Digital Doctor

Chapter 8: Enter Scyphozoa!

Author's note: Well, looks like I botched up that whole goal of finishing the story before Matt Smith's regeneration on Christmas. Big surprise, right? I mean, who saw that one coming? Anyway, now I've got a much more realistic goal. I'll definitely get this story completed before Peter Capaldi's first episode as the twelfth Doctor. How's that sound, eh? Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this chapter. It's a doozy…

Chapter 8: Enter Scyphozoa

All over the tall red peaks of the mountain sector, monsters were converging on two individual figures. Odd and Aelita rushed as quickly as they could around the corners and winding pathways, avoiding fights as often as possible. All around them hornets swarmed and tracked their movements. The mountain sector was where the winged monsters were at their most efficient. Meanwhile, kankrelats wandered aimlessly, seeking out their marks.

"Laser arrow!" Odd leaped in front of Aelita, taking a laser to the chest as he fired off against the hornet that nearly struck his friend. The monster was vanquished while Odd rolled to the side before recovering.

"Don't worry, Princess, I've got you covered!" he exclaimed with a thumbs up. In response, Aelita grabbed his paw and began flying off.

"You could have used your shield, you know," she chastised.

"Hey, who's the shining knight around here, huh? Princesses shouldn't complain to their rescuers!" Odd's legs flapped around the air as Aelita carried him. He popped a couple shots off at the hornets that were following.

"Wah!"

"Energy field!"

Odd was unexpectedly tossed through the air by his friend, a ground-based laser narrowly missing his tail. Aelita fired off a projectile of her own back, annihilating the kankrelat that the beam originated from. Odd flipped around a couple times, tumbling through the air, before Aelita caught his wrist.

"Woah, hey! Give a guy a little warning next time, will ya?" Odd's heart raced as he reoriented himself.

"Princesses shouldn't complain to their rescuers." Aelita grinned. Odd pouted.

Odd, Aelita, you've got reinforcements coming in. You might want to land so you can get them caught up on how things work. I'll get to work on your vehicles, too.

"Got it Jeremie." Noticing a large plateau nearby, Aelita swooped downward. With great grace, she and Odd touched down.

"Ha! Looks like those silly kankrelats can't get us up here! I'll keep on the lookout for hornets." Odd began patrolling the edges of the plateau.

Two figures began to appear before Aelita, hovering just over the middle of the plateau. Starting as wireframes, they began to fill out bit by bit, until Rory and Amy gained consciousness and fell to the ground.

Rory stood up, his hand coming to a rest at a sword on his side. He stood tall, muscles well defined and developed. He wore an iron chest plate with a red cape alongside leather bracers: All unmistakably Roman.

Amy also stood tall, taller than her husband in fact. Her long red hair had grown to truly magnificent proportions, reaching down to her knees. She wore leather armor, interwoven with small metal plates in key locations. Her face, sparkling with beauty, was set with blue and green war paint. Unlike her husband, she had no weapon.

"Ooh, looks like I've got my centurion back," Amy fawned. "But why are you so small?"

"Actually Amy, you're really big. And buff. And now I'm trying not to see this as a metaphor of our relationship."

"Looks like you've made it to Lyoko. Congratulations." Aelita stepped between the two, looking over their avatar appearances.

"Ooh, Aelita, you're beautiful here!" exclaimed Amy. Aelita blushed.

"Thank you. So are you, Amy, though it's a very different kind of beauty."

Amy began looking herself over. She ran her hands over the leather armor, curtsied in the armored skirt, and felt her muscles. As she did so, Amy hummed to herself.

"Man! Two newbies and I still look like the biggest nitwit on Lyoko!" Odd approached, complaining. "Still, can't say that I'm surprised you look like Braveheart, Warrior Princess."

"Watch it little boy, or I'll squash you!"

Not the time to be fighting, guys, came Jeremie's voice, resounding through everyone's ears. Vehicles are inbound.

A moment later, three objects materialized around the group. The overbike and the overwing were accompanied by another mode of transportation, the overboard. Looking like a lone, purple surf board with a small cat face, it was the first to completely appear before them.

