented by government officials worldwide. It was in the office of one such official that a very special individual had been brought in.
He stood at attention, coming to a rest on one of the finest carpets to have ever been woven by mankind. His outer calm, so very collected and military-like, did nothing to betray his true feelings. This man was antsy. He didn't like waiting. Not at all. Unfortunately, his career often involved a great deal of it. On the plus side, his history of jobs, a history spanning over 2,000 years, has ensured that he learn patience and acting.
An elderly gentleman sat at his large, mahogany desk, fingering through a few case files. He would, occasionally, look up at the young man before him, musing on the many amazing feats he had just read and nearly dismissing them, as there was simply no way they could have been possible. Not by this reckless young man.
Finally, the elderly gentleman sat down the files, folded one hand over the other, and addressed his guest.
"Remarkable track record you have," he complimented, though he sounded more disinterested than anything.
"You can never expect anything less from me," replied the younger man with a proud smile. He obviously had many years of experience with charm.
"I see your successes have done little for your modesty," shot the gentleman, as he leaned back in his chair. "Tell me, what do you know of flash fatalities?"
The younger looking man furrowed his brow. "Not a great deal. No more than anybody else, I'd imagine. There's not a lot of evidence, nothing that links the victims together, nothing any sane man could call a lead. The incidents all appear to be completely random."
"That is the general consensus, yes." The gentleman lit up a cigarette, took a single drag, and blew a smoke ring before continuing. "The British government is expressly concerned, as are all major political figures worth a damn. I have difficulty believing in such things myself, but your file speaks for itself. With your specialties, particular skill set, and knowledge, we hope to find the cause of the flash fatalities."
"Understood. I'll get to work right away. I know just the specialist that can help. If I can track him down, that is." The younger looking man gave a salute. He prepared himself to turn around, but was stopped by the gentleman first.
"A specialist? Is this someone on your team? Be cautious, Captain. I know you said no sane man can handle this task, but the information is beyond classified."
"Don't worry about it, sir. The specialist I have in mind is perfect for the job, and you won't have to worry about anything leaking. Nobody would believe a mad man with a box." With a wide, handsome smile, the captain turned round, his World War II style overcoat swinging with him, as he headed out of the door.
The Lyoko Warriors sat at their usual table in the cafeteria, eating lunch. It was the same lunch as earlier that day, in fact. Jeremie, Aelita, Ulrich, and Odd were already at the table as Yumi approached with her food tray. She sat down, just as he had done before, and ate a fry she had dipped in ketchup.
"Anybody notice anything different about the substitute lunch lady?" she asked the group. "She looked a little distant, like she was preoccupied with something else. She wasn't like that the first time we went through this lunch, was she?"
"Tell me about it!" Odd nearly shouted, pointing down to his mountain of food. "I didn't even bother asking for my usual extra helpings, after what happened last time, but she just went ahead and kept throwing more food on my plate! 'Oh, you're Odd, right? I heard you like lots and lots of extra food,'" he mocked. "That's what she said to me. Freaking weird!"
The others nodded their heads in unison. They all agreed on this matter completely.
"Something is definitely strange." This time it was Aelita who picked up the conversation. "Whenever we do a return to the past, everything happens exactly as it did before unless we interfere somehow."
"Is there any chance that her memory wasn't affected by the return to the past?" Ulrich asked, looking straight at Jeremie.
"I don't see how," the young genius replied, running his fingers along his chin. "The only people we have evidence of being immune is anybody that's been scanned by the super computer, and the only people we know about that have been scanned are ourselves."
Suddenly, Odd's eyes grew wide, and he struggled to speak through a large mouthful of food bulging out his cheeks. "OOMH OOMF IIF OOKR!"
Yumi slapped him. "Don't ever do that again. Swallow. Good. Now what do you have to tell us?"
Odd gulped down the mouth full of food without any difficulty, then became frantic again.
