Episode 101: Breakdown
"Hurry now, children, there's not a lot of time," Jeremy said in a sing-songy voice as they raced towards the activated Tower in the Mountain Sector. XANA had been causing earthquakes around Kadic City and Odd, Yumi, Jacob, and Aelita were on Lyoko trying to get to the Tower.
"Ow," Ulrich said as one of the tremors knocked him to the floor of the Lab. "Hey, Jeremy, can you make them go any faster? The tremors are getting closer."
"Well, I can try to put the whip to them," he laughed as he said, "Move it!" into the microphone.
"We're going, Jeremy," Aelita laughed as she jumped off of the Overboard and landed neatly on the path leading to the Tower.
"This seems too easy," Odd observed as he flew down to join Aelita, with Yumi and Jacob behind him. "Not that I'm complaining, or anything…" he smiled as suddenly, a trio of Megatanks appeared in front of the Tower.
"I guess XANA thought you were," Yumi laughed.
"Ready for a little warm-up? Bonzai!" Odd cried as he charged the first Megatank. It opened, and began to charge its laser, but Odd jumped nimbly out of the way as it fired the elliptical laser. "Laser Arrow!" he yelled as he fired back, but it closed in time to deflect the shot, so Odd leaped on his Overboard and took off, circling it as he said, "Come on, little bugger! Lemme have it!" When it opened to charge power again, Odd was ready for it, and fired a second Laser Arrow; this one hitting its mark, and the Megatank exploded with a loud bang. "Yahoo!" he said as he looped back around. "The second one's all yours, Jake!" he said as it backed Jacob onto a thin path, which was exactly what he wanted it to do. He charged up two Energy Fields, and when it fired, he melded them into an energy shield and began forcing the laser back towards the Megatank until he got off of the narrow portion of path and close enough to jump sideways out of the way and force an Energy Field into its Eye before it could even react.
"Now that was fun," he laughed as he blew a spark from the tip of his finger. "Yumi?" he asked nonchalantly as the third Megatank rolled towards her. It opened and fired, but she nimbly flipped out of the way before throwing her fans at it and watching in satisfaction as it exploded a moment later.
"If you ask me, this all seems too easy," she commented.
"Well, either that or XANA's running out of tricks," Jeremy laughed. "Aelita, it's your turn!" he added as she ran for the Tower. She reached the second platform quickly and walked up to the Interface.
"Tower deactivated," she said as the screens fell around her.
"How bad is the damage, Jeremy?" Ulrich asked as the gang gathered in the Computer Lab.
"Bad enough that we can't fix it on our own," he answered with a shake of his head. "And the rest of the town is pretty messed up too. I don't feel great about all of these Returns, though…" he trailed off. "We're only making XANA stronger…"
"Not true," Jacob said. "When XANA escaped the Supercomputer, he severed the connection he had with Lyoko and the Supercomputer programming. Meaning, he is no longer linked to the Returns to the Past. We can use it if we need to and there will be no ill effects."
"Wow; that's great!" Jeremy exclaimed. "And all this time we thought we would be making XANA more powerful," he said matter-of-factly. "Hmm…" he trailed off again.
"Uh, Jeremy," William said suddenly. "The Return?"
"Oh, yeah, right. Return to the Past, now!"
As all of this was going on, Jeremy never noticed an Alert message appear and then quickly disappear as it was whisked away by XANA…
"Hmm…a glitch…this could be useful…" the program thought as he infiltrated the Supercomputer memory and began to go to work…
The next afternoon, at lunch, Jacob and Aelita were discussing the file on Antea when William and Ulrich walked up and sat down to join them.
"Oh, hi guys," Aelita smiled. "Where's Yumi, William?"
"Uh, she had to run home to get her books for this afternoon," he replied. "She walked out without them this morning."
"Well, then…" Jacob laughed. "Anyways, Aelita, I've been working nonstop on trying to crack the codes in your mom's file."
"Any luck?" Ulrich asked.
"Not really," he replied glumly. "But, I did manage to find a page that I think I can decode fully by tonight. We'll see what it says."
"That's great, Jacob," Aelita smiled. "Thank you."
"Don't mention it," he replied, blushing. After a moment, he looked around the cafeteria and turned back to the gang with a bit of a puzzled look on his face. "Where are Odd and Jeremy?" he asked.
"Uh, I think in the library," Ulrich replied. "Jeremy's tutoring him in math," he added as Aelita's jaw dropped.
"Odd, ask for help? Since when?" she laughed.
"Not his choice," Ulrich replied with a grin. "Teacher's orders for failing the last test."
"Ha!" Jacob smirked. "Bet he's giving Jeremy the time of his life."
In the library…
"So now, if you multiply here, and then do this, you get…?"
"Uh…two?" Odd asked in despair.
