Author's note ~ I do not own any of the characters except for Nika. I actually do not have this one completed, but someone wanted to read it so here it is! If any interest is shown I will work hard to get it finished. This is what I have so far.

Midnight Rising

Odd scanned the desert-like terrain of Lyoko, searching for anything out of the ordinary. He still could not believe he had allowed Jeremy to drag him out of bed so early in the morning to search Lyoko. Especially since he could see no sign of the strange thing that Jeremy had told him about. "Everything looks the same here Jeremy," he said finally, his cat tail swishing from side to side idly, "Can I come back now?"

"Since when have you not wanted to hang out in Lyoko?" Jeremy's disembodied voice said, "Come on Odd, Aelita said that something seemed strange to her."

"How about you come in here and look since she is your girlfriend?" Odd suggested irritably. He usually had a good temperament but he was tired and wanted to get back to sleep.

"She is not my girlfriend!" Jeremy yelled, "Now get back to searching!" Odd sighed, looking around again. He flexed his paws once before he started walking again, wishing that there was a faster way to search.

"Lyoko is too big for this Jeremy," he protested, though he continued to walk, "Especially since you only sent me to search."

"Well I figured you would be game for it," Jeremy replied, "And Aelita is there too you know. Now the faster you find out what is going on the faster you come back."

"What do you think I have been doing?" Odd cried in frustration, falling silent instantly as he heard movement nearby. "Are there any monsters nearby?" he whispered, putting a hand to his wrist in preparation to shoot a lazer arrow.

"No," Jeremy replied in confusion, "Why?"

"Because something is here," Odd murmured, his eyes narrowing slightly as he watched the hill nearest to him. A moment later he was almost blinded as a bright white light shone into his eyes. He shielded them with a small cry of pain but he still could not see what was standing on the hill above him.

"Oh, sorry," a quiet female voice said, "I can be a little... reflective at times. You ought to be able to look now." Odd lowered his arms carefully, not sure what to expect. His eyes widened as he saw what looked like a metallic wolf sitting on the ground in front of him. "This is not what I look like in the real world, just so you know," she said, startling him.

"Who are you?" he asked, figuring that since she had not tried to attack him she was not one of Xana's monsters.

"You can call me Nika," she replied with a slight nod, "What can I call you?"

"Odd," he said, starting to relax only to jump when Jeremy's voice rang in my ears.

"Do you need out of there?" he asked, clearly still unable to see Nika, "Who are you talking to?"

"No," Odd replied, "I have this under control. There's a girl here." Jeremy groaned but Odd ignored him, knowing what he was thinking. "So what do you look like in the real world?" Odd asked, trying to figure out if she had been joking or not.

"It would probably be easier for me to show you," she replied, and he could have sworn she was smiling, "But not yet."

"Why?" he asked, his return smile fading.

"Because I said so," she responded with a short nod. She stood and turned away, only to glance back at him over her shoulder, "And trying to follow me will not get you anywhere." With that she turned and ran back up the hill.

"Wait!" Odd called, sprinting after her. But when he got to the top of the hill, she had vanished.

"So you want us to believe that there was a metal wolf there?" Jeremy asked. They were all sitting at outside the next day, discussing what had happened. Because it was a weekend, they were free from classes so they had plenty of time to talk.

"Would I lie to you?" Odd asked, attempting to look offended but failing.

"Yes," the others said at once.

"Especially since nothing appeared on the monitors," Ulrich pointed out, lounging with his back against a tree, "I mean, that has never happened before. You could have just been seeing things."

"I know what I saw!" Odd snapped, a little hurt but unsurprised that they were not believing him.

"You have to admit that it is a little strange," Yumi put in, not far from Ulrich, "After all, nothing came over the audio except for you, and Aelita has been there for years without seeing her. You said that you were tired, maybe you were just imagining her."

"Yeah, maybe," Odd agreed tiredly, standing up. He brushed off his jeans as he said, "I think I will go for a walk." Without waiting for a response he turned and walked off, deep in thought. He knew what he had seen, but now he was not so sure that what he saw had been real. I am not crazy, he thought to himself, but it does seem impossible. Eventually he found himself in the dorms, standing outside Jeremy's room. He looked up and down the hall before he entered, shutting the door behind himself. He sat in Jeremy's chair and studied the computer, a little unsure of how it worked. Finally he picked up the headset sitting on the desk and slipped it on, adjusting it slowly until it fit well. "Aelita?" he asked softly, feeling a little foolish. Instantly her face appeared in a small box on the screen.

"Hello Odd," she said, sounding cheerful but surprised, "Can I help you?"

"Hopefully," he replied, crossing his arms on the desk and leaning against them slightly, "What seemed strange about Lyoko to you last night?"

