This is a work-in-progress Code Lyoko fan-fiction story I've been writing in my spare time, off-and-on. As cool as the converse would be, I don't own anything here except Hunter Moebius, my OC. Code Lyoko is owned by Mediatoon.
Please read the description first, as it patches up a few holes in this story, such as who Hunter is, what sector they're in, and things like that.
"Ulrich!" Jeremie called out, noticing three dots zooming toward the samurai's position on the center monitor. "Three hornets flying in, right behind you!"
"Great, there's more?!" Ulrich replied, disgust clearly evident in his voice.
"See if you can clear out some of the monsters in front of you," Jeremie suggested, "and get out of there, before more come in!"
"Easier said than done, Einstein!" Ulrich retorted, moving his katana at the right moment, to deflect a shot from one of the hornets.
Behind him, Yumi and Odd were tag-teaming a quartet of bloks, that were several feet away from the two, yet close enough to stop Aelita from reaching the tower, without getting hit. Yumi had just flung one of her tessen fans up into the air, and as it flew around toward the rightmost blok, two of the bloks looked visibly distracted by it.
Odd chuckled as he saw this, and ran closer to one of the distracted bloks, with his right fist pointing toward it.
"LASER ARROW!" he yelled, firing two projectiles at the blok. One hit the side of its outer casing, near the white circle in its middle, while the other scored a direct hit in the circle, causing the blok to explode. Jumping out of the way, just in time, he watched as the blok next to the one he destroyed started to move around erratically, as if it were shaken up by the sudden explosion.
Moments later, Yumi's fan came swooping down by the rightmost blok, before slamming into the white circle on its top, destroying it. This caused the blok next to it to shake, as well.
"Two down!" Odd called out, excitedly, as the tessen fan returned to its owner's hand.
Watching from the interface's center monitor, Jeremie and I noticed two of the four dots representing the bloks disappear.
"Hopefully that's the last of them, for a while," I commented.
"At the rate X.A.N.A.'s going," Jeremie lamented, in a slightly quieter voice, "I doubt it."
Back on Lyoko, Ulrich, after deflecting a few more blasts from the hornets he was facing, decided to try and destroy all three, at once.
"TRIPLICATE!" he yelled, as he began to run toward the hornets. As he did, two exact clones of himself appeared behind him, in a triangle formation, almost as if they split off from him, and followed him.
Seeing what they thought was an opening, all three of the hornets fired at Ulrich and his clones, in sequence. As they fired, each of the three leapt up into the air, dodging the lasers, before simultaneously bringing their katana up, to slam into the monsters. As they did, though, two of the hornets fired, which connected with Ulrich's clones, causing them to turn into a mess of pixels, while the real Ulrich, almost as if this was his plan all along, swung his katana in an arc, so its blade directly connected with the side of the hornet. Mere moments before it exploded, his katana slid right through the first hornet, and collided with the second. As he began to fall back to the platform, both hornets exploded, in sequence.
"Whoo-hoo!" Odd cheered, turning his back on the bloks, temporarily. "Go Ulrich!"
As Ulrich landed, however, the remaining hornet decided to pull a sneaky trick. Flying closer to the samurai, the hornet fired off an extra shot, as Ulrich quickly tried to swing his katana around, to deflect it. However, the hornet was only a few nanoseconds faster, and its shot connected with Ulrich's body, just as the samurai's katana gently jabbed the hornet, before his avatar began to disintegrate, pixel by pixel, leaving behind only a wire frame, before disappearing.
"Ulrich!!" Yumi cried out, as she whirled around, upon hearing the samurai's grunt, from the impact.
Down in the scanner room, the sound of air rushing filled the room, as one of the scanners opened, revealing a tired, slightly woozy Ulrich, who slowly climbed out, while trying to regain his bearings.
"Oh no!" Jeremie cried out, while staring at the interface's center monitor. "And now here come two more krabs!"
Yumi let out an angry sigh, upon hearing this, as Odd fired another laser arrow at one of the bloks, striking the circle in its center, causing it to explode.
"Let 'em come!" Odd remarked, almost cockily. "They haven't taken us all out, yet!"
