Chapter 2: XANA Attacks
The metal monster raised an arm and attempted to slam Clint. Fortunately, it was slow, giving him plenty of time to dodge out of the way.
“Run!” He shouted at the five kids.
Unfortunately, since the only way out was via a single rope, there weren’t many places to run. The kids settled for hiding instead.
Clint whipped his bow out. He fired three explosive arrows at the monster in quick succession. They hit dead on (hard not to when you’re the world’s greatest archer firing point blank at a target the size of a minivan) and yet, nothing happened. The monster was completely unaffected.
“Nuts.” Clint muttered. The monster tried to smash him again and he jumped out of the way. It looked like he wasn’t going to be able to do this alone. He rolled over behind a crate next to the elevator and tapped at his wrist com. “Dr. Stinson! Dr. Stinson, hello!” Nothing. Her wrist com must have been off.
Suddenly, there was a very loud noise. The kid with weird hair leaped out from behind the crate he was hiding behind.
“Banzai!” He shouted. Why he was using a traditionally Japanese battle cry, Clint had no idea. Probably heard it in an anime or something.
The boy waved his arms at the metal monstrosity. “Hey metal head! Bet you can’t catch me!”
“What the hell are you doing, kid!” Clint shouted.
“Something stupid!” The kid shouted back, running around behind the monster to avoid its fist.
Well he got that right. It wasn’t the stupidest thing he’d ever seen, it didn’t even make the top 50, but it was still pretty stupid. However, like most stupid things, it made for a pretty effective distraction which seemed to be what he was aiming for because as soon as he ran out there, Jeremy did his best to sneak over to the keypad on the elevator, pulled the outer casing off, and began tinkering with it. Clint moved closer to him.
“That thing’s busted.” He said. “You’re never gonna get it working.”
“Of course I will.” Jeremy replied, trying to keep his voice calm. “I’m the one who broke it, after all.”
“You… what?” Clint asked.
“I’ll explain once we’re safe.” Jeremy said, snapping the casing back into place and entering a code. He made a beckoning motion to the others. “Come on!”
The rest of the kids hurried into the elevator along with Jeremy. Deciding he had nothing to really lose by doing so, Clint followed suit.
“Odd, come on!” The tall girl shouted.
“Coming!” The weird haired kid, Odd, shouted back. He just barely dodged a punch from the metal monstrosity and ran towards the elevator, hitting the ground and sliding through like a baseball player just in time for the doors to close.
They exited the elevator into some sort of computer room. At the center was what looked like a hologram projector (Clint had seen plenty before) and at the side was a standard issue monitor and keyboard hanging from the ceiling along with a chair affixed to a track in the floor. Admittedly not the weirdest computer setup Clint had ever seen but still pretty weird.
Jeremy hopped into the chair and began typing but nothing showed up on the screen.
“Darn it.” He muttered. Then he said louder. “Ulrich, could you check to see if the supercomputer is online?”
The brown haired kid, Ulrich apparently, nodded. “On it.” He ran over to a ladder emerging from a hole in a corner and slid down it.
Clint put away his bow, walked over to stand next to Jeremy, and crossed his arms. “Alright, it’s about time for that explanation. Who are you kids, what was that thing, what is this place, and why does that kid have such weird hair.” He jabbed a finger at Odd.
“Hey!” He shouted indignantly. Everyone ignored him.
“Do you want the long version or the short version?” Jeremy asked.
“The short version.” Clint replied.
“I’m Jeremy, that’s Yumi, Aelita, and Odd,” Jeremy explained. He pointed to the tall girl, the pink haired girl, and the kid with weird hair respectively. “The one I sent to check on the supercomputer is Ulrich. The metal monster that attacked us was a creation of XANA.”
Clint raised an eyebrow. “What’s XANA?”
“A malevolent computer program.” Jeremy explained.
“A computer program?” Clint asked skeptically. “That didn’t look like a computer to me.”
Odd shrugged. “XANA’s weird like that.”
Ulrich popped his head out of the hole. “We’re all good here. The supercomputer is offline.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” Jeremy said. “If the supercomputer is offline then XANA shouldn’t be able to attack.”
“Even if the supercomputer was online it shouldn’t be able to attack.” Yumi pointed out. “We destroyed it years ago.”
“Wait, you destroyed it?” Clint asked, surprised. He held his hands up. “Okay, I’m not going to ask, but once I destroy that thing you’re coming in for questioning.”
“Questioning?” Ulrich echoed suspiciously. “What are you some kind of cop?”