"There seemed to be a presence there," she explained, her smile fading slightly as it was replaced with a thoughtful look, "I had never felt anything like it before. I thought it might be a tower activating but apparently it was nothing."

"As far as we-" Odd cut off with a surprised sound as the screen went black. He moved to look under the desk to see if he had somehow kicked a cord and caused the computer to lose power, but froze when an eerie howl drifted through the headset. As it faded the screen flickered to life, though it was now a light blue, much like the sky or the ocean.

"I knew you would come back," a familiar voice said, waves radiating out from the center of the screen as Nika spoke, "Do you want to know more?"

Odd watched as the waves settled quickly, vanishing without a trace as he said, "What do you mean?" There was a quiet laugh and the screen went dark again, rapidly returning to its normal color.

"Are you there Odd?" Aelita asked, her face reappearing on the monitor, "I think the connection is bad."

"No," Odd replied, "The connection is fine."

"Then what happened?" Aelita asked, seeming to sense something.

"Remind me to tell you some other time," Odd said, pulling the headset off and setting it down. Now he really had to know what was going on.

The rest of the day passed slowly, as did the morning of the next. In fact, Odd was almost beginning to long for the next school day when Jeremy rushed up to him that afternoon. "A tower has been activated," he said breathlessly, "You need to get to Lyoko with the others. They are waiting at the warehouse." Odd jumped up, relieved that he had something to do and that he was going to be able to go back to Lyoko. He followed Jeremy into the sewers and down the elevator to the depths of the warehouse, waiting somewhat impatiently while Jeremy got off the elevator before it continued into the basement. Ulrich and Yumi were waiting in their portals, ready to enter Lyoko whenever he arrived. Odd quickly stepped into the portal, wanting to get into Lyoko as quickly as possible. He landed gently on the desert sand, scanning the terrain for signs of monsters or Nika.

"We need to move," Aelita said, approaching the group, "Xana's creatures have not shown up yet but the longer we delay the more likely it is that they will appear." Even as she spoke several cube creatures walked over a hill near them.

"Well that was a short break," Odd commented, putting a hand to his wrist as the creatures neared. He waited for the cube to get closer before he fired, but he had no reason to do either for just as the monster started to get within range something came hurtling in from the side and struck it, knocking it over with a flash of light and a crackle of electricity.

"What is that thing?" Yumi yelled barely glancing at it as she closed the distance between herself and her targeted cube.

"Nika!" Odd called, recognizing the flash of light as sunshine reflecting off of her metal fur. Now able to get a better look at her he was a little stunned at how big she was. She was about his height but her length was twice that. She turned towards him and nodded briefly before she spun around and leaped onto the nearest monster, tearing a corner off of it with her teeth before she stuck a clawed paw into the opening and wrenched out some of the internal components. There was another crackle of electricity as the creature fell and Nika leaped smoothly away from it.

"Help Aelita," she said, nodding towards the tower, "I think we can handle things from here." A quick glance around told Odd that this was true so he turned and raced after Aelita. With the monsters occupied the short trip was simple and Aelita entered the tower easily. Odd waited for the tower to deactivate and time to reset, but nothing happened. Odd looked around, confused, and realized that everyone had vanished. When he turned back to the tower, it too was gone. "So those are your friends," Nika said, making Odd jump.

"What is going on?" he asked, noticing that the landscape was shifting slightly.

"You are not where you think you are," she replied simply, "You think you are in Lyoko right?" He nodded slowly and she continued, "What would you say if I said you were dreaming?"

"I would say that makes sense," Odd answered, "But how are you in my dreams?"

"There are lots of things you do not know about me yet," she responded, "And about Lyoko for that matter."

"And you can help me with that?" Odd asked, partially flirting and partially hopeful.

She nodded, "I can, but you have to come to me. Alone preferably. You can explain to the others later if you like but it is easier for me if just one person comes."

"How am I supposed to get to Lyoko alone without raising suspicion?" Odd asked, intrigued and a little nervous about her proposition.

"Just go down to the warehouse when you have time," she explained, "I can handle everything from there." With that the world disintegrated into darkness. Odd woke up a second later, blinking at the bright sunlight that was streaming into his eyes from between the tree leaves above him.

"That was strange," he murmured, sitting up so that he could see, "I wonder... just how much of that was a dream?" He thought about it for a moment, realizing that there was still several hours left in the day, and finally decided to find out. He stood and headed for the warehouse, making sure no one saw him leave. He shifted his weight from foot to foot impatiently as the elevator slowly descended to the control room, leaping off of it before the doors opened all the way. The computers seemed to be off but as he approached they flickered on, their screens turning the same blue as before. "Nika?" Odd whispered, hardly daring to speak the words aloud.

