Chapter 5: Heart of Glass

Despite all the pain rushing through his body, Ulrich was able to sprint from the Factory to the swimming pool. His stubbornness and determination numbed out the pain he was feeling in his chest, as he had one thought in mind. He entered the swimming complex, quickly scanning the area to find Kieran. The pool was deserted, except for the lifeguards who were running in one direction. Then, he spotted Kieran near the ten metre diving board, pushing a lifeguard into the pool.

As soon as he started to run, an arm blocked his path. Ulrich knew that it was Jim's arm, and was aware of the reason he would do that.

"Ulrich, I wouldn't approach the boy if I were you," Jim warned.

"I need to see him! I've seen him earlier, and I think something's wrong with him!" Ulrich demanded.

"The boy is dangerous. He's been pushing adults like it was nothing! Imagine what he could do to you!" Jim retorted.

"I don't think about it. Look, he may stop if I talk to him. Hey Kieran!" Ulrich called.

Kieran froze. His head turned to the direction he heard the voice from. He saw Ulrich standing next to Jim. He was exactly the person the possessed Kieran wanted to see.

XANA's slave pushed another lifeguard out of the way and sprinted towards Ulrich. Jim noticed that Kieran was heading in Ulrich's direction, and stood in front of him. Ulrich however quickly stepped around him and presented himself in front of Kieran. The boy stopped, glaring at Ulrich. Jim was surprised he wouldn't attack Ulrich right away. Ulrich carefully took a step forward, and bent down to be at the boy's height.

"If you're listening to me, I just wanted to know if something's wrong with you. Like, if someone was hurting you," Ulrich alleged.

Kieran lowered his head, hiding his face from Ulrich. Ulrich immediately knew something was wrong with him. He carefully reached out to him, aware that he was possessed by XANA. The boy looked up at Ulrich, with tears now visible in his eyes. Ulrich remained silent and was incredibly surprised that he was seeing this from a person possessed by XANA.

"Please… help me Ulrich," Kieran uttered.

Ulrich was taken aback by what Kieran stated. Did he just break out of XANA's possession? Ulrich was completely unsure how to approach him. He wanted to say something or give him a hug, but he was at risk at getting severely hurt. Ulrich moved back slightly with uncertainty. Suddenly, Kieran grabbed his right wrist. Ulrich stuck with his instinct and immediately kicked Kieran in the chest, believing he was still possessed by XANA. Kieran let go of Ulrich's wrist as he was sent back. Ulrich sprung into the pool nearby, knowing that he made the possessed Kieran very angry. He had to keep his distance from him.

Jim grabbed Kieran before could move. However, Kieran ripped out of his grip and looked around for Ulrich. He heard splashing to his right, and turned his head in that direction. He spotted Ulrich at the other side of the pool, pushing himself out.

As Ulrich exited the pool, Kieran dived in. Ulrich ran for his life, scared that if Kieran caught up, his bones would be snapped. Thoughts of his friends succeeding were on his mind, hoping they almost deactivated the tower.

Meanwhile, Odd and Aelita were preparing to initiate their siege on the tower. Aelita was on the back of Odd's Overboard, holding onto his waist. She was unsure of how she would enter the tower, but she hoped she could succeed in her role. Odd made sure his feet were firmly placed on his Overboard. Then, he hovered the board up slightly to check the monsters. They looked ready to fire at them once they ride over the hill.

Odd turned his attention to Aelita and stated, "Princess, this idea may be crazy, but you'll need to remain in your position."

"Odd… I'm used to your crazy ideas now. Whatever you do won't surprise me," Aelita reassured.

"Don't say I didn't warn you," Odd mumbled.

Odd flicked his board and speed over the hill. Then he shifted his weight forward to descend down the hill sharply. Aelita held onto his waist tighter in fear that she would probably fall off.

The monsters directed their aim to the duo, almost about to fire. Unexpectedly, Odd removed Aelita's hands off his waist and propelled himself forwards. The monsters were completely taken by surprise. They became confused of which Lyoko warrior was the biggest threat to them. However, Odd quickly answered that question. He rolled forward and immediately fired at an unsuspecting Krabe. The Krabe was destroyed straight away, and the four remaining monsters targeted Odd.

Aelita, who was also flabbergasted by Odd's actions, remembered to stay on the Overboard. The Overboard was heading straight for the tower. All Aelita had to do is to not veer it in the wrong direction.

Odd fired rapidly at the monsters, but he could hear the Overboard getting closer to him very quickly. He dropped to the icy ground as the Overboard flew over his head. He sprung up to his feet once Aelita went past. He noticed that he managed to take out another monster. Three more to go. But it looked like that Odd didn't need to rout the monsters, as Aelita was travelling way too fast for the monsters on Odd's Overboard. The momentum from driving sharply down the hill contributed to the incredibly fast velocity she was going.

Odd smirked and took another shot at one of the remaining Tarantulas. He spun around, watching Aelita enter the tower on his Overboard. Aelita jumped off the Overboard, somehow landing in the middle of the platform in the tower. She was immediately lifted up to a higher platform of the tower.

At the pool, Ulrich turned around, seeing Kieran was catching up to him. But at the same time, he noticed that Yumi just entered the swimming complex. He had no time to think how she found out he wasn't in the Factory, as he ran the other direction.

Aelita landed on the higher platform and walked towards the console that appeared before her. She placed her right hand on it temporality. Once it was removed, her handprint flashed momentarily. Then, her name flashed on screen. Afterwards, it was replaced by Code. Immediately after it was displayed, the screen typed up the following word, Lyoko.

The pink haired guardian of Lyoko sighed in relief and declared to Jeremie that the tower was deactivated. Outside the tower, the remaining monsters retreated. Odd pumped his fist in the air, proud that his plan worked very effectively.

Meanwhile, as Kieran appeared to have almost caught up to Ulrich, suddenly collapsed. Ulrich heard him slap the marble floor, and spun around. Abruptly, he went down on all fours. His body was telling him to just give up and rest. But Ulrich was too concerned for Kieran. He crawled quickly to the boy, knowing it was safe to approach him. He ran his fingers through the sixth grader's brown hair, glad he was free from XANA's possession.

Suddenly, he felt a hand on his right shoulder. He turned his head, facing Yumi Ishiyama, who was worried about his physical condition. His vision was starting to get blurry, an indication that his body was now forcing him to rest.

"Ulrich, are you alright?" Yumi asked.

"No," Ulrich answered, and clutched his ribs, which the pain escalated to an excruciating level.

Ulrich could feel his body quit on him right now. But he didn't want to lose consciousness just yet. He still had one more thing to do before he could allow himself to do exactly that.

"Yumi… You have to tell Jeremie… not to activate… a return to the past," Ulrich requested.

"Why?" Yumi enquired.

"Just… trust me… on this one," Ulrich answered.

After Ulrich uttered those words, his world plunged into blackness. His body completely shut down on him. To be bruised, to be punched repeatedly by boy possessed by XANA, to have the injuries sustained by the events before affect him on Lyoko, to somehow defeat William and return to the swimming complex to save Kieran in time completely and utterly exhausted Ulrich.

And now, all his efforts to save Kieran rested in the hands of Yumi Ishiyama.

Author's Chapter Notes

I apologise that this chapter is short. However, with the ending of this chapter, I can tell you that the next chapter is the final chapter of this story. So thanks for your continued support, and I hope you all look forward to the last chapter.