Disclaimer: I know it's been a while since my last update, but I still don't own Code Lyoko.
Author's Note: Sooooo… Yeah, it's been four years. That's a long time. I hope that someone, somewhere, is still reading this story. I haven't talked to Jenn in a while, so this next chapter is only me. Jenn, if you're reading this, send me a message so we can work on this story some more. Thanks for the loyal readers that haven't ditched me. I'm thankful (and surprised) that I still have you guys.
Whoever Said School Couldn't Kill
Chapter 6: Taking Charge
"Aelita!" yelled Yumi, running over to the chair stacked with items that led up to the open airshafts. She waited in silence, but never heard anything. There was nothing but silence. A deep, heavy silence that weighed more at that moment than every fear Yumi had had this entire, horrible night. It was one thing for her life to be in danger. It was much, much scarier when it was someone she cared about.
Ulrich stood beside her, staring up at the dark opening. "I'm going up," he stated suddenly. When Yumi looked like he was going to argue, he interrupted. "They could be in trouble. I have to go check it out."
Yumi grabbed his sleeve, preventing him from going into the shafts. "I know they could be in danger…but I don't want you going up there. You could get hurt too."
"Yumi, I know it's scary, but we have to stick together. They need me."
She had no choice but to let go of his sleeve and watch him lithely disappear into the ceiling. He was right. Right now, Aelita seemed to be in more danger than the students with their feet on the ground. And if Aelita was in danger, Odd and Jeremie were probably unsafe too.
Of course, Sissi was speaking the moment Ulrich was gone.
"Yumi Ishiyama!" she screamed, her shrill voice filling the room. "How dare you let him put himself in danger! Ulrich is worth way more than the rest of your silly gang!"
Yumi had never been so angry in her life. How dare Sissi, stuck-up, snobby, egotistical, crybaby Sissi with a daddy complex, speak to her about Ulrich that way. Sissi didn't understand anything. Sissi didn't understand real love, and how no matter how you feel, sometimes you had to take a step back. All Sissi cared about was her hair and her popularity. The Japanese girl clenched her fists as she felt the blood rush to her head. Forget the murderer, she thought angrily. I'll kill Sissi myself.
Before she could voice any of her livid thoughts, and send more suspicion her way, William butted his way through the crowd until he was right in front of Sissi.
"Oh…Hello William," she replied, flipping her hair over her shoulder. Suddenly, Ulrich was no longer in her mind. In fact, she didn't care about the murderer at that moment; not when a good looking boy was around. William, however, was not as single-minded.
"Sissi, you need to shut up and grow up. Can't you see that everyone else here is busting their asses to get everyone out of here alive? You're the only one too spoiled to care about anything but causing drama. Save it for a better time, because no one else cares about your obvious and completely one-sided feelings for Ulrich but your own brown nose."
Sissi's eyes grew, and she huffed at William, crossing her arms over her chest and tapping her foot. "William, you are such a jerk!" she screamed, storming away, with Nicolas right on her heels.
Yumi smiled slightly. "Thanks."
"Don't thank me yet," he said, climbing on the chair too. He was tall enough to stand erect and be able to stick his head up inside the airshaft. "Ulrich? … Aelita? … Jeremie?" he called, his voice echoing through the room and down the shafts. There was no way that the Lyoko gang, wherever they may be, hadn't been able to hear him.
And yet, there was no answer.
Again, it was just a heavy, murderous silence. Until screams filled the room. William yelped, trying to jump down from the hazardously piled chair, and ended up tipping backwards, sending the mound of stuff flying and landing roughly on the floor on his back. With a whoosh, the air left his lungs, and he was coughing as he stared up at the ceiling.
"What is it?" Emily cried, peeking from around the crowd of curious students. "William, what did you see?"
The question went unanswered, however. At least, unanswered by William. With a blood curling drip, a pile of crimson was collecting on the floor. Yumi's dark, wide eyes followed it up to the source; it was blood, fresh blood leaking from the tiny slits in the base of the airshafts, clinging to the sides of the red-stained metal before collecting loudly on the floor, where it oozed and spilled its way across the tile, as if it was taunting them, chasing them.
"Ulrich!" she screamed, fearing the worst. Where was he? Suddenly, she realized that there was no way they'd ever survive this.
William was helped to his feet by one of his friends, a boy in his class. As he was catching his breath, he was bombarded with questions.
"What did you see?'
"Did you hear anything?"
"Who's blood is that?"
"Did someone try to come after you?"
"Are you alright? Can you breathe?"
"Why isn't anyone answering our calls?"
"Did you see who the murderer was?"
"Enough!" yelled Yumi, shoving her way through William's crowd of new fans. She stopped at his side. Her eyes showed it all; she didn't have to ask the question. Likewise, his sad, scared eyes were Yumi's silent answer.
William hadn't seen anything. He had no idea if anyone was still alive, or whose blood was leaking loudly onto the floor. It could've been Ulrich, or Jeremie, or Odd, or Aelita. It could've been one of the people that Yumi held most dear.
With every drip, drip, drip of the crimson liquid, the student's hopes faded again. Millie and Tamiya collapsed to the floor, hugging each other as they busted into tears. Theo was trying to console two 8th grade girls who were standing beside him. Caroline Savaroni, usually level-headed and a bit of a bully, was whimpering with the other cheerleaders about her fears. It seemed like everyone had given up their will to live. Why should they fight? Jeremie and the others had tried to fight, and look where it got them.