“Something like that.” Clint responded. At that very moment his wrist communicator buzzed and Dr. Stinson’s voice came out of it.
“Agent Barton!” She shouted. “Clint! Are you there!”
Clint tapped the com. “Yeah, I’m here. What do you need.”
A crash sounded from the other end of the line. “Some sort of… office supplies monster is attacking the school. I could use some help here.”
Two monsters in one day, that can’t have been a coincidence.
“I’d love to but I’ve currently got my own monster situation to deal with.” Clint replied.
“That can’t be a coincidence.” Dr. Stinson replied, echoing Clint’s own thoughts. “Well, once you’re finished with your monster you know where to find me. And if I finish first I’ll come and find you.”
“Copy that.” Clint said and the line went silent… He turned to the five kids and pointed at the ground. “You kids stay here. I’m going back out there.”
Yumi crossed her arms. “To do what? That thing brushed off three explosions.”
“I don’t know.” Clint admitted with an exasperated shrug. “But I need to stop that thing before it decides to just jump down the elevator shaft and tear us all to shreds.”
“But you can’t just go out there without a plan.” Yumi pointed out.
Clint turned away and rubbed his temples. “I can’t believe I’m listening to a bunch of kids.” He muttered before turning back and saying in a normal voice. “Alright, if you’re so smart what do you suggest?”
“Well,” Jeremy said. “I think we might be able to use electricity to shock XANA out of that monstrosity. I don’t suppose any of those arrows you’re carrying can induce electric shocks.”
“Of course they can.” Clint replied. “I’ve got an arrow for everything.” He took a shock arrow out of his quiver and spun it around.
The first thing that happened after Meredith finished speaking with Clint was that the office supplies creature charged her and knocked her out of the window straight into the Refectory Courtyard. This was a problem (well, more of a problem than it would usually be) because the Refectory Courtyard was full of students who immediately panicked and ran in all directions. Some of them stayed outside while others ran to the cafeteria building. None of them ran for the exits.
The good news was she was good at crowd control, as that was usually her job when fighting alongside the Freedom Five, the bad news was that she was fighting alone meaning she had to both avoid the office supplies beast and get everyone out of there.
“Yeah, I can do this.” She said to herself.
First order of business, the kids outside. Other than herself, they were at the greatest risk. She zoomed over to a group of students hiding behind an overturned table. Well, mostly. One of the students seemed to be filming the monster and another was standing up with a microphone like a news reporter.
“This is Milly Solovieff reporting live from the Refectory Courtyard…” The girl with the microphone said.
“Uh, Milly, we’re not live.” The girl with the camera whispered.
“Oh…” The girl with the microphone replied. She cleared her throat. “Anyways, as you can see a monster made of office supplies is attacking the school. No, this isn’t a joke.” I-” Before Milly could continue, Meredith interrupted her.
“Alright, kids, I know the monster is exciting but you need to get out of here.” She said evenly.
“You’ve got to be kidding.” Milly replied. “This is the scoop of the century.”
Internally, Meredith sighed. Reporters were always frustrating to deal with.
“It doesn’t matter.” She said out loud. “It’s dangerous here. You need to get to the exit in a calm and orderly manner. Now, when I say “go” then go. Understand?”
“Well you don’t have to tell me twice.” A dopey sounding boy said.
“Yes.” Milly and the camera girl said despondently.
Meredith nodded. “Good. Now go!” She zipped off towards the monster, briefly checking behind her to see if the kids were going towards the exit. They were.
She raised her fist and punched the monster in it’s monitor. Then she punched it again. And again and again and again at rapid speed, seriously denting it. The monster, for obvious reasons, did not like this and moved to grab her with its giant hand which, somehow, was made entirely of pencils. Meredith had plenty of time to ponder how the monster had gotten so many pencils while she stepped backwards to dodge its grab. Eventually she gave up as, despite being a genius, she simply could not figure it out.
Regardless, it seemed making hands wasn’t the only thing the pencils did. They also made great projectiles as demonstrated when the monster fired a few from its hands. Meredith, of course, dodged these easily but realized too late that she wasn’t the only one in danger.
A girl with black hair and a pink shirt that she hadn’t noticed before was standing right in the middle of the courtyard, paralyzed by fear. It seemed she had been late in following Meredith’s order to run and was now caught in the crossfire. The girl screamed and Meredith made to run and grab the girl but before she could a purple bubble sprung up around her. The pencils bounced harmlessly off it… Seemingly unaware of this, the girl continued screaming for a few seconds before realizing that she was fine.
“I’ve got her!” A voice shouted from the left.
