Aelita and Yumi landed on the ice plateau, spraying the cold steam. They quickly regained their balance and stood up.
"Welcome to Lyoko, ladies," Odd said, winking, walking over to them with Ulrich and William.
"The passage tower isn't far from your position," Franz instructed. "Direction north by northeast. Remember, it's in the middle of the canyon. Here are your vehicles."
"Don't waste any time," Jeremie added, as the Overboard, Overwing and Overbike appeared. "XANA's still strong, and he may decide to send a welcoming committee over to you.
"Okay," called Yumi. "Here we go!" The three vehicles took off toward the cavern.
"Daddy, Jeremie, we're here," Aelita said, jumping off the Overboard. "It's strange that there weren't any monsters to greet us."
"They must be sleeping, as usual," joked Odd.
"Not anymore, Odd," Jeremie called as a radar window opened up. "Five Tarantulas are heading towards you via the canyon passage."
Everyone looked back to the path they had just exited. Sounds of movement came, softly at first, but getting louder every second. The birdcalls of the Tarantulas sounded. Everyone quickly drew his or her weapons.
"Aelita!" Jeremie called. "Don't forget, we still have to calibrate the program. We didn't come to the Ice Sector just for fun."
"Princess, get into the tower," Ulrich said, jerking his head toward the tower. Aelita quickly nodded, turned, and ran into the tower.
"Let's surround the tower," William said, as the first Tarantula appeared, walking the perimeter of the cavern, its companions following. Everyone quickly ran to surround the and looked out challengingly to their competitors.
"Hmm…" Odd said, glancing around. "XANA must not be a morning person. This is completely wimpy compared to what we had to deal with yesterday. Five compared to twenty? This is going to be too easy."
"Just don't let XANA hear that," Yumi said, winking. "Let's go!"
Everyone gave shouts of battle cries and ran forward to attack the Tarantulas, as the Tarantulas got into their rapid-firing positions.
Aelita walked onto the middle of the second platform and tapped her hand to the interface that appeared. "Okay, Jeremie, Daddy, I'm ready."
"Good," said Franz. "I'm activating the tower, and sending the program over to you." The tower immediately turned a forest green.
A window immediately appeared on the interface. Aelita moved it to the middle of the screen. She arranged all the other windows in a pattern around it, and then pressed her hand to the middle window. The windows started flowing up the screen and out of sight. "Calibration activated," Aelita said, as windows continued to flow across the screen upward. "It could take a while, maybe ten minutes."
"Don't worry, Aelita," Jeremie said. "We have as much time as we need right now."
Suddenly, the whole tower shook. Aelita screamed, trying to keep her balance. "Jeremie, Daddy, what's going on?"
Franz and Jeremie looked at the data window in disbelieving skepticism. "XANA is sending tremors through the whole sector," Franz said, "in an effort to take over the tower. It's shaking the whole sector because of the protection we put against XANA. And once the calibration has been started, it can't be stopped. It must be completed from the passage tower you're in right now."
Outside, the three remaining Tarantulas fired at the four Lyoko Warriors. Ulrich and Yumi each took one, while William teamed up with Odd for the third one.
"Hey, Lucie!" Odd called to the Tarantula. "Come and get it!" He dodged the shots and fired his own laser arrows back at the Tarantula. William attempted to rebound the shots fired at him.
On the other side of the cavern, Ulrich was sprinting around his Tarantula, in a effort to confuse it that was working. Yumi dodged the shots of her Tarantula acrobatically, and threw her fans every time she got the chance.
At long last, Yumi's fan hit her desired mark. With a triumphant smile, she caught her fan and ran over to help Ulrich as her Tarantula exploded.
"Jeremie, Franz," Odd called, looking up from his firing stance, "how's it coming with the program? Has Aelita finished yet?
Suddenly, the entire plateau shook and rumbled. There were shouts of exclamation and confusion. Everyone waved his or her arms around in an effort to keep balanced. Even the Tarantulas got back on all fours to keep upright.
Ulrich turned back to the passage. "This seems too familiar. Is the Kolossus on the way?"
"No – fortunately," Jeremie replied. "But XANA's trying to take over the tower."
Everyone looked back at the tower. The green aura was fizzing, as if it couldn't decide what it wanted to be.
"Doesn't the program you activated protect all the towers in the surface sectors from XANA?" asked Ulrich.
"It does," Franz said, "but unfortunately, once we activate a tower, although the restoration program is still somewhat intact, we're freeing it up from the program once we activate it. And we can't do anything to further protect the tower now that we've activated it for ourselves, besides channeling energy to increase its resistance."
"Is there anything we can do?" William asked.
"No," Franz said. "Nothing besides keeping on fighting. Aelita's almost done. It should only take a minute more, and then you can go to Carthage to wipe out XANA."
Yumi nodded, and everyone quickly resumed the fight. The Tarantulas extended their cannons once more, and the laser shots began flying across the cavern again.
Inside the tower, Aelita was rearranging the windows. "Jeremie, Daddy, it's almost done. I only need twenty more seconds. But the process is slowing down because XANA's trying to take over the tower!"
