The backstory of the Chronicles
Quick access

[Book 1]
The Underground Castle
[Book 2]
The Nameless City
[Book 3]
The Return of the Phoenix
[Book 4]
The Army of Nothing


 This page sums up and organises the elements of the Backstory as they are presented throughout the Chronicles. Caution! In the books, all the elements of Franz Hopper's past life as they are presented here are revealed in bits and pieces throughout the chapters, mixed with various events. So if you intend on reading the books, do not read this page, it contains spoilers!

This backstory is not official technically speaking, since no-one has ever approved the content of the Chronicles to be canon like the series...but given its compatibility with the backstory of the cartoon, the fact that the dates match, and compared to the crap we got from Code Lyoko Evolution in terms of backstory, it is legitimate for us to feel content with the novels.

Here is something that tidies everything up if you've read the 4 books...because in the end, it is pretty dense!

Congratulations and special thanks to Vincent-49 for this huge piece of work.

[Quick access] [Chronology of the backstory] [The story, by character]


Chronology of the backstory

The year 1974 was the beginning of Project Carthage, an international top-secret project that brings together the best scientists in the fields of computing and quantum mechanics. Waldo SCHAEFFER and his wife Anthea HOPPER are part of the team of researchers who work on the project. The development of the project – or, at least, part of it – takes place in a military base, in Switzerland.

The team of searchers on the Carthage Project. You can see Waldo at the centre (his face is circled). This picture was taken in 1974, at the beginning of the project, and is extracted from Waldo Schaeffer's confidential file.

The purpose of Project Carthage is to create a way to control electrical communications and electronic devices, and to develop a system that could transport people from across the world in record time, at no cost. In short, its role is to revolutionise all the ways of communication as they currently exist, material or digital.
At the same time as their progress, Waldo and Anthea enjoy a perfect love and in 1982, she gives birth to a girl whom they name Aelita. The baby, however, is born in a military facility, which indicates that the couple was living under constant constraints and supervision because of their involvement in a classified project regarding national security.

Waldo and Anthea in their happy years in the mountains (probably in Switzerland).

During this period, the Carthage Project is at its cruising speed and one of its key elements has already been created. That is, a prototype of a virtual world named “First City”. The First City is modelled on a futuristic city and at its centre, there is a castle. This castle is located at the heart of the system and can be used in many ways, to control any piece of electric or electronic equipment in the world.

Waldo and Anthea are convinced that they work on a project intended to provide low-cost services to developing countries, thanks to the control of electric communications, which would allow the spread of a global electrical network (cf. The Nameless City, chapter 16). But while these incredible achievements are made, a “dark zone” is inserted in the castle of the First City (without Waldo's knowing), that takes away the control over the digital world, and enables anyone to change it into a weapon of mass destruction for military purposes. Indeed, Carthage would be a decisive strategic advantage if war were to erupt, and a powerful tool for intelligence.
In 1984, soldier Mark James Hollenback, then aged 20, joins Project Carthage and enters the base. Born in 1964, to a family of very poor farmers, he joined the military in 1980 at 16 years old and, thanks to his military career, could join Carthage afterwards.

1985: The end of Project Carthage

In 1985, that is to say eight years after the beginning of the project, Waldo and Anthea discover the truth about Project Carthage and its military objective. Therefore, they decide to leave the project and destroy the prototype of the “First City”, with the intention of recreating it elsewhere so that all their work would not have been made in vain. This cure to Carthage is to be named Lyoko (cf. The Nameless City, chapter 16).
Soon after that, for an unknown reason (probably to force Waldo into coming back to Project Carthage), Mark Hollenback kidnaps Anthea. Given the urgent situation, Major Steinback helps Waldo and Aelita to evacuate from the military base where he worked, incidentally stealing away documents with them. She then leads the searches to find Anthea and provides Waldo Schaeffer with a new identity (cf. The Nameless City, chapter 16).

Aelita finds herself alone with her father, Anthea being taken from her.

1985-1988: A life incognito

During this short period, Waldo lives a “quiet” life, going through several identities. For instance, during a short period of time, he becomes Henri Zopfi, a mere employee. With Aelita, he lives in a small cottage where Major Steinback visits him sometimes, and keeps him informed of how the search to find Anthea is going.