"I wouldn't get too cocky, Odd!" Jeremie retorted. "You've only got 30 life points left, while Yumi's got 40!"
"That hasn't stopped me, yet, has it?" Odd replied, only a second or two before the two krabs approached him, Yumi and Aelita, from both sides.
While Jeremie and Odd bantered back and forth, the elevator door opened, and Ulrich slowly walked over to the supercomputer, still feeling a bit woozy from his adventures on Lyoko.
"You should still be careful around those krabs, Odd!" I added. "If you have your back to one of them for too long, they'll--"
"Don't worry!" Odd jumped in, cutting me off. "I've got it all taken--"
However, before he could finish his sentence, one of the krabs decided it was going to silence him itself, by firing a shot directly at his back, knocking him over, and de-virtualizing him.
"Odd!!" Yumi and Aelita cried, simultaneously.
"Bandersnatch!" I exclaimed, surprised, as Ulrich arrived at the other side of the supercomputer's chair. "He did not just do that!"
"Yumi!" Jeremie called out, fear clearly evident in his voice. "Try and break through, as quickly as you can!"
"I'm trying!" she replied.
"Try and get the krabs to shoot each other!" I suggested, not sure if she could hear me, through Jeremie's headset mic, or not.
"Hey Hunter," Ulrich jumped in, getting my attention. "Why don't you go to Lyoko, and help Yumi?"
"I don't know," I replied, sounding a bit hesitant.
"C'mon!" Ulrich persisted. "You'd be at full health, so you could cover for Yumi, while she and Aelita run over to the tower!"
"Do you really think I should?" I asked, trying to mask my fear, both in my voice, and by trying to keep a straight face.
"Well, if you don't," Ulrich continued, starting to sound a bit angry, "then what if Yumi gets destroyed? Then Aelita's all alone!"
"You've got to help her get Aelita to the tower!" Jeremie added, glancing over at me.
While Yumi was busy dodging shots from both krabs, the hornet and blok, trying to think of how she would defeat them, she happened to notice a conveniently-placed boulder, near the krab that was facing her. Ducking behind a rock, and gesturing to Aelita for her to follow her, she closed her eyes, and brought her hands up to her forehead, as she focused on the boulder. As she concentrated, the boulder began to slowly levitate upward, from its spot, which caught the attention of a krab, and a blok, distracting them both. As she started to wince, from the stress of keeping her telekinesis going, she raised the boulder up, several feet above both the krab, and the blok, which had wandered closer to the krab, out of curiosity, and dropped the boulder on top of both of them.
"Let's run for it!" Yumi commanded, starting to feel slightly tired, as she pointed in the direction of the tower.
The two of them ran out from behind the rock, and hightailed it toward the tower, jumping and dodging every few seconds, as the remaining krab and hornet continued to fire, and give chase. In a matter of seconds, Aelita had made it into the tower, just as the hornet shot Yumi in the back, knocking her forward, but not de-virtualizing her.
Sprinting across the X.A.N.A. symbol-adorned platform, as each of its concentric circles lit up white in sequence, Aelita stopped in the middle of the symbol, before closing her eyes, and starting to levitate upward, slowly gaining speed.
"Aelita made it into the tower, just in time!" Jeremie exclaimed, before breathing a sigh of relief. Within myself, I felt the tension quickly dissipate, as I looked at Ulrich, who, if the look of anger on his face was any indication, wasn't happy with my refusal to go to Lyoko. I could only hope neither he, nor Yumi, nor Odd, or even Jeremie or Aelita, would hold this against me.
After a quick flip in the air, Aelita arrived at the highest platform. As her feet landed, the entire X.A.N.A. symbol under her feet lit up white, as she slowly approached the center of the platform. Stopping in the center, a holographic panel magically appeared, which Aelita placed the palm of her right hand against. Her palm left a print, accompanied by a beep, before being erased, and replaced with her name, which was spelled out, letter by letter, quickly. After a moment, it disappeared, and was replaced with the word "CODE".
Entering the word "LYOKO" underneath it, the blue squares dotting the walls surrounding Aelita began to quickly shoot downward, to the bottom of the tower.
