Part 30: Hitting Close To Home
Part 28: Hitting Close To Home
Following the voice in my head, we teleported to Saturn Valley, a place we'd all missed quite a bit since leaving it so long ago. Poo, of course, had never been, but he didn't seem at all phased by the odd Mr. Saturns that paced here and there.
It didn't take us long before we realized why we were meant to come here. At the center of the valley, Apple Kid, Dr. Andonuts, Mr. Saturn, and for whatever reason, Gerard Montague were gathered around a large, silver contraption standing on the grass. It looked like a big, metal Mr. Saturn, with a small hatch set into the side. They turned, startled to see us there.
: "Yahah! The Mr. Saturn are incredible folk! And the Apple Kid...he's an exceptional young man, very different from normal kids."
: "What have you guys been up to?"
: "Well...Our prototype Phase Distorter has been stolen. Someone resembling a pig wearing clothes took Mr. Saturn hostage and stole the device. We have another machine here...I'm worried it won't work, however. Since you guys are here, would you care to take it for a test drive?"
: "I...guess so. What's gonna happen?"
: "It's just going to move you a short distance in space-time, just as a test."
: "Just climb right in."
A bit nervous, we filed into the contraption. It seemed to be modeled after the Sky Runner, as it was a bit cramped inside. Jeff once again sat at the controls, pressed some buttons, and the machine whirred to life.
: "Here we go..."
Suddenly a bright red buzzer alarm began beeping, and the whole craft started shaking. Bolts were rattling loose from overhead, and soon black smoke was pouring out of a vent, filling the craft.
: "Jeff! *cough* What's going on?!"
: "*hack* *cough* Severe destabilization in both front and rear chronial guards! Flux capacitor is overheating! Someone *choke* get the hatch open before we all suffocate!"
We slung the hatch open and collapsed, our faces black with soot, in a heap on the verdant grass of Saturn Valley.
: "But that material cannot normally be found on this earth. The material I'm thinking of came from a meteorite that fell when I was much younger. Have you seen a meteorite anywhere recently?"
: "...You're kidding, right? A meteorite hit Onett the night that all this started. It's not far from my house."
: "Eureka! That's it! With a sample of the stone from that meteorite I can synthesize the material Zexonyte, which would reinforce the craft enough to handle the rigors of time travel."
: "Alright. Wait right here, we'll go to Onett and bring back a chunk of the meteor."
: "Be careful. The theft of the other Phase Distorter likely means that the enemy is aware of our plans...It's extremely unlikely that Giygas is just going to allow you to get this material without any trouble."
: "Right...I don't expect anything from this point will be easy."
I was all too right. When we arrived in Onett, we found it much different than we remembered. Black clouds blotted out the sun and barely perceptible shapes flitted between them. The streets of Onett were deserted; no cars, no people, not even any of the crazy animals that had attacked me when I left home. Somewhere in the distance, sirens were wailing.
: "Oh, man, what happened here?!"
: "...It looks like someone's told our enemies where you're from, Ness...I wonder who could have told them something like that?"
My hands clenched into fists.
: "We'll catch up to him sooner or later. Damn him...Oh, no!"
: "What's wrong?"
: "If Pokey could tell them I was from Onett, then he could have told them everything...and he lived right next door to me...!"
I broke into a run, leaving my friends to catch up. All I could think about was getting home and making sure my family was alright.
It felt like an eternity as I sped to my front door. The entire path up to my house was just as deserted and dark as the rest of Onett.
: "Please, please, please, be okay..."
The door was locked. I dug my house key out of my backpack and as quietly as I could, opened the door and let me and my friends come inside. I locked the door back, just in case, and took a few steps into the darkened living room. It looked pretty much how I remembered it.
: "...Mom? Tracy? Otoro? Are you here?"
A bumping noise behind the couch turned our attention there. Out popped my mom and sister, both looking suspicious. My sister was wearing a metal colander like some kind of helmet, and both of them were holding golf clubs up threateningly.
: "Ness, is that really you?"
: "Yes! Mom, are you guys alright?"
: "Yes, we're fine...A few days ago, some nasty looking aliens tried to get in the door...since then we've been hiding here."
I ran and gave them both a big hug.
: "Mom, I'm really sorry. All this is because of me..."
: "Oh, Ness...Don't blame yourself. I knew strange things might be happening since you told me about the whole thing with that Giygee or whatever..."
: "Right, that. Anyway, how is that going? Have you come home for good?"
: "Almost. Not yet. I wish I could. But there's still a few more things we gotta do first."
: "Oh, yeah! Mom, let me introduce you to my friends. We've been fighting a lot of aliens and strange things together. This is Paula, Jeff, and Poo."