"Alright!" Odd exclaimed, hopping atop the overboard. "I've got my transporation! Now we can totally kick those monsters' collective butts!"

"You can take the overbike and the overwing," Aelita informed Amy and Rory, ignoring Odd's antics. "I've got my own form of travel. I hope you're quick learners."

Amy and Rory eyed the overbike together, both showing interest. Simultaneously they seemed to notice that it was only a single seater.

"Dibs!" Amy shouted first, Rory only a fraction of a second too late. He responded by shrugging and kicking the dirt a bit.

Amy approached the overbike and ran her fingers along it, admiring the machine. The style definitely suited her. She took a moment to straddle the bike, and adjusted her position. She looked to her husband, who was climbing aboard the overwing, and noticed a small beam of light reflect off the hilt of his gladius sword.

"Wait a minute, how come he gets a weapon?" she asked. "Where's mine?"

"Nobody is defenseless when virtualized on Lyoko," Aelita replied. "If you don't have an immediately apparent weapon, you'll definitely have a decent power to back yourself up."

"Yeah, you just have to try things out and see what happens," Odd cut in, showing off his large paws. "It doesn't look like I'm armed myself, but I've got an arsenal of arrows that shoot from my wrists. It's pretty awesome."

Sorry to cut in, Jeremie's voice echoed through their minds. But you'll have to learn as you go. Right now it's important to get Aelita to the tower so she can deactivate it, at any cost. X.A.N.A.'s attack won't stop until that happens.

All eyes met with one another, exchanging looks. They all locked together and, with a single nod, mentally agreed to get going. Odd took off first, followed shortly by Aelita. Amy grinned as she revved the engine of the overbike, blasting off after them. Rory was the last in line, keeping up a defensive rear.

I'll spend a little time looking into your code to see if I can pick out what abilities you have. Until then, just try to figure it out on your own and stay alive.

"We had to figure it out for ourselves the first time too, so you'll be fine," reassured Odd, calling back over his shoulder. "Of course, X.A.N.A. wasn't nearly as powerful, and we only had to deal with a fraction of the monsters. So y'know. There's that. But I'm sure you'll be awesome!"

Rory grimaced in response while Amy just smiled in the anticipation. Suddenly, lasers shot up from below, wildly missing the two senior warriors, and narrowly avoiding the two newbies. Sparing a glance down, Amy caught sight of the kankrelats attacking them, whilst Rory was able to competently split his attention evenly between the monsters and his flying.

"What are those gross little things?" Amy called out.

"Kankrelats." Aelita answered back. "They're the weakest of X.A.N.A.'s monsters, and usually not worth worrying about. Their only strengths are in numbers and occasionally surprise."

A stray blast came up toward Amy. Still a novice at piloting, she clumsily attempted to dodge, instead careening right into another laser bolt, which struck right in the engine. The critical hit caused immediate deconstruction of the vehicle, which flickered and vanished from beneath its rider. Amy's eyes went wide as she fell downward, toward a waiting group of enemies.

"Amy!" shouted Rory. He changed course in the overwing, taking a dive down to rescue his wife, but to no avail. The overwing wasn't designed for speed, but for balance.

"Don't worry about the fall!" Odd called out. "It'll only take a few life points! It's the monsters we gotta be concerned about!"

Amy hit the ground, hard. Deep cracks fissured outward as the kankrelats charged up their lasers, knocking them off balance. A couple misfired, hitting their companions. The others simply missed their target. A few fell into the cracks caused by Amy's landing. She simply stood up, having immediately recovered from her fall.

Actually, she didn't lose any life points from the fall. Judging by how she split the ground like that, I'd say the monsters should be concerned with her!

The Scottish woman grinned, narrowing her eyes on the four remaining kankrelats. In a show of intimidation, she cracked the knuckles of her right hand. The monsters were visibly shaken by this, but charged their lasers all the same. Amy charged right at them, tanking a single laser to the chest and feeling nothing. With a mighty blow, her fist struck one of the small monsters, launching it back with exceptional speed. It collided with another, and both kankrelats flew high into the air before exploding.