"Tower deactivated," she declared.
That afternoon, the six of us were in the cafeteria, sitting at our usual table, eating breaded chicken and french fries. Odd was halfway through his second helping, while the rest of us hadn't even finished our first. As I was chewing on one of my french fries, holding onto one end, while the other was in my mouth, Ulrich, who was sitting across from Jeremie, the person I was sitting next to, looked over at me, from across the table.
"Hunter, we need to talk, later," he said, with a bit of anger in his voice.
I bit down on the french fry that was in my mouth, chewed it several times, and swallowed it, to clear my mouth, so I could reply.
"Uh, sure, okiday," I replied, calmly, even though I could feel my nerves churning up, as I was sure I knew what he meant. "About what?"
"Earlier today," he continued, focusing his gaze on mine. "Something you should've done, but didn't."
My eyebrows shifted upward, as I began to get a slight fearful look on my face.
"What do you mean, Ulrich?" Aelita, who was sitting on Jeremie's other side, and across from Yumi, asked.
"Are you talking about that thing Jeremie said to Hunter, earlier?" Yumi asked, jumping in as well.
Before Ulrich could answer, Sissi walked over to our table.
"What thing did Jeremie say to Hunter, earlier?" she interjected, as she came to a stop between Odd and Ulrich's chairs. "Did he make you angry, Ulrich, dear?"
"No, he was talking about that gigantic horn that's growing out of your forehead!" Odd joked, which caused Jeremie, Aelita and Yumi to burst out laughing along with him.
"Shut up, Odd!" Sissi countered, shooting the spiky blond an angry look, before turning her attention back to Ulrich. Her angry look quickly transformed into a smile, upon returning her gaze to her brown-haired love interest, as if her exchange with Odd never happened.
"Now, what did Hunter do, Ulrich, dear?" she continued, in her normal, high-pitched drivel. "Do you want me to take care of him, for you?"
After saying this, she briefly glanced over at me, the angry look she previously gave Odd returning, with the added bonus of a clenched fist, both of which I met with a neutral gaze.
"Sissi," Ulrich complained, "don't you have to be somewhere else?"
"But why?" Sissi replied, starting to look a bit surprised.
"Because," Odd jumped in, "those two helpings of chicken and french fries you ate are gonna add five pounds onto your thighs! And he doesn't wanna be around, when your thighs burst!"
As he, Jeremie, Aelita and Yumi burst into laughter, again, Sissi clenched her fists, gritted her teeth, blushed, and growled at Odd, before storming off.
After Sissi was out of earshot, I sighed, and closed my eyes, as Ulrich glanced in my direction.
"Where do you wanna talk about it?" I asked, as I reopened my eyes.
"Up in your and Jeremie's room," he replied. "After classes are over."
I took a deep breath, as the other four turned their attention to me, as well.
"Alright," I replied.
For the rest of the afternoon, during the classes that followed the lunch break, I found it slightly harder to concentrate. As much as I tried to clear my head, and focus on each lesson during each class I, Ulrich, Odd, Jeremie and Aelita had, at nearly every possible moment of downtime, the glare Ulrich sent my way, earlier, flashed in front of my mind's eye.
The predominant feeling was that I had somehow done something to lose Ulrich's trust in me, or to change what Ulrich had thought of me. While he and Yumi had been slightly distant, when I first met them, after I had been allowed into their group, and told everything they knew about Lyoko, Aelita's past, and X.A.N.A., their attitudes toward me softened, and they became more friendly toward me, especially Yumi. What worried me the most, was that this had caused him to revert to his pre-friendship attitude, undoing everything that had happened between then and now.
I was also unsure if that was all Ulrich wanted to talk about, or how he was going to pop the question. Would he completely chew me out, because I didn't help Yumi, like he wanted me to? And at some point, Yumi was bound to ask him why he was angry at me, and what he was going to ask me. Was he going to twist things around, to make me out to be more of a bad guy, and thus get her into a similar, if not worse, state of anger? Thinking of this produced a mental image of myself walking into my and Jeremie's dorm room, only to find Jeremie in his computer chair, and Ulrich, Yumi and Odd sitting upon Jeremie's bed, with Ulrich in the middle, his face stricken with anger, and Yumi and Odd on opposite sides of him, each with a firm grip on one of his arms, keeping the boy firmly planted in a sitting position upon Jeremie's bed, out of fear he might tear me to shreds, upon seeing me.