"I nearly forgot to tell you guys! The new lunch lady is with Doctor Smith! … And so's this other guy I've never seen before. Think he was a janitor or something, I'm not sure."
The others reacted with shock. All except for Jeremie, that is.
"Hmm…" he hummed, going into thinking mode. "Right. At this point in time, I think it would be safe for us to assume that Doctor Smith and his cohorts are immune to the return to the past function. As it stands, the only connection we can imagine is to the men in black that knew about Franz Hopper and Project Carthage. I suppose that it's possible that, somehow through that connection, they could have been scanned at one point. I'll have to double-check the super computer's memory for any profiles it may contain other than ours, but until then, we'd better expect some sort of counter assault from them."
"Alright, makes sense to me, I guess," Ulrich shrugged and leaned back in his chair. He was running his thumb along the side of his drink, exposing that he wasn't really as relaxed as he appeared to be.
"We can check out the supercomputer during next period," Aelita suggested. "Ulrich and Odd can just say that we weren't feeling well and went to the nurse's office."
"But if Doctor Smith does remember," Yumi interjected, "Then won't he find it suspicious that you two are gone?"
Jeremie thought about their situation for a moment, staring down at the table. His eyes reflected the state of his mind, lost in a labyrinth of possibilities and thought-webs. Still, it took only a few seconds to come to his conclusion.
"We might as well. If he doesn't remember, we have nothing to lose. If he does, then we can already expect him to be suspicious and planning some form of retaliation. We might as well do what we can while we can." The youngest boy adjusted his glasses and shrugged to his friends.
It was then that the bell began to ring, signaling the end of the lunch period. All around them, other children and young adults began preparing to leave, standing from their seats and filing out the doors. Some were expedient; some did their best to delay. It was just like any other lunch period at Kadic Academy. Same old, same old.
"We'll text you with the results of our investigation. See you shortly!" Aelita waved off to her friends as she and Jeremie parted, heading toward the factory. Yumi gave her goodbye as well, splitting off to her own class. Ulrich and Odd shared a single gaze of understanding as they took off once again for their science class with the Doctor.
Good lord, this was boring boring boring boring! The Doctor shuffled through all the papers in his desk (well, borrowed desk) desperately searching for something interesting to read. No dice. No dice, no mice, no kites. All the same boring class notes, curriculum, and text books.
The Doctor let out a frustrated sigh as he tossed aside the same pieces of literature he had already read through earlier that day. Technically it was yesterday, but it was still earlier that day. Well, something sort of in between. It was a difficult concept to explain, even in terms of regular time travel. The Doctor's hand came to rest on his chest, where a burn mark used to be, as he remembered that it wasn't time travel at all.
The Doctor's hearts jumped for joy. Finally! Class was about to get underway! And not just any class mind you, oooooh no. This would be completely different from those other courses he had to re-teach (and what torture it was doing all that over again), and for one major difference! Well, four differences to be precise. Ok, if you wanted to get technical then it was closer to eighteen, but best to keep things simple for now, yes? Children like things to be simple, except for when they went out of their way to make things horribly complicated. The Doctor was much the same that way, except for when he wasn't.
And that's when children began to file into the science lab, completely derailing the Doctor's train of thought. Hurriedly, he took the same position in the chair that he had done the first time around, doing his best to replicate the scene exactly as it was. His feet were propped up on the desk, superficial glasses sitting across the bridge of his nose, thumbing through a stack of papers. That was the one detail different from last time, the papers. These were a completely different set, ones of which he was certain would surprise the students.
Once all the students had taken their seats and whispers began spreading like a fire, the Doctor addressed his charges.
"Good day, students. Ms. Hertz won't be here for the foreseeable future, on account of having won a cruise through the Mediterranean. I'm your substitute teacher, Doctor John Smith. But you can just call me Doctor." The Doctor gave a cheery wink at the class and his mouth curled up into the most child-like smile one could imagine. Just like the first time. The other events happening detail for detail were mind numbingly boring, but if there was one thing the Doctor enjoyed, it was a dramatic reveal.
