Xanadu is the identity of the virtual world in Garage Kids, the fruit of the labours of a research group whose laboratory, set in an old Renault automobile factory on the Île Seguin at Boulogne-Billancourt, is now abandoned. Created for an unknown purpose, and reactivated by equally unknown means, Xanadu now emits a kind of exuberance into the computer network, which take on the form of strange black specters that cause various kinds of disturbances and anomalies in the real world.
Xanadu was created by a research group led by a mysterious individual nicknamed as "The Professor" for his intellect. Those who were close to him knew him by his true name: Waldo Schaeffer. A learned eccentric who was the head of the project to create Xanadu, he and his research team converted an old Renault factory into an enormous complex designed to house their research.
However, in the year 1994, something wrong happened during the project. Waldo sank into madness, and his team disappeared, with the French government quietly sealing off the factory and all details of the project. However, they were not able to shut down Xanadu, as a side-effect caused by these events had blurred the boundary between the virtual world and the real world. Shutting down or destroying Xanadu would cause the real world to be destroyed as well, and instead, a special program was created to freeze solely Xanadu's functions, rendering it inactive without causing harm to the real world.
Unfortunately, seven years later, in 2001, Xanadu would somehow become active again, with specters beginning to haunt the real world. However, a group of three eighth-graders at Kadic Academy, Jeremie Belpois, Ulrich Stern, and Yumi Ishiyama would uncover the source of these hauntings, and kept it a secret in an attempt to figure how to shut down the virtual anomaly without destroying the real world in the process. A month after their discovery, a fourth child, Odd Della Robbia, became involved in this adventure, with all four teens determined to end the disturbances and mysteries caused by Xanadu.
One of Xanadu's most prominent features are the enormous towers that dot the landscape. Numbering ten in total, with one tower on the slope of the highest area on Xanadu being at least three times as tall as the other towers, these serve a critical function in the digital world, and act as one of the primary links to the real world. The specters use these towers to attack the real world by swarming around them, and they must all be destroyed to sever the link and cut off the attack. The only exception to this rule is the high tower, also known as "Tower 10", which is ignored by the specters for an as-of-yet unknown reason.
At this point however, the full details of how the towers work are unknown, though a way to enter them is possible and is one of Jeremie Belpois' main goals.
To enter Xanadu, one must use one of the three scanners present in the factory. Those who enter Xanadu this way without some kind of protective equipment, like say, a peripheral bodysuit, will obtain a virtual form known as an avatar based off their subconscious in order for the system to recognize them and program them in. However, this process comes with more than a simple change in appearance, those who are vitualized in this way gain powers that relate to their subconscious that stay with them while on Earth, easily one of the most prominent side-effects of going to Xanadu unprotected.
While it is not harmful to the recipient, and is in fact easy to control and difficult for others to notice, it still must be repeated that as a side-effect of Xanadu, it is a crucial sign of how much the project has caused the virtual world and real world to become connected.
It must also bear noting that if a person takes on too much damage in Xanadu, then that individual will die.
Xanadu, besides the towers, has a number of other features. It mainly takes on the appearance of a large island held up by enormous, intertwining cables, that appear to be linked into each of the towers. The island itself is densely forested, which is most prominent in the areas near the towers. Beyond that, Xanadu features several mountains, most notably an enormous, rocky plateau that overlooks the lowest part of the island.
As the Xanadu Warriors progress in their adventure, more details about Xanadu's geography, along with hidden areas, will be revealed.
If it were not for these creatures, Xanadu would be a peaceful, atmospheric place to visit, living up to its name of "paradise" very easily. The specters, or ghosts, of Xanadu, are black, shadowy creatures that are the main vessels of disturbances in the real world.
Created from an unknown source within Xanadu, these abominable AIs have only one purpose: destroy. They attack by swarming around Xanadu's towers, entering them and emerging from computer screens, electrical outlets, and the like in order to cause destruction in the real world. They accomplish this by causing physical damage via their own bodies, or by possessing objects, and as time goes on, their abilities and natures become more and more complex as they evolve.
Specters need to maintain constant contact with a tower in order to maintain an attack, which can become more dangerous if the specters have not been destroyed as time goes on. Should they all be destroyed, then their connection to the real world is cut off, and whatever influence they hold over the real world at that point fades away. Specters are capable of engaging in different kinds of attacks at once, for example, one specter could possess a car, while another one can cause power line malfunctions at the same time. However, such attacks are, for the moment, rather simple in execution. For more complex methods of destruction, specters can work together in order to pool their abilities together. As an example, if a single specter were to possess a teddy bear, then multiple specters would be able to do things like teleport objects, manipulate their matter, and then fuse them into the teddy bear in order to, over a period of time, create a powerful, sentient robot. This however, can only be done if the influence of the Specters is uninterrupted. Should their connection to the real world be disrupted, their influence will weaken and ultimately vanish.
Specters have only two weaknesses. The first would be their connection to the towers. If a Specter collides into a tower without attempting to make a proper connection to it, then it will either destabilize them or destroy them outright. However, collisions like these can cause dangerous seismic activity in the real world, and is thus too risky to exploit. The other weakness is the Weapon Program, a system that integrates a thematic tool associated with a virtualized avatar that acts as anti-virus software that can damage/destroy Specters.
One tower that they do not go near however, is the one that looms over the others, not because they fear it, but because they do not recognize it. This however, may very well change in the future. For now, they have no master to carry themselves towards more organized methods (Though an A.I. created from their influence mentions a so-called 'Will of the World' that guides the Specters and their creations), but this, like their ignoring of the high tower, will most likely change in the future as Xanadu's secrets are unveiled.
Differences from "Canon"
As Garage Kids was never developed beyond the five-minute 2001 pilot, it is hard to give an actual "Canonicity" of how Xanadu exactly worked or was intended to work had Garage Kids been fully developed into a series, but here is what can be gleamed from said pilot, that received interpretation for the story:
In the Garage Kids pilot, Xanadu's attack model was formed via specters haunting a tower, releasing themselves into the real world, and in order to cut off their attack, said specters seemingly had to be destroyed. For the purposes of this story, this model, for the most part, remains the same, with all specters present around the towers having to be destroyed to cut off their access to the real world.
However, concerning the towers, the Xanadu in this story has ten, while the one shown in the pilot had only six. This change came about after a look-see at initial sketches of Xanadu that were drawn before the pilot model was created, where there were many more towers, numbering at least fifteen.
Besides this, geographical features remain the same, but will be explored in a different manner, with new areas within Xanadu being discovered overtime as the main characters try to uncover Xanadu's secrets, as well as newer details and features being placed in areas that looked fairly bare in the initial models.
And quite obviously, while Xanadu bears several similarities to Code Lyoko's canon virtual world Lyoko, there are obviously many differences as well between Xanadu's systems and Lyoko's systems, not just in story context, but in narrative structure as well, with Xanadu being a world with progressive exploration, unlike the surface sectors, where it was simply not possible, unlike Carthage and the Digital Sea which did feature progressive exploration.