Code: LYOKO- Unknown Foxtrot
Ch. 2 The Wolf
Kadic Academy West Exit
The time had come and Mrs. Hertz’ science class for the semester had showed up for roll call. Every boy and girl who had her class for the morning periods stood around and mingled with one another, forming their own little groups or waiting in the shade. Every now and then one would speak up when the older woman came across their name, but other than that it was peaceful and droll.
Thankfully a slight breeze made the morning sun bearable for everyone, of course for Aelita it was heavenly. To feel the brilliance of the ten o clock sun filtering in through the tall English oaks which populated the landscaping around the school with their earthy scent was mellowing. She enjoyed the smallest things that no one else seemed to care about, every so often a wasp would zip by off to feed the colony or to collect food and material. Birds chirped as they cautiously swooped down on the gravel dirt walkways to peck away seeds or small stones. She happened to have identified five species before Yumi and Ulrich arrived from the vending machine with a cup of tea and cocoa. They were chatting about the mid term exams and art class bringing in pottery to change up their usual. Odd had snuck a small hand held game which consumed his attention and Jeremie all the while browsed through his latest developments on her cure. The notes she provided earlier had given him much to think about.
“So they’ll be teaching how to throw or make? I wonder if I can bring my mother’s tea bowls and see if the professor knows which is which? She knows the glazes and the clay body and had me memorize it when I was younger.” Yumi asked as she blew on her hot chocolate drink.
Ulrich shrugged, “Probably, I saw Mr. Chardin carrying a stack of books all which had craft and ceramics somewhere on their spins. I really hope he knows what to do, I’m still failing English.” He bemoaned, “My dad’s not going to let up when he sees the f-plus I got on the last assignment…”
Yumi patted him on the back as she swallowed the sweet dark liquid, “Tell you what if you want any help I’m sure me or Jeremie can help tutor you? Plenty of time after last class am I right?” she gave him a smile, the sweet smell of her beverage carried by the air tickled the young man as he gave it thought.
Aelita overheard them and remembered she still had to go over the Japanese language so Yumi and her could carry on conversations. She’d already memorized French, German, and a little Italian yet she had not gone past that before she was given a body. Now that she existed among humans, she’d need to be able to talk to everyone she’d meet. Another challenge she mentally made a note of before the two went on, Mrs Hertz calling Odd’s name at the same time to which he replied while focusing on whatever game he played.
Ulrich stuttered a little, “S…S…Sure?! I don’t see why not, I really don’t want to have a repeat of last time when he came to the game. I swear he’d yank me out of here and toss me into some kind of crazy brainwashing school just to get the grades he wants!” A quick scowl visited his face as he looked off at the school’s brick exterior.
Aelita knew he had a strained relationship with his father, from that one attack when XANA tried to send the school’s occupants into space. Jeremie had explained further that they were seldom in communication with each other with such a high expectation placed upon Ulrich. The parenting method was far from a productive one, seeing as how everyone else either still lived with their family or had communicated with them once a month when possible. While he also agreed that Ulrich could be performing better if he just focused on his studies a little more and opened a day for it instead of practicing his martial arts. There was no end to the possibilities of improving a grade in one or two of his classes. So there seemed to be a dilemma between Ulrich’s private pursuits in sports and pencak silat with pleasing his father. The entire discussion only meant there was the world of psychology she needed to investigate to try and understand the argument of nature versus nurture. A topic Jeremie left the conversation at when he noticed something in the vaccine that needed to be corrected.
“You know, Jeremie could probably run your ears off and you’d just fry your brains just trying. Yumi on the other hand will just distract you… because you know?” Odd added as he curved and twisted with the driving simulator game he operated with fierce determination.
Ulrich understandable blushed and nearly choked on his tea he tried to drink, as a little bit went down into his lungs he burst into a coughing fit. Aelita observed with curiosity as Yumi roughly patted his back, trying to aid the evacuation of the brew from his airways all the way asking if he was alright. Odd had dropped his plastic gaming device to look up and appear mixed in how to react, on one hand his good friend had just embarrassed himself far better than he could have imagined and on the other he felt worry. Aelita studied the spiked blonde as he eventually stood up and tried to ask if Ulrich needed to go to the nurse or if a slap to his diaphragm would help as when one had lodged a chuck of food in their esophagus. The brown haired teenager sported bugged out eyes as they started to develop the condition known as bloodshot from his exertion. Heaving came shortly after as his attempts to stop his bodily reaction to the fluid invading his airways and he doubled over, attracting many of the students attention nearby.