"You came much faster than I expected," she replied almost instantly, "Are you ready?"

"I have time," he answered vaguely, not sure if he was actually ready or not.

"Then you know the drill." Odd nodded and took the elevator down to the portals where he quickly stepped in, waiting for the rush of air that signified the transport. It seemed to come faster than usual and when he opened his eyes he was not sure where he was. The landscape did not look like Lyoko usually did. He was standing in a forest surrounded by green trees, plants, and brightly colored flowers. He could hear water running nearby and the air was just hot enough to bordering on the line of uncomfortable.

"What is this place?" Odd asked, looking around in awe, his tail swishing from side to side slowly.

"A part of Lyoko you have never seen before," a familiar voice said behind him.

"Nika," he said happily, turning to face her. He caught sight of her and his jaw dropped. She no longer looked like a wolf, she looked like a human girl. She had long auburn hair and green eyes that were studying him with a level gaze. She wore a white dress in an old fashion with long sleeves that had an uneven hem that made one side fall past her hands.

"Good to see you too," she replied with a smile and a laugh, "Welcome to the part of Lyoko that no one else knows of."

"This is Lyoko?" Odd asked in amazement, looking up at the towering trees.

"It is," Nika said, "But this place is different. It is affected by your thoughts. Go ahead, try to change something." Feeling a little stupid Odd did what she said, imagining a toucan sitting on a nearby tree branch. A moment later he heard a loud cry and gasped in surprise as he realized there was actually a bird sitting there. "Good," Nika said, studying the bird, "Not really inventive though." She nodded at the bird and Odd watched it as it morphed into a bird that looked amazingly like a phoenix.

"Is that what I think it is?" he asked as it spread its wings and flew away.

"Probably," she replied, watching its path through the trees. Turning her gaze back to him she added, "Do you believe me now?"

"I think I have no choice," Odd replied, still startled by her human form.

"There is always a choice," she responded, motioning for him to follow her as she turned and walked away. "Now, your vision of Lyoko is rather fixed," she continued as she walked, making him struggle to keep up with her, "That is both good and bad. It will lessen your chances of making things change without meaning to, but it will make things more difficult to change when you do want them to."

"But I can only change things here right?" he asked, just to make sure.

"Right," she agreed with a slight nod as they left the forest, coming out in a meadow, "This is the tower." Odd looked up at the tower with a distrustful expression, having hoped that there would not have been one.

"Why not just imagine it away?" he asked, wishing that he could.

She laughed, "What would be the point of that? It would just move to a different place in this area and then I would have to find it all over again. At least this way I know where it is. It has never activated though, so there is no worry about that."

"First time for everything," Odd commented, turning away from the tower. Aelita was not there so it could not possibly be activated anyway. He noticed that Nika was studying the tower with a slightly nervous expression. "What is it?" he asked her, hoping he was simply misreading her face and that she was not sensing the tower activating.

"Nothing," she replied, a mischievous look crossing her face seconds before she flew at him, shifting into her wolf form as she did so. Not expecting the attack, Odd was bowled over. He sprang up quickly, dropping into a defensive stance as he turned to face her, only to realize that she was wagging her tail playfully.

"So you want to play that game?" he said, "Okay then." He tried to tackle her but ended up landing on the ground when she moved faster than he had thought possible for her to. He heard her laugh as he got up but the thought of how close the sound was failed to register before she had pushed him over again.

"You are not very good at this," she replied, still laughing as she backed up slightly, allowing him to get up again. A new thought came to him as he did so and he focused on the ground around her feet, envisioning it rising up and trapping her ankles. Seconds later there was a rumble in the earth as it followed his thoughts and wrapped around her metal joints. "You are learning though," she acknowledged, taking only an instant to undo what he had done. "Though you do not know how to hold it," she amended as the ground went back to its normal state. Without giving her time to regroup he pressed his slight advantage of her distraction by lunging at her again. She tensed just before he hit her and he felt like he had slammed into a brick wall. She chuckled as he rolled off of her, landing on the ground with a sharp exhale.

"Okay, I give," he groaned, sitting up slowly. Nika lay down so that they were facing each other, and she was almost big enough that they could see eye to eye.

"You did well for your first sparring match," she said, nodding approvingly. "Though you might want to remember that if your opponent looks like she is made of metal she probably is and you might not want to try to tackle her," she added with a laugh.

"Lesson learned," Odd agreed, his tail swishing slowly across the ground, "If this was reality I would be thinking I had broken a rib."

"You can fix that," Nika pointed out, "Just imagine the pain is gone." She waited a moment for him to do so before she continued, "I am sure you must have many questions, feel free to ask away." Odd thought about this for a moment, deciding what to ask, and she watched him patiently.