I shook my head quickly, several times, to dispel that thought. I had been known to overthink, and this was no exception. I just hoped he wasn't too angry with me.
Then I thought about Aelita and Yumi. When Ulrich mentioned why he was angry at me, they started to get curious, as well. How much of the conversation between Ulrich, Jeremie and I did they overhear, while they were on Lyoko? And Jeremie, how angry was he? I'm sure he was keeping track of how many times I've weaseled out of going to Lyoko. I knew I seriously had to go, one of these times, lest they think I wasn't pulling my weight... but... I couldn't. And I was afraid to tell them this.
I had to figure out what scared me about Lyoko. It was a whole new place to me. I had never been there. I had gone down to the scanner room, the day after the others felt they could trust me with the big secret, but I had only ever been scanned once, and that was just to download my bio-metric data into the supercomputer, and protect me from Returns to the Past; Jeremie never actually sent me to Lyoko.
There was also the thought that X.A.N.A.'s monsters might have something to do with it. I knew about most of them, from the tiny, roach-like kankrelats that traveled in packs, to the gigantic, spherical megatanks that could fire elliptical lasers, which canvassed entire platforms in one shot. But was I ready to face something like that? I didn't feel as though I was.
And what if I told them that...? What would stop Jeremie from getting angrier, as well? There'd probably not be any room for me in their group, since I was too scared to go to Lyoko, with the rest of them!
But then I started wondering about Jeremie. Had Jeremie ever gone to Lyoko? If he had, he never told me, nor did the others. Was he afraid, too? Of course, sitting in front of the terminal, commanding the others was a lot different than actually being on Lyoko, dealing with the threats he was warning about. Would he actually get out of the chair, run down to the scanner room, and auto-virtualize himself, if worse came to worse? Or would he be like me, coming up with different reasons, or just beating around the bush, to get out of having to go?
But if that were the case, I wondered, wouldn't Ulrich have gotten angry at him, too, if Yumi had gotten metaphorically painted into a corner, under his watch?
The more I thought about it, the more and more my thoughts turned negative. This came to a head during math class, the last class of the day, at which point my bad habit of over-thinking turned every thought about my predicament into ones featuring them kicking me out of their group. With my meeting with Ulrich looming on the horizon, I found it harder and harder to concentrate on Mrs. Meyer's lesson, which involved a geometric triangle. As interesting as it was, despite the fact that she had been teaching subtle variations on the same theme for the entire week, the threat of losing the only friends I had in France was more important to me.
While I wallowed in my thoughts, something strange was about to happen within the science building. Yumi, along with the rest of her ninth-grade class, was in the middle of a science lesson with Mrs. Hertz. While Yumi was listening attentively to the lesson, a few of her classmates mindlessly glanced around the room, finding themselves bored with Mrs. Hertz's lecture, and accompanying demonstrations, and seeking another source of entertainment. This continued, until Yumi noticed something strange, out of the corners of her eyes: it seemed as though one of the ceiling lights was randomly flickering. Her attention and eyes quickly zoomed to it, only to find that it had stopped, once she focused entirely on it.
A look of confusion spread across her face, as she began to glance all around the room, imitating the actions of a few of her classmates. Her gaze first turned to the windows, on the right side of the classroom. Given that the classroom they were in was on the rightmost side of the science building, the entire right wall was made up of windows, allowing for the overhead artificial lighting to be wonderfully complimented by natural, outside light. Thus, her first assumption was that a bird might have flown by the window, creating a momentary shadow which, to her eyes, would have appeared to be one of the overhead lights flickering, especially since she wasn't paying attention to the lights before then. Looking outside, her eyes caught two birds flying around a nearby tree in the courtyard, but none of them seemed close enough to the science building, to cause that kind of a momentary shadow.