: "Pleased to meet you, ma'am."
: "Yes, likewise."
Poo bowed before my family, who seemed amused both at his demeanor and his name.
: "How nice to meet you all. Once all this nasty alien business is done with, I'll have to make you all some cookies or something."
: "You guys just hang tight in here for a little bit longer. We're going...well, I don't really know where we're going, but we're going to fight Giygas soon. That should be the end of all this...If we succeed."
: "Of course you will. You're a courageous, strong boy, with your best friends at your side. There isn't anything you can't do."
: "Thanks, Mom. We've gotta run now."
: "Oh, Ness, look at you. You can't go out like that; run upstairs and change out of that ripped shirt."
I looked down. I had forgotten about the tattered hole in my shirt. I didn't have the heart to tell my mom what had caused it, so I simply nodded, and ran upstairs to my room and changed shirts. When I came back, my mom was standing with a tray full of sandwiches.
: "I just can't let you kids go out there empty handed."
Grinning, I took the sandwiches and stuffed our packs full of them.
: "There you go. Ness, look after your friends. Paula, Jeff, Poo, take care of Ness for me, won't you?"
I can't be sure, but I think I saw her give Paula a very short wink as we were leaving.
As we approached the summit of the hill behind my house, the sky became ever more threatening. Suddenly a beam shot down from above, and we dove out of the way into a nearby bush.
: "It doesn't look like a laser beam. It looks more like a searchlight."
True enough, it wasn't harming the grass as it swooped back and forth. I looked up at the source of the beam, and saw a tiny silver speck in the sky, as if a UFO were soaring high overhead. Before I could open my mouth, the beam swooped over us, and a loud siren blared.
: "That can't be good. Move it, guys!"
We scrambled out of the bush, scratching our legs on branches, but it was too late. We had been spotted. Already, strange creatures were being beamed down to attack us. Some of them were familiar, like the multi-tentacled creatures and the octopus-like robots, others were new to us.
None of this mattered at this point. The four of us together, combined with my new expanded power, were more than a match for these creatures.
A beast that seemed to be a gigantic eye on long, rubbery legs leaped at us. Its leathery foot hit me across the chest and shoved me down into the cool grass. It leered down at me, preparing to crush me underfoot, when a metallic clang rang through the air. Paula had slammed her frying pan so hard into the creature's leg it bent backwards on itself, and I scrambled to my feet. The eye-thing had toppled to the ground, and a quick swing of my bat left a splatter of green goo where the eye had been.
Meanwhile, Jeff and Poo were making short work of a clanking octo-bot, its whipping tentacles easily dodged by Poo's nimble feet, and its steel body filling with holes made by Jeff's ray gun. As it collapsed smoking to the ground, a shadowy figure blinked onto the ground before us. It was a Starman, shadowy black, with eerie glowing red behind its visor.
: "Get out of my town!"
The robot gave a sort of choked, metallic laugh, and fired a blast of PSI fire at us. We were prepared, however, and we fanned out to surround the Starman, each attacking at once with our weapons of choice.
Sparking and disfigured, the shadowy Starman collapsed to the ground. I ran up, bat at the ready, to finish it off.
: "Ha...ha...ha...you *click*...do not...know...what*whirr*...you are...in for...Master Giy...gas...*bzzt*...your death...*vmmm*...extra painf *krzzzkt*..."
I didn't listen to another word it said, sending its robotic head soaring into the distance towards the library. With the Starman out of the way, our trek up to the top of the hill was unimpeded.
By now, the meteorite was quite cool, and I was easily able to reach out, break a chunk of it off, and stow it safely in my backpack.
: "Back to Saturn Valley then?"
: "Aren't you worried about your family?"
: "Of course I am...But the fact that they're still alright means Giygas doesn't know about them, or that he doesn't think they'd be useful...If they've lasted this long, they can hold out a little bit longer. They have to. Even if it means my life...or any of ours...We've got to keep going and defeat Giygas, now. Otherwise the entire world will be like Onett is now."
: "Your family is strong, much like you are, Ness. They will be fine."
We teleported off the hill and back to Saturn Valley, where we handed the shard of meteorite to Dr. Andonuts.
: "Ah yes! Fantastic!"
: "You look...surprised."
: "What? Well...I've never actually seen this incredibly rare element before. It is very intriguing. Well, you guys go and get some rest. Leave everything up to us."
He shooed us away, as he and Apple Kid descended on the meteorite shard like a pair of mice that had just been given a new and exotic cheese. Shaking my head, I led my friends over to the Saturn's hotel, where the cheerful Mr. Saturn gave us a nice, big room free of charge.