Meredith turned to see Vanessa of all people standing there with her fingers to her temple. There was a look of concentration on her face
“Vanessa?” Meredith asked, surprised.
“Turns out I might have the hero bug.” Vanessa admitted.
Meredith wanted to object. She wasn’t a fan of kids getting involved in hero work. At least, not without proper training. But right now, she could use all the help she could get. She nodded.
“Get her to the cafeteria.” She ordered. “Then, stay there and protect whoever’s inside.”
“Right.” Vanessa replied.
She dropped the bubble and psychically lifted the pink shirt red girl into the air, causing her to once again panic. Vanessa did her best to ignore this as she pulled her away towards the cafeteria.
The metal monstrosity was still roaming the factory floor when Clint, along with the kids, reached the top of the elevator. The plan was simple: the kids served as distractions while Clint hit the thing with his arrows. Clint wasn’t a fan of this plan but apparently the kids had done stuff like this before. Not exactly like this but pretty similar.
As soon as the elevator door opened, Odd rushed out.
“Hey metal mouth!” He shouted, waving his arms. “Come and get me!”
The metal monster roared and attempted to slam its fist down on Odd, whose eyes widened as he dodged out of the way. He darted off and the metal monster began to lumber after him. Ulrich saw his opportunity and dashed behind it.
“Hey, you! Come and get me!” He shouted.
The metal monster slowly turned around. It seemed to do everything slowly, which was good. As it turned, Clint took his chance and released three shock arrows onto it. Two hit one arm each and a third hit it square in the back. The arrows released an electric shock that ran through the whole monster. Thankfully, the floor of the factory was made of stone so the charge simply ran into the ground and dissipated.
As the electricity ran through the monster, a black smoke began emanating from it. And as more smoke came off it the monster broke down, pieces falling off as it slowly sunk to the ground…
“There!” Jeremy shouted, pointing at the smoke. “That’s XANA!”
“Alright, what do I do now?” Clint asked.
“Nothing unless it starts up again.” Jeremy replied. “In my experience, XANA’s smoke is a one use trick.”
And so they waited, Clint with his bow trained on it. Eventually, the glowing eye on the monster faded away and it lay in a crumpled heap. XANA’s smoke encircled the monster and eventually dissipated.
“Well, that was-” Odd began but Clint cut him off.
“Don’t finish that sentence.” He said. “Just don’t.”
Vanessa watched as Dr. Stinson fought the office supplies monster. It seemed to be capable of adapting, figuring out that Dr. Stinson was a purely melee fighter so was doing its best to keep its distance and keep her on the defensive to prevent her from getting too close.
That definitely wasn’t good. Dr. Stinson was fast but eventually she’d tire out or the monster would get her. Vanessa wasn’t sure what would happen then but it probably wouldn’t be good for Dr. Stinson or the students. Vanessa was doing her best to keep a mental shield up around the cafeteria. Like Dr. Stinson, she couldn’t keep this up forever and would eventually tire out, leaving the students at the mercy of the monster if Dr. Stinson failed.
And, too Vanessa’s shock, she did fail. At least, in her eyes. The monster somehow managed to grab the Fastest Woman Alive. While it was highly likely that Dr. Stinson could escape the monster’s grip easily, Vanessa’s tendency to assume the worst kicked in and she was sure this was the end. Unless she did something.
Impulsively, she dropped the shield. She reached her hand out and a purple glow surrounded the monster. It released Dr. Stinson and then began to collapse inwards on itself in a scene that would be horrifying if the monster weren’t made of office supplies. Slowly it crumpled until all that was left was a tiny ball which fell to the ground, likely violating several laws of physics.Then again, having psychic powers probably violated the laws of physics so it didn’t really matter.
The other students, already on edge from Vanessa’s earlier displays of psychic power, stared at her in horror. Even though the monster wasn’t flesh and blood the level of power Vanessa had displayed was immense. And unlike in America, where superheroes were quite common,displays of superpowers in France were usually an indication of an Akuma attack.
Vanessa sighed. “Great. Just great.”
“Why am I here again?” Tony asked.
Tony Stark aka Iron Man stood in his Holographic Communication Chamber or, as he liked to call it, his Holodeck. Unfortunately, he couldn’t officially call it that as the name was trademarked but such was life.
The Holographic Communication Chamber allowed one to not only communicate with someone via hologram but also to create a holographic simulation of the room that the person you were communicating with was in. It was as if you were in the room with them. And all they needed was a small device that would scan the room and project a hologram of just you. It was going to revolutionize communication… as soon as Tony could find a way to mass produce it that wouldn’t bankrupt his company.
