The return in time landed us at about 7:00 the previous day. Sean and Tennent set about preparations for Tyce’s visit immediately. I on the other hand, had important things to do.
I located the activated Tower on my computer’s interface. With a quick scan, I saw immediately what ANAX’s attack had been.
The reading that I got back from the Tower showed it nearly devoid of energy. It was quite clear that the energy had been siphoned out. In order for my guess to be confirmed, we would have to go to Lyoko. That could wait.
For now, the reading I got from the Tower brought up some provocative questions. I began to research.
Tennent and Sean had made every effort to make sure that they didn’t fall asleep that night. Seeing how funny Tyce’s prank would be in the morning, they had no intention of stopping him. They simply wanted to avoid being pranked themselves.
They decided to keep each other awake; they would play Galactic Invaders XXII. First one to 500 victories wins.
They set up their beds to accommodate them. Tennent could go on for hours about the finer points of video game playing.
It was amazing the amount of pointless information he knew.
The night passed much in the same way it did the last time. Minus the ANAX attack.
When Tyce came to my room, I simply dismissed him. I hoped that he wouldn’t get too suspicious about my being awake. I needn’t have worried.
The results of my research could prove helpful, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Still, the info I found needed to be discussed, so I called a meeting.
Sean and Tennent came into my room messing with their phones. They were snickering. It didn’t take me long to deduce that they had taken pictures of their classmates’ strange hairdos.
I swiveled my chair around. “Hey guys,” I said.
“Hey,” they said back.
“What’s this meeting about?” Brittany asked.
“Well,” I started. “The last Tower that was activated did not seem to power an attack on earth, right?” They nodded. “It seems though, that ANAX used the Tower’s energy to strengthen himself. I can’t confirm it yet, so later today, we have to go to Lyoko.”
“Now?” Tennent asked, jumping up.
“Tennent,” I said.
“I said later today.”
“Here is another thing I have to tell you about,” I said. “Seeing the activated Tower’s energy gone, I did some research. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I still found some interesting stuff.”
“You already know about the original Lyoko Warriors right?” I asked. They nodded again. “Well, it wasn’t hard to figure out some interesting stuff.” I turned to Tennent. “You are the grandson of Odd Della Robbia.” To Brittany: “You are the granddaughter of Yumi and Ulrich Stern.” I continued. “I am the grandson of Jeremy and Aelita Belpois.”
I turned to Sean. “You and I are cousins,” I said. He already knew this.
“With all that being said, we can see that we are all related to the original Lyoko Warriors in some way. Brittany seems to be a lot like Yumi on Lyoko, while Tennent seems to be like Odd. The SuperComputer has related our DNA to that of the previous Lyoko Warriors.”
I went on. “BUT, there is something that baffles me,” I said turning to Alyssa. “Alyssa, I have to ask you. Are the pink stripes in your hair natural, or is it dyed?”
She embarrassedly answered, “No, it’s natural.”
I nodded. “This confuses me further. Aelita had natural pink hair. The SuperComputer seems to have related you to Aelita, based on your Lyoko Powers. I can’t understand this, as I am the descendant of Jeremy and Aelita.”
I forced myself to ask the question, “Alyssa, can you tell me the name of your grandparents?”
“Waldo and Anthea Schaeffer on my dad’s side, and on my mom’s, John and Kathy Grant.”
Rats, I thought. That wasn’t the answer I was hoping for.
I pondered this for a moment.
“Well, it seems as if Alyssa is the only one not related to the original Lyoko Warriors.” I hated to say it, especially watching her cringe.
“I asked her the question because there is another man associated with Lyoko,” I said.
“Who?” Sean asked.
“His name is Franz Hopper,” I answered. “I found a record on the SuperComputer’s memory. He was the last person to use the SuperComputer. I don’t understand all of it, but the last process that was done was the use of the Scanners that reversed the side effects of using them.”
“How’s that possible?” Alyssa asked.
“I don’t know.”
“I was wondering if by some chance, Alyssa was related to Franz, but I guess I was wrong.”
We sat in silence for a few moments.
“Any other enlightening information?” Tennent asked.
“Just one piece,” I said.
“I found a note on the Return to the Past program. It was cautioning on the limits of Returns to the Past.”
“Limits?” Brittany asked.
“Apparently, Returns to the Past don’t undo deaths.”
I let that sink in.
After a while, Brittany said, “But that means we’re in more trouble than we can imagine! In the few Returns we’ve already done, there surely have been thousands of unexplained deaths all over the world!”
