Two full years, two full years of a normal life. Jeremy and I dated, we kissed, we laughed, we made new friends and kept the old ones. I never imagined ever returning to how my life must have been before I had become a part of Lyoko. Ulrich and Yumi finally got together, and surprisingly Sissy had lightened up before the school year ended. She had turned into a more respectable girl instead of a whiny, snotty daddy's girl.
She had started dating Herb, one of her former lackies. And now I hardly heard anything from them anymore except random chatter in the lunch room, and that was months ago.
As we left the school behind, we discussed what we would see at the movie theatre when we reached it. Odd wanted to see The Transporter 3, Ulrich and Yumi wanted to see The Expendables, and Jeremy and I wanted to see Avatar (I know they all came out at different dates...but for any detail obsessed people: SCREW YOU, it's our story.). In the end we agreed on Avatar.
As we spent the next few hours watching it, we all felt that familiarity of the adventures we spent in Lyoko. Going into a pod and waking up in another place in an unfamiliar body. As the film began to draw to a close, I couldn't help but realize that I had been gripping Jeremy's hand in a death grip the entire time.
We left without much discussion and missing most of our Euros from spending them on tickets and snacks.
As we waited for a street light to change to 'walk', I could have sworn I saw that symbol in place of the shape of a stick figure walking as it changed from an orange hand symbol. The symbol that I saw every day for months, on monsters that tried to kill me, on screens as XANA took them over, and in the eyes of our comrade William when he was possessed by XANA.
I didn't realize we had crossed the street until we had to take a turn to head back to Ulrich's house where we'd spend the rest of the night-with his parents out he had the house to himself so long as nothing broke.
Maybe that could take my mind off of that nightmare that refused to leave me be.
Oh, looks like she nearly saw me. Oh I would have loved to see her react in the middle of that road. Maybe I should have just forgone the plan to wait and change signals so a car ran her over, or maybe play with her by having Jeremy or one of her friends ran over. No, I'd wait, let her be on guard and then when she relaxed I'd pop out of the shadows like a monster under the bed and she'd have that look of a child who knew that the unseen monster was real, no matter how much her parents told her otherwise. I kept an eye on them for as long as I could. If I didn't mind being noticed I'd take control of a few military UAVs to keep an eye on them, but I didn't want them to notice me when they hear on the news that someone hacked into the military's network and stole several of their fighter craft.
For now I'd please myself by watching them in secrecy. Planning, creating, and evolving would be my course of action until they returned to school.
The countdown began, I mean that literally, I left a timer in sight of my digital avatar-from my point of view I was a formless mass in the middle of many images and links at the moment but I still possessed my sight.
TWENTY DAYS, EIGHT HOURS, FOURTEEN MINUTES
As they vanished from sight, I retracted from the public network and watched my old home slowly regenerate into an even greater landscape than when I left it.
Lyoko was now back. And so was its master.
THREE WEEKS LATER!
It was supposed to be over but then it was never that easy with Chris. When Ezekiel lost the money in the volcano he wasted everyone's efforts during this season so now Chris had the idea of making another season. So now all contestants were on a bus after taking a new plane to France. They were heading to a city that was where Chris had set up his new season.
Of course there were a few problems. Heather, Alejandro, Ezekiel, and Sierra were still injured from what happened during World Tour. Sierra was injured when she blew up the plane trying to make Cody a cake which left her bald and in a wheel chair. Alejandro was trampled by the cast and burned by lava during the season finale of World Tour and put in the body of that Total Drama Machine.
Ezekiel was wrapped up head to toe in bandages because he was burned and injured from the volcano and hitting Chris's boat so hard it sank. Heather was confined to a wheel chair too when a large flaming boulder hit her while escaping the island. Her right arm was in a cast along with her right leg and her neck was in a neck brace. Her left eye was black and swollen and she had numerous bandages from a few more burns.
Why Chris is doing this no one knows? Four of the contestants were in no condition to compete in another one of his shows. For the next couple of hours there was nothing to do but sit and wait as Chef drove the bus down the road. Finally they came upon a city.
"Welcome to our destination." Chris announced as he stood up.
"What's so special about this place?" asked LeShawna yawning.
"This is the town of Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb of Paris. This town is where we will be competing in my new season." Said Chris. "This one promises to have more action, laughs, and hilarious painful moments."
Everyone glared at him for that comment. After all the torture he put them through just how much entertainment would he have before he was satisfied?
"Ah, Chris, not to interrupt your ego but in case you forgot some of us are not in any condition to be competing." Gwen said raising her hand.
"Not to worry, we have a plan." Said Chris.
"Oh no." Gwen sighed. "He has a plan."
"Oh, relax, babe." Duncan reassured putting an arm around her shoulder.
Out of the corner of Gwen's eye she could see Courtney glaring at them. Gwen felt the familiar feeling of regret at what happened during World Tour despite the fact that Courtney turned into a nutcase and tried to kill her.
