Cycle
ImagineGal

Chapters

1. A New Beginning
2. Insanity
3. That Was His Name
4. Escape
5. Not Just You
6. Page One
7. Forgotten Wonders
8. Smaaaaash!
9. Advice
10. Tricks
11. Former Friends
12. Revelations
13. Distortions
14. Mental Roller-Coaster
15. A Two-Day Journey
16. Lessons
17. Touch of Evil
18. The Ride of Your Life
19. Losing the Feather
20. Epilogue


All the memories of the past journey flew past Ness so fast he could barely tell one from the other. He was able to catch little pieces, though... When Paula visited him in the hospital, the hotel in Fourside, the Skullspirit, the photo album, battling the Mirra, waking up in Summers, the Pyramid, the tablet, going back in time with Paula, Magicant, and finally a few flashes of the battle he had just experienced...

The room was dark. No footprints lay imprinted in the smooth layer of dust on the floor, save two. Two footprints stood, oddly, on the surface of a round table in the middle of the room, by which was a simple wooden chair, covered in cobwebs.

A door opened, a single light flickered and turned on directly over the round table.

A man stood silhouetted in the doorway, hunched over as if he were exhausted. Slowly, he entered the room and walked towards the table. His feet left footprints, but somehow a breeze blew through the room, covering each one up again. The two footprints on the table lay untouched.

The man sat down in the chair, which creaked under his weight. His deep brown eyes held a blank, unreadable look, as if he were trying to figure something out. He ran his fingers through his black hair and rested his elbows on the table. He inhaled deeply and sighed, but no dust entered his mouth. It rose an inch off the table and simply drifted back down again. The man closed his eyes.

Plunk. A sudden noise made the man open his eyes and look up. A small, round stone lay in the middle of the table, directly between the two footprints.

Without thinking, he picked it up, held it to his forehead, and closed his eyes.

A sharp, twanging note vibrated through his skull, like a guitar string about to break.

Then it broke.

The sudden pain, like an electric shock, shot through his brain and down his spine. He threw the stone away from himself and clutched his forehead, howling in pain.

Everything went black.

*

There was a far-away rumble, like distant thunder. Voices Ness didn't recognize whispered things in his ears. He opened his eyes. The voices stopped, but the thunder didn't.

Ness stood up. There was darkness all around him. The 'memory of the thing forgotten', the dream, was still hanging over him like a dark cloud. He had dreamed that dream not a week and three days ago. Had it really been that short an amount of time...?

A flash of lightning lit the area surrounding him. Ness jumped, not from the flash of lightning but from the sudden feeling he had gotten of someone watching him. He turned around.

Another flash of lightning. Pokey was silhouetted by the light.

Quicker than he could think, Ness grabbed the bat out of the clamp in his belt, ran forward a few paces, and swung. CRACK! He had hit right against Pokey's head.

Ness found himself getting thrown backwards by PSI Damage. He hit the ground and rolled over onto his front. He didn't move.

"Given up already?" Pokey asked.

Ness couldn't answer. He was suddenly feeling very weak. He could hardly move.

"What the hell is happening to me?" he managed to say.

"Ah, yes, of course." Pokey said, striding forward and few paces and looking down at Ness, "One of my prized Parachnids seems to have infected you with a parasite. I knew those things would come in handy someday."

"You son of a..." Ness started, and couldn't finish.

"Watch your mouth, Pig's Butt." A sharp PSI Laser Alpha hit him in the shoulder. Ness found himself getting thrown backwards into something. He held onto it with a death grip, trying with all his might to keep on his feet.

Ness performed Healing Omeg...

Ness performed Healing Omeg...

"Why isn't it working?" he wondered out loud.

Another flash of lightning seemed to answer his question. Pokey now seemed to be striding proudly around the thing Ness was holding onto.

"Ah, Ness, you've been careless." Pokey said, "You shouldn't have insulted me like that."

"What do you mean?" Ness asked, not expecting an answer.

But he got one.

Another flash. But this flash could hardly be lightning. It had to be something else because of the way it lit the place up, and the way it seemed to hold onto its light for what felt like an eternity. Ness saw the warped version of Magicant... No longer a sunny place filled with color, but a black, desolate landscape, with trees growing out of the gray soil as twisted as the statue. Ness was holding onto one such tree. Every here and there were pools of red liquid with the consistency of blood, bubbling with gut-wrenching sounds. Above swirled deep purple storm clouds. In the distance were mountains, twisted into the forms of maniacally laughing faces.