For now, the HCC would have to be restricted to use for Avengers business only, which was what Tony was doing right now. Clint had called him in, alongside Hank Pym, to help interrogate a couple of kids. He wasn’t entirely sure why, considering Clint was a professional spy and really shouldn’t need his or Hank’s help.
“You and Hank are our top experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence.” Clint explained.
“And?” Tony asked. “What does that have to do with-” His eyes widened. “Wait, are you saying these kids found an AI?” Tony looked at the five kids before them. They were certainly some of the oddest looking kids he’d ever seen. Particularly the boy whose hair seemed to stick straight up.
One of the kids, a nerdy looking boy with blonde hair and glasses, started talking faster than Tony could keep up. Granted, even if he could keep up he wouldn’t understand what he was saying considering he was speaking French.
Tony held his hand up. “Hold on. I took Spanish in High School, not French.” Thankfully, assuming the kid didn’t speak English, the stopping gesture was universal and the kid stopped talking. “J.A.R.V.I.S, activate the translation filter.”
The translation filter was another invention of Tony’s with help from Reed Richards aka Mister Fantastic. Reverse engineered from alien tech, particularly that of the Maerynians, it could translate almost any language on earth and quite a few that weren’t thus allowing for anybody from anywhere to have a two way conversation with almost zero issue. Unfortunately, they hadn’t figured out how to make it work outside of a phone call or similar form of communication so it was still quite limited. It was planned for release next year, albeit with the alien languages removed, as a joint product of Stark Industries and Richards Incorporated.
“Activating translation filter.” J.A.R.V.I.S said.
“Okay, I’m good to go.” Tony said, making a thumbs up.
The kids introduced themselves to Tony and Hank and explained everything to them. About XANA. About Lyoko. About everything. Well, almost everything. Tony had a feeling there were still a few things they were hiding but it wasn’t any of his business. And if he did get curious he could always hack, sorry, ask S.H.I.E.L.D later.
“Any thoughts?” Clint asked the two super scientists.
Hank stroked his beard. “Hopper… Hopper…” He snapped his fingers. “I knew a man by the name of Franz Hopper a long time ago. He was a genius. Nobody knew more about AI than him. He wanted to use AI to change the world for the better.”
“Guess that didn’t really pan out.” Tony said.
“Indeed.” Hank said.
“So if you destroyed this thing, how is it still around?” Tony asked.
“I’m not sure.” Jeremy replied. Watching him speak was a bit disorienting as, though the translation filter could translate perfectly, it wasn’t fine tuned enough to perfectly match the mouth movements of the speaker. “My multi-agent program should have wiped it from the internet completely.”
Clint raised his hand unnecessarily. “There’s a high possibility I could be wrong but couldn’t somebody have downloaded it onto a flash drive or something? Then it wouldn’t be connected to the internet.”
“No way.” Jeremy replied. “XANA would be way too big to be held by a flash drive.”
“Unless it was self-replicating.” Hank interjected. “Then all you’d need is a small part of it and once it’s installed in a big enough computer it could expand.”
“So what we need to do is find out who downloaded this XANA thing and track them down.” Tony said.
“We’ll need a copy of that multi-agent program first.” Hank said. “So we can destroy it for good.”
“Hold on.” Yumi said, holding a hand up. “We can’t just hand this stuff out to people. Especially people we barely know anything about.”
“You can trust us.” Hank said reassuringly. “Well, you can trust me, at least. I can’t really vouch for S.H.I.E.L.D or Tony.”
“I’m trustworthy.” Tony protested.
“Tony, do you know how many supervillains you’ve accidentally created?” Hank asked.
“Not that many.” Tony pouted.
Hank ignored him and turned back to the kids. “Look, I understand that you’re apprehensive. You’ve spent a long time trying to prevent people from discovering all of this, especially law enforcement. But we could be dealing with actual real life supervillains here. We can’t afford to have anything held back.”
“He has a point.” Aelita admitted.
“I think that’s about everything we need.” Clint said. “Once you transfer the multi-agent program and any relative documents to Hank we’ll be on our way though I can’t promise there won’t be more visits in the future.”
Unlike Tony, Meredith didn’t have a fancy hologram communication system. She didn’t need it. A laptop computer did just fine. A really high tech laptop computer but a laptop computer with a processor almost as fast as she was but a laptop computer nonetheless.
“I still don’t understand why you didn’t invite me to your “interrogation”.” She said to Fury who was on the other end of the line. “I’d love to learn more about this AI.”