During a cold winter morning, Waldo and Aelita definitively move into a charming villa, the Hermintage, located in the fringes of Paris. They are still assisted by Major Steinback, who once again gives Waldo a new identity. From now on, he is Franz Hopper, using his middle name and Anthea's maiden name, and he teaches science at Kadic Academy, while the major takes the name of Suzanne (or Susan) Hertz and works at the same school. In spite of his apparent happiness, Waldo is, above all, willing to continue his searches and find Anthea. To that end, the major tells him that she is in contact with a local manufacturer who owns a factory of which the underground part could be rebuilt and transformed into a laboratory, especially as the owner of the factory is interested by this kind of research. But the search for Anthea seems to be at a standstill since Hollenback changed his name and infiltrated a criminal organisation (the Green Phoenix). He managed to put up a smokescreen and confuse the agents who were following his tracks, proving that he is more cunning than he looks. Hence his nickname, “The Magician”. But thanks to his pendant, Franz knows that Anthea is still alive and that she is fine, so he does not give up hope (cf. The Nameless City, chapter 16).
In fact, since she was kidnapped by Mark Hollenback, Anthea was forced to follow him while he was on the run. Constantly travelling, she spends years locked in one prison after another. First, imprisoned in a lost shed in Mercantour National Park, in the French Alps. Then, in England. At last, in Morocco. Hollenback, a.k.a. Hannibal Mago, forces her to work for the Green Phoenix. She tries in vain to rebel in order to find Waldo and Aelita. Every time she loses hope, her necklace lights up, which is a sign that Hopper is still thinking about her. She answers back using the necklace, her only link with her family (cf. The Army of Nothing, chapter 7).

1988-1994: Project Lyoko

A new era has now begun for Franz, who wishes to continue his research to recreate Carthage, for civil purposes this time, in order to improve the world. He and Major Steinback have finally obtained the permission of the owner of the factory to turn it into a laboratory. Franz meets Walter Stern, the man he and the major trust to finance their project.
Walter lives in Paris and works for the Green Phoenix. Since Franz Hopper needs funding to finance his work (and create the complex under the factory), the criminal organisation orders Walter to help the runaway scientist by providing him with the necessary money. In exchange for which, Walter is bound to relay the results of Hopper's research to them. Therefore, he buys the factory and provides the funds to build the Supercomputer complex.

According to these drawings, it seems that the “Broulet and Brothers” company were hired to build the underground passages.

So they contact the small masonry company “Broulet and Brothers” to do the construction work and refurbish the factory. Soon, Philippe Broulet understands that the job he is asked to do must be a state secret. Indeed, the workers are brought there blindfolded and obligated to stay on their worksite without being allowed to leave, unless they are asked to do so. What is more, the payment of the work is made by a shell company in order to cover the tracks of the origin of the project. But given the high amounts of money he receives in his bank account, he decides it is better not to nose around (cf. The Underground Castle, chapter 14).
And he is right: the construction of the Supercomputer complex is financed by Walter Stern, who is himself financed by the Green Phoenix, for which he works (cf. The Nameless City, chapter 15).


One year later, Walter Stern, who hired Broulet and Brothers, introduces to them Franz Hopper, and asks them to do some work at the Hermitage. The purpose is to link the villa and the sewer network, which would create a secret passage leading directly to the factory. He also makes them dig interconnecting tunnels that link the school, the Hermitage and, of course, the factory. Each access point is marked with the seal of the Green Phoenix, while the organisation does not know the location of the Supercomputer (cf. The Underground Castle, chapter 13).

The entrance to the underground passage, at the Hermitage.

Then, Franz and Major Steinback begin to build the Supercomputer itself, the laboratory and the scanners, with the help of Takeho and Akiko Ishiyama, Robert Della Robbia, Michel Belpois (who invented the logic circuit for the scanners) and financed by the Green Phoenix through Walter Stern.
Then they proceed to the coding of the new Carthage. Using the programs he developed with Anthea, Franz recreates the “First City” with the help of Major Steinback. That is to say, a copy of the digital world as it was designed for the Carthage Project, that also contains the aforesaid weapon. Hopper thinks that he is able to rebuild it while neutralising the weapon in the Castle; however, he realises that it is not possible, and that he cannot shut it down anymore. Consequently, he decides to isolate the First City in a sandbox, locking it away forever (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapter 12).


But meanwhile, using the notes that Hopper and Major Steinback left behind when they escaped, Dido's men in black manage to rebuild the equipment they needed to access the digital world, in their premises in Brussels. This equipment does not consist of actual scanners, but rather suits with helmets that can transfer the spirit of the user into a virtual avatar, while the body remains on Earth.


