In the morning, the group gathered in the cafeteria for breakfast.
"Did anyone see Eva come in last night?" asked Jeremy.
"No," answered Aelita. "All I heard was Sissi yelling to someone on the phone."
"The first chance we get, even if it's during class, we confront her," said Ulrich. "Something must be done."
"Okay," said Odd. "I'm sure I can con her into a conversation."
Kayla met up with Yumi on the way to school.
"I snuck out last night and waited for her to come back," Kayla told Yumi. "She was hurt."
"Where do you think she went?" asked Yumi.
"I don't know," said Kayla. "But I'm worried that she's up to her old habits again."
"Which ones?" asked Yumi.
Kayla shook her head. "It's hard to tell," she answered, brushing a strand of blond hair that crept over her shoulder. "She could be going to the street dancing competitions for money. Or maybe she got in with the wrong crowd. Ever since I learned about her forging ability, I've been worried that she would get herself into something and wouldn't be able to get out."
"Yeah — Ow!" Yumi slapped the back of her neck. "Mosquitos. Nasty little things."
"Bother," said Kayla. "Ouch!" She slapped her hand. "Oh, one got me, too."
The day went on, but no one saw Eva.
"Now I'm worried," said Aelita.
"She may be in her room," said Jeremy. "She's slept through the day before."
"Yeah, you've seen how tired she's been the last couple of days," said Ulrich.
Aelita nodded. "I'll go up before gym class."
Gym class came and Aelita made an excuse to go up to her room. Instead of going up to her room, she went to look for Eva. She knocked on Eva's door, but there was no answer. Aelita opened it a crack, knowing that if she startled Eva, she may get hurt. Eva was not in her room.
Eva was outside, lurking in the woods. She didn't feel like going to class and have to explain how she got hurt.
"Leave me alone!" Sissi screamed.
Eva began to run toward the shout. Sissi was standing near the front gate with another boy Eva did not recognize. She guessed this was Sissi's unwanted admirer.
"Hey!" Eva shouted.
Her shout scared both of them. Sissi ran over to Eva.
"He won't leave me alone," she told Eva.
Eva put a hand on Sissi's shoulder before walking up to the boy. She kept her voice low as she spoke to him. "If you have but an ounce of self-preservation in you, I would strongly suggest that you turn around and leave and never come back."
"Or what?" asked the boy.
"Or I will make you wish you took my advice before doing something foolish," Eva replied.
The boy scoffed. "What are you going to do about it?"
Eva smirked. Secretly, she was hoping he would say something like that. "If you think your father can give you a beating, you have another thing coming."
"Why you — !"
The boy took a swing at Eva. Eva saw it coming and stepped out of the way. She grabbed his wrist and twisted his arm behind his back, causing him to bend over.
"Let go!" he screamed in pain. "You're going to break my arm!"
"No," Eva said. "Your arm can twist a little more before breaking." To prove it, Eva twisted his arm a little more. "Now, you are going to walk away and never speak to her again. If I find out you did, I will come find you. And don't think for one moment that I am bluffing."
"Yes!" cried the boy.
Eva let go. The boy took one terrified look at Eva and ran off, holding his arm. Eva turned back to Sissi.
"You tell me if comes back," said Eva.
Sissi nodded, shocked at what had happened.
Eva began walking back to her room.
Eva groaned. She turned around to see Kayla running up to her. Kayla did not look happy.
"Look, Kayla," said Eva. "I don't want to talk about it right now."
Kayla grabbed Eva by the shoulders and made her look at her.
"Listen! I don't know what you are doing," Kayla said, "but this has got to stop. Three times we needed you in LYOKO and you weren't there. We could have lost and some of us could have died. You have friends now and they need you, just as you need them. Let us help you."
"There is nothing you can do!" Eva snapped. "Stop sticking your nose into other people's business!"
Eva suddenly found herself on the ground, her cheek stinging. She reached up and touched it. She stared at Kayla. There were tears in her friend's eyes.
Kayla reached down to help Eva up, but Eva refused.
"I'm sorry," Kayla said. "I just don't want to lose you. I don't know what I would do if I did."
"No," Eva said quietly. "I'm the one who's sorry. It's my fault anyway. I should have told you from the beginning."
"Do you want to . . . tell me . . . " Kayla trailed off.
"Kayla?" asked Eva. Kayla suddenly fainted. Eva caught her. "Kayla!"
Eva checked her temperature. She was really burning up! Ignoring the pain in her arm, Eva scooped up Kayla and began running in the direction of the infirmary.
"Miss Perraudin!" Eva shouted as she reached the infirmary.
