With Their Youth, I Regain Mine
All the children and teens from various schools where the disappearances had taken place were gathered in an area that had coffins laid out in a circular pattern. Each coffin was connected one to another, like a vast network. At the center of the "network" stood the pied piper himself, who shed this friendly guise and revealed his true insidious nature.
"What is he going to do with them ?", Frieda asked, horrified. The center of the circle had XANA as its focus and the network connected to his pod.
"I don't know, Frieda, but it is definitely evil.", Emily said.
"We can't just idly sit by and watch this happen.", Amy stated with frustration, pulling on her older sister's arm.
"Calm down. We need to assess the situation and formulate our plan. Being placid is key, girls.", Suzanne said gently, hugging them both from behind. Immediately, Amy's anger disappeared and Emily's haste to jump into the fray against XANA no longer was an issue.
From what the Warriors could assess, the students that had been abducted were going to be drained of their youth. Apparently, XANA was fearful that he was going to die relatively soon. It seemed so illogical for him to fear something as petty as that. Human rules as far as life and death were concerned, were not applicable in his case. He was a virus. He could simply reproduce himself and create himself from the bottom up unlike a human being. Once a human was dead they went to heaven, or unless they didn't believe that, respectably, they turned back into dust and helped life continue on the planet.
"It's ridiculous. I never knew he had thanatophobia.", Jeramie observed.
"It is a common fear. He must've contracted it from someone he possessed.", Suzanne stated.
"Could be. He has had access to many human thoughts and behaviors. Some of them might have become part of his protocol.", Jeramie hypothesized.
"How do we stop him, though ? We don't want to hurt the abductees here in this case.", Yumi said.
"It seems almost impossible. I don't see any openings.", Taelia added, after making the necessary calculations.
"I know this is a long shot, but how about trying music for a change ?", Emily offered. In many instances when they didn't want to use violence, the power of song won their battles for them. Yet, they hadn't used this source in many years and it almost seemed as if it would be too simplistic of a tactic. However, as Taelia said, there were no openings to attack XANA directly without hitting one of the coffins the children would be forced to lie down in and be drained of their youthful vitality. If the Warriors didn't do something, the children would become living corpses, shells of their former selves. Even worse, once their entire souls were removed, they would die.
Just when it seemed that Emily's idea would be the perfect plan, a few other vortices appeared. XANA then said, with a bit of a chuckle,
"You curious little brats just can't leave well enough alone, can you ?"
It had been a ploy to lure them there, and they hadn't been the only ones that had come. There were others too. A group of students from Letourneau were there, as well as Diderot, Jules Verne, Julliard Private School, Fielding Academy and St. Anna Maria of the Reeds, to name a few. It seemed XANA had a bigger plan in mind, but the students had no idea what awaited them.