The Overbike, Overboard and Overwing entered the gray tunnel in the gray sphere, the Mantas still tailing them. Aelita, Odd, Ulrich, William, and Yumi entered Sector 5, exiting the blue interface-ridden tunnels. “Franz, Jeremie, we’re here.”“Good,” Franz replied. “Enter the Core Zone through the Skidbladnir Hangar, and leave your vehicles there. Then go to the Arena, and Jeremie and I will reprogram the Corridor for you. I closed the sky entry portal to protect the Skidbladnir, but I’ll open it up for you and close it once you’ve entered it.”
“Do you think you can close the tunnel at the right moment, so that it destroys the Mantas?” Aelita asked.
“It’s worth a shot,” Jeremie replied. “Let us know exactly when you want us to close it.”
The Overbike landed on the navy blue platform. Ulrich jumped off and put his hands on his hips, looking back up. Odd and Aelita jumped off as well. Yumi and William jumped onto the navy blue platform along with them. The furious birdcalls sounded from above.
“Jeremie, Franz, get ready,” called Ulrich. The Mantas flew straight at them, toward the sky portal. Just as they were meters above the portal, Aelita, Odd, Ulrich, Yumi and William shouted, “Now!”
The portal closed. The two Mantas in front exploded in red particles. The air finally settled; the room became still.
The Lyoko Warriors cheered. Finally, Aelita led the way to the elevator, everyone else not far behind.
Aelita, Odd, Ulrich, William, and Yumi ran out of the hallway into the Arena. “Jeremie, Dad,” Aelita called, “we’re in the Arena.”
“Okay,” Jeremie said. “We’re reprogramming the Corridor.”
The wall of the Arena immediately closed. The Arena started to spin again. After about half a minute, the Arena gave a jolt, and stopped moving. The wall again opened up.
The five of them ran onto the bridge. After a few seconds, the Corridor finally opened up again. The five Lyoko Warriors headed through the Corridor, to the last tower to deactivate.
William was the first one out of the Corridor. “Jeremie, Franz, we’re here.”
The tower again sat in its expected place. It floated in midair, its black roots spiraling down and finally ending.
“I’m starting to get a case of seeing-too-many-identical-places-at-once-itis,” Ulrich said, rubbing his head a little dizzily. This looked exactly like the tower in which they had freed William.
“Blame the Replikas,” Yumi said. “But there’s a reason they’re called ‘Replikas’,” she said, winking.
“This is too easy,” Odd said, as Aelita entered the tower. “I can’t believe XANA barely put up a fight here.”
Yumi, Ulrich and William drew their weapons warily and vigilant, expecting a monster, expecting at least one Creeper to appear, but the room stayed silent.
The tower turned to blue. Aelita flew out of the tower.
On Ground Floor of the Factory, the Xanafied mass of people collapsed to the ground with groans. The black specters exited their bodies, flying into the air, and then vanishing like smoke.
XANA’s attack had been stopped.
“Great job, guys,” Jeremie congratulated. “XANA’s attack has been stopped. You only need to get to the interface so that we can launch the multi-agent system, and then it’s bye-bye to XANA for good!”
“We’re on our way,” Ulrich said, smiling gleefully with everyone else. They turned and ran out of the room.
The interface opened up. Aelita quickly ran to a halt, the other four behind her. Aelita immediately started working on the interface. “Jeremie, Daddy, I’m ready.”
“I’m uploading the program over to you,” Franz replied, entering codes into the supercomputer. “It shouldn’t take too long.”
A sudden birdcall and a shot that barely missed Yumi distracted everyone from the interface. Three Mantas flapped toward them, aiming and firing.
“We’ll take care of it, Aelita,” Yumi said. Aelita nodded and turned back to the interface and resumed working.
William and Ulrich attempted to block the shots while Odd and Yumi fired and threw their weapons at the Mantas.
“Careful!” Jeremie called. “There’s another squadron of three Mantas coming up at five o’clock!”
They all turned to block more shots as the incoming Mantas tried to devirtualize them. One shot barely missed Aelita. Looking up, she quickly charged and threw an Energy Field. At the same time, Yumi threw a fan. They both hit separate Mantas.
“Nice one, ladies!” called Odd. “Two down…four to go!”
“Jeremie, Franz, we may need our vehicles,” Ulrich said. “The five of us can’t maneuver very well with this much room.”
“No need, Ulrich,” Aelita said, everyone turning to look at her. “I’ve got the program. Just give me fifteen seconds to activate it.”
Ulrich and the rest of them nodded, and turned back to their white-and-blue flying friends. Ulrich blocked shots, and flung a saber at another Manta. It flew through the air back to him as the Manta exploded in red particles.
“Here we go,” Aelita said, moving a final window on the screen, positioning a hand an inch above pressing a large window. “Everyone ready?” she asked, smiling.
The Lyoko Warriors nodded.
“Go on, Aelita,” encouraged Jeremie.
Aelita moved a final window and pressed the large window on the screen.
The interface immediately vanished.
All of Lyoko was rocked by a shake. The Mantas surrounding them lit up in white and exploded.
Throughout all of the sectors, bright, white lights engulfed the sectors of the Ice, Desert, Forest and Mountain. The sectors shook as the bright light overpowered them.
Back in Sector 5, a wall of white light moved across the Celestial Dome. Ulrich and Odd shielded their eyes, while Yumi, William and Aelita widened theirs. Soon the light engulfed them as well.
Finally, the light settled. Everyone looked warily around, as if expecting trouble.