The nurse appeared in the doorway. "Oh, no! Not another one."
Another one? Kayla was not the first? Eva felt like she was going to be sick herself.
"In here," said Miss Perraudin. She pointed to an empty bed. "I have to call the hospital."
Eva laid Kayla on the bed and looked around. There were about twenty other students and staff already there, burning up with fever.
"Oh, no," breathed Eva.
Yumi was at the far end of the infirmary. Ulrich and Odd were also there. Others included Milly, Tamiya, Rosa the lunch lady, Ms. Kensington, and Nicolas Poliakoff.
It had to be XANA. Four out of the seven LYOKO warriors were down for the count. Sadly and fearfully, Eva changed the number from four to five. Jeremy was lying in a bed across the aisle. But where was Aelita?
Eva went to Jeremy's side. "Jeremy. Jeremy, wake up."
Jeremy moaned and opened his eyes slightly. "Eva?"
"I'm here," said Eva. "What happened?"
"I don't know," said Jeremy. "One minute I was fine and we were all playing soccer, the next, Ulrich collapsed, then Odd. It's XANA, Eva. It has to be."
"But how is it doing it?" hissed Eva.
Eva looked down and saw a tiny red mark just above his shirt collar. It looked like a fresh bug bite. She glanced over at Kayla. She had a similar mark on her hand.
So that's how XANA was doing this: mosquitos.
"Jeremy," Eva said, shaking him awake. "Where's Aelita?"
"Aelita?" Jeremy grumbled. "She went to find you."
"You hang on," said Eva. She looked up at everyone in the infirmary. "All of you, hang on."
Eva bolted out the door and for her dorm. She collided with Aelita just inside the door.
"There you are," said Aelita. "Eva, what are you doing?"
"XANA's attacking," Eva explained. "The others are down for the count. We have to get to the factory."
They turned around in time to see Sissi staggering across the courtyard. She stumbled and fell. They ran over to her and Eva saw a tiny bite on the back of Sissi's neck.
"It's using mosquitos to spread illness," said Eva. She growled. "She was just near the woods."
"Then we can't risk using the sewer passage there," said Aelita.
"Is there another way to get to the factory?" asked Eva.
Aelita nodded. "The boiler room," she replied. "There's a passage that leads directly into the sewers."
Aelita led the way with Eva close on her heels. They took the passage in the boiler room to the sewer where they picked up their scooter and skateboard.
At the factory, Aelita and Eva slid down the ropes to the elevator. Once in the supercomputer room, Aelita booted it up and typed furiously.
"There is an activated tower," she said with some amazement in her voice. "In the mountain sector." Aelita continued to type. "It doesn't look like XANA's sent William or any monsters to the core of LYOKO."
"So what do we do?" asked Eva. "Jeremy's not here."
"Don't worry about that," said Aelita. "I can set up an automated virtualization program and have your vehicle waiting for us."
"That's good," said Eva. She paused. "My vehicle?"
Aelita nodded. "Jeremy created it last weekend in case you needed to go to Sector Five to defend the core. This isn't the time to test it out, but we don't have a choice."
Aelita hit the enter key and jumped out of the chair. "Come on."
Eva and Aelita got into the scanners and waited. The doors closed and they were transported to the mountain sector of LYOKO.
Eva looked around and saw an overboard waiting for them. Unlike Odd's, this one was black and dark blue. Eva noticed just as she was about to jump on it that the middle was nothing but a hole.
Was the program incomplete? No, Jeremy wouldn't give his okay on something that wasn't operational. Without another thought, Eva leapt into the air and landed on the board, her foot not falling through the hole. The center was there, it was just transparent.
"Clever," Eva said with a smile.
The overboard shifted as Aelita hopped on. "And just like you," she added.
"Which way?" asked Eva.
"East," answered Aelita.
Eva expertly swung the board around and they sped toward the tower.
"I know it's not the time to ask, but . . . "
Eva glanced over her shoulder. "What, Aelita?"
"What's going on with you?" she asked. "Where have you been going in the middle of the night? And don't deny it. I saw you come in two nights ago."
"So it was you who told Kayla," Eva said flatly.
"Yes," replied Aelita.
Eva did not answer. Instead, she opened the throttle and they went faster, faster than Aelita was comfortable with. She gripped Eva's waist tightly, afraid she would fall.
Aelita pointed. "There's the tower!"
"And there's William," Eva growled.
William was standing, his sword propped against his shoulder. He was flanked by two crabs.
"Only two?" asked Aelita.