"We'll try shorting up the tower's resistance," Franz replied to her daughter. "I'm drawing energy from the supercomputer in Carthage."
There was a final tremor, but this one was the strongest of all. Outside, Yumi, Odd, Ulrich and William completely lost their balance. The Tarantulas stumbled on the ice.
Inside the tower, the interface blinked off and on. Aelita looked at the interface and then around herself at the walls of the tower, wide-eyed with a shard of fear. In front of her, the interface finally reappeared, but the windows had stopped moving.
Aelita stepped forward, to stand back directly in front of the interface. She quickly moved and pressed windows, frowning.
Once they had regained their balance, Yumi, Odd, Ulrich and William took the opportunity to destroy the remaining Tarantulas. "Franz, Jeremie," Odd called, "what happened? What kind of earthquake was that?"
"Unfortunately, a very strong one," Jeremie said. "XANA wasn't able to shut down or take over the tower, but he was able to mess with the calibration program."
Aelita walked back out of the tower. Everyone turned. "Fortunately," Aelita explained jogging up to them, "XANA was only able to scatter the data bits. If he had been able to hold on longer, he could have completely exterminated the program, and possibly more, but luckily the restoration program and the resistance Jeremie and my father activated was enough. XANA was only able to mess with the tower for five seconds…and yet he did a lot."
"The data was scattered, fortunately, to another tower in the Ice Sector," Franz said. "All you have to do is retrieve it, and Jeremie and I will be able to enter it back into the program for it to work."
Everyone ran back onto the vehicles. "Once you exit the canyon, the tower will be west of your position," Jeremie called as the Overwing, the Overboard and the Overbike raced out of the canyon.
Odd and Aelita on the Overboard led the way out of the passage and turned right. Odd glanced around. "It's kinda quiet."
"You're right, it is," Ulrich said. "Can't say I still enjoy it."
"Be careful," Franz said. "There's a squadron of three Mantas heading towards you."
Shots started firing at the group from behind. Everyone glanced back to see three Flying Mantas gliding behind them.
Ulrich and Yumi blocked the shots fired at them. Aelita and Odd fired Laser Arrows and Energy Fields back at them. William, on the Overwing, helplessly glanced around, feeling a bit left out, with his giant cleaver almost impossible to maneuver in flight.
The Mantas overtook them. Suddenly, small, white-bird like heads with a dark blue XANA eye set upon them started billowing out of a hatch hole on their underside.
“Be careful, there are Flying Mines!” shouted Jeremie.
“Don’t worry, Jeremie, we’re on it,” Yumi said. The Flying Mines didn’t tail them, like in the Celestial Dome of Carthage, but instead stayed where they were hatched, in a huge Flying Mine field. Yumi, Odd and Ulrich carefully maneuvered their vehicles through the mess, still going for the tower.
“The tower isn’t much further,” Franz said. “You should be able to see it now.”
“We do, Daddy,” replied Aelita. In front of them, the tower stood idly waiting for them, glowing green.
A shot fired at Aelita. Aelita quickly drew back on the Overboard. She had moved out of the way of the shot, but she had lost her balance, her feet halfway over the edge. “Odd!” she shouted desperately, waving her arms for balance.
Odd quickly turned his upper body. The momentum of the small movement was just enough to give the Overboard a slight shake in the air, and enough to make Aelita completely lose her balance. Aelita tumbled off the Overboard.
“Aelita!” Odd shouted, trying to grab her hand. But she was already falling, straight toward a mine. “Aelita, behind you!” Odd called desperately.
Aelita quickly turned around. Her eyes widened as she fell toward the mine. She quickly waved her hand across the star bracelet on her wrist. Immediately, her pink translucent wings opened. She gracefully stopped her fall just in time, and flew to follow the three vehicles.
The four sighed with relief when they saw Aelita flying up behind them, but turned back as more shots flew toward them. The Flying Mantas were heading back toward them, nipping through gaps between the mines.
A shot fired at the Overwing. Yumi quickly jerked to dodge it, but it hit a mine behind her. The explosion set off the deadly chain reaction of the Flying Mines.
“Aelita!” shouted Ulrich. Everyone turned back. Aelita was still flying, but she was caught on the wrong side of the explosion. The Flying Mines erupting were splitting the vehicles from Aelita.
Aelita’s eyes widened in a gasp. She quickly kicked up and flew upwards, trying to fly over the blue explosions coming toward her. She barely grazed the top of the field of mines, and flew back downward and toward the vehicles.
The Overwing turned and flipped, Yumi at the controls, trying to avoid the flying mines and the explosions behind her at the same time. Suddenly, a laser shot flew towards her and William. William doubled back, hit, falling off the Overwing.
“William!” Yumi shouted, but she couldn’t risk being devirtualized to go and save him.
William landed hard on the ice, skidding. He looked up and ducked as the explosions rocketed over him. He summoned his sword in a wisp of white smoke, and started running toward the tower.
Ulrich glanced at Odd and Yumi in dismay, all three of them still trying to race in front of the explosions, and at the same time trying to avoid the mines they came upon in front of them. “It’s no use!” he called out to them. “We’ll have to get back to the ground.”