"This season will be different since we got calls from several parents about endangering their kids' lives so we had to make a few changes."
"Like what? Adding some healthy food?" asked Heather sitting in her chair.
"Making the challenges less life threatening?" asked Cody.
"Allowing me to show off my mad skills?" asked Harold.
"Stop putting cameras in the bathroom?" asked LeShawna.
"Nope." Came Chris's reply.
"Then what changes are you making?" asked Beth.
"You'll all see when we get there." Chris chuckled as he turned around.
"This is going to be fun." Gwen muttered.
Jeremy smiled as he was almost back to school. A new year was about to start and Jeremy was excited. He was excited to meet new people, have new classes, and see his old friends. He would see Yumi, Ulrich, Odd, and Aelita.
And it was year without having to worry about going to Lyoko to fight XANA. They destroyed him nearly two years ago.
"We're here." said Mr. Belpois.
"Bye, Mom, Dad, I'll send you guys an e-mail tonight." said Jeremy.
He ran out of the car before his parents could remind of something or say goodbye. He first saw the P.E. teacher Jim and remembered how many times he found the supercomputer only to not remember after a trip to the past and the time he fought off a hoard of XANA's monsters. He looked at the usual bench and saw Odd and Aelita sitting on it.
"Hey, Jeremy!" shouted Odd.
"Hey, guys how was your summer?" asked Jeremy.
"Same old, same old. What about you?" Odd.
Yumi and Ulrich came up and Yumi gave him a little hug. "How was your vacation?"
"Good, but it's great to be back." said Jeremy.
"Mine was as boring as usual." said Ulrich.
They talked and talked like good friends they were. Too bad their peaceful life was about to end.
Perfect. They were all back together. He had spent the last three weeks waiting for their summer vacation to end. He could have turned the city into his own personal play ground but he wanted to make sure they were there.
He had planned, studied, and made many preparations. In the mean time he would have to send out the signal.
"Coming to the town of Boulogne-Billancourt tomorrow is Total Drama Reality!" Chris proclaimed to the camera as he walked down a side walk. "I have brought back every camper to compete in this newest season for a prize of three million dollars! Since World Tour ended with the prize money falling down a volcano wasting all of our efforts we decided to film a new season here in France. Oh, and to avoid law suits the studio has agreed to replace the money if we have another incident like last time. This time I think I'll just write a check so certain home schooled maniacs don't pull a rip off of Lord of the Rings-which by the way almost cost me a good amount of money until I persuaded the jury I hadn't planned for Ezekiel to act like Gollum." He stopped. "This time around our contestants will be going into both virtual reality and the real world to solve the various and hilarious puzzles I have set for them. Thanks to my friend here at RealiTech we have a series of virtual reality Apparatus Devices that will allow players to interact in a virtual world that will be different with each episode. But don't worry, I won't leave you feel like you're just watching some jerk use your computer at your house, we all know that's annoying, the players will also go out into the streets of this fair city to solve parts of their challenges. And as a bonus, because of the virtual reality devices, contestants who suffered injuries last season may participate in the digital realm. Heather, Ezekiel, Sierra, and Darth Alejandro, who have yet to recover from unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances will be able to participate in the games and will feel like they were never injured at all to begin with." Chris remained silent for a moment...
And then burst out laughing. "Sucks to be them!"
Suddenly one of the crew stuck an arm into screen, holding a sheet of paper and whispered to Chris.
"What is it Carlos?" Chris glared at the camera man, and then sighed as Carlos spoke to him. "Fine, ok, I'd like to take this chance to assure the viewers that we shall make sure that the contestants do not suffer any injuries and we shall always keep the safeties on these Digital Interfaces on, as we will not allow our contestants to be subject to any more mental torment." Chris had read every word off the sheet, which he threw away. "Is that it?" He didn't sound optimistic as he usually did.
Carlos nodded and pulled his arm back.
"Now, seeing as how World Tour did not end as planned, we will restart the teams so that except for those who did not participate knows which team they will be on. Team Amazon, Team Victory, and Team Chris Is Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Hot."
"It only had four 'really's' in it!" Carlos pointed out.
"Oh for the love of-will you get off my back!" Chris said.
"Sorry Chris wouldn't be on your back if you took better care of your contestants last season." Carlos shrugged.
"That wasn't my fault! It was the volcano and Ezekiel; I didn't plan any of it! And Sierra still owes me a new plane!"
"Oh that thing was a piece of crap held together by duct tape and sticky glue and you know it Chris."
"I loved that plane!" Chris glared at the producer, who then took off his sun glasses and towered over Chris by a full foot.
"We'll be watching Chris; if one contestant suffers another painful injury I'll deduct half of your pay!" Carlos threatened him.
Chris sighed. "I get it, man, stupid Brit-"
"Finish that sentence and I'll deduct seventy five percent!" Carlos cut him off.
