Brace yourself was right. The first thing Paula did was take Ness to the mall to buy him some clothes. "We've got time before we have to meet Poo," she explained.
Besides the fact that he hated shopping- he seemed to remember that quite easily- Ness also was afraid of having a lapse while in the mall. Paula assured him that he could trust her. "I don't think your lapses will be... quite as severe when you're around Jeff, Poo, or I." she explained.
"What, have you got some sort of magical powers?" Ness asked, buckling his seatbelt in the car. Paula didn't answer. She just put the car into gear.
"So where are we going now?" Ness asked. It was dark. Paula was driving the car, and they were apparently on their way out of Fourside. Ness was wearing sneakers, jeans, a white T-shirt, and an open, black button-down shirt over it. Ness fastened the buttons on the ends of his sleeves as he talked. "And who is that?" he asked, tilting his head to one side to indicate the man sitting next to Jeff in the back seat. The man was sitting in the seat cross-legged, and he was wearing some sort of tan robe and pants with gold trim. He wasn't speaking. He was just sitting there with his eyes closed, smiling.
"Oh. That's Poo." Paula explained. "He's meditating."
"How did he get here?" Ness asked, confused.
"Teleport Omega." Paula said, "Instant travel from one place to the next. You don't have to move an inch."
Ness just raised an eyebrow.
They traveled out of Fourside and across a bridge. They were in a new place now, a smaller town, and Ness felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as they entered. Something about this town wasn't right.
They drove through the town until they reached a tunnel. Paula and Jeff got out of the car. Ness turned, and Poo was still sitting there. Ness shook his head, sighed, and got out of the car. Paula and Jeff were standing, looking at the tunnel.
"What-" Ness started.
"Wait." said Paula. At that moment, Poo emerged from the car, his hands held together as one might hold them in prayer. He walked forward a few paces and looked at Ness with a knowing sort of smile on his face.
"Something funny?" Ness asked.
"You haven't changed a bit." was all Poo said before walking up to where the other two were standing.
Paula turned after a moment and held out a hand, "Ness, c'mon."
Ness took her hand and joined them, a bit apprehensively. He noticed they were all holding hands.
When all four of them were in a line, Poo walked in front and around, and took Ness' hand. They were now in a circle.
"Concentrate." Paula muttered, her eyes closed.
"On what?" Ness asked. She didn't answer.
Ness had no idea what to do, but before he knew what was going on, he felt the circle of people being yanked into the tunnel by some unknown force. What the hell-? his eyes widened in amazement. Faster they went through the tunnel. At first the end was close, but the tunnel itself seemed to stretch out as they went faster and faster-
When suddenly they were standing on a patch of thick, bluish-green grass. Paula and Poo opened their eyes and looked up; Jeff, Ness noticed, had not been doing a thing.
"Was that Teleport Omega?" Ness asked, breathless.
"Nope." Paula answered, "That wasn't Teleport. It was a key in a lock."
But to where? Ness asked himself, looking around. It certainly was a very odd place. They were standing right next to a paved road, the edges of which seemed to have a sort of glistening quality to them. The very blades of grass they were standing on even had an eerie, glowing luminescence to them.
Paula began leading the four of them up the road. It was twisted, full of curves and sharp corners, and turns that seemed to go nowhere at all. But Paula knew the way. She stopped at a stretch of straight road.
"Here," she said, "This should be safe." she turned to Ness, "We have to get somewhere far off in a hurry. Flat stretches are the best place."
"Is this Teleport Omega now?" Ness asked.
"Nope. We'll use Alpha... Something as powerful as Omega might be too stressful on you right now." they all held hands again in a line, Poo in front. "Ready?" Paula asked.
"As I'll ever be." Ness sighed.
"Right. Go ahead, Poo."
Poo stared straight ahead for a moment. Then he began to run, pulling the rest of them behind him. "Woah!" Ness exclaimed, but they were going so fast he couldn't hear his own voice..."
It was a short trip, and they stopped slowly and gradually, but after all that traveling with keys in the locks and teleporting, Ness still felt like throwing up. He didn't, but he still had to sit down for a moment.
"Where are we, anyway?" he asked, looking around.
"Onett." Paula said.
"This is Onett?" Ness asked, astonished.
"Yes and no." Paula said, imitating his dark tone from earlier.
Ness wasn't up to explanations right now; he felt too sick. He leaned back against one of the softly glowing trees and looked up into the sky. He nearly did a double-take.
It was night all right, no doubt about that, but the stars... They were anything but white. Pink and yellow and orange and blue and green... What did they have me on? Ness thought, thinking of his medicine.
"Perhaps it would be best if we got going," Jeff suggested.
"Yeah." Paula looked around a bit nervously. She held a hand out to Ness, "You feel better now?"
"I'm all right." Ness refused her hand and stood up on his own. He brushed his own hands on his pant legs and looked up into the sky again, "Is it just me or is something extremely screwed up around here?"
"Believe me, it's definitely not just you." Paula said, looking up herself. "Let's get going." she added after a few seconds. Ness followed them. Suddenly he stopped walking. His eyes glazed over and his mind went blank...
"Home." he murmured.
"What?" Jeff asked, turning. Paula and Poo turned as well.
"Mom! Tracy!" Ness began to run forward. He ran right through the other three, nearly bowling Paula over. She dodged just in time.
"NESS!" she hollered, and began to run after him, "STOP!!"
"Mom!" Ness ran along the path, heading for the house at the end of it. Paula was in hot pursuit of him, with Poo and Jeff behind her.
Ness was nearly at the gate. "Ness! Please stop!" Paula cried.
"Oh, thank-" Paula started, but then saw why Ness had stopped.
A shape like a ghost, white and immense, was speeding through the air. Ness was watching it zig-zag through the sky open-mouthed, and as it swerved and started for him, his empty eyes saw it was in the shape of a gargantuan skull.
"Ness!" Paula began to run again. Ness didn't seem to hear her; he didn't move an inch.
"Giygas..." he whispered to himself. The skull sped up, its jawbone dropped, revealing fang-like teeth and a sort of hideous grin.
Ness' eyes closed for a moment, then snapped back open; his lapse was over. He saw the skull speeding towards him, only twenty feet away now, a little more than twice his height, gruesome, leaving a tail of white light behind it...
The next second happened so fast he doubted it had really happened afterwards.
He raised his hands as the skull came close to swallowing him up.
Ness performed PSI ROCKIN' Alpha!