A hand raised, belonging to a boy in a green sweater, glasses, and face covered in pimples. The Doctor gestured for the boy to put his hand down.
"Yes yes, why have you never seen me if I'm a faculty member, insert your own justification here. Let's just move passed the formalities, Herb." The Doctor paced to and fro behind the desk as he spoke, his hands flying about every which way. Surprised, Herb did put his hand down. Nobody said a word, but everybody stared.
"Now I'll be handing back your classwork, fully graded." The Time Lord snagged the stack of papers and began handing them out, each one with a student's name on it and a grade highlighted in red pen. Every paper was written in the same handwriting.
"Our classwork?" asked a bewildered long-haired girl.
"Yes, your classwork, Sissi. Or those that had finished up already, at any rate," he responded, setting a paper right on top of her head, much to the girl's annoyance.
"Uh, but… We haven't done any work for you yet. And this isn't my writing." Nicolas held up the paper that the Doctor had just passed to him, emblazoned with a bright, happy A+.
"Actually you did. Most of you, anyway. Did it all yesterday. Or right now. It's a little difficult to explain. Anyway, most of you lost your memories of it all. Reality sort of got shunted backwards a little bit, before you did it. Good thing I've a steel trap for a memory, so I was able to replicate all your papers and then grade them accordingly. Took me nearly an eternity, though. Five minutes of paperwork is infinitely boring, I can't even imagine how you kids can stand it all. Figured somebody would have blown up the establishment by now."
The entire classroom went completely silent as the Doctor pranced about, hands flapping around, until he finally came to a stop and sat atop the teacher's desk. With a smile, he looked over the classroom intently, mistaking the wide eyes and gaping mouths for wonderment and appreciation, rather than the shock and disbelief that it was.
"Are you INSANE?!" Sissi shouted, slamming her hands onto her desk and standing.
"Little bit, yes," he responded with a straight face.
"How on earth did my daddy ever hire you?!"
"Sissi, calm down," pleaded Herb. Nicolas attempted to pull her back down to her seat, but she didn't budge.
"Don't worry about her, gentlemen, it's all a little bit shocking, I understand. She's just not used to failing in class, I'm sure. But I've got something else exciting and fun planned for today's class period!" The Doctor clapped his hands together before fishing into the pockets of his tweed jacket. A moment later he produced a small cube, which he then showed off to the room. It was bronze in color, and emblazoned with multiple circles in various figures and overlaps, like celestial bodies.
"Anybody want to take a guess as to what I've got in my hand? How about Mister Belpois?" The Doctor's eyes narrowed on the corner that those children had sat in, when he noticed something. A crucial detail that had, miraculously, been overlooked before. Of the four kids, only two were present! Odd and the boring looking boy were there, but the pink haired girl and Jeremie were missing.
"Oh, stupid! My brain can be so stupid sometimes!" The Doctor slapped himself, tossing his cube into the class where a random student caught it. "I forgot to take roll call!"
The Doctor grabbed a nearby clipboard, produced a pen from his pocket, and scrawled across it in a single, looping motion.
"There! All accounted for! I've got our two missing students as excused. Now then, back to our lesson at hand…" He tossed the clipboard aside, which clattered to the floor, unattended.
"Doctor?" asked a brown haired, female student. She held the cube in her hand and had removed the top of it. As she spoke, she never looked up from the cube.
"What… Is this?!"
"Not even going to take a guess? Giving up so easily? Not a very clever lot, are you? You're making me miss Belpois. Well, let's pass it around then, kiddos! Keep it moving, everyone gets a turn to look! Maybe one of you can surprise me."
The cube exchanged hand after hand, leaving every student just as flabbergasted as the last. Most of them couldn't even speak or react in any way. At least not until the cube found its way to Ulrich.
"Woah… That's not an optical illusion, is it?" Ulrich looked up to see the Doctor shaking his head. "It's really bigger on the inside!"