“Did…did it work?” asked William tentatively.
Franz and Jeremie took a moment to analyze Lyoko. When the results came back, they smiled at each other.
“Yes,” Franz said. “XANA is gone.”
“Yeah!” everyone said, exchanging high-fives with radiant faces and smiles. The Lyoko Warriors celebrated their victory.
“Can you bring us in?” asked Odd.
“What, no bragging?” Jeremie teased.
“I can’t really, since I didn’t do anything,” Odd replied, to gasps of surprise that turned into laughter.
“What?” Odd asked, looking around at the laughing Ulrich, Yumi, William and Aelita.
Suddenly, a window opened up on the screen. The smiles on Jeremie and Franz’s faces instantly wiped clean. It was a Super Scan window.
“Guys…” Jeremie said slowly. “We’ve got a problem. It seems that the towers have reactivated.”
The laughter immediately ceased. “What?” asked Ulrich. “Did you activate them?”
“No…we didn’t,” Franz said. “I don’t know how, especially since the program thoroughly has no bugs in it…but it seems that XANA…reactivated.”
There were gasps of shock. “How is that possible?” Aelita asked. “I saw the analysis of the program myself just a minute ago! There weren’t any bugs in it!”
With the clamor still continuing, a radar window opened, showing the Network. Jeremie and Franz gasped.
The shouting slowly died down. “Franz? Jeremie?” Yumi asked. “Is there a problem?”
Instead of a voiced reply, there were only strangled gasps.
“Franz? Jeremie?” William said, getting ready to devirtualize himself. “Are you okay?”
“We’re fine,” Jeremie said, wiping his brow with his shirt sleeve. “But we just shed light to the source of XANA’s reactivation. It seems that XANA still has…countless Replikas. And all of the towers on each and every Replika are activated. XANA has unlimited power at his hands, and we never realized it.”
There was silence. Aelita finally broke it. “Is that how he was able to create the Kolossus?”
“Yes,” Franz replied. “Jeremie and I knew that there was an outside power source that was supplying energy to the Kolossus, because XANA would never have been able to use the Kolossus on Lyoko’s power alone…but we were so focused on fixing the multi-agent system that we never stopped to wonder.”
“It also explains why XANA was still able to continue his attack throughout the night, even with only the Sector 5 tower activated,” added Jeremie hoarsely.
There was more silence.
“So…what now?” Odd finally asked. “Are you going to bring us in?”
“No,” Franz said. “It’s too dangerous to leave the Skidbladnir on Lyoko, open to attack by XANA. We have to take it back to my Replika first, then I’ll devirtualize you.”
“Okay,” Yumi replied. “Come on, let’s go,” she said, motioning to the others. She led the way back into the Core Zone.
“We’re here,” Aelita said, about ten minutes later. The Skidbladnir, with everyone aboard, was waiting in front of the entrance gate to the Carthage Replika, waiting for it to open.
“Keep your eyes alert,” Franz said, typing. “It’s rather strange that XANA never bothered to send a single monster to attack you on the way here. In any case, please activate the digital key so that I can open the gate for you.”
“Okay,” Aelita said. The Skidbladnir’s bottom portion slowly moved to sit in a vertical position. The bright, white light immediately beamed from the small hole just below the cockpit. “Digital key activated.”
Franz immediately responded by typing.
Yumi looked up at the dark blue sphere, made up by tiles. Suddenly, an orange flame-like electric beam flickered across it.
“Hey!” Yumi called, immediately straightening. “Aelita, get the Skid away from the Replika right now!”
“Why?” Aelita asked, as the entrance gate swung open. “Everything’s perfectly-”
Aelita gasped, her eyes widening.
The dark blue sphere in front of them was fizzing with yellow-, orange- and white-beams moving across it very quickly. As shouts rang out from Ulrich, Odd, William and Yumi, Aelita quickly jammed the joysticks backward away from the Replika.
And just in time, too. The Replika finally turned a bright white and exploded into millions of dark blue pieces. Their hideout, their safe refuge, their one spot where XANA could not follow them, was gone.
Everyone still stared in shock at the spot where the Replika had been. Yumi finally found her voice.
“Franz? Jeremie? Was it XANA?”
“Yeah, it was,” Jeremie said, hoarse, disbelieving at the grim situation. “XANA finally got past the security. We don’t have a safe place in the Network anymore.”
“Is there any chance of saving it?” asked William.
“Unfortunately, it’s impossible to,” Jeremie replied. “XANA hacked the Replika and destroyed the supercomputer. To get a new Replika, we would either have to build another supercomputer or take over one of XANA’s, both of which are near to impossible to do, especially with the little time we have.”
“You all had best get back to Lyoko,” Franz instructed Aelita. “It’s safer than the Network, even if XANA is still there. Once you’re back, I’ll rematerialize you all and we’ll try to figure out what to do next.”
“Okay,” Aelita said. The Skid rotated back to its Network-exploring position. The Skid took off back to Lyoko.
Suddenly, the radar window refocused to show tons of red dots moving toward the Skid in the Network. Jeremie and Franz gasped. “Aelita, watch out!” Jeremie shouted. “You’re walking right into an ambush!”
There were gasps of shock as XANA’s ambush party swam into view. Waiting for them were twenty Kongres and twenty Rekins. On top of that, three Kalamars slunk towards them.
“Uh…Jeremie, Franz,” Odd said, above the shouts of shock from everyone else, “we’re going to need a lot more power to get out of this mess.”
At the same time, the mass of Digital Sea monsters charged forward.