"Lovely man! Smart guy! Glad to know you have my back!" Chris exclaimed in his cheerful tone.
"That's what I thought." The young British man backed out of view.
"Now then, before I introduce the campers, let me take you on a tour of RealiTech!" Chris stated before the screen presented a slideshow.
It was beautiful to be back at Kadic Academy. The sun shined brightly down on the city and student old and new walked through the campus to either see the place or to re-familiarize themselves with the school they have gone to before.
"Well, here we are back again." Said Ulrich.
"Yep. Another full year with the special meatloaf." Said Odd.
"Some things never change. Honestly." Said Yumi.
"Sometimes that's a good thing Yumi." Aelita giggled.
"Here is where the campers will be staying! A building that was rented out to me by our friends at RealiTech! Five Star with your own rooms, beds, and TVs!" Chris proclaimed. "It functions much like the dorms at a boarding school. Girls on one floor, dudes on the other with only one bathroom and shower on each floor!"
"Fine, three each! Man you are picky!" Chris continued.
"As you can see we have a large courtyard outside with absolutely nothing." It showed a rather featureless grey building with a stone courtyard with not even a bench out front, separating the front door from the property's gate.
"Now that we have the boring stuff out of the way, let us take you into the main building where our contestants will face their doom-I mean digital challenges." Chris said before the slide changed to the interior of the building. "The first floor is the girl's floor and has the room where the RealiTech interface is set up in one of the back rooms!" It showed a dull, grey, empty room. "It looks empty, but watch this."
It changed to a recording of Chris stepping into it. "Alright and broadcast!"
Suddenly the room changed around him until...he stood on the dock at Total Drama Island outside Camp Wawanakwa. "This room here allows us to create a digital illusion of places we have seen already. It records everything right down to every dirt and bug." He suddenly stepped in something. "But as you can see, this is illusion, which brings us to the real thing the geniuses made!"
He stepped into another room where there was a massive super computer. "This is the computer that will hold every challenge! These pods alongside it hook up to the users and places them in an environment where it fools all of their senses into thinking everything is real from touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound!" He pointed to a series of pods. "So if they get hurt, it would feel quite real to them!"
Carlos coughed, Chris sighed.
"Which is why we'll have the safety on so they do not suffer psychological damage. They just put on these visors here, turn on the interface, and presto, you're somewhere else! Any injuries you have are gone!" Chris held up a visor interface. "And all our contestants need to do if they want to get out is say the magic word...Chris Rules!" He grinned. "Now let's go re-introduce the victims-I mean contestants!"
The screen went to a hallway lined with doors. Suddenly one young man stepped out of a door. He was wearing a pair of sneakers, denim shorts, and a white long sleeved shirt under a black t shirt with a skull on it. It was easy to recognize the green Mohawk and the piercings.
"Duncan!" The young man looked up.
"Ah crap." Duncan said. "What now Chris?" He crossed his arms and glared at him.
"Just reintroducing our favourite contestants to the world! Smile big tough guy!" Chris replied.
"Chris, I know you don't have the power to threaten me with a physical injury in these dumb challenges anymore. The British dude who looks like Sylvester Stallone's pale cousin told me so." Duncan pointed off screen to Carlos.
"He only said if you guys get injured from something outside the challenges. If you remember correctly the contestants from last season were injured from circumstances outside the challenges." Chris smirked.
"He's right Duncan, sorry man, technically that's his loop hole." Carlos said. "But he still can't make the digital challenges life threatening."
"Oh I only make them 50-50." Chris replied defensively. "Next!"
Chris opened the next door, revealing a young teenager sitting at a desk inside. The boy had messy brown hair, hadn't shaved too well, and wore a pair of green pants, a pink shirt under a blue t shirt, and a pair of glasses. He turned to look at the door.
"Harold!" Chris said. "How's it going buddy?"
"I'm guessing that's not your normal camera crew, you never talk to me otherwise." Harold said.
"You bet Harold, this camera crew is for introducing you to the locals!" Chris replied. "Smile man!"
"Uh...hi." Harold raised a hand. "I'm Harold, nice to be here, nice town, looks really awesome."
"And that's Harold everybody!" Chris said before he moved on. "Let's see who is in the lounge! It's built in with the necessities for being lazy: couches, drinks, and man's fourth best friend the TV!"
He entered the lounge, which was built into the second floor. Inside the lounge was only eight of the campers. One was a muscular man with dark skin and a small beard and a white cap playing cards with a smaller man with blonde hair, a pair of denim shorts, a pink shirt that revealed his entire chest and stomach, and a cow boy hat.