"That. Is. So. COOL!" shouted an ecstatic Odd.
The cube continued to exchange hands, leaving everyone speechless as it went. Finally, Herb got his opportunity to examine it. He was just as surprised as everyone else, and had to clean his glasses to take a second look before commenting.
"How is it even possible? This is some kind of extra dimensional storage space, but how?"
"BRAVO!" The Doctor gave a very loud clap which resounded through the room and leapt up from his seat on the desk. "Congratulations Herb! You're not nearly as thick as you look. Got a bit of cleverness to you after all, I'd say. Now reach in and fish out your prize."
Bewildered, Herb did as his substitute teacher requested. Though the cube was only barely five inches deep, his arm disappeared up to the shoulder. With a bit of frustration, he grabbed around until he finally felt some sort of plastic, which he tightly grasped. To the amazement of his classmates, Herb pulled out a three pound bag of candy, larger than the cube that stored it!
Ulrich and Odd stole a quick glance between one another, sharing a look of worriment. Who was the Doctor, and just what the hell else was he capable of?
Jeremie sat at the supercomputer's main console deep within the bowels of the abandoned factory, while Aelita stood next to him, leaning in to be able to observe the information on the monitors. They had double, triple, even quadruple checked the mainframe, but they were absolutely certain: nobody's profile had been scanned and documented outside of their group, and the system's creator, Franz Hopper.
At first, this had been relieving news. The only people immune to the memory wiping effects of the return to the past program were those that had been scanned and documented. Supposedly.
When they had sent this information to Odd, Yumi, and Ulrich, the response they got back was more than a little bit troubling. According to the guys, not only did the Doctor have a complete recollection of the entire event, he wasn't even the least bit secretive about it!
"Do you suppose he's taunting us?" Aelita conjectured.
"It's possible," Jeremie responded, never taking his eyes off the monitors. "He does appear to have a sizeable ego, so I wouldn't put it past him."
"In any case, I'm glad we're having that emergency meeting." Aelita was cut short by the sounds and shaking of the freight elevator opening up.
"Me too," Yumi shot out as she strode into the room, accompanied by Odd and Ulrich. "This new development means we've got to put all of our focus on this situation."
Ulrich was the next to speak. "But we can't afford to waste any time with this guy. From what we've seen, X.A.N.A.'s taking over factories and military installations across the world and preparing for all out war!"
"Stopping X.A.N.A. has always been our main mission," Odd interjected. "But we can't exactly focus on kicking his butt while we've got Doctor Smith breathing down our necks and waving his magic wand around."
"How in the world are we supposed to deal with this guy so we don't have to worry about the murderous computer program?" Ulrich threw up his shoulders in defeat. Each of his friend's expressions told him he wouldn't be getting an answer. That made it all the more surprising when he did.
"You could try talking to me. Talking's good."
The Lyoko Warriors whipped their heads around toward the freight elevator. Somehow, without making the large noise it usually would have, three figures had snuck in and were now standing in plain view. There was the Doctor, now holding a wooden pipe, and the two that Odd recognized as Amy and Rory.
"I always liked talking. So nonviolent. Peaceful. More people get to walk away from talks than from fights, you know. Statistical fact. I ran the numbers."
"How did you find us?!" Jeremie exclaimed. The rest put their guard up.
"Calm down, kids. We're not here to harm anybody," Amy reassured them. "The Doctor is here to help, especially after what happened earlier."
The Doctor pointed his pipe at Odd. "Remember when you dropped your mobile? I slipped a little tracking chip in there, then scanned for the signal with my sonic. Nothing overly complex or fancy."
"Keeping your memory is one thing," Aelita interrupted. "But how could you install a chip that didn't get displaced during the time rewind?"
The Doctor held up his pipe hand with a single index finger extended. "Not so fast. I promise to explain everything myself, but Odd promised first and he never followed through. Soon as you all fill in my companions and me, we'll do the same for you. Fair deal?"