“Take him to the nurse guys! He’s obviously not feeling well!” Jeremie hurried over and began to escort Stern back into the building, his cup of hot tea having been dropped and absorbed into the soil as the cup was kicked out of the way.
Mrs. Hertz appeared next to Aelita with an incredulous look of anger at being interrupted from her attendance check, “What in the name of Quantum Physics happened! First I’m calling for row call and next I can’t even talk without the sound of someone making a ruckus?”
The older woman was understandably furious as she had a different perspective from where Aelita stood. She guess all that Mrs. Hertz saw were heads at the most and it left her to clear up the disturbance she justly found at first as a childish disturbance by a class clown. Jeremie appeared to speak up first, but Aelita jumped on the chance before he could as she gazed at the science teacher.
“I’m afraid he’s accidently encountered an ingestion of his drink deep into the trachea, he needs to be seen by the school’s nurse to ensure he won’t have future breathing problems. Though that is from what I can assume from what I saw Mrs. Hertz.” She explained to the adult, “I hope he will be fine, the symptoms appear to hint at a quick recovery under medical observation?”
Her detailed summary was not well received as she hoped for, as instead she earned a skeptical eye from the professor, “You must be Aelita Schaeffer? Well, seeing as no one is laughing… and I can see that Mr. Stern has dropped some kind of drink I’ll overlook this disturbance this one time. If he needs to see the nurse please take him there, only one person may go and assist him on his way. Now if we’re done having interruptions I’d like to ensure everyone is present before we walk our way over to the site of our study. Please class, no beverages before the trip as it will help most of you from needing to find a bathroom when we’re clearly going to be out in the wilderness!” her tone held a note of irritation and a little concern before she walked away with her clipboard in hand.
“I’ll go with him, besides not like I’m going to do anything but draw my dog while we’re out there.” Odd chuckled as his backpack moved a little, Aelita instantly detecting the shuffling and knew what was inside by sheer assumption.
Yumi nodded if not reluctantly, “Okay, but text me when he’s out.”
“Right, enjoy your trip out there, going to be as boring as ever when you compare it to dealing with XANA.” The stout boy smirked before leading Ulrich back inside the school as the other students parted for them, the other still coughing up a storm with veins in his head bulging.
Aelita noticed Sissi watch as the whole thing occur, she specifically eyed Ulrich in general as if she wanted to leap upon him like a hungry jaguar. The affections she held for him were superficial at best, a psychological need to sate some unrequited desire in her person. Though it was a childish type of affinity she held for Stern, Aelita wondered what the girl would have done if she didn’t have some modicum amount of restraint. She herself felt worry over one of her saviors, from the goading of Odd he ended up likely missing out on the field trip she looked forward to. They all planned to share notes and hopefully add to each other’s database for the professor to grade. Yet his health came first, as the human body needed to be in perfect homeostasis for a long and virile future ahead. The pity was short lived as the professor announced that the field trip was starting and the groups of teenagers were beginning to congregate into a thick three person line as they followed the Kadic instructor.
Jeremie joined alongside her with a smile, “I’m sure he’ll be okay, plenty of people inhale their drinks on hand, and thankfully he’ll likely be tip top shape by the time we come back!”
“Oh good, I’d hate to see a little water do anyone in after they’ve faced countless battles against virtual monsters and their creator?” she innocently replied with no connotations whatsoever implied, she honestly didn’t want to imagine something so small incapacitate her friends.
Jeremie on the other hand was taken off guard by her comment until he gave it deeper thought, seeing that she wasn’t human to start with. Whatever she said had to be taken in depth when it appeared to be an insult or mean, she was still unfiltered in her responses.
The line of bodies started to move towards the sidewalk of the campus boundaries towards the forest to be studied, “Ya… sure thing?”
As everyone followed Mrs. Hertz, the gang or what was left walked on in silence as they found no need to speak about what had just happened. Yumi understandably had her reason, Jeremie on the other hand had a brother sister relationship with her and knew any amount of talk would shatter what hold she had over her reasoning. The bond between Ulrich and her was strenuous at best, complicated was a better term to use when describing them even if they wanted to appear just friends in front of others. It lent Aelita a nice peaceful trip onto the destination to admire the human structures of homes and small businesses they passed by. She contemplated the various materials used to build the dwellings and their creation from raw resources, how more efficient the building could be made with a few modifications and swapping out of certain things. The utilization of space by humanity seemed wasted at best, she could already see how the homes could be made to give more vertical living areas for other families instead of expanding horizontally.