"No, no, no!" Jeremy scowled. "Odd, were you listening to any of the explanation I just gave you?"
"I'm trying, Einstein, but math really isn't my thing!" he replied.
"I know; I'm sorry," Jeremy sighed after a moment. "Here, let's go back to the beginning of the problem and you work through it with me…" As Jeremy and Odd continued to work, a faint beeping went unnoticed in Jeremy's bag…as in the Forest Sector, a Tower began to glow red…
"Ok, well we're off to study before this afternoon," Aelita smiled as she and Jacob walked towards the dorm stairs. "See you guys later!"
"Bye, Aelita," William and Yumi said as they went towards their history classroom. Once Aelita and Jacob had climbed the stairs, she made the turn to keep going up, and Jacob looked at her with a puzzled expression.
"Oh, I just need to get my book," she explained as Jacob's face turned to understanding and he laughed. "I'll be down in a minute," she said as he walked to his room and opened the door. As soon as he did, he was met with a chorus of electronic beeps, and he raced to his computer, scanning the screen as he punched a few keys.
"Oh no, not again," he groaned.
Meanwhile, on Lyoko, XANA's monsters were beginning to mobilize at the Tower when suddenly, a chunk of the Sector underneath them flickered and then fragmented, vanishing and dropping most of them into the Digital Sea. Those that were left shrieked when the beam of light shot up from below, and ran off, avoiding the holes in the landscape that were opening and closing all around them…
"Jacob, I said I'd be right back," Aelita laughed as she answered her phone in her room.
"No time," he replied quickly. "XANA's activated a Tower! We need to get to Lyoko, on the double!"
"Okay, I'll call Jeremy and the others and meet you at the Factory," she finished as she hung up.
In the cafeteria, Jeremy and Odd had finally finished their tutoring session and were getting some lunch. Ulrich had come down to join them, and the three were chowing down when Odd noticed a movement outside of the window.
"Hey, what's that?" he asked as he noticed a pack of wolves outside the cafeteria doors. He made nothing of it for a moment until he realized what they were, and he said, "Uh, Jeremy…" nervously. "You might want to check your computer."
"What, Odd?" he asked crossly as he looked up and saw the problem. "Oh, no!" he gasped as he quickly pulled his beeping computer out of his bag and scanned the screen quickly. "I can't believe I missed it! XANA's on the attack!" he exclaimed as his phone rang.
"Jeremy, its Jacob! XANA's activated a Tower! We need you at the Factory!"
"I wish I could," he replied. "But XANA's got us trapped!" he said in shock as the wolves began to fire electric beams from their mouths, electrifying the cafeteria doors. "You'll have to do this on your own!"
"Jacob, I trust you," he said reassuringly. "Now go, so we can get out of here," he finished as he hung up. Jacob did as well, and then turned to Aelita with worry in his eyes.
"Yumi and William are on their way," she said as she noticed his panic. "What's wrong?" she asked as they reached the sewer entrance in the park.
"The others are trapped in the cafeteria," he replied quickly. "It's up to me," he added nervously.
"Don't worry," she replied as she put a hand on his shoulder. "You'll do fine," she smiled.
Once the four friends were safely at the Factory, they got into the lift and Jacob pressed the button to start the elevator. "Head for the Scanners," he said when he got off at the Lab entrance. He ran over and grabbed Jeremy's headset, putting it on as he swiveled around to the screens. He started them up quickly as he ran his fingers over the keys, and said to himself, "Here goes nothing," as he pressed a key and the transfer programs popped up. "Wow, maybe I did get it when Jeremy explained all this to me," he smiled as he heard Aelita over the headset say, "We're ready to go."
"Roger," Jacob replied as he started the sequence. "Transfer Yumi, Transfer William, Transfer Aelita," he said nervously as their profiles came online. "Scanner Yumi, Scanner William, Scanner Aelita." He crossed his fingers as he hovered over one more key, and then said, "Virtualization!" as he pressed it.
The zipping noise could be heard as the trio virtualized and when they hit the ground, Yumi said, "You can stop holding your breath now, Jacob; we made it." A sigh of relief could be heard over the microphone before William added, "Have some faith in yourself, Jake."
"That's what I told hi—ahh!" Aelita cried as a hole opened up underneath her foot and she began to fall. William dashed over and grabbed her arm, pulling her back to safety before looking around and seeing the same phenomenon occurring all over the Sector, that he could see anyways. Aelita observed this too, and then said, "Jacob, something's not right here. The Sector is appearing and disappearing in different spots," she added quickly as she jumped out of the way before another hole opened up beneath her.
"Huh? I don't see anything different on the Holomap…" he said in confusion. "Hold on a sec," he said as he quickly began checking the programs.
"That's about all we can hold on for," Yumi shot back as she evaded a hole.