The Warriors shared multiple glances between themselves, mentally debating their position. Ulrich and Yumi shared frustration. Jeremie was intrigued, but cautious. Aelita felt a pang of fear, but didn't see that they had any other options. Odd was optimistically nervous.
"Alright, you've got a deal," Yumi announced. "But if we sense any ill will, we won't hesitate to take you down."
"It all started a little over a year ago," Jeremie explained. "I was exploring the area and found this supercomputer, here in this abandoned factory. Fascinated, I activated it, and in doing so discovered many wondrous things… Like Aelita."
Jeremie averted his eyes as he adjusted his glasses, blushing a little. Aelita smiled.
"This computer contains an entire virtual world called Lyoko, and for a time, Aelita was trapped inside. Problem is, so was X.A.N.A. X.A.N.A. is a sentient multi-agent computer program that harbors ill will for humanity. We still haven't found out why, but its goal seems to be all out war and annihilation of humanity. X.A.N.A. launches attacks on the earth from time to time by activating various towers in Lyoko, which give it the power and freedom to influence earth. What you saw yesterday was a-"
"Possession by a specter composed of electrical impulses, guiding and rewriting the human body. Yes, we were all there, carry on Mister Belpois."
Jeremie was taken aback by the Doctor's interruption, but he recovered quickly. From what he'd seen and heard of this man so far, he shouldn't have been so surprised that he figured it out on his own so quickly.
"Right, well. Whenever X.A.N.A. launches an attack, we have to counterattack. There are scanners in the basement that allow my friends to be virtualized onto Lyoko, where they can battle X.A.N.A.'s monsters to allow Aelita to deactivate the towers. As the holder to the keys of Lyoko, she's the only one that can do it."
"Sorry to interrupt," Rory cut in. "But if your friend isn't trapped inside the computer anymore, and this program is obviously so dangerous, then why don't you just shut down the computer again?"
"That was the original plan," Aelita answered, suddenly looking very saddened. "But when they rescued me from the supercomputer, X.A.N.A. escaped to the Net. Since then, it's been taking over supercomputers across the world to expand its influence. If we shut this one down now, we'd be eliminating our only weapon against X.A.N.A."
"And you think you kids are the only ones that can fight this monster?" Amy scoffed, crossing her arms. "Do you really think you're being responsible, keeping this whole thing a secret?"
"And trust the world with this kind of power?" Ulrich shot back. "Sorry, but people are stupid. If word got out about the supercomputer and what it can do, I don't want to know what could end up happening."
The Doctor nodded. "You should never underestimate alien technology mixed with human stupidity. But as for 'what it can do,' there's one part of your story that's been left out. One function of this computer you haven't mentioned yet."
Yumi was the next to address him. "Yeah, the return to the past program. It's the most amazing function on the whole thing. After our first battle with X.A.N.A., Jeremie found it. It rewinds time up to twenty-four hours, erasing the memories of everyone but us and repairing the damage that X.A.N.A. has done. The only thing it can't do is bring the dead back to life. It's been one of our best tools in keeping our secret from the world."
"And ironically one of your best tools in destroying the universe, and the reason I am here." Suddenly the Doctor's look became grave. He stared down each of the Lyoko Warriors as he said his words with the weight of the world.
"Does this mean we're finally going to hear what this is all about, Doctor?" Rory asked. The Doctor began to pace around the room, looking the supercomputer up and down.
"Yes, this is most definitely it. This is the source of the disturbances."
"Sorry to interrupt your thinking," Jeremie threw out, insincerely. "But what do you mean by destroying the universe? It's your turn to explain things."
"Ah! Sorry, got caught up in the moment!" The Doctor spun a full 270 degrees rather than simply turning left, and faced the kids. His hands flapped about energetically as he explained everything to them in the true Doctor fashion he had gotten down to a science.