“Okay,” Odd and Yumi called. The Overbike, Overwing and Overboard spiraled downward. Yumi and Odd pulled off centimeters above the ground, and grounded to a halt. The Overbike landed on the ice with a thud, skidding before stopping.
The explosions passed over their heads safely. Birdcalls erupted from high up in front of them. The Mantas were coming back to attack them.
A pink sphere shot toward a Manta. The Manta fizzed pink and dropped out of the sky, exploding. Everyone turned back in relief to see Aelita flying towards them, unharmed. William finally caught up with them.
“Aelita,” Franz said, “you have to get to the tower. Apparently the data is starting to get dumped into a virtual trash bin before disappearing. Without it, the program won’t be able to work at all, and will stay incomplete.”
Suddenly, the radar window refocused to show a strange, hulking shape kilometers away from the tower, but making progress.
“Oh no!” shouted Jeremie. “The Kolossus is coming after you!”
The ground started to shake from its footsteps. “Look!” William said, pointing. Everyone turned to see the Kolossus edging toward them to their right, bringing three new Mantas with it.
“Ulrich, take Aelita to the tower,” Yumi instructed, turning back to face the group, everyone still on their vehicles except for Aelita, hovering a meter above them. “Odd, William and I will attempt to hold off the Kolossus and the Mantas.”
“Are you sure?” Ulrich asked.
Yumi nodded. Ulrich quickly turned the Overbike to the tower. With a glance toward Aelita to check that she was ready, he took off and zoomed toward the tower, Aelita just to his side.
“Let’s go,” Yumi said, taking the Overwing back into the air and heading toward the Kolossus with William. Odd quickly launched up, in their wake.
Aelita and Ulrich dodged the shots fired at them, the two Mantas flying toward them. With a nod from Ulrich, Aelita flew straight at the two Mantas. Just as the two charged up with laser shots, Aelita quickly flew between them. She deactivated her wings, and ran into the tower.
Ulrich smiled. “Franz, Jeremie, it’s okay. Aelita’s in the tower.”
“Good,” Franz said. “But be careful. The Kolossus can still disconnect the tower. Focus all your efforts right now on the Kolossus and the Mantas.”
“Okay,” Ulrich said, turning to jet toward the hulking dark gray monster. Odd, Yumi and William were trying to attack it with their weapons, to no avail.
Aelita moved a window on the screen. “Daddy, Jeremie, I’m here. I’m going to start retrieving the data. It should only take a minute or two.”
“Great, Aelita,” Jeremie said. “Make sure you load it directly into the multi-agent system, because even the supercomputer itself may not be able to recognize the data bits on its own.”
Aelita perked up, still working on the interface. “The program is a multi-agent system?”
“It is,” Franz said. “Since XANA himself is a multi-agent system, theoretically the only thing strong enough to combat him is…well, himself. Or a copy of him.”
“So we’re creating another XANA?” Aelita asked.
“In a sense…yes,” Franz explained. “But the program won’t have the same principles XANA does. It will only be programmed to destroy XANA.”
“Jeremie, wasn’t the Marabounta a multi-agent system?”
“I know what you’re thinking, Aelita,” Jeremie said, a hint of amusement in his voice. “I know the Marabounta wasn’t exactly the best. But we ran the program throughout the night to work out the bugs. This time, I’m confident that we’ll win.”
The Kolossus thrashed his arms around, as if he was trying to kill flies. In a sense, there were fly-sized creatures, to him, attacking him. Odd, Yumi and William flew around him, continually firing but not making any difference to its path.
There was a shout from behind them. Everyone turned to see Ulrich flying toward them, wielding a saber.
Yumi smiled for a brief second, but them quickly turned back to their mission. She threw her fan directly at the Kolossus’ head.
The fan made direct contact. But instead of crumpling, the Kolossus merely blew up the fan with a huge orange spark.
Yumi frowned. “I thought I hit him right on target! Shouldn’t he have been destroyed?”
“No,” Odd said. “It was great aim, though. There’s another target on his arm. This isn’t going to be easy.”
“In addition,” added Jeremie, “XANA seems to be giving unlimited power to the Kolossus. I don’t’ know where it’s coming from right now, but it’s serving its purpose. But don’t worry. Aelita’s almost done.”
“In fact, I am,” a voice said. Aelita ran out of the tower, smiling. “The program has been updated.”
“Great job, Aelita,” Franz said. “I’ll tell the others. Ulrich, Yumi, William and Odd: You can head over to Sector 5. Aelita’s done. She’s coming to meet you.”
“Aww,” Odd whined. “I wanted to at least give our huge friend something vandalistic to remember us by!”
“Come on, Odd, another time,” Yumi called. The birdcalls of the five Mantas circling the Kolossus’ head like flies, firing at them four, mingled with the echoes of its steps.
Someone tapped Odd on the shoulder. He turned to feel the Overboard bump, as Aelita deactivated her wings and landed on it beside him, smiling. “Let’s go,” Aelita called.
Ulrich, Yumi and William turned and nodded, and all of them flew up into the sky. The five Mantas followed them, but the Kolossus glared up angrily at them with a groan as they went where he could not reach.