"Oh no, that's not good," Jacob muttered.
"What is it?" Aelita asked.
"There's a bug in the rendering software that actually creates Lyoko," he explained. "It won't show up on the Holomap because the Supercomputer thinks everything is being created when it's not. I can guide you to the Tower, but the holes are your job," he finished. "I'll work on trying to fix it from this end. The Tower that you need to get to is west of your current position."
"Why not virtualize our vehicles?" William asked as they began to sprint on foot in the direction of the Tower.
"Jeremy didn't teach me how to do that yet," he replied. "I can work on trying to find the program though. Head for the Tower; I'll see what I can do."
The three Warriors then ran down the path until they could just see the halo of the Tower in the distance. All of a sudden Yumi let out a cry as they ground beneath her devirtualized, and as William dashed to try and make it to her, he could not in time before she was out of his grasp.
"Jacob, bring her in!" William screamed.
"On it!" he replied as he hit a couple of keys at rapid-fire pace, "Materialization Yumi!" he cried as he launched the program, holding his breath as he waited. A few moments later, William said, "It worked," and in the Scanner Room, Yumi appeared in one of the Scanners, panting to try and recover as she sat on the floor.
"Why am I always the one falling?" she groaned.
Back at Kadic, Odd and Ulrich were trying to work out a way to get through the wolves, who were still shooting lightning to keep the door electrified.
"Urgh!" Ulrich groaned in frustration. "There's no way to distract them!"
"I know! We've tried everything!" Odd complained as Jeremy's phone rang.
"Jeremy, it's Yumi," she said as she watched Jacob try and mess with the programming of the Supercomputer. "We've got a problem here. There's a bug in the Supercomputer and the ground on Lyoko is going in and out. I almost didn't make it out. But Aelita and William can't get to the Tower if they're going to have to keep dodging holes all day!"
"Okay, put me on speaker," he instructed. "I'll try and talk Jacob through the antivirus software. Ok, Jacob? Listen closely…"
Back on Lyoko, Aelita and William were finally getting close to the Tower, jumping and dodging the holes in the path that kept plaguing them and threatening to throw them into the Digital Void.
"We can see the Tower, Jake!" William grunted as he jumped another hole in the path. "And it doesn't look as if it's being guarded at all!"
"Maybe XANA thought that the holes would be enough to distract us," Aelita mused as she dodged a hole that had opened up right in front of her. "They are putting up a pretty good fight, at least," she laughed.
"Okay, now run that program," Jeremy instructed over the phone as Jacob punched a few keys and watched as the red exclamation point on his screen changed to green, and he punched his fist in the air in triumph.
"Yes, yes, YES!" he crowed in delight. "It's fixed!!!"
On Lyoko, Aelita and William stopped as a glowing sphere blasted out of Sector Five and expanded until a bright white light enveloped the entire area. When it subsided, Aelita watched as the holes that were left in the ground began to web together and reappear, until every hole was filled and the Sector was restored to normal.
"Jacob, you did it!" she exclaimed.
"I had a lot of help," he smiled as Jeremy laughed over the phone. "Now, you two have a Tower to get to, don't you?"
"Roger, Houston," Aelita laughed as she and William rounded the corner and came into full view of the Tower. What they also saw was a pair of Tarantulas, and a Megatank, virtualize to defend it. "Looks like XANA's just scared of a few holes," she chuckled as she summoned her wings and took off.
"Hunh!" William groaned as he took off for the Tarantulas. "Super Smoke!" he cried as he whisked around behind them and reformed. But they were ready for him as they quickly turned around and launched a barrage of lasers, hitting him in the chest twice and knocking him to the ground.
"William, you just lost forty life points!" Jacob warned.
"I know!" he growled as he activated his Super Smoke again and circled the Tarantulas, trying to confuse them.
Meanwhile, the Megatank was having quite a time with Aelita, as she deftly maneuvered around all of the elliptical lasers it fired at her. It whirred to a stop and opened, charging power before letting off a perfectly tied blast that clipped Aelita's wing and sent her crashing to the ground. She quickly jumped up, and ran around to try and get a good look at its Eye, but just when she did, it fired another laser pulse at her, and she was forced to summon two Energy Fields and meld them almost instantly to block the blow. It forced her back, and she struggled against the force of the laser.
"I'm not going out that easily!" she grunted as she began to step forward, forcing the laser back as she leaned to her right, and rolled out of the way as the Megatank fired while at the same time firing her Energy Field, hitting the Eye and destroying the Megatank. She looked over at William, who was still struggling with the Tarantulas, and conjured another Energy Field, which she fired at the two beasts, managing to clip one of them in the arm. It had the desired result, however; as the Tarantula screeched and burst into bits after a moment. William then reformed behind the second Tarantula and dispatched it quickly with a slice of his Zweihander.