While her eyes were on the birds outside, she noticed another flickering light, this time from the left corners of her eyes. Her curiosity increasing ever so slightly, Yumi's eyes zoomed back to the ceiling, her head rotating slightly in the process. She was fast enough, this time; she managed to catch one of the overhead lights quickly flickering, before returning to normal, only a moment later.
After fighting with the thoughts for a few minutes, however, I was finally able to buy myself a moment of reprieve, as the minute hand on the classroom wall clock neared the six. However, as I started to get into the lesson, the bell rang, and my nervous feelings returned. As the teacher reminded us of the next day's lesson, I slowly put my books away, as a few of the students headed for the exit, followed by a few more, and a few more after them. While I watched more of the students file through the exit, I stayed in my seat for a moment, even though I knew the teacher might get curious, if I waited too long.
So, once the last of the students filed through the door, I got up, and walked out. As I left the room, I walked down the stairway, past several other students, including a couple that were standing on the stairs, talking to each other, and out of the building.
Once I got outside, I had a good look around. I didn't see Ulrich. Or Jeremie, Aelita, Odd or Yumi, for that matter. Were they waiting for me, someplace, or had they already gone up to Jeremie and I's dorm?
While I wondered, I walked over to the park bench, and sat down on it, still holding my books.
At least I can get some thinking in, before they come looking for me, I thought. I really can't go in there, just yet...
Maybe they were up there, already. They certainly wouldn't have left for the factory without me...
Instinctively, I reached into my pocket, to turn my cellphone ringtone back on. And, as I had assumed, there was no text message, or missed call alert, waiting for me.
So maybe I had a few minutes to myself, to gather my thoughts. As I did, I wondered if, maybe I was making too much out of this. I mean, they were my friends. If they were really my friends, they'd be understanding, and maybe even try to help me get over my fear.
But, why am I afraid of going to Lyoko, in the first place? Is it some great unknown, where I don't know what to expect? Am I afraid of what weapons and abilities I will have, or how I will look?
What if I look like Yumi, Ulrich, Odd and Aelita do? Whenever I watched them on the supercomputer, their pictures on the center monitor looked different. I remembered how I virtualized them, the first few times, under Aelita's watchful eye. Yumi was to go into the geisha-looking avatar. Ulrich's was the samurai, and Odd had the weird, purple-suited cat-like... thing. And then there was Aelita's. She had pink hair, elven ears, and an interesting off-white undershirt with a two-piece ensemble on top, that kinda had a sort of elven charm to it. That was all I've ever really seen.
Then they fought these monsters. Jeremie told me most of their names; kankrelats, bloks, hornets, tarantulas... and then the bigger ones, like krabs and megatanks... and then that Scyphozoa... the one thing everyone made sure Aelita stayed away from...
But they wouldn't just hurl me right into the middle of the action, without knowing what I was doing, would they? Or would it be instinctual?
As I continued to think about this, I suddenly glanced at my cellphone. 16:40. Putting it back into my left front pocket, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to sum up all of the courage I could muster. Ulrich knew pencak silat; I'd rather not stay on his bad side, if I could help it.
Opening my eyes, I slowly got up off from the park bench, and made my way back to the dorms. It was now or never.
As I walked through the hallway, on the second floor of the dorms, I was surprised to find that there were very few people standing around outside the rooms. The few that were, were just standing around, minding their own business. I recognized a couple of them, as classmates in some of the classes I went to, but I didn't know any of them personally.
But now wasn't the time to mingle, I thought. Ulrich's probably looking for me, by now.
I continued down the hallway, toward Jeremie's and my room, and as I started to get closer, I could hear voices coming from it.
At first, I thought it was probably going to be just Ulrich and myself, and possibly Jeremie, as it was his room, too. But somehow, I could hear what sounded like... Odd?
"...and then he says, 'well, sure you can have my brain! But in vanilla, or chocolate?'"
That was met by laughter, but not just any laughter... it sounded like Yumi and Aelita were there, too! My nerves spiked, at this thought. Did they all want to know what was going on?
I slowed my walk down to a slow tiptoe, as I wasn't sure if I wanted them to know I was hanging around outside, just yet.
When the laughter died down completely, however, I heard something I wasn't expecting.
