"What about Saturn Valley?" Ness asked, "Why couldn't we go there?" The four of them were standing by the wall that separated the beach from the regular part of town.
"We didn't know how far we had to go, but we knew Pokey had the power to wipe out at least two cities." Jeff explained, "And now that he's getting close to them, the Mr. Saturn will be panicked. They know what's going on."
"Two of us should go there to ward Pokey off and keep the Mr. Saturn under control. The other should go with you, Ness. You need more training." she paused. "Maybe-" suddenly, her cell phone rang. "Hold on." she said, picking it up, "Hello? Yes, it is... Oh, hello, Doctor. What... Yeah, he is... Hang on." she handed the phone to Jeff, "It's your dad."
As Jeff took the phone and began talking, Paula looked at him first, then Ness, then Poo, then back to Ness. She bit her lip for a second, then said, "Poo and I think Jeff should go with you."
Ness glanced over at Jeff out of the corner of his eye, "Somehow I get the feeling he doesn't like me too much now."
"All the more reason." Paula said, "You two need to patch things up. Also, what you're working on now are psychic skills. Since Jeff doesn't have any, you wouldn't have any help in it. You'd get more experience."
Can't I just go alone? Where would I go, anyway? Back to Pokey's World?"
"No," Paula shook her head, "We were thinking something like The Lost Underworld, or the Pyramid, or something. Something not too close to the area that Pokey's targeting right now. And going alone would be too risky," she went on, "Pokey could easily come and get you if you were alone. What was that about?" she asked suddenly, turning to Jeff, who had just hung up the phone.
"He just called to tell me about some new inventions he's working on," Jeff said, handing the phone back to her, "And I told him about Fourside."
"The Pyramid... The Pyramid... Oh, right." So many memories, Ness thought. It was getting harder to keep track of them all. "Is the Pyramid even there anymore?" he asked once he remembered, "I mean, a whole bunch of stuff has changed..."
"It's still there." Paula nodded, "We've been there a few times." She turned to Jeff suddenly. He seemed to know what the look meant.
He sighed, "All right." he turned to look at Ness, "Dad wouldn't mind if we stopped over by his lab to pick up some stuff. He'd actually be glad to show us some of the new inventions... But we wouldn't have too much time..." he held his chin in his hand, "And he's got a whole bunch of assistants now. You'd have to stay outside."
Ness hesitated to agree. He still didn't think it was such a good idea. But Paula was right, once again. They all were right. He needed the training.
"All right, whatever."
There was a light dusting of snow on the ground in Winters, even though it was the beginning of Fall. The sudden cold was a relief for Ness, who had been wearing a sweater right in the middle of Summers for the past few hours. He ran the hand that wasn't holding a new bat through his hair.
"Okay, there's the lab," said Jeff, looking towards the large metal building, "Stay here." he said, and went towards it.
Ness shot a look at Jeff as he walked away. His grip on the bat tightened. Jeff had sounded like he was giving orders to a dog. Ness waited until Jeff disappeared through the door. Then he stealthily snuck up to the window and peeked in.
About seven young scientists were milling around, looking in microscopes, tinkering with little gadgets, or writing in notebooks. In the center of the round room stood Dr. Andonuts. Ness watched as his face suddenly lit up and he spread his arms open to give his son a hug.
Suddenly something else caught Ness' eye. At the other end of the lab stood a large round object. Ness was trying to think of what it looked like when he saw one of the younger scientists drop a test tube near it. The young scientist rushed for a dustpan and was about to sweep up the broken glass when-
"Don't get near that!" The muffled shout was audible through the thick window. Dr. Andonuts, who had been talking quite calmly with Jeff, suddenly turned and ran with much haste over to where the young scientist knelt. He and the young scientist shared some words. Then the young scientist abandoned the broken glass and Dr. Andonuts went back to talking with his son.
Jeff and Dr. Andonuts left Ness' view. His eyes drifted back over to the strange object. It was something he'd never seen before, but it certainly looked like something he had seen before.
He decided to give it up after a moment. Turning away from the window, he leaned against the cold metal wall and looked up into the sky. It was white- covered in clouds. A light snow had begun drifting to the ground.
Ness didn't know how long he stood there before he heard the door to the lab open. Jeff came out first, carrying two backpacks. His father followed, talking furiously about scientific stuff, half of which Ness couldn't possibly understand.
"Ah, there's the lad!" Dr. Andonuts suddenly turned, walked up to Ness, and shook his hand, "So we meet again, my dear boy! I hear you're faring quite well."
"Yeah, it's going pretty good."
"Here." Dr. Andonuts took one of the backpacks off of his son's hands and handed it to Ness, "You've each got an Escape Rope, and some food... Plus some other little gadgets I think might be of use to you..." he chuckled.
"What's this?" Ness, who had begun rummaging through the pack, took out a small ball with lights and buttons all over it.
"Ah-ha!" Dr. Andonuts snatched it out of his hands, "This, my boy, is a Health Regenerator! Rather like that thing I had in my lab those many years ago, but much more convenient for travel, you might say." he grinned, "Just push this red button, or... Is it the green? Well, anyway, one activates the Regenerator and the other activates the Communicator. You can also communicate with it, but, eh... I don't think that will help you where you're going. Can't work if you're underground."
Hmm." Ness placed the Regenerator back in the bag and peered inside for a moment longer, then closed it and slung it onto his back.
"BoInG! DiNg! DiNg! BoInG! BoInG!"
"Calm down, calm down!" Paula exclaimed. She and Poo had just teleported into Saturn Valley. The Mr. Saturn were crowded around them.
"PaUlA! PoO! yOu HeRe!" one of them exclaimed, hopping frantically from leg to leg, "BiG fAt MaN gEtTiNg ClOsE-"
"We know! We know!" Paula shouted, but it was no use. The Mr. Saturn were in a frenzy, "Poo, can you do something about this?"
Poo extended his right hand and closed his eyes. A calm, blue aura spread over the Mr. Saturn. They fell suddenly silent and stared attentively at Poo and Paula.
"Thanks," Paula said. She turned to the Mr. Saturn, "I know Pokey is getting close," she said, "But that's why we're here. Too help you. We can hold him off."
She gave Poo a nod. He dropped his hand, and the Saturn broke out of the trance, and started talking to one another. One walked up to Paula.
"wHeRe Is BoYnEsS?" he asked.
"Ness couldn't come," said Paula, "But Poo and I will protect you. You have our word." the Mr. Saturn walked back into the crowd.
"I really didn't want to do that," Paula said to Poo, "But we needed their attention."
"I am understanding." Poo said, "Often do those that don't listen have to be forced when it is important. And we do not harm them by using powers."
"No, we don't." said Paula. "But I never liked the idea of controlling someone's mind in the first place." she turned to face him, and sighed, "Let it be," she said, more to herself than to Poo, "At least they're calmed down..."
Failed again, Ness and Jeff thought simultaneously. They were by the Pyramid, and Ness couldn't remember the key pattern to open the door. Jeff stood on the side, not saying a word.
How many different patterns could there possibly be?, Ness wondered, scratching his head. All he could recall was that you didn't walk in a direct circle. Jeff just standing there wasn't helping at all.
In his ponderings, Ness walked a few paces to his left, looking up at the Pyramid. His foot sank into a sudden depression.
A note rang out into the dry desert air. Ness looked down. His right foot was pressed onto one of the five buttons.
He looked around. Like lines and figures in a geometry lesson, a pattern appeared in his head...
Ness grinned as he watched the door open. But when he looked over at Jeff, he saw almost no reaction. His former friend wasn't smiling at all.
"Well, let's go, then," Jeff said, walking towards the entrance.