"What you call 'return to the past' is anything but. It's ancient technology, the earliest attempts at time travel by the Time Lords, but of particularly poor design."
"Time Lords?" Odd asked, recalling the words from his time in the air vent. The Doctor ignored him.
"The proper term is 'Temporal Perception Field.' It doesn't reverse time so much as it just makes everybody think it does. The field expands outward into space, reverting matter and energy into the previous forms and positions it had taken before. The problem with this design is that, as it doesn't actually affect time itself, not to mention it doesn't affect all matter simultaneously, you get delays, mish-mashes, and other little quirks. Events that are supposed to sync up between two different points in the universe no longer do. This gets especially bad the further out into space you go, as the field loses power and potency. By the time it reached my companions and I in the Centura System, they were only brought back a few seconds. The universe can, usually, cope with this kind of stress. It will heal itself, account for the inconsistencies with minor repairs here and there. Prolonged uses of the Temporal Perception Field will, however, cause the complete collapse of the universe. There are only so many repair jobs and band aids you can slap on a well-worn piece of equipment before it fails, and the universe is no exception. So it is for that reason that I cannot allow you to use your 'return to the past' program any longer."
Silence fell across the room. The Lyoko Warriors didn't know what to make of the information that had just been dumped upon them. Jeremie placed a thumb to his chin and immediately began to contemplate the possibilities and ramifications if this were, in fact, true. Ulrich was the first to speak up.
"Why should we believe what you have to say? I mean, how are you going to prove yourself?"
"Because he's a Time Lord," Amy interjected, stepping forward. "The last Time Lord. They're an ancient race of aliens that govern the laws of time and space."
"Wait, why do you have faith in my expertise now, Pond?" the Doctor inquired, his eyebrow raised. Amy elbowed him in the side.
"Don't discredit yourself, idiot!" she whispered harshly into his ear.
"An alien? You look just like us; how are you going to prove that?" Yumi scrutinized, crossing her arms.
"Oh, he doesn't look like us. We look like him." Rory casually threw out. "Time Lords came first. And don't get him started, believe me."
"Actually guys, I don't have any problem believing that." Odd shrugged.
"Of course you don't, Odd," Ulrich groaned, rolling his eyes.
"No, wait. Seriously, hear me out! When X.A.N.A. attacked us, I checked to make sure he wasn't dead. He… He had two heart beats. It was really weird!"
"Of course I have two heartbeats! If I didn't, that'd mean one of my hearts wasn't working, and that'd be a bad bad thing."
The Warriors took a moment to process that information. The darkness of the room felt like a thick mist, heavy with tension. Jeremie was the next to speak.
"If you know so much about the return to the past program and how it works, then tell us this: Why doesn't it bring the dead back to life?"
"Easy one. Recall that it only reverses the position of matter and energy, not actual time. A life is a precious, special thing. When somebody dies, life escapes their body forever. The Temporal Perception Field essentially props the body back up in the position it was in before, even makes the blood flow and the electrical impulses flash right where they were at the moment of reversal. However, without that spark of life, that essence of creation, then the body is just that: a body. And it falls over lifeless, like someone just flipped a switch."
The Doctor waited a moment while the children looked amongst themselves, each one with a different expression. He gave them the time they needed to come up with any other questions. He was sure they would have more, but he was equally certain he had covered all the major points.
It was then that Aelita looked up. Her concern was evident in her expression, her tone, and most importantly, her question.
"If this is technology that your people had, then how did my father build it?"
This wasn't the first time the Doctor had been wrong about something…
Author's note part II: Something I wanted to address here, now that you know what you know. A few of you have brought up in reviews (or in person) that there are some minor grammatical errors here and there, including sudden changes in tense. I have responded by saying that I throw my chapters up online without doing any proofreading. I am now here to tell you that that was a blatant lie. Those errors are there quite on purpose, because the story itself has been affected by the Temporal Perception Field. Whether or not this meta use of the danger is good or bad, I'll leave up to you.