"I wonder what's taking Hunter so long?" It was Odd.
"He should've been here by now," I heard Ulrich reply.
"Maybe he got held up," Yumi suggested.
"Yeah, by Sissi!" Odd commented.
"Maybe we should go out and look for him," I heard Aelita suggest, as my eyes opened wide.
"I don't think he could have gone too far," came Jeremie's voice.
I closed my eyes, and quietly pressed my back against the wall. I had to make up my mind. Either I was gonna march in there, and take whatever was coming to me, or I'd stand out here, and wait to see if they did come looking for me. If they did, they'd find me out here, and be quite surprised.
"I guess we could wait a few more minutes," Ulrich lamented.
Taking another deep breath, and trying my hardest to use my courage to stomp my nerves, I slowly walked over to the door frame.
"There you are!" Ulrich exclaimed, with a look of surprise on his face, as I walked through the door, to find Jeremie sitting in his computer chair, my computer chair empty, Ulrich and Yumi sitting on Jeremie's bed, and Aelita and Odd sitting on my bed, with the four of them facing each other, yet looking in my direction. "What took you so long?"
"I had some thinking to do," I lamented, as I closed the door behind myself, before putting my books in my closet, and sitting down in my computer chair. "I was afraid you'd get even angrier at me, if I took too long, but... I wasn't sure what I was walking into."
"I am angry," Ulrich commented, "but I'm also curious."
"We're all curious," Jeremie chimed in.
"So..." I asked, after taking a deep breath, and putting my hands on my lap, attempting to compose myself as best I could, "this is about what happened at the factory earlier today, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Ulrich replied, confirming my suspicions, as he crossed his arms. "You should have gone to Lyoko, to help Yumi and Aelita. They could've really used your help, even if you didn't know what weapons you had, right away. You would've had all of your life points, so you could've taken a few hits."
"Normally this wouldn't be too big of a problem," Jeremie added, "but this was the fourth time you've avoided going to Lyoko."
"Yeah..." my nervousness began to show through my voice, as I hunted for the words to reply. "I probably could have... and I know you probably think worse of me, because I didn't exactly say 'yes', but..."
With this, I paused for a few seconds, trying to give myself enough of a push to get the words out. I was afraid Ulrich was going to get anxious, and force them out of me, and this didn't exactly help matters any. And after a few seconds, those fears turned out to be correct.
"But what?" the brown-haired boy pressed, stretching out his hands, palms facing upward.
Realizing the time had come, and that it was now or never, I closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. Why is this so hard? I wondered to myself. If they're really my friends, they'll be understanding, and maybe even offer to help me. Just say it. Tell them you're afraid, and you'll probably be surprised by what they say.
And that was the scary part; I was afraid of being surprised by what they'd say. Every thought up to that moment had been "you're useless to us, Hunter. You can't help us on Lyoko, so you're out of the group," with multiple different variations, and each of them having a turn to say some variation on that sentence. I really didn't want to hear them actually say that to me... but would things get worse, if I made something up? I had to tell them, especially before Ulrich pushed me further, as there was also the worry about how far he'd try to push me.
"Okay..." Closing my eyes, I forced the words out, as quickly as I could, without giving myself a chance to have second thoughts. "I really wanna help you guys on Lyoko. But I'm afraid! And I don't wanna be! Because I'll probably be useless to you, if I am!"
Having forced the words out, I re-opened my eyes, to find everyone staring at me, like there was a big spider on my face. It was at this moment, that my nerves intensified. The reply I was dreading the most was about to come flying out of one of their mouths, and I could just feel it coming. To me, it appeared that they were reacting just like I had imagined they would.
I started to wonder what they were going to do to me. I really wanted them to be understanding, and maybe even offer to help me, but their stares, and the dead silence that befell the room, following my outburst, suggested otherwise.
That was it, and I knew it. They were trying to find the most tactful way to let me down, gently. That was all there was to it; I was only a third wheel, and had no room in their group. They could be my friends, but that was all. No more Lyoko. No more talk about X.A.N.A. attacks, and counter-attacks. No more supercomputer, or factory terminal. If X.A.N.A. attacked, they'd leave me at the school, and hightail it to the factory without me. Those words were right on the tips of their tongues, and I was just waiting, fearfully, for them to find the words to speak.