“Maybe not,” I said.
“First of all, I don’t think there is a way to prove that it is us that caused the deaths. Nobody knows about the SuperComputer except us, and some of our grandparents. Even they don’t remember the Returns because of what Franz Hopper did to them.”
“Second, I did some research on how Returns to the Past work, and how XANA affects them. It seems that note that I found was not very well researched.”
“Go on,” Brittany urged.
“It seems to me, that Returns to the Past will undo deaths. But that makes me wonder why the note is there.”
“The answer is XANA. XANA’s digital imprint is like a disease. It messes everything up. If you are affected by XANA’s imprint, a Return to the Past does nothing for you.”
After a moment, I continued, “To the best of my knowledge, if you are simply touched by XANA’s imprint, it doesn’t affect you enough. If XANA has done enough to you to kill you, it’s too late.”
“Like the wolves for example, if they had managed to kill Sean, enough of XANA’s imprint would have been transferred to him, so that a Return would not do anything. Since the Return reversed his wounds, it’s clear that you can sustain some XANA damage before it’s too late. Or in our case, ANAX”
“It seems that there is more to this, but until I can decode the journal on the SuperComputer, I’m in the dark.”
There were a few seconds of silence.
“That’s a lot to take in!” Tennent said.
A few hours later, we were on Lyoko. From the Tower that was last activated, I could investigate on the Interface, and hopefully I would then be able to confirm or deny my theory.
The Tower soon came into view. My gut wrenched as I saw it. It was silhouetted in black fog.
For some reason, it was sickening. It incited this feeling of horror in me that I can’t explain.
From the grimaces on my friends’ faces, I could tell they were thinking the same thing.
“What is it about that black that seems so wrong?” Alyssa asked.
I didn’t have an answer.
“Well, whatever it is, I have to go inside to check it out. There’s no reason you guys can’t come with me.”
They all followed.
When I got to the center of the Tower, I opened the Interface with a mental command. I scanned for data.
“The power of this Tower has been suctioned out,” I reported. “I can see that a transfer took place. It looks like I was right. ANAX has used the power to increase his own.”
Gasps met that.
“But-but,” Sean stuttered. “If ANAX can do this whenever he wants to, what’s to stop him from becoming infinitely powerful?”
Tennent answered, “Us. We’re the only thing in his way.”
He was dead right. It seemed as if the weight I was carrying increased.
We left the black Tower, and I rematerialized us.
Back on Earth, we had had a lighter issue to deal with. Tennent’s birthday was tomorrow! We had some planning to do.
The gang, sans Tennent, met in the Park.
We brought our presents to show them to each other.
I was not very creative. I got him a gift card to Presto Burger. I knew he loved that place.
Sean had gotten him a new skateboard.
Alyssa had gotten him a new hat.
Brittany, as a prank, got him a physics text book. Inside the text book, was a ticket the RapidFflow concert, which was his favorite band.
We made some preparations for his room, and we called his parents. They were making a surprise visit to Kadic.
Soon, everything was arranged.
Tennent’s birthday fell on a Sunday, which was good, because we didn’t have school.
He was still asleep, and we had gathered quietly in his room. When we were ready, we shook him awake, and yelled, “Surprise!”
He rubbed his eyes sleepily.
“We’ve got some cake!” Sean called. “That ought to wake you up!” Tennent perked up at the sound of this.
“Aw, thanks guys!” He said when he noticed the room decorated.
His hair, which was normally carefully spiked, was a mess. He didn’t seem to care as he dug into his cake.
We hung out in his room for a while. A few hours later, when he had managed to take a shower and get dressed, his parents arrived.
The day carried on. After a while, his parents left.
Sean and Tennent headed back to their dorm, to find a surprise that would change our lives considerably.
Tennent walked into his room and kicked back on his bed.
“Did you have a good time today?” Sean asked.
“You bet!” He said. “Thanks again.”
Sean walked over to the far end of the room. There was a strange box with holes there.
“Hey, Tennent, do you know what this is?” Sean asked.
Tennent got up, and inspected it. “No I don’t,” He answered. He found a piece of paper attached to it.
He ripped it off and began to read aloud what it had written on it.
“Dear Tennent, Happy Birthday! We hope you enjoy this special surprise. Love, Mom and Dad.”
“Well, open it!” Sean prodded.
Tennent did so.
He gasped in surprise.
“It’s a cat!” Sean yelled.