And ahead... straight ahead... were Paula, Jeff, and Poo...

"Well, well, well, what have we here?" Pokey asked, "A touching little scene, isn't it?"

Jeff was lying on his back, propped up against a tree. Leaning over him were Paula and Poo, their faces fraught with worry.

Ness was worried for a moment, too. But then he shook his head back and forth rapidly, shaking the worry away. What if this was a trick? How did he know it was really happening?

"See for yourself, Ness, what your foolishness brings about..." Pokey said. He was now standing behind the tree as if he were the narrator for a story, unseen by the characters. "Who would have guessed that this physical manifestation of my awesome power would have sucked away all their Psychic Points, and yours I might add? Really quite an unexpected glitch for you, if I do say so myself..."

"Psychic Points?" Ness panted. He didn't think he could keep holding onto this tree for long, "But Jeff... Doesn't have..."

"Of course, with no Psychic Points to be stolen, something else had to be taken from our dear friend Jeff." Pokey said, now walking up beside Ness, "You really shouldn't have made me do it, Ness. It's your own fault."

"No..." Ness said, so quietly he was almost not saying anything, "That's not what I... I was only trying to... get... information..."

"Paula..." the word echoed through Magicant. Ness looked up. Jeff had spoken.

"Jeff." Paula sobbed. She was kneeling by him, holding his hand. "Hold on. Please..." Every word she said echoed as well, like the words of a ghost. In her mind, she was straining with every bit of her psychic power to keep Jeff alive. The fragments of his life, like feathers, drifted ever father away. Get the feather... Get the feather...

"You'll make it, friend." Poo said, resting his hand of Jeff's shoulder, "Just a little longer..."

"I don't think I can..." Jeff whispered.

"Jeff... Please..." Paula said, tears falling softly down her cheek. The feather... Get the feather...

"Paula!" Ness cried. He let go of the tree and tried to run towards her, but instead fell down onto his face. Calm down, he told himself. It might just be a trick... It might not really be happening...

But what if it was?

"Paula!" he called out. "Jeff! Can you hear me?"

"They can't hear you, Ness." Pokey said.

"Paula... I..." Jeff whispered. His voice was fading, "I just want you to know that... I think you and Ness... deserve..."

"No." Paula sobbed, shaking her head. Her grip on his hand tightened. Get the feather...

"Shh." Jeff reached up with one hand, brushing a tear away. Paula smiled faintly.

Got it!

The last feather, carried on the back of the wind, was clasped between her fingers. Don't let go...

"Paula... I..." Jeff said faintly.

"I know." Paula whispered.

The 'wind' picked up.

Paula lost the feather.

Jeff's arm went limp.

Paula knew what she had to do. There were only seconds before the last feather disappeared into the horizon.

Slowly, she leaned down.

And kissed a dead man.

The images of Paula, Jeff, and Poo slowly faded away from Ness' sight. As he lay there on the ground, a tear broke loose from behind his eye and fell to the ground. The light faded as well. Ness was once again surrounded in darkness.

Suddenly, his sorrow was replaced by something else. An odd sort of strength. He slowly got to his feet. Pokey started, surprised.

"You son of a bitch." Ness said. "I'll kill you."

"You brought this on yourself, you know." Pokey said. But there was a slight waver of fear in his voice.

"I'll kill you." Ness said again. He got to his feet.

"You don't have the power." Pokey said.

"Power?" Ness asked. The parasite was still present. After a few paces, he had to lean against the tree again.

PSI Magicant Alpha...

"Does power really have anything to do with it?"

Allows the re-arrangement of Magicant...

"Evil will never win, Pokey..."

Uses no Psychic Power...

"No matter how strong."

Requires heightened emotional stress.

"What just happened may be my fault..." Ness said, "But you brought this on yourself, Pokey Minch." He reached up with one hand.

And rearranged Magicant.

There was an explosion of light, and a sound to match. Pokey's howl of anguish echoed through Magicant as the ground shook and opened up beneath him. His power unraveled off of his body as he fell into the endless depths, entering into Ness' hand. Ness' skin began to glow like white-hot metal, and when all of Pokey's power had been sucked away, the glow exploded outward, covering all the vast fields of Ness' mind...

Darkness.