The two remaining monsters adjusted their aim and charged their attacks. It was then that Rory arrived, swooping down beside the two monsters, leaning over the side of his vehicle, one hand grasping his blade. With a single swipe, both creatures met their end.

Slowing down, Rory turned round and came to a stop next to Amy. At that time, both Aelita and Odd landed beside the pair as well.

Amy, you've lost ten life points from that monster's laser, which is half the standard that they usually do. From what we've seen, I'd say you've got-

"Super strength and durability, I know. Do you need to point out the obvious?" Amy took Rory's hand and allowed him to pull her up onto the overwing. "I can't wait to see what you can do," she whispered in his ear.

"That's pretty cool, but just remember that you're not invincible," Odd lectured. "Now come on, we've got work to… Does anybody else hear that humming noise?"

As though right on cue, like a black cloud, emerged a swarm of hornets from around the nearest mountain peak. Their numbers darkened the sky, casting hundreds of shadows, flickering across the ground. The warriors' eyes nearly tore from their skulls with the force of how wide they opened.

"Now that's just not fair," Amy mused.

Lights flickered in an underground complex before stabilizing. One light was barely brighter than the rest, shining like a spotlight on the lone figure that worked away in his chair. It had been a very, very long time since he had last stepped foot in this bunker. For a moment his focus left his work, instead glancing around and taking in all the familiar, yet distant, memories. A single tear began to well up in his eye as, of all possible things, a pterodactyl passed over his head. The man was horrified by his memories of what happened in this place. What had yet to happen.

"Ah, got it!" he quietly cheered for himself, his focus returning to the little device he had been working on. It was a small machine, but capable of so very much, and he wore it on his right wrist with a leather strap, like a watch.

Taking a stand, the man put on his WWII style overcoat, punching in a couple of the buttons on his wrist-mounted machine. He paused, taking one last look around the bunker he was in. His gaze shifted from a series of computer panels to a medical bay, up to a freshly used office: His.

"Sorry guys. I already failed you, but not the rest of the world. Time to find the Doctor." With his final goodbye out of the way, the man tapped one last button on his machine, vanishing in an instant of bright light.

A moment later, the same man entered the room, this time in a more mundane manner: through the door, and with a companion. A woman walked at his side, smiling all the way. She had long black hair, wore tight jeans and a leather jacket.

The man held up his hand and they both stopped in their tracks. The woman's smile melted away in an instant, replaced with a look of serious caution.

"Did you hear somebody talking, Gwen?" the man asked, his eyes scanning the room.

"Thought so, yeah. Definitely a bloke's voice. Maybe Ianto is working late?"

Both of them began to slowly stroll through the bunker, inspecting every detail of every crevice along the way. Gwen had pulled out her gun, ready and prepared for danger. Ever since she had taken this job, she discovered an unnatural amount of it. Enough to change a person.

"What's this?" the man commented aloud. He arrived at the workbench he had been seated at previously, only to find the tools were a bit scattered. A single sheet of paper had been left where he remembered some delicate instruments. Picking it up, the man read the note to himself.

Dear Captain Jack, thanks for the Vortex alignment capacitor! I need it more than you right now. Yours truly, Captain Jack. P.S. Be sure to give Gwen my love!

"What's what, Jack?" Gwen inquired, moving her inspection toward the captain.

"Oh, nothing," he replied, smiling with all his charm. He folded the paper and stuffed it into his pocket. She didn't need to know everything.

"You've got things here. I'm going to go help Ulrich and the Doctor!" Jeremie silently nodded acknowledgement as Yumi ran back to the freight elevator. She may not be able to be virtualized again for another few hours, but she could still be of use in the real world.

The young woman slammed her hand against the up button and the large box began to convey her upward, slowly. Yumi frowned and tapped her foot impatiently. There was no telling how those two were faring against the possessed principal, and neither did she know where they were.