We spent about two days in Saturn Valley as Dr. Andonuts and Apple Kid worked non-stop. A lot of the time, Jeff was helping as well, though he still seemed kind of awkward around his dad. The rest of us rested, enjoyed my mom's sandwiches, and practiced honing our psychic powers, doing our best not to set Saturn Valley on fire in the process. Finally, towards afternoon on the second day, Dr. Andonuts called us over.
: "The Phase Distorter, version two! It's even better than the one that was stolen, if I do say so myself. It will seek out the location of the enemy, and transport you there instantly. Well...There's not much else to say at this point. It's time for you children to get in and let the Phase Distorter do its job. There is one thing you should know, though...It might not be possible for you to return. So make sure you are ready before you go."
: "Alright...Everyone have everything they need? Jeff? Plenty of explosives and bazooka shells?"
: "Affirmative. Actually, with my dads', I mean, Dr. Andonuts' help, I've modified my bazooka to be even stronger."
: "Awesome. Can't wait to see it in action. Alright. I guess we're ready."
: "Excellent. Hop on board."
Again, we clambered into the cramped silver shuttle. Jeff fired up the controls, and a quiet humming was a pleasant sound to hear compared to the violent shaking before. After a few seconds, the craft was ready to go. Jeff pressed the "transmit" button, and the craft started shaking slightly. Moments later, it was still.
: "Was that it?"
: "...I think so. Travel should be instantaneous, so wherever we are going, we should be there now."
Nervously, we stepped outside, and were shocked to realize we'd been here before.
: "What the...This is that weird cave in the Lost Underworld! What are we doing here?!"
: "I don't know...But the machine indicated Giygas' presence here. Let's have a look around."
It was simple enough to do-the area was a small cave, with nothing remarkable, aside from the odd silver spire and the aged, rusty wreck of the strange silver craft. Something was beginning to click in my head when the rubble moved slightly, and out popped a Mr. Saturn.
: "So...This wreck is the prototype Phase Distorter? And Pokey stole it...and went to the past? But...why? Why would he want to go back in time?"
: "I don't know. This is all very strange."
Deep in thought, we walked back towards the Phase Distorter, when an odd whooshing noise came from behind us. We turned and were shocked to see a third Phase Distorter materialize on the narrow shelf of land. Apple Kid and Dr. Andonuts shuffled out of it, and approached us.
: "What the heck is going on here?"
: "Ness, I must apologize. I have miscalculated. Giygas is indeed attacking from our current location, here beneath the Lost Underworld. However, he is attacking from many years in the past."
: "So...That's why Pokey wanted to go back in time...But I didn't think your prototype had time travel capacity built in?"
: "It didn't. Judging by this wreck, I'd say he arrived here, kicked Mr. Saturn out of the craft...and then something, somehow, pulled him and the Phase Distorter through time...resulting in the wreck you see now, in the present."
There was a long silence as we pondered the implications of this. Finally Dr. Andonuts spoke again.
: "The final version of the Phase Distorter is complete now. It can send you back into the past to confront Giygas once and for all...but..."
He trailed off, his eyes clouded and his face grave. He wandered to the edge of the cliff and stared pensively down into the abyss.
: "Life is demolished in the process of warping. The only way to accomplish time travel would be an extremely experimental procedure I've been working on...To implant your brain's "program" into the CPU of a robot and send the robot to the past. This transfer will attach your spirit to the robot while your body is left behind...I cannot promise that your spirit will return to your body after the battle in the past is complete."
We were speechless, shocked at this entire turn of events. Poo had shut his eyes, apparently meditating deeply on the implications of this. Jeff was shaking a bit, and Paula had sat down, holding her head in one hand, looking deeply worried. I shook my head.
: "What's there to think about? Of course we'll do it. It's the only way."
: "...Of course, you're right, Ness. After all this...it would be foolish to think all of it had been in vain. There is no choice to be made. We must see this through, no matter what the price to ourselves."
: "Dr. Andonuts? We'll still be able to use the PSI powers while in robot bodies, right?"
: "Yes, the power resides in your minds, so they will transfer as well."
: "Then there's no reason to hesitate. Let's do it."
: "Yes...You kids really are the chosen four, aren't you? Such courage...Come with me back to Saturn Valley in the Phase Distorter 3. All of my lab equipment is stored there..."
Somehow, we all crammed into the Saturn-shaped craft, Dr. Andonuts pressing the buttons to whisk us back to Saturn Valley. There, his Mr. Saturn assistants brought out an incomprehensible mesh of machinery attached to a long operating table.
: "Ness, hand me that red cap, will you?"
Next time: The end of the road, a final confrontation, and an unlikely savior! Don't miss it (seriously)!