Because of this equipment, the men in black are able to access the First City, generated by the factory's Supercomputer, since they know the access codes. Only children, however, can use this equipment (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapter 4).

To face the danger that the First City has become, Franz creates a sort of barrier, supposed to block the negative effects of the castle in the First City, while leaving its useful effects untouched (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapter 12). It is possible to access the First City from the Core of Lyoko, by entering the code AELITA, which opens the way to a bridge; then, you have to choose a key shaped like a musical note to open the door between Lyoko and the First City.
To fill Lyoko with information and hasten its creation, Hopper and his team invent the “memory-snatching” machine. In the form of an electronic glove, this fantastic tool enables them to steal a person's memories, and then reinject them into the digital world.


In order to manage Lyoko and the First City, Hopper creates an artificial intelligence that he calls XANA, and entrusts it with the mission of being the “guardian” of the two virtual worlds. Which is why XANA can modify the environment in the First City and manage it as he pleases. The final objective is to turn XANA into a digital equivalent of a human being. This is where Aelita steps in on her father's project. The little girl regularly goes to the First City to teach XANA the mysteries of emotions. This relationship developed into a very strong friendship between Aelita and XANA, that Franz trusts entirely.
In case the men in black would get hold of the Supercomputer, Hopper programs the Code Down. Its purpose is to erase Lyoko, the First City, XANA and all the data in the Supercomputer, which would leave an empty shell of useless hardware, even deprived of an operating system. Yet, as much as possible, Hopper wants to avoid activating this destruction code at any cost.

1994: Hunted down again

Besides his downright illegal activites, Franz Hopper still fulfils his function as a science teacher at Kadic Academy, where he teaches Aelita and her best friend Richard Dupuis, amongst others. Franz is very well aware that his current life is that of a man who is tracked by secret services and the most powerful international organisations. Which is why he creates the email address for Richard, whom he knows to be his daughter's best friend. Thus, if one day, Aelita was to be in danger, Hopper could use it to explain to Richard how to help her, because Hopper knows that if he were to be arrested, Aelita would most likely also be in danger (cf. The Army of Nothing, chapter 2).
The 2nd of May 1994, a video of Anthea, who is still a hostage, is sent to Franz. Through this video, Hannibal Mago's Green Phoenix intends to force Waldo into taking Project Carthage up again. However, Anthea shouts and begs him to escape and give the project up. Less than a month later, Grigory Nictapolus erases her memory with the “memory-snatching” gloves, that he probably obtained through Walter Stern (cf. The Army of Nothing, chapter 7). Whether Franz, in the end, did receive this video or not, is not known.
Meanwhile, Dido's services track Waldo down in Paris. The men in black contact Walter Stern who has become, over time, Hopper's friend. They threaten to send him to prison for the rest of his life, unless he collaborates by revealing Hopper's hideout, in exchange for which they promise him protection from the criminal organisation (Green Phoenix) for which he worked. Walter is left with no other choice than to accept and betray Franz. For the same reasons, he gives them the plans of the “memory-snatching” machine (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapter 5).
The 1st of June 1994, Major Steinback meets Dido in a bar, near Kadic Academy. The leader of the men in black informs her that she knows that she and Hopper have still been working on the Carthage Project and rebuilt the First City. Indeed, thanks to her equipment in Brussels and her access codes, she can get into the First City. Dido is here to persuade Hopper and his team to abandon the project. Because after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War ended and along with it, the global tensions subsided. The fruitless Carthage Project had brought a colossal load of trouble and cost its weight in gold, but it had no reason to exist anymore. Moreover, the powers involved began to trust the project less and less as it had proven that it could turn against its own creators since the “First City” had turned out to be out of control.
Dido wants the world to forget Carthage, and this is why she erased the memories of all those who participated in the project. For the same reasons, she wants to find Hopper to destroy his Supercomputer and erase classified information contained in its memory. Major Steinback understands that Dido has the “memory-snatching” machine while only she, Hopper and Walter Stern know about its existence. From which she deduces that Walter Stern betrayed them, revealed the plans of the device and gave away their location to the men in clack (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapter 4).
When Franz learns this from the major, he decides to run away with Aelita and to create a video diary based on his memories and those of Major Steinback, that he gets using the “memory-snatching” machine.