Hold on just a little bit, guys. The factory isn't that huge, I'm coming for you!

The door slid open, unlocking Yumi's path. Wasting no time, she darted outward quickly, running down the halls as swiftly as her long legs could carry her. As expected, her search did not take very long. Two voices, two screams of pain, were captured by her ears. A pang of terror struck her heart, but it merely motivated the young woman to move even faster than before.

Throwing open a door, Yumi found herself in one of the production rooms of the factory. Inside the conveyor belts were moving, odds and ends of various bits of machinery drifting around on them. The robotic arms were moving as well, and two in particular caught her eye. These two each held Ulrich and the Doctor, squeezing the life from them. Standing below his prisoners was principal Delmas, possessed and laughing, no, cackling in some ungodly static-filled voice. The entire image was nightmarish.

Yumi didn't even think, she reacted purely on instinct. The girl rushed forward, yanking a loose metal pipe as she went charging toward the principal. He never even noticed she was coming, too wrapped up in his torture to be concerned with what was happening behind him.

"AAAAAARGH!" With all her considerable training and physical conditioning, Yumi threw every last bit of her weight and momentum into the attack. The pipe struck the empowered principal over the head with such force that it actually bent. The figure went down on both knees, collapsed and held up only by his hands. The mechanical arms holding their captives released them on reflex, being linked to the spectre that controlled its meat puppet.

The Doctor rolled with his landing, and took a moment to get up. He groaned in pain. Ulrich hit the ground hard, and unmoving. Yumi rushed over to his limp form. She bent herself over his body, checking him for signs of life. Feeling a pulse gave her relief, but it was nothing compared to the elation when he stirred in her arms.

"Ulrich, are you ok? Can you move? Come on, we've got to move, before he gets back up!" Ulrich groaned as she lifted him to his feet, swinging one of his arms over her shoulder.

"I quite agree, Yumi," the Doctor commented as he approached. Taking the other side, he supported Ulrich as well. "We best get moving now. He's recovering quite quickly."

The trio moved quickly as they could for the door Yumi had entered from. As they did so, the robotic arms began to stir once more and principal Delmas rose upward.

As soon as they shut the door behind them, Yumi slid her useless bent pipe into the handle, locking it in place. It wouldn't hold for long, she knew, but it would buy them some time, certainly. The Doctor contributed as well, in some strange way she didn't understand, by flashing his sonic screwdriver along the door for a brief moment. They then turned and headed round the corridor.

"Ulrich's hurt too badly. We need to get him a place to rest." Yumi never lost focus as she voiced her concern.

"Unquestionably," the Doctor replied. "But not down with our friends. That thing is going to keep coming after me, so I need to keep luring it away from where it can do any lasting damage. I'll head off on my own."

"No you won't! We're all part of this team together now, and my friends watch out for each other. You run off to be a target, and I'll be gunning for your back next."

"But I'm so good at being a target!" the doctor complained as they turned another corner. "Fine, we'll find a secluded room then, and then I'll use your phone to dial Rory. He's a nurse. Great one. Would make a fine doctor, too. Well, not as fine a doctor as me, seeing as I'm the Doctor. Bit rubbish at human medicine, though, so Rory would be best."

"We can't get ahold of him," Yumi educated, leading the other two into another door. It was a large supply room, filled mostly with empty crates, but most importantly it was out of the way and easily defensible. "He and Amy went to Lyoko to help Odd and Aelita after I got devirtualized."

"Really? Rory went for something like that?" The Doctor slowly let Ulrich down, then turned back to the door they had entered in, waving around his little wand. "Eh, suppose he's done crazier things. He once socked Hitler right in the jaw, you know. Locked him in the cupboard, too. Right brilliant, that was. Fun day for everyone. Same day I had my first date with my wife. Poisoned me to death. Not exactly how you envision first dates, I know, but all in all I'd say we left it on a good note."

Yumi began to completely ignore the Doctor once he began rambling. As far as she was concerned, it was superfluous information. As long as he made himself useful doing… Whatever it was he was doing with the door, she could focus on more important things.

