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Chapter 10

“Jump higher, Sammy!” Sean called jokingly. I leaped up with all my Lyoko Power for the 16th time. The Info Orb hung quite literally, two inches above my reach. I would swear it was mocking me.

I slammed to the ground. From 20 feet up, it was quite difficult to stick my landing. I had yet to do it. Each time I would jump (and miss the Orb by a despicable amount) I would crash to the ground awkwardly. I was getting tired of it.

“Does it not concern you that this orb hasn’t moved for 5 whole minutes?” I asked Sean. He shrugged. It seemed that the movement of these Info Orbs was not random in any way. I would research that later.

In the meantime, I gave another leap.

This time, I knew I had it. At least, I thought I knew. At the last possible second, the Orb zipped away, heading north.

When I collided with the ground again, I had to immediately get up, and chase after my friends. Naturally, they hadn’t bothered to wait for me.

I couldn’t say I blamed them though. If we gave the Info Orb more than a 1 second advantage, we would lose it for sure. They were fast!

From a distance, I saw Tennent running on a wall of a canyon in the Desert. He was closing in on the Info Orb.

“Ha-HA!” He shouted as he leaped, ready to snag the sphere. Suddenly, he was shot out of the air by a Kankrelat on the top of the canyon. Tennent thudded to the ground.

Brittany jumped in front to protect him. She deflected the laser fire from the three monsters as best as she could, but still several shots got through her guard.

By this time, I had caught up. I looked up, and saw that there were three Kankrelats on one side, and two on the other. They opened fire with an amazing rapidity, catching us in crossfire. There wasn’t much I could do.

“Hey,” Alyssa asked between dodging lasers. “Where’d Sean go?”

***

At this moment, Sean was still pursuing the Info Orb. He had activated his Lyoko Power of invisibility, and was able to continue the chase unmolested.

Obviously, ANAX noticed that Sean was not with the rest of his friends, nor had he been devirtualized. For just as Sean was getting to the end of the canyon, a MegaTank appeared in front of him. It rolled on its side, opened up vertically, and fired its laser.

Sean dove for the ground. Hopefully that would confuse the monster, thinking that it had miscalculated. When no more blasts followed, Sean assumed that the monster had given up. But alas, he was wrong.

The monster saw what he was waiting for. The telltale poofs of virtual dust where Sean put his feet down. He was invisible, but not undetectable.

This time, the monster fired and the laser sliced into Sean, devirtualizing him.

***

When I saw Sean’s icon disappear from my LI, I guessed what had happened. Now the Info Orb was gone, we had 5 Kankrelats keeping us in a gauntlet, and a MegaTank coming towards us quickly. It was amazing what a lucky shot from a blasted Kankrelat could do.

I warned my friends of the approaching MegaTank.

“We’ve got to get out of here!” Brittany said. No deliberation was necessary.

We ran away. The Kankrelats were not easily deterred. They kept firing at us. As our distance increased, the Kankrelats began to miss by quite a large margin.

Unfortunately, we were now surviving, but we had lost the Info Orb entirely, and had no bearing on a new one.

“Hello?” We heard Sean’s voice from the Factory. “We’re here Houdini!” Tennent yelled.

Still running, I said over my shoulder, “Tennent, Houdini was an escape artist, not a disappearing dude.”

“WHAT. EVER.”

“Mind explaining what happened?” Brittany asked.

“Sure,” He replied. “I turned invisible to try and get the Info Orb. A MegaTank got me. Speaking of which, it’s right behind you.”

I heard the MegaTanks laser fire. “Watch out!” Sean cried.

Before I could do anything, the blast hit me and sent me spinning back into reality.

Watch out, I thought. Good advice.

Good advice, too late. I revised.

I headed up to the factory. Sean was waiting in my chair. Without a word, he got up and let me take control of the Lyoko Interface.

“Hey guys,” I said into the microphone. “Better get a move on,” I warned them. “The Kankrelats are catching up with you!”

“Easier said than done!” Alyssa replied.

Before long, the Kankrelats reached them. Now, their hands were too full. It wasn’t long before Brittany was devirtualized, as she had the lowest amount of Life Points.

“Run to the Tower!” I told them. It was the only hope.

Tennent and Alyssa turned tail and ran. The got to the Tower, and went in.

After they calmed down, Tennent asked, “What now?”

“I suggest you change Towers,” I told them. They did so. They came up in the opposite edge of the Sector.

I did a quick scan. “We’re in luck!” I told them. “There’s an Info Orb in the area if you’re up to it.”

“How many Life Points do we have?” Alyssa asked.

“You’ve got 80,” I told her. “Tennent, you’ve only got 20. Just two hits and your gone.”

They exited the Tower. To be quite frank, I didn’t expect them to retrieve the Orb.

To my surprise, they managed to corner the Orb and grab it. “Now what?” Alyssa asked. She held the Orb tightly in her hands.

“Hang on, I’ll work something out.” I said.

The last Info Orb we got, I held it up to my LI for it to be transferred. I didn’t know how to get the data if I wasn’t on Lyoko.

I began to piece together a retrieval program. It was a little shaky, but I thought it would work. I went for 3 whole minutes with no disruptions.

“Any day now Einstein,” Tennent said. “I’m working, I’m working!” I told him.

Suddenly, an alert popped up on my screen. “Oh no...” I muttered.

“That didn’t sound good.” Alyssa said.

“What’s the matter?” Sean asked me.

“There is a large amount of energy accumulating directly above Tennent and Alyssa. I’m guessing that it’s ANAX,” I reported.

There was nothing that could be done. I watched in horror as the energy maxed out, and ANAX’s digital signature appeared on my screen. With no effort, he had devirtualized Tennent and Alyssa, and stolen the Info Orb.

I hung my head.

***

“What can we do about this?!” Tennent asked. “Every time we pin an Orb down, ANAX can steal it from us!”

“I don’t know...” I answered honestly. “The only thing I can do is get my program working for the retrieval of Info Orbs.”

“Say what?” Brittany asked.

“It’s a program that I tried to throw together in order to get the data from the Info Orb that Alyssa had. I don’t know much about how those things work, so it could take me a while to get it working.”

I wasn’t finished. “On top of that, I’m still trying to decode the information on the SuperComputer. There is sure to be data on there that can help us.”

We decided that I should work on the Info Orb program. To let ANAX get his hands on the keys to Lyoko would be catastrophic. Nothing in the journal on the SuperComputer would reverse that should it happen.

“I’ll have to work through the night,” I told them. “This program is too important, and there are too many unknowns. Also, I’ll have to test it in some way. We can’t risk it failing on Lyoko. That will take more even more time.”

“Sammy,” Alyssa cautioned. “You can’t possibly work through the night. We have school tomorrow, remember?”

“I appreciate your concern,” I said. “But I can’t explain to you all the complexities. I have to do this.”

Despite this, Alyssa and Brittany both decided that they would stay with me in the Factory until curfew. I could then transfer my work through the internet to my computer in my dorm.

It was gonna be a long night.

***

Jim patrolled the dormitory hallway in full military attire. In unison we all repeated the rules.

He walked up to Tyce Bowers, who was infamous for his practical jokes. “No funny business!” He warned.

“Oh, come on Jim, when have I ever-”

“Save it,” Jim said. “I know you too well to trust you.”

He turned to the rest of us. “Dismissed!” He said.

If I had paid a little more attention, then I would have noticed Tyce enter his room with a smirk. Of course, I was too preoccupied to notice. Around 3 in the morning though, things got interesting.

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