Another was a tanned, dark haired youth who wore a pair of jeans and a dark green shirt and was looking at himself in a mirror as he sat in a chair. Sitting at the table was a boy with brown hair, a white shirt with a red stripe across it and a pair of jeans on; a large man with blonde hair wearing a pair of shorts and a white t shirt; and a blonde girl who was braiding her own hair with one hand and ignoring everything else. The final person in the room was just coming in from one of the other doors. She was short, had brown hair that was tied back in a high pony tail, a pair of large glasses, braces, and wore pink pants, a green shirt, and a vest over the shirt.
"Ok, here are DJ," The large dark skinned man looked up, smiled, and waved to the camera. "Geoff and Bridgette!" The two sitting across from him waved to the camera and shouted. "HI MOM!"
"Justin!" Justin didn't even look at the camera.
"Owen, Cody, and Lindsey!"
"HELLO FRANCE!" Owen shouted as he stood up.
"Hi!" Cody waved.
Lindsey blinked and looked at the camera. "I'm on TV?"
Carlos face palmed.
"Hi everybody!" Beth shouted before the camera went back to Chris.
"And here come the unfortunate ones!" Eight more people came in, four of them being helped by the other four. One was an Asian girl with dark hair who had casts and bandages for her broken limbs and burned flesh. "Heather!"
"Shut up." She grumbled as Izzy wheeled her in.
"Izzy!" Izzy waved with one hand, accidently crashing Heather into a wall.
"Ezekiel!" The young scruffy boy weakly waved one arm in greeting as Trent wheeled him in. The home schooled boy was in a body cast except for his one arm.
"YOU! YOU STUPID LITTLE PUNK! YOU DID THIS TO ME!" Heather yelled at him from across the room and tried to wheel herself over to him...and Izzy activated the makeshift breaks she somehow installed on Heather's wheel chair. "I'LL KILL YOU FOR THIS!"
"I said I was sorry, eh!" Ezekiel shouted.
"And here's Alejandro! Or Darth Alejandro." Chris giggled as Alejandro-I mean Darth Vader- I mean Darth Alejandro came in, led by Courtney.
"Well how we doing today Al?" Chris asked. "Still a spaz?"
Alejandro stared at Chris for a few moments. "I'm glaring at you right now Chris. And I swear when I get my face back I'm going to do a lot worse."
"Yep, still a spaz." Chris shrugged.
Sierra, who had some of her hair back was sitting in a wheel chair as Katie wheeled her in. She squealed as she saw Cody. "Hi Cody!"
Cody shuddered and hid behind Owen, who was the perfect cover...until Satie came in with a tray of muffins.
"I made muffins! That kitchen actually works!" She yelled.
"NICE!" Owen ran to her, leaving Cody exposed.
"I thought he was on a diet now!" The boy shouted.
"I'm working on it, don't judge me!" Owen shouted before he stuffed a muffin into his mouth.
"Ok, who do I get to kill now?" Eva stomped in. "What's with the freaking noise?"
"Hey it's the scary chick!" Chris said...before he ducked as a knife buried itself into the wall above him. "Say hello to Eva!"
"What I miss?" Gwen came in with LeShawna.
"Man, we found the sweetest cafe just up the street!" LeShawna said, smiling.
"Gwen and LeShawna, say hello to the people of France!" Chris said...before a mime came in.
"What the-?" Trent stared at the mime...before slowly backing out of the room, chased by the mime.
"Did you bring that mime in on purpose just to scare him?" Gwen asked.
"Yep!" Chris grinned. "Man I have to see him scream, I didn't get permission to use the last footage of it from TDI on YouTube! You'd remember, he left you buried for ten minutes and ran around screaming like a little girl!"
Gwen glared...and for special effects someone in the studio played the music from 'Kill Bill' that happened when the Bride found her victim, showing repeat shots of Gwen and Chris as the screen turned red over and over. A second later the special effects shot ended, and the conversation continued.
"YEAH!" Tyler leaped in, doing a cart wheel...and crashed into the table and ended up lying on it. "Man the gym here is awesome!"
"Please don't let him near those weights again; he almost gave me a concussion when he tossed one by accident." Noah came in next, nursing a bruise on his forehead.
"Tyler and Noah! Nice, everybody is here!" Chris said. "Well France, you loved us in Canada, and you'll hate us when I let these maniacs out onto the streets! Stay tuned for Total, Drama, Reali-tay!"
Carlos stared at him. "You sound like you're sponsoring for a hair gel commercial when you say that."
Hours later, at high noon, the show Total Drama Reality began to air its first episode. At the same time the students of Kadic were being gathered for an assembly to welcome them back and welcome new students.
"Welcome back contestants to a new season of Total Drama. Now I'm not allowed to torment people like last time, so I have to make due with what they do when they aren't in these puppies." Chris patted one VR Interface Pod. "Top of the line, and can make the pain just as real and their screams all the more girlish."
He received a slap on the back of the head by one producer, Rebecca.
"Of course they also are used to help people by healing wounds inflicted within the game and can even help to relax some one...when they're not using the scenarios I have personally designed."