"William…" Yumi whispered. She wouldn't cry again. Not now. She had to be strong for Ulrich. So she willed the tears so hard that if it was possible for them to travel against gravity, they would've slid up her cheeks and back into her eyes. Tears welled up, she fought, and so they didn't fall.
He reached for her hand, a gesture that normally would've been unreciprocated and embarrassing, but Yumi let his warm fingers wrap around her hand. "It will be okay, Yumi," he promised, his voice still hoarse from the fall. "Ulrich's too strong for…" He let his sentence die off, much to Yumi's delight. "And your other friends too. Think," he continued, letting his voice drop so low that Yumi, even standing right beside him, had to strain to hear. "If we can defeat Xana, we can survive anything."
"So, you don't think this is Xana's doing?" Yumi asked. She had wanted to ask him earlier, during their Team Lyoko huddle, but he had been impossible to find in the slowly dwindling crowd.
William shrugged. "How could it be? We shut him down for good. Xana is over, Yumi, but that doesn't change the fact that there are crazy people in this world."
His words, oddly enough, gave her strength and courage. Xana had been a great challenge, but they had triumphed. They could survive anything as long as they stuck together. Trying to keep the blood out of her sight, she hurried back to the chair and started restacking the miscellaneous items.
"What are you doing?" asked Emily, daring to get a little closer to the unknown blood. "You aren't really thinking of going up there, are you?"
"Of course I am," Yumi replied calmly. When she was greeted by disbelieving and crazed looks, she explained. "Look, my friends are the most important people to me, and right now they're in trouble. And even if it means dying, I'm going to try to help them. It beats sitting here, waiting to die." Even though she tried to sound tough, she could hear the fear sticking to her voice.
William picked up a book and piled it at the top. "I'm with you," he said. "You're right. We have to take charge."
There was a chorus of "yeahs!" from all around, and the once defeated students found their feet again. Emily picked up another book, smiling a little as she handed it to Yumi. However, her smile faded as a crimson-stained folded piece of paper fell from the book and floated down to the floor.
Their blood ran cold. Another note, so it must've been another murder. But who? Sad though she was, Yumi was overrun by anger. She snatched the note up and read it clearly:
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes,
Gust to gust, lashes to lashes.
The blood, like a river, flows onward
Snaking its way forever more
Around piles of white, empty carcasses.
And where to run, you ask?
For fields of poppies block any escape.
Now, for now, we wait, and wait.
Until death, slowly and painfully
Slithers its way up to your door.
It will be coming soon
"What does that even mean?" asked Theo, listening to Yumi's shaky voice. "It's as morbid as every other poem before, but much harder to understand."
"There's nowhere to run," Emily said cryptically.
"What do you mean?" questioned Yumi, suspicious.
"Don't you get it?" The LeDuc girl replied. "Dust and ashes are signs of death, of neglect to a body or item. The carcasses morbidly speak for themselves, of course. The note is saying no matter where we go, there is no escape. We have a river of blood on one side, and a field of poppies on the other."
"Poppies?" asked William. "Last I checked, flowers weren't all that creepy or murderous."
"They represent death," replied Yumi, catching on to the pattern. "Of course… this all-seeing psychopath must know exactly what we are thinking."
"Yeah…once we get hope, he takes it all away," muttered Theo.
Yumi tore the note into tiny pieces and dropped them to the floor, before stamping on them with her boot. "Well, screw what he, or she, or it, whatever, says. I'm getting out of here alive, with my friends." And with that, she finished the precarious tower on the chair and started to climb up.
"Wait," said William. "I meant it when I said I am coming with you." He turned back to the crowd. "Any more lights?"
"I've got a flashlight app on my phone," Sissi, finally deciding to be helpful, revealed. "But if you put even one little scratch on it, I swear I'll-"
"Wait!" said Theo, rushing over. "You mean you've had a phone this entire time and you never mentioned it? We could call for help!"
"Uh, no, actually, we can't. You see, Daddy got a teensy bit upset when I went a little over my texting limit last month, so my service is cut off."
He wretched the phone from her hands, causing her to cry out in pain. "It doesn't matter. Any phone can dial 9-1-1, as long as it has battery." He quickly dialed the number, putting the phone on speaker so the room could hear.
It was ringing! Finally, some good news!
Riiiiiiiiiiiing. Riiiiiiiiiiiing. Riiiiiiiiiiiing.
"If you would like to make a call, please hang up and say your prayers. Phones won't work here. So sorry, but you're stuck playing my little game!"
The line went dead. Yumi's blood ran cold. It was the same voice they had heard before, the voice that called out to them. It was still stuck somewhere between male and female, so they were left with no leads.
"How the hell did this guy get control of the phones!" yelled Theo, crushing Sissi's prized pink phone in his hand. She started yelling at him for breaking it, cursing his stupid male anger issues and claiming he had better replace it before her daddy found out.
"How…is this even possible?" whispered Yumi, perched on the chair, goose flesh dancing across her skin.
The clatter of someone hurrying through the airshafts distracted her from her thoughts. Someone was coming, and quickly!
So, there's the latest chapter. I'm really getting back into this story and coming up with some new ideas for it. If you guys review and inspire me to write the next chapter, I can probably have it out pretty quickly (I hope!). On the bright side, I promise not to make you wait 4 years for an update.
Review with ideas, thoughts, or suspicions!
Oh, and I have no idea what the French equivalent to 9-1-1 is, so just play along and pretend they call 9-1-1 when they have emergencies too. Heh.