"Don't jinx it," Eva said. "We're the only ones who can take care of this. The others are too sick to even get out of bed."
"Let's hurry," said Aelita.
"I'll take William. You take the crabs."
"Are you sure?" asked Aelita.
"No," replied Eva.
She went into a steep dive, Aelita jumping off and flying around to fight the crabs. Eva dove straight for William. William held up his sword and prepared to strike. Carefully, Eva timed her attack. As William was preparing to swing his sword, Eva disappeared. Her board struck William's sword, destroying the board and knocking William back.
William growled. He searched for Eva, but could not see her. Suddenly he was tumbling back when something struck him in the stomach. Eva appeared, down on all fours, growling low in her throat. She got up, still crouching, but swaying from side to side.
Aelita already destroyed one crab and was currently under fire from the second. She did a mad ariel dance to avoid being hit. She threw an energy field and missed. Aelita wheeled around to dodge another barrage of laser fire, flying behind a mountain.
Eva flipped away from William, firing a power pulse while she was in midair. He deflected it with his sword and swung it hard. Eva jumped out of the way and it crashed into the ground. William tried to pull it out, but found it stuck. Eva used his sword as a jumping off point and slammed her knee into William's face, sending him flying back. She fired another power pulse, but William turned to smoke and got out of the way.
"Rats," muttered Eva, landing on her hands and knees.
"Eva!" screamed Aelita.
Eva looked over her shoulder in time to see William's blade glint. She rolled away and got to her feet.
"Nice move," said William. "But you are only delaying the inevitable."
"I always made things difficult," Eva said unshakably.
William let out a war cry and charged. Eva waited, ducking under his sword and firing a power pulse directly into his chest. William turned to black and red smoke. Eva hurried to Aelita.
Aelita fired one last energy field and hit her mark. She flew down to Eva.
"You have to be ready to launch a return to the past," Aelita said.
"What?" asked Eva. "I don't know how."
"You have to do it," said Aelita. "I'll walk you through it. But first."
Aelita fired an energy field into Eva's stomach, devirtualizing her.
Eva appeared in the scanners, doubled over in pain. "Oh," she groaned, staggering to the elevator. "I suppose I deserved that."
Up in the computer lab, Eva took a seat in the chair, placing the headset on her ear. "Aelita, you there?"
"I'm here," Aelita said, running into the tower. "Are you ready?"
Eva let out a heavy sigh. "Yeah," she replied.
Aelita dictated to Eva what to do. Eva typed furiously to keep up with Aelita's instructions.
"Okay, I got it," said Eva.
"I'm going to deactivate the tower now," Aelita informed her. "Once that's done, hit the enter key."
"All right," said Eva.
Aelita was at the top of the tower. She placed her hand on the interface.
"Tower deactivated," Aelita said.
"Return to the past now," said Eva, hitting the enter key.
It was morning now, and school was in session. Gym class was about to start and neither Eva nor Sissi were to be found. Sissi was out at the front gate, Eva lurking in the shadows.
"Sissi!" Eva called.
Sissi whirled around. "What?"
"You need to be in class," Eva said, coming up to her.
"What are you going to do, tell?" she snapped.
"I've thought of it," Eva said coolly. "But do you remember our conversation last night about not showing interest in this boy so he would leave you alone?"
"How did you —?" Sissi stared at Eva. "Have you been following me?"
"No," replied Eva. "Let's get to class. Jim will notice that you're missing."
Eva held her hand out to Sissi.
"You're so weird," she said, ignoring Eva's hand, but going to class.
At lunch, the seven of them sat at the table.
"I have something to say," said Eva. She bit her lip. "For the past week, I've been going back to my house."
There were several gasps, exclamations, and questions. Eva put her hand up for silence.
"I've been going back to get the rest of my stuff," she continued. "I didn't want to say anything because I thought you would worry. But it seems that you were worried anyway. And I'm sorry."
There was a long pause.
"If you needed something, why didn't you say something to me?" asked Kayla, looking hurt.
"Because you would not have been able to get it," said Eva. "Most of the things were sentimental, things that were only valuable to me because of the memories I have of them. Someday I will show you, but for now, I don't want you to worry."
"So your injuries?" asked Yumi.
"From my parents," Eva answered quietly. "Again, I didn't want you to worry."
"Promise you won't do something foolish like that again," said Kayla.
Eva nodded. "I promise."
When will Eva learn that keeping secrets is going to come back to hurt her in the long run? Just look what happened with this mess. One of these times, she's going to get herself into trouble and not be able to get herself out of it. Hint, hint.
Until next time. Keep looking for more Eva and Kayla stories.