In due time, they all arrived at the location which happened to be a small park designated as a wildlife refuge from the many suburbs and businesses that encroached beyond Paris. From this place the school could carry out biology lessons to better understand the plant and animal lives where humans rarely tread through. It was a whole other sight to behold as Aelita entered the worn down joggers path, the sun barely even visible through the thick canopy up above unless they entered a clearing. Mrs. Hertz authorized a certain degree of liberty in distance they could exploit, but all in all they had forty by forty feet to examine. The lesson of the field trip was to collect a large amount of data on what thrived in the area whether it was trees, plants, animals, fungi, insects, or animals all of which needed to be recorded for a final analysis. Mrs. Hertz said it was a way for students to connect with the real world that was outside of their homes, computers, and phones. Strangely enough, it drove the pink haired pseudo human into a frenzy to allocate the many life forms for her to examine and draw. She was a machine first, human second when it came to seeing the world first hand.
Then came the moment when Jeremie who followed her inquisitive aim without guide had realized he left his laptop in place of the vaccine folder in his pack.
“I thought I packed it in with everything… but I guess I was wrong? I’ll need to go back and retrieve it from my room, will you be okay with Yumi? Aelita?” he asked as he rearmed himself with the load bearing equipment after having searched it.
She responded quickly as she sketched a finch that swooped down into the clearing she was viewing, “Do you mean your laptop?”
“Ya, guess I gathered the vaccine notes folder and figured it was the laptop instead. I’ll need to go back. You can manage without me right?” he asked again.
Aelita looked up from her notes and grinned at him, “Sure I can, it’s not like XANA is going to attack? You can grab you the computer if you need.” she chuckled before returning to her work.
Knowing the girl well enough, the genius boy nodded and ventured off in secret obscurity as he left back to the school. Aelita was from then on alone with Yumi keeping to herself nearby Mrs. Hertz, with no one there to distract her she carried out the assignment and searched for biological entities in earnest. It took not even five minutes for Aelita to follow a lively trail away from everyone else as she kept acquiring new subjects to draw and put notes on.
She had originally been detailing a sketch of fungi on fallen tree branches on the semi moist forest floor when her eyes happened upon a little growth of a strange type of plant where butterflies and bees seemed to flock to. Like a dominating evasive vine, the trifoliate with oval shaped leaves carried a deep emerald green color which on older leaflets they died away into vibrant cream yellow and auburn. The first visages of the strange organism were the tips of a very long arm that Aelita followed like Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail. She had done prior research on the ecology of France and this particular species had not immediately drawn any speculations.
What confused her more was the erupting trail of budding flowers and blooms which held such a strange hue of purple and red violet. It seemed to feel pleasant and entrancing to look as the small four inch diameter rose-like reproductive structure. The farther Aelita had followed the lone stream to its core body, the more she discovered how rampant the plant had expanded itself to the point that it covered bushes and tree trunks with its tendrils. By now, Aelita had ventured far enough that the science trip was barely audible behind her, no voices could heard as she moved through the underbrush and avoided contact with the possibly poisonous plant. She knew one thing about the defensive mechanisms of any living creature, and she did not want to experience anything like a horrible rash or blisters.
Peering down closely to the highly successful plant, “What are you?”
Her head tilted as she tried to examine the features of the flora, memorizing every inch of it for later research. Blooms suddenly burst open before her as they released their alien color amid the muteness of their surroundings. A scent akin to hibiscus filled the air as if they responded to her very presence, but Aelita had a very small vocabulary in the way of floral scents currently. So her noise rather enjoyed the sensation of inhaling what the near iridescent petals gave off. As far as the eye could see the flowers manifested among the thick vines and displayed how far the intrusive organism proliferated. With her assignment discarded out of sheer wonderment for the life form, the pink haired girl dropped her notebook to her side and felt the temptation of feeling every texture the plant had to offer. It drew her to want, like an overpowering need to commit to something beyond her prerogative she placed upon herself.
As she eyed every little crease, every vein which flowed life giving fluids in the perianth, she felt a draw which captured her into the very color they bore. She wanted to touch them and the desire as deep as feeding that itch on ones back by scratching, a similar act she knew first hand at how sensitive the human body was to small stimulations. What became an issue was her mind being able to separate itself from nerve input, she knew something was off with the color in the Plantae kingdom in some fashion or form.
Before she knew it, rustling began to shake the foliage behind her as something rushed towards her position. Her ears perceived the noise and tried to hone in on the source only for the restrictive evolutionary trait to fall short. In seconds she soon saw her vision looking behind her enveloped with the body of another human that collided with her with abrupt speed. Aelita felt the surge of shock from the entire ordeal at the start, something solid made contact with her head which numbed her to the rest of the fall. The air in her lungs had been forced out as she was flung onto the forest floor. The backpack of course cushioned the worst of the landing for her, but nonetheless her spine arched painfully. She lost control of her grip on everything she had in her hands. The pencils and notebook with her latest artwork spun in the air, the sheets of paper opening up like a white dove falling from flight. She rolled over the pack and finally came to a stop facedown just before going into a thick brush submerged by the alien flora.