"His mom made 'em." Chef said quickly.
"Dude, that was random, and that was a rip off of that Microsoft commercial." Chris pointed out, for once having a good point.
"Dude, your mom provided the scenarios since you screwed up the programming for 'em, I don't even know how to use a freaking mouse and I could tell that much." Chef replied. "I called her up where she works for Dell and got her to fix 'em since you can't seem to do anything besides put more gel in that mop on your head."
"...I'll try not to let that get to me, and I'll especially try not to deduct half your pay for it either." Chris said calmly.
"Yo momma just paid for it." Chef grumbled.
"What you just say?"
"Anyways, for today's scenario, we'll be putting people who did not participate last season into the game first, so we can sort them up into teams. Seeing as how you're all in the same teams as before you'll have some extra company this time." Chris said. "All contestants who did not show up last season, please step up and try on these VR Interface Headsets."
Trent, Beth, Katie, Satie, Justin, Geoff, and Eva stepped forward and took a visor.
"Please put them on and step into a pod." Chris commanded.
They did so, and the pods hissed shut over them.
"Now...let the madness begin!" Chris said.
Chef threw a switch, and all seven campers went limp in their pods.
A screen mounted on the wall showed an empty field. Suddenly all of them appeared in the middle of it. They looked realistic, not a detail out of place.
"Wow!" Katie said. "This is so cool!"
"I know!" Satie squealed.
"Nice..." Trent looked at one of his hands, impressed by the Virtual Reality World he was now in.
"Alright, the challenge shall be that you must search for stars hidden throughout the level in this challenge. Each star has a different color corresponding with each team. If you pick a red star you join Team Amazon, if you pick a green one you join Team victory, if you pick a blue one you join Team Chris is Really Really Really Really Hot. Right now you only see a nice little forest and field with some fluffy bunnies and chipmunks, but soon...oh yes I will not be bored anymore!" Chris snickered. "GET ME A DIET COKE!" A crew member ran out of the room to do so. "BEGIN THE CHALLENGE!"
In the virtual world, Trent was the first to take off running in one direction. He took only twenty steps before suddenly he fell down a hole. "AH...!" He hit the ground with a thud. "Ow..."
The small cave he ended up in had a tunnel leading out of it with the words 'Exit' above it. He sighed. "Figures Chris would pull that on me." Suddenly no longer injured, he stood up and took off into it.
Eva almost fell for the tunnel, but leaped over it and kept running...only for a massive worm creature to suddenly come out of the ground and screech in her face. She just stared at it, and her eyes narrowed...cue the Kill Bill music there.
Katie and Satie went in the same direction. They were far into the forest before suddenly the yran into...a wall. A simple wall, a simple, unimpressive brick wall. They stared up at it...and nothing happened. They looked at each other, and then up at the wall.
The wall towered over them. Katie squeaked in fear.
Satie risked getting up...and the wall fell over onto them, squashing them.
"Ooh! And they are down!" Chris said.
Suddenly they appeared on top of the wall, looking dirty and roughed up.
"Owie..." They collapsed.
Justin walked off calmly into the forest. He came to a pond and looked down at his reflection in it.
"Man, I knew he'd find it, watch." Chris giggled.
Justin's reflection suddenly turned into that of a hideous, pimply, pale, bald middle aged man with a beer belly.
Justin let out a scream so high pitched it cracked a window in the real world. He then fainted.
Chris laughed. "Oh man that was weak!"
Beth seemed the best off, as she dodged a hole, passed a pond, ran around the wall and the currently unconscious girls, and even dodged an arrow that shot at her. She sighed in relief...before a foot came down and stomped her.
"Divine intervention right there." Chris said smugly.
"There was nothing divine about that." Gwen said.
Beth reformed next to the foot, which vanished into the clouds. "Ow..." A bunny hopped up to her. Reaching out for something to pull herself up, she accidently grabbed it. The rabbit turned into a white light, and suddenly Beth got up. "Hey, I feel good!"
"Yeah...the system randomly creates different creatures that can be captured and used to heal you. There'll be more...tricks and twists along the season." Chris shrugged.
Geoff got further than Beth, and even avoided being squashed three times and when vines tried to snag him he somehow leaped forward and did a roll, got to his feet and then repeated this to get through them.
"Didn't know he was that flexible." Lindsey commented. Bridgette blushed a bit.
At Kadic Academy, every student was gathered in chairs facing the stage.
The former Lyoko warriors, all of them now fifteen while Yumi was now sixteen sat down along with the rest of the audience. It had been almost two years now since their days in Lyoko. They were now ordinary teens after they defeated the highly corrupted computer entity known as XANA.
The principal, Jean-Pierre Delmas addressed them. "It is my pleasure to welcome all of you back to Kadic Academy once again. I see new faces and old ones, and I see that some of us have moved on to bigger places. But now it's a whole new year and with new chances to be made."