After another few seconds of complete silence, so deafening that you could hear a pin drop, they finally found the words.
Except the words weren't the ones I was expecting to hear.
Instead, one by one, they all burst out laughing.
Hearing this, I nearly fell out of my computer chair, in surprise. My facial expression morphed to show this, and my nerves relented slightly, primarily out of confusion. My thoughts went into overdrive, trying to fathom the possible reasons as to why they appeared to be laughing at me. Was it something I said? Or did I say the secret word?
Several seconds later, their laughter began to slowly die down, at which point the conversation resumed.
"Was that all?!" Ulrich commented, wiping the tears out of his eyes, with his hands. "Why didn't you just tell us that?!"
"I didn't know you were gonna laugh at it!" I retorted, with a nervous chuckle.
"We weren't laughing at it, or you!" Odd remarked. "We wouldn't laugh at you! You know that!"
"We just had a feeling you were going to say that," Jeremie clarified, placing his hand on my right shoulder, as a sort of calming gesture. "Judging by your behavior and reactions, whenever one of us would ask you to go to Lyoko, it was pretty obvious. But you really should have told us sooner."
"I was afraid you guys were going to disown me," I continued, facing Jeremie, "or kick me out of the group, because of that. Unless I actually go to Lyoko with you guys, about all I'm really good for is running the terminal, if you can't get to it in time."
"You're worrying too much, Hunter," Yumi spoke up, gaining my attention. "You're part of the team. That makes you a Lyoko Warrior, even if you haven't been to Lyoko, yet. Besides, we can take care of that, easily."
"Yeah!" Odd agreed. "Einstein's afraid of going to Lyoko, too. So don't worry about that!"
Hearing these words, Jeremie's expression soured slightly, eliciting laughs from both Odd and Aelita, and a slight chuckle from Yumi. My nerves relaxed slightly, before a glance in Jeremie's direction slightly reversed the calmness.
"But you could always go to pencak silat practice with Yumi and I," Ulrich jumped in, in an attempt to change the subject. "That way, when you go to Lyoko for the first time, you'll have more confidence."
"And when you feel like you're ready," Aelita added, "we could always take you to Lyoko, on a day when X.A.N.A.'s not attacking, so you can see it for real. It's a very beautiful place."
"Then we'll get to see what weapons and powers you have!" Odd chimed in, attempting to build excitement within me. "You're gonna look great on Lyoko!"
Odd's words did sound slightly encouraging to me, almost giving me the impression that he knew what was to come. His mention of how I would look sparked even more questions within my mind, as a picture of the terminal, with Jeremie sitting in front, entering the commands to send the others to Lyoko, was suddenly thrust in front of my mind's eye. Particularly the terminal's center monitor, which showed a virtual card-file that contained four cards, each with a differently-clothed figure drawn upon it. It reminded me of a question I had asked myself, the first time I had seen them; why did they look the way they did?
"That makes me wonder," I mused, rediscovering my voice. "When Jeremie sends you guys to Lyoko, these cards appear on the terminal's center monitor. One's a geisha, one's a samurai, one's a sort of purple cat, and the other is a sort of pink elf. Is that how you all really look on Lyoko?"
Odd, Ulrich, Yumi and Aelita all nodded in reply, nearly simultaneously.
"Yes," Yumi added. "And you'll look different, too."
"The appearance you take on Lyoko," Jeremie explained, using his hands as visual aids, "depends on several important mental factors, including your personality, and your deepest desires. You may be surprised, the first time I transfer you."
"That'll be interesting," I replied, letting a slight touch of fear leak into my voice, from the thought of that uncertainty.
"Don't worry about it, Hunter," Ulrich joked, noticing this. "The worst thing that could happen, is that you'll be virtualized as a giant green cat."
Yumi, Aelita and Jeremie started chuckling, while Odd, realizing this was a jab at his Lyoko avatar, folded his arms in reply, as his expression soured.
"What's wrong with looking like a giant cat?" he shot back. "If Hunter's a green cat, then we can be twins!"