The stun effect gradually wore off as she felt sensation coming back and the bruise forming on her forehead. Groaning while she lifted herself up groggily, she coughed up what debris she accidently inhaled while greeting the crushed grass underneath her. Pulling her legs below her she took up a sitting position and rubbed the forming lump, her thoughts coming too she analyzed her condition from the numerous medical documents she studied on LYOKO. Another human must have been sprinting from the distance she ended up covering from where she originated. Their head must have been what made contact first as she felt what she assumed was transferred sweat off their body. Similarly in the same way as her first day in gym and how Odd had introduced her to the concept of the high-five. She having done little exercise yet after Jim had gone over a story of his of being the guardian to a secret case he found belonging to very important people in the military industry.
Looking back to her injury, it had not formed as fast as she thought it would have and it may have been thanks to her last minute adjustment in stance. The rest of her state ached if only from their bodies greeting each other as they did and absorb the tumble. Nothing at all serious as she thankfully welcomed, an icepack for her bruise would suffice when she rejoined the school field trip. However, it lent her to search out the person who began the disdainful experience as she needed to find out why their paths had crossed and why their first meeting was so physical. Pain was something she was not accustomed to as on LYOKO, being hit by a laser or knocked around was a full body register of pain and it was more of a dull level on the scale of sensation. She however found it useful to know either way, adding to her personal library to which when things did go sour she’d know how to adapt.
Holding a hand to the ailed skin, she looked about her and searched for the other person in question. Though still hazy, she took into account what she remembered and estimated where they probably ended up since they were the one in motion. Doing a little math and some observation of disturbed earth, she looked to a large silver birch behind a wild shrub. It too was covered by the vines, some of which were torn where a hole had been made and the vibrant purple flowers wilted and abused around the site. She managed to get to her feet and stagger over as she had questions pouring through her mind as the stranger came into view.
Only slightly taller than her, she couldn’t make out if it was male or female as they had come to a stop just in front of the thick tree trunk as its roots were hidden by the soil. Their back was to her, rising from shallow breathing and limbs pointing in every direction as it appeared that they must have hit their head on the bark. Soot black hair a little longer than Yumi’s covered what facial features she could have seen, a blue jacket covered the torso with leaves and vines clinging to the fabric like Velcro by tiny hairs. Though if the shoes and pants were anything to go by then she realized that she was inspecting a human boy.
The next question came to her among everything else from how she should react to helping the unconscious person, was why did this meeting happen? She did not even make it through the pondering moment before rustling of leaves and branches caught her attention. Snapping a glance behind her was likely the reason or what became the very obvious predator that had finally caught up to its catch. A young woman likely to be around twenty two years of age had stepped out of the last of the foliage before she reached the pathway Aelita had innocently followed. What made her experience fearful was a human that was beyond her in a red coat, very casual wear, and forest touched blonde locks. Holes torn through her clothing and some kind of indigo violet fluid instead of the normal iron based hemoglobin of the person oozed and stained through where wounds had been sustained. While the rest of the new comers body was no worse for wear, her right arm had somehow mutated or changed in such a radical way that below the elbow there existed no flesh or bone. Some other worldly limb existed in place, gelatinous in nature it seemed to phase into being at the elbow joint. Like the jello cups Odd had eaten a day before and introduced her to it, the same viscous material moved and churned as if it were alive. From the thickness of her upper arm the strange limb fanned out with small finger-like protrusions flexing in eagerness to grasp anything.
The first thing that came to mind was a spike going through her heart as her body began to react, a feeling she did not understand herself. Her legs wavered, breathing picked up, her skin immediately began to erupt in goose bumps as the human body acted as it should in a flight or fight trigger. What her loosing calm did not fathom was that her new body would have a way of its own apart from her calculating mind. Too focused on who this strange new being was that was designated as a potential threat, Aelita would have seen the truth of the situation otherwise.
“Who… are you?” her voice stuttered a little even though she thought the question should have came out less strained in her mind.
The woman gazed at the fallen boy and then at her, those eyes of hers matched the strange alien flesh that was her right arm, a vibrant purple violet. The intruder snorted as she rose the appendage up and sought a combat stance. The purple gel reshaped itself into a blade of some kind, shimmering in the sparse light coming through the heavy tree canopy above.