Kneeling next to Ulrich, she placed one arm around his shoulder, propping him up properly against a crate. He stirred again, his eyes lazily drifting open.

"Yumi." His voice was incredibly hoarse and quiet. His throat was raw from the screams of pain. "The… Doctor…"

"Yes Ulrich, the Doctor is here. I saved you both, and he helped me get you out of danger."

"X.A.N.A. and… The Doctor… Know each other…"

Yumi blinked in confusion. "Know each other? Are you sure? How?"

"Don't know…" Ulrich's volume was dropping as he began to lose consciousness. "X.A.N.A. rec… ognized… Him… Tortured for… Fun…"

He could say no more. Without further explanation Ulrich's eyes shut tight. His breathing eased itself, no longer as pained or harsh now that his unconscious thought took over the process. Yumi brushed her hand over his forehead gently, then stood up and confronted the Doctor.

"How are we supposed to fight monsters that can fly, much less that many of them?!" Amy grabbed a nearby boulder as Rory piloted them by and, with incredible ease, hoisted it up. With a great force she hurled it into the sky at the dark cloud of hornets, but the maneuverable creatures all easily flew around the obstacle.

"You don't. Close combat is your thing. Leave the distant enemies to me and Aelita!" Odd twisted round on his overboard, spinning right by Rory and Amy on the overwing. As he did so, he quickly fired a half dozen laser arrows from his wrists. Though they all took out an enemy, it wasn't even a dent in the sheer numbers that approached them.

"Comforting to know," Rory snarked. He pulled out his gladius just as a pair of hornets caught up to them. With a swift motion, he impaled one of the creatures whilst his wife backhanded another. Rory's target exploded instantly, while Amy's was knocked wildly off course and met its end after being absorbed back into the cloud of its brothers.

"Remember, we've got to protect Aelita until she can get to the tower. She's the only one that can turn them off!" Odd gave the couple a thumbs up with a goofy smile, but reacted quickly when a volley of lasers came his way. He ducked and dodged like a professional that had done this hundreds of times. Which, to his credit, was probably true.

"The tower is just ahead!" Aelita called out, throwing a couple pink energy blasts toward their pursuers. "It's inside the upcoming canyon!"

"Looks less like a canyon and more like a crack!" Odd replied. "That opening can't possibly be more than ten feet wide!"

"Then I'm going in first!" Amy shouted. "I'll juggernaut my way through any defenses they've got blocking the way and clear the path. Everyone else can mop up any leftovers and Aelita can get in from there."

"Sound tactics," Rory commented, nodding his approval.

"Oh, and suddenly you're ok with me rushing headfirst into danger now?"

"Not at all," he replied. "But I've come to terms with it, seeing as you're my wife. Besides, we don't die here, we just get ejected back into earth."

"You two are so sweet," Aelita smiled.

"Alright, enough with the cute stuff," Odd complained, blasting another few hornets as one of their lasers caught him in the shoulder. "I can't believe I'm the one that has to say this, but it's time to focus. Go big or go home!"

"While Amy charges through, Aelita should go next. Odd and myself can stay by the entrance to the ravine to hold off the swarm."

The group cheered acknowledgment. It really was a sound plan of action. Rory hit the throttle on the overwing, kicking it into high gear. The vehicle passed by Aelita and her angelic wings, speeding toward the crevice faster than the rest. Diving down near the ground, Amy leapt off, rolling along the ground and recovering her footing. As she charged off, Rory held his position, turning round to see the other two coming down fast, the swarm of hornets not very far behind.

First Aelita passed by, landing on the ground and dismissing her wings. It wouldn't suit the plan for her to fly right on passed her forward defense, to she took to running. Next was Odd, who pulled up on his board just in time to spin around and come to a stop right next to Rory. The hornets were coming in fast.

"Shoot down as many as you can. If any get too close to the entrance, ignore them and focus on the rest. I'll take care of those ones." Rory pointed his gladius at the incoming cloud, while Odd grinned.

