Odd hit his head, hard, and for a moment, Ulrich is sure he would be devirtualized. The sound reverberated through the cavernous space created by the rock formation around them, somehow louder than the blasting of lasers at their feet. Ulrich stared wide-eyed, heart pounding. Odd was still there, solid but unmoving, curled up on the mountain sector floor.
“Jeremy?” Ulrich said, dodging another blast from a hornet.
“He lost fifty life points. What happened?” Jeremy calls.
“He fell. He hit his head, Jeremy. He’s not moving!” Ulrich cries, looking around for an opening to get to his friend. A pair of hornets were circling Odd, waiting for the first sign of consciousness to strike him out. A tarantula was standing in his way, with several more hornets blasting him from all sides. There was no way to get to him without costing himself too many life points, and with Yumi already back home, he couldn’t risk it.
“Ulrich, calm down. Aelita is heading toward the tower now. Can you back her up?” Jeremy asked. The sound of his keyboard clicking was making Ulrich somehow more anxious.
“I can’t leave him,” Ulrich said. Jeremy sighed.
“You have to. If Aelita doesn’t get to the tower, Odd virtually hitting his head will be the least of our worries,” Jeremy said, and no matter how much Ulrich wanted to argue, he knew the younger was right. Ulrich sent one last look at his friend before he turned and ran, light trailing behind him as he activated his super sprint.
It wasn’t until Ulrich managed to take out the horde of hornets and the tarantula before Jeremy’s voice filtered over the intercom again. “Odd, stay down!” He heard, desperate and pleading. Ulrich turned back, creating a weak spot where a megatank shot him square in the back.
“Ulrich, pay attention; you just lost fifty life points,” Jeremy shouted. Ulrich grunted and lifted himself off the ground, swords poised to block the next blow. “Odd, stay down!” The megatank shot again, Ulrich’s swords taking the full blast as the force pushed him slowly backward. Through the red of the attack, he saw Aelita run into the tower.
Unable to handle blocking the attack anymore, Ulrich jumped to the side, allowing the megatank’s attack to span out and back in.
“Ulrich, come back. Yumi’s already down in the scanner room waiting for Odd,” Jeremy said. Ulrich turned toward the megatank and spread his arms to the side, devirtualizing in one hit as the monster shot at him again.
He opened his eyes to yellow light, the doors to the scanner opening to reveal Yumi standing just to the right. She was biting nervously at her fingernails, her unoccupied hand shaking as it crumpled her black crop-top.
“Was it bad?” Yumi asked, feather-light. Ulrich bit his lip and nodded, dreading what was to come next. They’d never experienced an injury that left one of them unconscious before; would it transfer somehow back to the real world? It’s not like the laser shots or other wounds did much except cause a bit of extra nausea, but still. A head injury just seemed worse somehow.
The doors to the scanners whooshed open. Ulrich and Yumi both rushed over, arms out to catch the body tumbling down to the floor. Odd’s eyes remained closed as they lowered him gently onto the ground, but his breathing was steady, and there were no signs of any injury.
“Maybe his body is just shocked,” Yumi said, still plodding through the other’s gelled hair to search for bumps or bruises. Ulrich shrugged and positioned his friend into a more comfortable hold, his whole body now pillowed against Ulrich’s.
“He’s still out?” Jeremy said, his feet clanging on the metallic floor.
“Did he wake up at all on Lyoko?” Ulrich asked, recalling Jeremy’s panic before the megatank got him.
“I thought I caught him moving,” Jeremy said, rubbing his forehead with red fingers. Ulrich caught sight of blood seeping down the younger’s pointer finger. Jeremy had been worried, worried enough that he’d bitten through the skin of his finger.
The whoosh of the scanner permeated the air again, and Aelita’s soft footsteps slowly got louder the closer she came. “Should we do a return?” Aelita asked, crouching down to grasp at Odd’s limp hand.
“Not unless we need to. For all we know, this is just like when Yumi and Odd came back unconscious last time,” Jeremy said. Aelita looked down at the floor, her eyes flitting between the main computer room and Odd’s closed eyes.
“They woke up quickly, did they not?” She asked, and suddenly all eyes were on the floor. It was true. Then, just as everyone was about to return to the main floor, Odd twitched in Ulrich’s hold.
“He’s waking up,” Yumi whispered, coming impossibly closer. Odd’s eyes fluttered open; his pupils dilated and out of focus. Everyone sat with bated breath as their friend awoke.
“Odd?” Ulrich said, unable to wait any longer. His friend turned his gaze toward him, eyes crossing, entirely out of his control. “Hey, you’re okay. You’re safe now, can you hear me?” Odd nodded once.
“Does it hurt?” Jeremy asked. Odd nodded again and tried to lift his hand to show where exactly it hurt. His hand shook violently, and in the end, Ulrich just grasped the appendage and pulled it to his chest.
“We need to do a return,” Aelita said, shooting off the floor and beelining it for the ladder. Jeremy didn’t do anything for an extended period, his eyes glued on Odd’s lazy right eye.
“Ngh,” Odd voiced, his head jolting powerfully to the side. Ulrich held him tighter, but Odd continued to thrash, his eyes rolling back into his head.
“He’s having a seizure!” Yumi shouted, guiding Odd out of Ulrich’s arms and onto the floor. The boy jerked and flailed, his arms and legs crashing onto the ground with loud clangs. The seizure still hadn’t slowed even as the white light of the return engulfed the room, everything stopping momentarily.