“Please? There’s… no reason to fight?” Aelita tried to move her legs only to be betrayed with inaction.
Crouched and poised to leap, the humanoid nightmare studied her prey before attacking. Intent on making first contact with the abomination of an arm, Aelita managed a step back as even the pain of her forehead had become nothing. She couldn’t reason with the situation until it was too late to move and by then the aggressor that was about to impale her vanished from her sight.
Aelita had been thrown to the side, shoved was a better term to use as the world turned ninety degrees to the left. She barely had time to adjust and catch herself when her vision had managed to glimpse of what had just sent her off. The boy who had been on the ground nudged against the tree trunk had somehow saved her from what would have been her end. For the first time it felt as if XANA wouldn’t be at the root of the near death experience, though it was nothing to be happy about. The blonde woman had instead struck the boy who had turned to glance at her as the alien limb struck him still in mid action of slamming into her.
No sooner had she fell onto the grassy earth and bounced a couple times, her head craned up to try and reconnect to the attack. Processing every amount of detail and movement, the offender’s arm seemed to have not pierced the flesh of the unknown person but splashed about his torso almost how an octopus would surround a crab. She had already forced him backwards and into the ground, but the violet gel had one more thing to do to the prey. Holding the boy down a visible arc of electricity surged forth from the torn portion of her red jacket and into the captive. He made no noise as he simply convulsed and lost consciousness, Aelita could tell he still breathed if not faintly. As she watched the limb remove itself from a good clump of the goo that adhered to the victim’s body, the whole assault had clicked in her mind as to what was happening. She assumed this was none other than a special specter sent by XANA, as the only other explanation would be alien life that was here on this world. As farfetched as the latter was she banked on the woman being a minion of her hated enemy, but why it was hunting the boy was strange enough that she couldn’t fathom.
It was then that the attacker relished in her freshly acquired quarry, starring into the incapacitated young male that she realized something. Aelita had tried to stand up and managed to keep slipping on the grass in the process, making enough noise to tear her attention away. Reforming the stubby fingers and thick palm of the gelatinous limb, she turned menacingly towards the pink haired human with a stoic expression. Emotionless as a car, the being showed no signs of XANA as was usual of an infected or conjured entity, but she was intent on doing the same to Aelita as she had to the other.
Utter fear struck into the computer program in flesh and blood, she didn’t know what to do and just kept analyzing the situation out of panic. Her human body confused her thought process which in LYOKO she’d have ran by then, chemical reactions in her physical chemistry denied her a way of reacting properly. As luck would have it she’d suffer a slow methodical gait towards her by the XANA pawn, with a pounding heart and a sweating response she could only edge away until she hit a thick shrub which resisted her body’s backwards momentum. Branches and leaves poked her back and neck, but they were seldom felt as the danger she was in surmounted it.
The non-human began to raise her abomination of an arm to strike again, starring with dead eyes into Aelita’s own as if daring her to try and escape. No words left those peach lips, no facial movements on her vanilla skin, just a robotic action taken by a puppet with no remorse. To which once the insidious protrusion reached the climax of its rise, Aelita did the one thing a human would do when cornered by a threat as did their ancestors as a means to call for help or alert the troop. She screamed and screamed hard, she didn’t do it on purpose it simply happened and she let it go. She let her body do what it was suppose to do and she threw all she had into the act, the cry was high pitch at first until it devolved into a throaty groan. So sudden was the call for help that even the older woman ceased in her progress as if taken aback by the vocalization, she actually felt it as did her ears. Tilting her head and letting her long hair fall to the side, she looked at every part of the young girl as if trying to understand why it made such a noise.
Of course her hearing picked up on the loud approach of Mrs. Hertz and her class who couldn’t help but hear the fear. Bodies were on their way as they plowed through underbrush and it stopped the attacker from continuing. The blonde turned to leave and left without further trace of itself, even the goop on the boy disintegrated as she vanished from Aelita’s sight. The bushy tailed Kadic student with wide terrorized eyes glued her vision to where the monster had taken and never took her eyes off that portion of the forest. She had no way of understanding what just went on, the icy sensation of pure unadulterated fear still surged through her veins as her body shivered from the excitement. Aelita did not even register Mrs. Hertz dashing to her and checking her over for injuries which proceeded into questioning, the world was numb for the A.I. as were the tips of her limbs. Students that arrived in time had found the strange scene, of the new girl having a panic attack or possibly hurt and another person just by their own feet. Of course for them they gasped when they saw the small amount of blood trickle on his face coming from a head scratch hidden by his dark hair.
The field trip had ended after that, leaving everyone confused and worried about what went on.