"You've got a good head for this, man. Time traveler, right? So are you some kind of famous warrior from history?" The young man took the opportunity to take aim with both paws.

"Some people think so," was all Rory said. He didn't have the opportunity to divulge anymore, but even if he did he wouldn't have gone on. The man was far too humble for that sort of talk.

"Laser arrow!" Odd fired his first shots of the battle. The swarm had arrived.

Meanwhile, Amy was charging across the ravine floor. Monsters made themselves known, crawling out from small holes alone the walls. More kankrelats showed up to take out the Lyoko Warriors, but there was no way they could have been prepared for the opponent they faced. Amy Pond was a new threat, one they had no intelligence on, no knowledge of her capabilities on Lyoko. Though she recklessly dashed through the monsters, their shots did little to faze her, providing they struck. Enemy after enemy was crushed, smashed, pulverized, or collided with another. Those that she missed were easily disoriented enough that Aelita could take them from surprise without much effort.

The battle behind them echoed through the canyon, but Amy never lost focus. Her Rory could easily hold that position. She knew it. He kept her safe for nearly two thousand years, defending that entrance for a couple minutes wouldn't be an issue.

The tower was in sight, not very far off. A couple hundred feet at most. This was it, she was sure of it. X.A.N.A. would have his best defenses around it for sure, and once she took them out, they were certainly home free.

That's when a new monster rolled out into the open, revealing itself. It resembled a wrecking ball, only without the chain. The creature emerged from behind the tower, rolling toward the charging Amy. A big ball? That was the genius super virus's last defense? Amy scoffed, thinking it little threat compared to the dangers she'd faced before: Angels and cybermen and daleks were the stuff of nightmares, not overgrown beach balls.

"Look out, Amy! That's a megatank!" Aelita called out her warning. The creature ceased rolling toward Amy, coming to a complete halt. Amy didn't. It readjusted itself in place, then split down the middle, vertically. Opening up, it was held together by what appeared to be blood vessels and organs wrapped around a single axle, and in the middle of it all was that all too familiar eye symbol.

The megatank unleashed a humongous beam, not a solitary shot, but a constant beam. It stretched across the canyon floor, heading straight for Amy who was moving too fast to avoid it. She couldn't even jump the thing, as the beam extended upward as far as it was shooting outward.

Amy's first instinct was to block it with her bracers, and so that's what she did. Lifting her hands up in front of herself, the beam made contact and Amy instantly felt herself thrown off balance from the force of it. This was it. Her brash attitude got her devirtualized before she could clear the area for Aelita, and now there was no guarantee they could win. Any second and the megatank's beam would pulverize her…

"Energy field!" Aelita arrived, flying just above Amy's head. Both hands were generating her signature weapons, and acted as a buffer between herself and the megatank's beam. The two girls, together, were holding back the strongest attack from X.A.N.A.'s strongest monster.

"Regain your footing, I can't hold it for more than a couple seconds!" Amy didn't need to be reminded twice. She took the opportunity to do just that. With a pivot and a shift, she managed to push back on the megatank's assault.

The creature, however, responded in kind. It put as much power as could be mustered into its attack. The two women and the monster pushed against one another for several seconds. One moment they would be sliding back, the next they'd be gaining ground. Finally, the clash had results. Amy pushed forward hard as she could with one hand, pulling back her other into a fist. With a great battle cry, she thrust it forward, punching directly into the energy wall.

The attack had explosive consequences. The beam retracted, back at the tank. The resulting feedback destroyed the eye within its form, causing the monster to explode itself. However, there was a great shockwave when Amy's fist met with the beam. Both she and Aelita were knocked aside, Aelita with greater force. The young girl collided with a wall.

Oh no, this isn't good! Came Jeremie's cries. Aelita's only got five life points left! Rory, get to her! I found your power in the coding, just get to Aelita and hold your hand against her head!

Rory acknowledged Jeremie's request. Sheathing his gladius, he gave Odd a nod, and Odd returned the gesturing, understanding that he was now a one man defensive point.

