The scanner in front of Aelita, Jeremie, Odd, Yumi, and Ulrich warmed up. Aelita was holding Jeremie’s hand. Yumi was holding Ulrich in a half-hug, unable to believe that he was there with her after three close calls that day.The scanner’s doors finally opened. A man in a beige sweater and black jeans emerged, coughing. Ulrich and Aelita rushed forward, supporting him as he collapsed. Franz Hopper was finally there with them.
Franz turned to his left. “Aelita?” he said. And then turned to his left. “Ulrich?” They both nodded, and then hugged him, bursting into tears after being separated from him for years.
In a discussion in the Hermitage later, Franz and Ulrich explained about the memories he and Aelita had lost. Ulrich Hopper had been five years old when Franz had first tried in his spare time to create a “datacaster”. It had been a prototype of the scanners. He tried to send Ulrich to the half-made Carthage, but the process got a bug. Franz’s wife, Aelita and Ulrich’s mother, had filed a divorce, but later gotten into a car accident one day on her way home. When Franz had heard about it, he had gotten depressed, and had seemed paranoid in the video journal when he had found out one day in the factory that all his work had been modified.
Unknown to Franz and Aelita, five years after he had unsuccessfully been transferred to Carthage, Ulrich had popped out of the datacaster. The process had completely terminated his memory. The police had found him dazed outside the factory, and had immediately put him up for adoption, as there had been no orphanage in that city. As much as Ulrich’s foster father and mother looked like him, he was still a Hopper at heart.
After Ulrich filled everyone in on his dream that his father had given him, they started to repair the Hermitage. After a few days of sneaking off between classes and during breaks, and spending every night talking and helping Franz, the Hermitage was as good as new.
Franz took Aelita and Ulrich and went to talk to Mr. Delmas, the principal. He explained everything, and miraculously, Jean-Pierre believed him. And after serving a few years for destroying Carthage with his AI, XANA, he went back to living in the Hermitage. Franz got his job back as science teacher, partially. He and Suzanne Hertz shared their teaching roles in Science*.
Aelita decided to change her name to Aelita Hopper, so that she could become a day student and live at the Hermitage. The cover-up story for everyone that asked why she had been called Aelita Stones at first was because there had been a mix-up of files between Kadic and another school.
Franz also sent a letter through the adoption agency to Ulrich’s foster parents, explaining that he was Ulrich’s real father. Unlike Aelita, Ulrich didn’t want to change his name to Ulrich Hopper, because he still wanted to spend his time as a boarding student under the name “Ulrich Stern”, but he did start spending his holidays with his father and sister.
On the last day of summer break, Franz held a party, for it had been half a year since his rematerialization. Ulrich wasn’t at the party. Instead, he was upstairs in his room, staring out of his window to the night sky. He turned as Aelita, Yumi, Odd and Jeremie walked in.
“Sad that tomorrow we go back to school?” Yumi asked, coming to stand beside him.
Ulrich shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.”
Jeremie leaned on the doorpost. Odd sat down on Ulrich’s bed. Aelita also sat down on his bed, turning to Ulrich. “What’s on your mind?”
“I’m just wondering whether we’ll still have time to be Lyoko warriors,” Ulrich said quietly. “I mean all of us. We’re so busy starting to decide our futures, and there hasn’t been a major XANA attack for six months. I’m beginning to think he’s planning something big.”
“Of course we are,” Aelita said, glancing at the rest of them. They all nodded.
“Well, whatever XANA’s big attack is,” Yumi said, “we’ll be ready. And-”
“- we haven’t lost yet,” Ulrich finished.
“Besides, I’ve learned a ton of new things about the supercomputer – from my new mentor, Franz – that could help us a lot against the next XANA attack,” Jeremie said. “Remind me to show you, Aelita.”
“Hey Einstein,” Odd asked, “when are you going to teach Yumi, Ulrich and me to run the supercomputer better, like you and Aelita? I’m talking about something bigger than another crash-”
“What matters,” Yumi said, cutting across Odd, “is that we’re still here after all this time.”
“And we’ll still be here to watch XANA fall,” Aelita added. “Do you all promise?”
“Promise,” said Odd, standing up.
“Promise,” Jeremie also said, taking Aelita’s hand.
“Promise,” Yumi and Ulrich said, still holding hands, while Yumi took Jeremie’s hand. Odd walked around the circle and stepped between Yumi and Jeremie. Aelita took hold of Ulrich’s hand.
“Promise,” said a voice behind them. They all turned toward the door. Franz stepped between Aelita and Ulrich.
Here we are, Ulrich thought. After all this time, we’re still here. And we’ll be here to watch XANA’s demise.