As the speech continued, something seeped along the cables within the walls.
Perfect, all gathered together. The countdown has ended. It is now time to strike.
The virus I was sending out would infect computers connected to the Internet, networked computers and communication network systems everywhere, but only for a few minutes, only to get my message across. I wouldn't do any harm yet, for now I'd watch the Lyoko Team squirm.
A tower activated in the Desert Region of Lyoko, this one positioned on top of a small mountain with only a small plateau around it for footing. I would expect the team to rush to deactivate it immediately. I might as well offer some resistance, just to show them how I had changed my monsters.
Time to start the show.
"Uh...Chris, we have a problem." One of the workers, Robby said.
"What now?" Chris groaned.
"Something's wrong, the computer isn't responding to anything...we're still broad casting but-" Suddenly the screen went blank. All seven campers remained comatose within their pods.
"Get the campers out of there!" Chris shouted.
"I can't, the safety switch isn't working! Everything's locked up!" Robby replied.
"Chris...what is that?" Gwen pointed at the monitor, where a strange red symbol had appeared in a field of white.
It looked like an eye.
Slowly a message scrawled across the screen, looking like it was being cut into flesh, it bled red blood.
THOUGHT YOU WERE SAFE, DIDN'T YOU?
As a video was set up, showing a slide show about Kadic, the screen suddenly went blank.
"Hm? Uh, Jim is something wrong with the- oh!" Delmas dropped his microphone in shock as electricity crackled from it. "What is going on?"
Suddenly the image appeared on the screen, same as the billions that appeared on every TV, computer, or cell phone in France. It was blood red, as were the words.
Aelita's eyes widened, and for a moment she went limp against Jeremy, who caught her. Many people had risen to their feet, murmuring and whispering to each other, slowly getting nervous as they looked at the screen.
"Jeremy, is that what I think it is? Please tell me I had too much soda and that it's gone to my head and I've flipped my lid." Odd whispered to Jeremy through clenched teeth.
"I-I...I don't..." Jeremy stammered. "Impossible..." All of the Lyoko Fighters were paralyzed.
The group had another member added to their number, William, who had spent most of his time possessed by XANA. He was free now...and he sure as hell wanted to stay free, the mere sight of this symbol made him relive every moment in purgatory that he had experienced under XANA's control. Every moment had been like a life time.
"He-he-but, supposed to be gone!" He was just above a whisper, but luckily nobody heard him as the whispers arose to questions made at an outdoor volume.
"Ulrich!" Yumi almost shouted, her hand crushing his as she tried tugging him towards the doors.
"I know!" He grabbed Odd and tugged him along, and soon all six kids slipped out in the chaos and were out in the court yard.
"This can't be right! Franz sacrificed himself to destroy him! He can't be back!" Ulrich shouted.
"Jeremy tell me that was just some sick and coincidental joke!" Odd said.
"No...that projector wasn't hooked up to anything, nobody could put a virus into something that old to make a false signal, and Jim checks everything that goes in right to the last second before an assembly. I even saw it being turned off as we went in." Jeremy shook his head.
It was impossible. They shut down the supercomputer. There was no way XANA could come back. He was completely destroyed.
Aelita had remained silent this entire time. Then all of the recent events rushed up to meet her.
Her father died...for no reason at all! XANA was back and he just let them know right in the middle of school! He left them a freaking message?
"Jeremy, you said your program would wipe him out!" Yumi snapped.
"And it did, there wasn't a single trace of him left in the system and Lyoko is gone!" Jeremy said.
"Lyoko...if he's attacking then-" Ulrich started.
"The Factory!" Odd cut him off.
"Let's go!" William said.
The four of them started running, but as Jeremy took a step, he realized Aelita wasn't moving. He looked back at her. "Aelita?" He paused once again as he saw tears streaming down her face.
"Jeremy...my father, he died for nothing Jeremy, all for nothing!" Aelita sniffed. "He was so sure he'd take XANA with him but now he's back!"
As she broke down, Jeremy brought her up against him and let her sob against his shirt. He looked to the four other members of the gang.
"Go on ahead and scout out the factory. If there is something to see there...then I did leave my note book there." Jeremy said. "Just read it up, the transfer process is simple, we'll catch up soon. If you do end up anywhere, just look for the activated tower and we'll send Aelita in later."
Yumi nodded. "I'll handle it."
With that, they left Aelita and Jeremy behind.
Back at the studio, Chris was banging on the control panel. "Work you- oh for the love of, nothing is- come on!"
"It's no use boss, whoever did this has us shut out, this virus has the system under complete lockdown. I can't access anything, and I'm pretty damn sure we can't get the kids out!" Robby said.
"What the hell is this?" Carlos whispered as he looked at the screen.