"Thanks, Aelita," he sighed.
"No problem," she smiled as suddenly, a Krabe materialized directly in front of the Tower and fired a laser from its stomach, hitting Aelita and knocking her to the ground.
"Aelita!" William exclaimed as he turned to the Krabe. "Super Smoke!" he yelled as he zoomed across the ground and underneath the Krabe, reforming under its stomach, but before he could deliver a fatal blow, it blasted him with its stomach laser and sent him flying back to where Aelita was.
"New plan," William grunted as he swung his Zweihander above his head. "Aelita, when I tell you to, fly for the Tower!"
"Okay," she replied as she resummoned her wings and took off.
"Go!" he yelled as he brought the blade down until it was plunged into the ground in front of him. It created a massive shock wave and rent the ground until the surface under the Krabe was totally cracked, and the Krabe squealed as the ground broke and it plunged into the Digital Sea. Aelita, meanwhile, gracefully landed on a small strip just in front of the Tower that had not fallen through, and entered it. She floated up to the second platform, and reached out to touch the Interface.
"Tower deactivated," she said as she watched the screens fall around her.
"Jeremy, do we need a Return Trip?" Yumi asked over the phone.
"Nope," he smiled as the three boys watched the wolves evaporate, revealing them to have been polymorphs. "I think everyone here was too frightened to have really paid any attention to what was going on. And there's no lasting damage done here, so we're good!"
"Whew," Jacob sighed.
Back at the Factory that night, Jeremy had called the gang to come and see something he had uncovered.
"Okay, so I've completely fixed the digital rendering program. No more holes!" he said cheerfully as Yumi sighed.
"That's a relief," she smiled. "I'm getting tired of almost falling into the Digital Sea." Everyone laughed at that sentiment as suddenly, the Supercomputer beeped rapidly, and Jeremy checked something on his screens.
"Hey, the Supercomputer just finished decoding a segment of Antea's file!" he exclaimed as Aelita rushed over and hugged him before looking intently at the screen. He opened the page that had been decrypted, and looked it over.
"It's a letter," Aelita murmured. "From my mother to Daddy and me," she said as she began to read it aloud…
To Waldo and Aelita,
I do not know if this letter will ever reach you, but if it does, take heed. I have had to tell the KGB everything I knew. I could not bear the torture any longer. I believe their intent is to come after you two and the Supercomputer. I do not know why they want that information, but I know you need to be warned. They will try and destroy you once they have it in their possession. Please, my beloveds, be safe. Find a way to protect yourselves at any cost. One day, I will break free of this cursed place and return to you. I promise you that. For now…please, please protect yourselves. That is my wish and command! I will keep the secret to XANA's destruction hidden if I have to take it to my grave. They cannot destroy him; he is your last weapon. I love you; both of you.
P.S.: Aelita, until I am back with you, remember me by Mister Puck. He will keep you safe. I love you, my sweet.
"The secret to XANA's destruction…?" Jacob murmured as Aelita finished.
"There's still a lot of the letter that is in code, but this is a start," she said as she turned back to them. "If we can start finding clues in this file, there's a good chance that we will find something worthwhile," she added as she sighed deeply. Jeremy, meanwhile, was still looking at the screen, and he scrolled around the page for a few moments before he let out an "Aha!" under his breath.
"What is it, Einstein?" Odd said as Aelita looked over Jeremy's shoulder and then let out a faint gasp.
"Jeremy, is this right?" she asked him in disbelief.
"I see nothing that indicates it's been altered in any way," he replied.
"You're sure?" she asked again.
"If there were any alterations, I would have found them," Jeremy reassured her as the rest of the gang looked on in confusion.
"What is it, you two?" Yumi asked out of curiosity.
"The postmark," Jeremy replied matter-of-factly. Ulrich came over and read it aloud.
"August 13th…" he muttered as Aelita nodded.
"Exactly," she agreed. "That gives us a clue."
"To?" Jacob asked.
"I'm not sure to what…" Jeremy replied. "But, we do know this," he continued as Aelita finished his sentence.
"This letter was sent after Daddy finished the Scanners and the programming for Lyoko. This means…that my mother was still alive after we arrived on Lyoko! There's still hope!" she cried in relief.
A0639: And so the plot continues to thicken…
Aelita: Yes…I hope my mom's okay…
A0639: We'll just have to see, won't we?
Jacob: Oh, Aelita, by the way, you stole my trick with the Megatank!
Aelita: Maybe, but I pulled off better than you did!
Jacob: Did not!
Aelita: Did too!
A0639: Okay, stop it you two!
Aelita: He's right; we might get forgotten about otherwise. And I want to know what's going to happen next! So, read and review, everybody!
A0639: That's right! Or else! (Evil chuckle)