“Dr. Stinson, you’re a genius but right now we don’t need a genius, we need an expert.” Fury replied. “And nobody knows more about AI than Tony Stark and Hank Pym.”
“So I suppose my job here is done, then?” Meredith asked.
“Unless you want to take a vacation in Paris.” Fury said.
Meredith thought about it. “Maybe later.” She replied. “What about Vanessa? You don’t honestly plan to put her under surveillance.”
Fury shook his head. “No. We had a look through the files recovered from Project Cocoon and we’ve called in someone more equipped to deal with her than either of us.”
Meredith raised an eyebrow. “Are you always this cryptic?”
“Yes.” Fury replied uncryptically.
Author’s Note: In case you’re wondering why I mentioned Ladybug and Chat Noir in the previous chapter but they don’t show up to fight the big monsters, it’s because they’re too far away. I assume. Miraculous Ladybug has a weird grasp of space because they seem to be within walking distance of every major landmark. Then again I’ve never been to Paris so it’s possible it really is that small.
I was going to explain why they didn’t call in Meredith for the interrogation even though she was already there but I explained that in the story so I don’t have to. I do want to express an opinion, though: I believe Dr. Meredith Stinson is as smart as Reed Richards. Considering that, in addition to obviously being Sentinels’ local Flash expy she’s also their Reed Richards stand in when it comes to being a genius super scientist it only makes sense.
And one last thing. Like everything even remotely related to Marvel, this chapter has a post-credits scene. Well, technically it’s a post-Author’s Note scene but that’s besides the point. So, let’s get to that.
Vanessa knew she was in for trouble the moment the black jet landed on the sports field. For the past week following her display of power, the rest of school was terrified of her. As a result, Vanessa became more paranoid. She started intentionally listening in on people’s thoughts again, something she had sworn off doing.
That was how she knew about the jet despite having not seen it personally. And that was how she knew it had to be here for her. From the looks of it, it was military grade. At least, that’s how her layman’s perspective classified it. Clearly, some government organization or other was there to throw her in a cell and do crazy experiments on her.
Her suspicions were confirmed when she was called to the principal’s office for the second time in a week. She considered running but concluded she likely wouldn’t get far. Not without using her powers again, at least.
She walked to the principal’s office and entered to find, not government agents, but a bald man in a wheelchair and a woman in blue and yellow spandex with shocking red hair. For some reason, she hadn’t seen either of them in the minds of the other students and teachers. That was odd. But what was even more odd was that she couldn’t read their minds. It was like she was running into a psychic wall.
“Hello Vanessa.” The man said. “My name is Professor Charles Xavier and this is Jean Grey.” He gestured to the woman.
“Pleased to meet you.” She said.
Vanessa stayed silent, trying to break past whatever wall was keeping her out of their heads. Professor Xavier chuckled. “Don’t try to read our minds, Miss Long. We both learned how to defend our minds against psychics a long time ago. After all, we’re psychics ourselves.”
Vanessa’s eyes widened. “You mean there are more psychics out there?”
Professor Xaviar nodded. “Many. In fact, that is why I am here.”
Vanessa raised an eyebrow. “What, you want to recruit me to be a superhero or something?”
Professor Xavier folded his hands on his lap. “No. I run a school for young mutants to learn to control their powers and be protected from those who might wish to do them harm. That is why I am here. I would very much like it if you were to attend.”
Vanessa held up her hands. “Hold on. I’m not a mutant. I got my powers from genetic experimentation.”
“That is true in a sense.” Professor Xavier replied. “You were, for a very brief time, experimented on by Project Cocoon while still in the womb but all it did was amplify your existing power to exponential levels.” He gave her a serious look. “Vanessa, you need proper training. The amount of power you have combined with your past trauma, well, forgive me for being blunt but you’re one mental breakdown away from another incident.”
Vanessa looked down. Jean stepped forward. “What the Professor means to say is that we want to help you.” She said in a soothing voice. She placed a hand on her chest. “I want to help you. I can teach you how to use your powers properly. Prevent them from getting out of control.”
“Jean is one of the most powerful psychics on the planet.” Professor Xavier exposited.
“I don’t want to use my powers.” Vanessa said. “I want to have a normal life.”
“We all want that.” Jean said empathetically. “Well, most of us. But being a mutant, especially a powerful one, attracts trouble. So please, come with us.”
Vanessa looked around the office. Jean was right. She did attract trouble. Maybe she’d be safer with people like her. She took a deep breath.
“Okay.” She said, trying hard to keep her voice from shaking. “I’ll come.”