Major Steinback decides to gather all the people who were involved in the secret project of Lyoko, under the false pretext that Walter wants to fire all of them, and erases their memories using the same device. As for Hopper, he sees that the Code Down is divided into several pieces, so that nobody would be able to recreate it. Walter also gets his memory erased by Major Steinback (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapters 4&5).
The 1st of June 1994, Franz Hopper once again contacts the company Broulet and Brothers to wall up the secret rooms in the Hermitage, so that they cannot be seen from the outside. Hopper modifies the plan of the house himself, but he leaves clues for Aelita in case things turned bad.
The 3rd of June 1994, at the Hermitage, Franz, nervous, tries to think of a way to keep a safety backup of Lyoko. The problem is that he needs a mass storage unit, that would preserve the data for a long time, and does not know where to find one. Then, his eyes come across Aelita and he has the idea to use the “memory-snatching” gloves to implant the source code of Lyoko, bit after bit, in her memory. A key, to decrypt the data if necessary, is entrusted to Richard (cf. The Army of Nothing, chapter 12 and Epilogue).
The 6th of June 1994, Franz uses the “memory-snatching” machine as a “memory-implanter” device on Aelita, which causes her memory losses (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapter 9). The men in black find Franz Hopper at the Hermitage and he is forced to leave with Aelita. The child is shot in the head during the escape, so Franz decides to virtualise her on Lyoko to save her life.


The story, by character
The Schaeffer family


Franz Hopper (Waldo Schaeffer)

In 1974, Project Carthage begins, with Waldo Schaeffer as one of the scientists on the project. Waldo is a humanist who wishes to improve the world with this project, which is supposed to provide the whole world with low-cost services, especially developing countries (cf. The Nameless City, chapter 16).
In 1982, he and Anthea Hopper have a daughter, Aelita, who is born in a military base.

Waldo and Aelita, a seemingly simple life.

In 1985, in Switzerland, Waldo and Anthea find out that the true purpose of Carthage is to create a new lethal weapon. They decide to leave the project and to create Lyoko so that their work would not go to waste and would rather enable them to destroy Carthage.
But Anthea is abducted, and Waldo forced to run away from the Carthage Project. Until 1988, he lives under a new identity, Henry Zopfi, a mere worker.
In 1988, Waldo moves to Paris with Aelita and changes his name to Franz Hopper, using his middle name and Anthea's maiden name. Then, the construction of the Supercomputer begins, and Lyoko is created using the programs he and Anthea developed within Project Carthage. In addition to his secret activities, he becomes a science teacher at Kadic Academy.
The 6th of June 1994, the men in black track him down to the Hermitage. He is forced to run away with Aelita. During the escape, she is gravely hurt, so Franz decides to virtulise her onto Lyoko to save her life.

Anthea Schaeffer, née Hopper


Anthea Hopper is also one of the scientists working on Project Carthage. This is probably how she meets Waldo Schaeffer, with whom she conceives, in 1982, a daughter who they name Aelita. However, their involvement in an international top-secret project entails a life of constraints and sacrifices. Thus, Aelita is born in a military base.
In 1985, soldier Mark James Hollenback runs away from Project Carthage, abducting Anthea. In his flight, he remains constantly on the move, taking Anthea from one prison to another, over several years. First, she is locked in a lost shed in Mercantour National Park, in the French Alps. She is then brought to England, then to Morocco. Forced to work for the Green Phoenix, she sometimes rebels to find Waldo and Aelita; then, each time, when she is about to lose hope, her necklace lights up, which is a sign that Hopper is still thinking about her. She answers back using the necklace. The 2nd of May 1994, she is forced to record a video message for Waldo. Through this video, Hannibal Mago intends to force Waldo to take the Carthage Project up again, for the Green Phoenix. But Anthea begs him, shouting, to run away and give up on the project. In reprisal, Mago beats her until she loses consciousness. Less than a month later, Grigory Nictapolus erases her memory, using the “memory-snatching” machine. From now on, she forgets her name and her past, and becomes Memory, Mago's assistant (cf. The Army of Nothing, chapter 7).