"How did you get here?" he asked finally, "And how did you get me here without using the computer?"

"I have been here for as long as I can remember," she replied smoothly, "And being here I can bring you here as well. The portal was not really necessary, at least not for me I am not sure if it still is for you, but I knew that you were comfortable using it."

"Do you mean you can cross from Lyoko to the real world at will?" he asked, surprised. She nodded and he fell silent, contemplating this. "Why not come stay there then?" he continued after a few minutes.

"I like Lyoko better," she replied with a shrug, "Especially this place where there are no monsters and it shapes itself to my will." She looked to the sky, the few beams of sunlight that were streaming through the trees reflected brilliantly by her skin, "You should probably get back. Your friends will be wondering about you."

"I suppose," Odd agreed reluctantly, standing up, "Are you going to send me back?"

She smiled softly, "Unless you would like to do it. Which, no offense, I do not think is a good idea. You are still rather new to this." She stood and turned as if to leave, only to stop and look back at him over her shoulder, "Oh, and say hello to Jeremy for me." Before Odd could ask her what she meant Lyoko dematerialized around him, everything turning to black. When the world came back, he found himself standing in the computer room of the warehouse. He heard a noise at the computers and realized that Jeremy was sitting in his usual seat, studying the monitor.

"Hey Jeremy," Odd called, knowing it would startle his friend but doing it anyway. Or, in reality, exactly for that reason. Just as Odd had known he would, Jeremy practically shot out of his chair.

"The elevator has gotten a lot quieter," Jeremy commented, giving Odd a slightly suspicious look, "How long have you been standing there?"

"Not long," Odd replied, "What are you doing down here?"

"Aelita said that she thought something strange was going on," Jeremy replied, returning his gaze to the computer, "and since I could not find anything on the laptop I decided to come here."

"Have you found anything?" Odd asked, curious to see if Jeremy would be able to see Nika. When Jeremy shook his head Odd had a strange mixture of relief and irritation. "I could... probably tell you what happened," Odd offered, wondering why he had spoken the moment the words left his mouth. The chances of Jeremy believing him were very slim. After all, he knew that he would have made fun of anyone who told him the story he was about to give his friend. Jeremy turned back to him curiously and Odd told him everything that had happened, clearly able to see throughout the entire story that he was not being believed.

"That has to be one of the craziest stories you have tried to make us believe," Jeremy said, turning back to the computer.

"But I can prove it," Odd protested, not sure if he could or not. If he tried to reach Nika and she failed to respond he would look like a fool. Or a liar, one of the two.

"Fine," Jeremy said with a sigh, "How are you going to prove this story of yours?"

"Let me use the computer for a moment," Odd said, hoping that his plan would work. Jeremy studied Odd for a moment before he stood and allowed Odd to take his place at the computer. Odd sat down and slipped the headset on taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly. "Nika?" he said cautiously, "Nika are you there? Please show yourself, it is kind of important." For a moment there was silence and Odd was afraid that he was going to look like an idiot. Then he heard the ghostly howl and darkness crossed the screen. He sighed with relief as the screen returned, now turned blue.

"What is so important Odd?" Nika's voice sounded in the headset, not sounding irritated though her words could be taken that way.

"Jeremy was asking about you," he replied, "He was wondering why I suddenly showed up in the computer room."

"Well put him on," Nika said with a small laugh, "I would be happy to talk to him." Odd pulled the headset off and held it out to Jeremy who took his seat back with a curious expression. He opened his mouth to speak but Nika must have beat him to it because he paused and then closed it again, listening to whatever she was saying. Odd could not catch anything that was said, but the screen quickly went dark again, returning to its normal color moments later.

"So?" Odd asked as Jeremy took the headset off and turned to face him.

"I believe you now," he replied, "That was rather interesting. I wonder how such a large area of Lyoko could have escaped our notice but now that we know about it and the existence of another tower we need to keep a close eye on it. After all, it could be another one of Xana's tricks."

"She seemed just as nervous about the tower as I was," Odd said in her defense, "It looked genuine."

"We are talking about Xana here," Jeremy pointed out, "Of course it would seem genuine. Just because it is a computer it is not automatically stupid." Odd shrugged, knowing he would get nowhere in an argument with his friend. The better course would be to let it go and he was going to do just that. "At any rate," Jeremy continued, "Trick or no trick we still need to be wary. We have no idea how long this place has existed in Lyoko and we have no idea what it can do."

"I can take care of that," Odd offered, feeling strangely possessive of the new territory, "Nika can transport me back and forth easily, it should not be a problem."

"It will take up a lot of your time," Jeremy warned, "If you fall behind in your work people will start to notice."

"It would be hard for me to do any worse," Odd countered with a grin, "Trust me, no one will notice."