The centurion rushed to Aelita quickly as the vehicle could carry him. Ahead he saw Aelita struggling to stand up, and Amy watching over her.

You're a healer, Rory. Once you place your hand upon Aelita, you'll keep healing her until she's back to full life points. Once you get started though, you can't stop until it's finished, so Amy, you stay right there and guard them. And be careful, you've only got fifteen life points left too!

"I'm not going anywhere," Amy responded, just as Rory parked the overwing and hopped out. "We lose if she goes down, right? It's the smart thing to do. Besides, she's hurt because of me."

Rory approached Aelita quickly, doing as he was told. His eyes wandered over her body, like the trained medical professional that he was. It was a useless gesture in this virtual world, but one that made him more confident.

Upon holding his palm to Aelita's forehead, they both felt themselves freeze. Suddenly, without warning, a bright white light erupted from both their eyes and mouths. The energy emanated from the duo with great radiance.

That's it! Jeremie cheered. Ten lifepoints, fifteen, twenty! Keep it up!

"Reeeeeeeeah," cried a quiet yet high pitched sound. Amy glanced around until she saw the source of the noise. Floating down from the top of the canyon came a strange, new monster she hadn't experienced before. It resembled a giant jellyfish, with a pointed bottom and many translucent tentacles.

"Great, another flying monster," she grumbled. "Well, as long as you're near the wall…"

Amy thrust her fingers into the mountain wall, her superhuman strength digging into the solid rock to create hand holds. With a smile she began to scale upward, heading after the monster before it got too close.

Oh no… Oh no! It's the scyphozoa! Amy, be careful! That's the most dangerous of X.A.N.A.'s monsters! Odd! Forget the hornets! The scyphozoa is after Aelita again!

"Right!" Odd fired off one more arrow before turning round on his overboard, jetting straight for the jellyfish monster.

Meanwhile, Amy continued climbing up the wall with great leaps, charging at the creature. The scyphozoa altered its course, heading instead for Amy.

"Got you, you big jellyfish!" Amy threw herself from the wall, directly at the floating beast, one arm poised to strike it. Suddenly her body jerked to a halt. "What the?!"

Amy was now floating in mid-air, nothing holding or suspending her. The scyphozoa's tentacles wrapped around the air that surrounded her, but did not physically touch her.

"What is thi-" Amy was cut off as a red energy began to pour through the creature's tentacles. The same energy began to radiate from her body as she fell into a trance like state.

"No, Amy! Laser arro-woah!" Odd's overboard was blasted by the oncoming hornets, and he fell to the ground beneath him. Recovering quickly, he got back up and began running as fast as his feet could carry, firing arrows all the while, but to no avail. The monster was simply too far away to aim reliably.

"I'm coming Am-"

Boom! Struck in the back by one of the hornet's, Odd began to devirtualize, his life points hitting zero.

No no no NO! This can't be happening! It can't! This is William all over again! Come on Rory, heal Aelita faster! Ninety life points… Ninety-five…

The light ebbed away, as quickly as it came. Aelita and Rory were once again free to move about. Both turned their attention instantly to Amy and the scyphozoa, having been completely aware while they were frozen in place.

"AMY! I'M COMING!" Rory rushed to the overwing, while Aelita summoned her angelic wings. Just as they both began to ascend, Amy fell back down to earth, the scyphozoa having released her. With a weak, otherworldly cry, the creature left.

Rory positioned himself perfectly, catching Amy in his arms. She wasn't moving.

"Get away from her!" Aelita cried out, backing away.

"SHE IS MY WIFE!" bellowed Rory. His voice was so intense, so commanding, that Aelita flinched. Then she turned around, and flew toward the tower.

"Come on Amy, be alright! Open your eyes! This is a virtual world, you can't be hurt, come on!"

Amy's eyes jerked open and stared deep into Rory's own. It was not the romantic or relieved longing of a loved one. It was a menacing glare, full of danger and malice. Amy's pupils flashed, replaced by something else altogether: the eye of X.A.N.A.

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