Aelita Schaeffer


In 1982, Aelita is born in a Project Carthage military base. She lives in the mountains with her parents Waldo and Anthea until the abduction of her mother by Mark Hollenback, in 1985. She then accompanies her father during their long escape and in 1988, she moves to the Hermitage, in Paris. There, she meets and befriends Richard Dupuis. But concurrently to her life as a normal student, she is also involved in her father's secret activities: she regularly goes to Lyoko, and the First City, to show XANA how to behave like a human and teach him the mysteries of emotions. XANA becomes her friend and they spend much time together. When, as a measure of precaution, Franz has to do a backup of Lyoko, he uses her memory to save the source code of the digital world. Unfortunately, her brain is over-saturated, which entails partial memory losses and explains her amnesia. The 6th of June 1994, the Men in Black find Franz and she gets shot in the head while they escape. Gravely wounded, she leaves Franz with no other choice than to virtualise her on Lyoko to save her life.

The men in black


Part of a paragovernmental American organisation, they are closely related to Project Carthage. Led by Dido from her office in Washington D.C., this organisation is, beyond any doubt, very influential, and have unlimited means at their disposal, in terms of diplomacy as well as financial means. Indeed, obtaining the authorisations they need to fulfil their activities never seems to be a problem, for instance when they need to fly over cities like Brussels or Paris in planes or helicopters. However, they rather seem to care for their discretion and avoid having to manage this kind of problem with civil administrations like the police. Which proves that the golden rule of this organisation, the name of which remains unknown, is secrecy. Moreover, this organisation has several field agents dispatched in various locations related to Project Carthage (Brussels, Paris).
Using the notes left behind by Waldo during of his escape, they rebuilt the equipment they needed to access the “First City” in their premises in Brussels. Furthermore, Dido claims that she has the access codes to the First City (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapter 4).
Dido wants the world to forget Carthage and the “First City”, so she erased the memory of all those who were part of the Project using the “memory-snatching” machine, the plans of which she obtained from Walter Stern. For the same reason, she wants to find Hopper, destroy his Supercomputer and erase some classified information in its memory (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapter 4).

Major Steinback

Major Steinback is a woman with dark, curly hair. She is part of the organisation of the Men in Black, but she helps Waldo to run away: indeed, she asserts that Anthea is a close friend, which is why she uses her contacts to try and find her. When Waldo moves to the Hermitage, the major comes to Paris with him, and works in the same school under a fake identity. She is now Suzanne (or Susan) Hertz, also a science teacher. She is the one who gets the authorisation to refurbish the factory to build the laboratory there. From 1988 to 1994, she works with Franz to create the Supercomputer and Lyoko. Since she ignores orders from the Men in Black, they consider her to be AWOL.

Green Phoenix


Mafia-like criminal organisation, the Green Phoenix is led by Hannibal Mago, a.k.a. The Magician. This incredibly rich, cunning man with no qualms does not seem to have any clear objective, except world domination. This is why he intends to restart the Carthage Project for his own benefit: the organisation could then use it as a weapon to enforce its will by pressuring the governments – for instance, by controlling communications. Consequently, the Green Phoenix keeps Anthea as a hostage, to push Waldo Schaeffer into continuing Project Carthage. Besides this, the organisation uses its colossal financial power to finance Franz' Supercomputer in the factory, without him knowing. In order to do so, the Green Phoenix uses Walter Stern as a middle man.

Mark James Hollenback (Hannibal Mago alias The Magician)

Mark James Hollenback was born in 1964 to a family of very poor farmers. He joins the army in 1980, at 16 year old. As part of the military, he joins Project Carthage in 1984, at the age of 20. In 1985, for an unknown reason (most likely, to pressure Waldo Shaeffer into taking the work up again), he abducts Anthea Schaeffer, joins the Green Phoenix and manages to cover his tracks to lose the agents who are after him. Afterwards, he changes his name, becoming Hannibal Mago, and manages to rise to the head of the Green Phoenix criminal organisation. He met Dido three times (cf. The Nameless City, chapter 16).

Walter Stern (Ulrich's father)

In the 90s, Walter lives in Paris and works for the Green Phoenix. He meets Franz Hopper, who needs funding to continue his research (Supercomputer complex). Therefore, the Green Phoenix orders him to help the runaway scientist, by providing him with help and financial support, in exchange for which he is bound to relay the results of Hopper's research to them. Over time, he becomes Franz' friend.

However, Dido's agency contacts Walter, who reveals Hopper's location in exchange for protection from the Green Phoenix and the chance to put his illegal activities in the criminal organisation to rest. The Men in Black take advantage of him to get the plans of the “memory-snatching” machine.
After she finds out that Walter has betrayed Hopper, Major Steinback erases his memory using this very machine (cf. The Return of the Phoenix, chapters 4&5).