"Looks like someone with a grudge if you ask me, a death threat...somebody turn on a TV; see if it's anywhere else. I knew some punk back in Canada who made something like this, put up a video of a picture of me being edited so I had make-up on all over the province." Chef shuddered.
"GEOFF!" Bridgette was pressed up against the canopy separating her from Geoff. "For the love of god Chris get them out of there!"
"We're trying everything we can, but whatever did this got through our fire walls like they weren't even there. All the antivirus software we have is useless!" Robby said before he opened a panel. "Hold on, I'll see if I can disconnect us from the network, stop broadcasting so we can take care of this, whatever the hell it is."
"Do it!" Carlos ordered.
"Should we turn a TV on now?" Izzy asked.
"YES!" Half of the campers shouted, grouped around the pods.
Carlos and Chef ran over to the TV and plugged it in. They turned it on and the symbol was there also, along with the message.
"Whatever this is, we aren't the only ones getting it, and it's all over town!" Carlos said. He pulled out his phone, which had the symbol and message. "TV, Cell Phone, Computer, it has the same damn message!"
"How could this thing have done all this at once?" Duncan asked. "Look, Chris, I'm not a computer expert but I sure as hell know that some jack off in his mom's basement couldn't make something to do this, so who the hell could?"
"I don't know, honestly, I was gonna keep by my contract and not do anything to mess you up this bad!" Chris said.
"Ok, we're disconnected from the World Wide Web and all TV Broadcasting networks." Robby said as he stood up, holding the end of two cables. "Dang, nothing! It's already in the system, disconnecting didn't help one bit."
"What's the worst case scenario if we don't get those kids outta there?" Chef asked.
"Then they're stuck in there while their bodies are...well like in a coma, if they're stuck in there for good or if the power goes out they are literally trapped permanently, they'll be veggies for life!" Robby cried.
"Come on buddy, wake up man!" DJ shouted to Geoff.
"Can we talk to them at least? Let them know what's happening? Do they even know what's happening in there?" Carlos demanded.
"Let's check. We're still linked, probably can send a message through, but it's probably the best we can do, and it'll be a one way conversation, they can't reply and we can't hear."
Bridgette started crying. "Oh god oh god oh god!"
"Damn it, get the kids outta here, we'll handle this." Robby said as he and Carlos went to work at the controls.
"NO! I'm not leaving him!" Bridgette shrieked.
"Best software in the world, best tech in the world and not even- ah!" Robby cried out as electricity crackled and shocked his hand. "I wasn't paid to do this! Everything's jammed!"
"Bridge, you need to let the experts work on this, you and the others are in the way." Chris said, trying to reason with Bridgette.
Eventually DJ and Gwen managed to bring Bridgette away from the room in tears.
Duncan grabbed Chris by the collar of his shirt and hissed. "You brought us here, you decided to use these stupid pods, you caused this. If my buddy Geoff becomes a vegetable, I'm gonna make sure you become one too, Chrissie." He then shoved him away and stormed out.
"CHRIS! GET MY FRIEND OUT OF THERE!" Barely a split second later Lindsey hoisted Chris into the air with one hand and shook him like a rag doll. "SHE'S MY BFF! GET BETH OUT OF THERE NOW!" Izzy and LeShawna managed to drag her off.
"Damn." Chef said as he blinked.
"We'll do everything we can everyone, just go and find something that isn't jammed!" Carlos shouted.
"Damn it! Nothing!" Robby kicked the controls. "Piece of crap!"
"Uh...guys, do you see this?" Geoff asked as he looked up at the sky, which now had dark red clouds. The forest began to turn into stone around them, and the grass turned into sand at their feet.
The group had ended up back together with no luck finding a star after the first few minutes. "What's Chris up to now?"
"Uh... I don't know this doesn't seem like him." Beth said.
"OH come on it has him all over it." Trent said. "Come on Chris bring it on!" After a few moments he hesitated. "Uh...Chris?"
There was no sound, no unexpected surprising, or anything to torment them, and especially no gloating smile or sneering voice from Chris.
"Uh...hello? Chris? Chris?" Trent looked around. "Uh..."
"I don't like this place." Katie whimpered.
"Me neither." Satie joined her.
"Uh...maybe he's just playing with us to make us fail. Let's just find some stars and get us out...or wait, the safe word!" Geoff said. "Chris Rules!" Nothing happened... "Aaaaaaaaand now I feel like I wanna wash my mouth with soap."
"Nothing happened! You're still here!" Trent said.
"So what, Chris lied?" Beth asked.
"I'm gonna pound that weasel when I get out of here." Eva growled.
"No, this doesn't make sense, he wouldn't lie about a pass word like that, he's a bigger narcissus than any celebrity." Trent said.
"So...we're stuck then?" Justin asked.
After a few moments for it to sink in, Katie and Satie screamed at the top of their lungs and fell back to the ground.
Eva rolled her eyes. "Ah jeez."
"Well...let's just stand here, if he's playing a sick joke he won't get his damn ratings." Trent crossed his arms.
"YEAH!" Beth, Eva, and Geoff said at the same time.
They stood there for several minutes.
"So...anyone wanna play Thumb Wars while we wait?"
"Damn!" Robby stood up. "Anti Virus software, useless. Virus Scan, useless! Fire Walls, useless! The only thing I haven't tried is resetting the whole system!"
"Is that a good idea with the kids in there?" Carlos asked.
"No, not with them in there. The reset would restore the system to how it was before...but since the kids are kind of like...temporary files like stuff of the internet you don't save, RAM. The reset would save the Read Only Memory, but the Random Access Memory and the kids would be deleted entirely. So resetting is not an option." Robby sighed. "I can't do a thing to save their files because all the controls are locked. If I could I'd save their log in memory so then the program would know not to erase them, this specific system was designed by RealiTech to make sure people wouldn't suffer from a virus...but then again at that time the controls weren't meant to be locked down on these things, they didn't make a secondary plan for it."
"So bottom line: Nothing we can do can get them out." Carlos said.
"Absolutely nothing. Trust me, we made sure everything was set up, we took every precaution when we made this stuff, nobody could have predicted this would happen." Robby said.
"You weren't the only one, the entire city is down!" Cody said as he came back in. "I went out and checked, it's all over the city! Even the street lights and bank machines, anything with a network is showing that weird eye and the uh...message."
"Whoever did this sure must be pissed about somethin'." Chef said.
"Yeah, and you know the air port just a few blocks over? The planes are just circling. Somebody said a few were supposed to come down. There are people stuck up there until the airport clears them. And the air port can't even talk to them!"
"So whoever did this doesn't give a damn what happens." Carlos growled.
The gang rushed into the factory. They reached the elevator and took it down back to the familiar circular room lined with circuitry.
When they came in, the computer, the holographic map of Lyoko, and everything else was on as if it was never shut off.
"I don't believe it, it's all back!" Odd said. "Lyoko's back too!"
"How could this be happening?" muttered Yumi.
She had hoped it was a dream or a hallucination but it wasn't.
"He just couldn't stay down could he?" asked Ulrich referring to XANA.
"Ok, if its back and XANA is, then there must be a tower." Yumi said. "Jeremy left plenty of programs to make sure nobody messed with the computer without him knowing, one of them was to see how long it was left on and when it was used. I'll check it, you three head to the scanners."
"Uh...should I stay here?" William asked. "I mean...after last time I...I messed up pretty bad."
"Will, you had a big dose of XANA in you, you're not stupid enough to let it happen twice." Odd said. "Just forget about it and let's go man! Besides, we can't leave you here after last time! You need a few more trips to Lyoko before spectres don't make a grab at you."
William nodded as Yumi ran to the chair, which automatically lifted her around to face the computer. She typed in commands. "Alright, checking...it was activated three weeks ago today!"
As the elevator went down, she ran a scan for the tower. "Alright...Desert Section, I'll try to get you as close as I can." She grabbed Jeremy's note book from where it was taped under the screen. She carefully peeled the tape away and read through the 'Transfer Process' section.
"Alright everyone, we have a tower in the Desert Section, get in the scanners." She said over the intercom.
"How long has the computer been on?" Ulrich asked.
"Three weeks today!"
"Could that be how long XANA's been back?"William asked as he stepped into a scanner.
"No idea, just go in there and kick ass. I'll let you know when Aelita and Jeremy catch up!" Yumi said. "Transfer William!"
The scanner shut on William.
"Scanner William." She hit 'enter'. "Virtualization."
"Transfer Odd...Scanner Odd...Virtualization!"
"Transfer Ulrich...Scanner Ulrich...Virtualization!"
Ulrich opened his eyes, and saw a familiar sight. "I still say you look like a bad anime character Odd."
Odd huffed, and his purple cat tail flicked. "Bite my furry tail."
"I'd rather not." Ulrich said as he examined his digital form. He pulled out his swords. "I'll say this; it's good to have these again." He twirled them in his hands a bit.
"Ah yeah, I had ten minutes of fun with this." William hefted his broad sword.
"Well, let's see..." They stood on one of the many generic platforms that hovered over the digital sea.
"The tower is located...alright just turn to your left a bit..." they obeyed Yumi's disembodied voice. "There! Now start running!"
"Uh...what about our vehicles?"
"The programs for the vehicles are in Jeremy's Dorm, we didn't bother to keep them since we thought it was over." Yumi said impatiently.
"Back to basics then." Odd sighed, and then the trio took off across the Desert.
They're back on Lyoko...Ulrich, Odd, and what do you know? My former puppet, William. Aelita wasn't there...I'll wait for now, I can't spoil the surprise until my dear sister is here. I'll send a few friends to greet them, let them get warmed up.