Photos. It was a photo album.
A young boy with a red hat was standing in front of a house that looked remarkably like the one they had gotten this book out of. The boy was flashing a peace sign at the camera. Is this me? Ness wondered. It certainly didn't ring any bells.
He looked at the other three pictures on the page. The same boy stood by a river. Then outside a cabin with a blonde girl. Then with the same girl, in front of a theater.
Nothing. Not a thing about it looked familiar.
And yet... No, wait... Something in those pictures did look familiar after all... It was the girl...
"Paula?" Ness whispered. He ran a hand over the one where they stood outside the cabin. As his hand passed over it, the boy in the pictures began to look strangely more familiar...
It was as if a dam had been broken down. Memories flooded his mind like waters of a great river.
Peaceful Rest Valley...
A smile broke across his face. He turned the page, and this time he didn't have to wonder about anything. It was all coming back to him, even the parts in between the photographs.
Threed... The Zombie Prison... The Desert... Fourside... Moonside... Summers... The Kraken... Scaraba... Deep Darkness... The Lost Underworld...
Magicant, Giygas, Mom, Buzz Buzz, The Tenda, PSI, Brick Road, Magic Butterflies, Sanctuary, King, Mani Mani, Dreams, Tracy, The Runaway Five, Giant Step, Mr. Saturn, Dalaam, Circus Tent, Master Belch, Tea...
I wish you luck.......
"Paula!" Ness exclaimed, slamming the book shut. He rushed towards the other room, bursting with excitement, "I remember everything! I-" he stopped in the doorway as Paula looked up. "Oh, God," he groaned, "You didn't marry Jeff, did you?"
Paula stared at him a moment as if she wasn't daring to believe it. Then she let out a burst of laughter and held up a ring less left hand.
Ness sighed with relief, "Good."
"Don't think he didn't offer," Paula said. "No, I was old fashioned. I waited. And I'm glad you remember, but you have to calm down. We don't have time to-"
"I have to talk to Poo. Now." Ness walked closer to her.
"He'll be here later."
"Good. But there are some things you have to-" she stopped. Ness was kissing her.
Paula closed her eyes as she felt him pull her close. She wrapped her arms around his neck-
"No!' she exclaimed suddenly, pulling away, "Not now! Not yet! Ness, listen, there isn't time for this right now. You have to find out what's been going on for the past ten years..."
"You said you waited. For ten years, Paula. Isn't that long enough?"
"I can wait a little longer." Paula grabbed his shoulders and sat him down on the bed. "Now," she said, "Do you remember what happened after Picky brought us that note?"
Ness sighed, and thought, "Yeah," he said after a moment, "I do. We tried to find Pokey."
"How long did it take us to find him?" Paula asked.
"Right. And where did we finally locate him?"
"In Giant Step. Paula, you don't have to ask me these questions, I remember everything, really-"
"I do have to ask, Ness. You'll see why. Now, what happened when we found Pokey?"
Ness closed his eyes and sighed. The scene came back to him as though it had been yesterday...
"Ah, welcome, Ness." Pokey said from within his spider-mech. "I see you've brought your little cavalry with you. How touching. But I am afraid you're too late."
"He said we were too late." Ness said.
"Right. Then what?"
"Give it up, Pokey," said Ness, "Giygas is dead."
"Oh, the horrors!" Pokey said in mock surprise, "Well, I'm afraid that much is true, yes. But don't think I haven't grown stronger, Ness. I have."
"Evil shall never win," Ness declared, stepping closer. "No matter how strong!"
"How cliche," Pokey yawned, "Well, I fear it's time to kill you all. Farewell."
"Ness-" Paula started.
"He said he was going to kill us. I stepped closer. You said my name."
Poo performed PSI Shield Omega!
"Poo performed PSI Shield Omega."
"Then...?" Paula asked.
"Then..." Ness concentrated.
"I can't..." he started, and faded off.
"Ness, I know Pokey said something before he hit that button. You were the only one close enough to hear. What did he say?"
The shield spread from Poo to Jeff to Paula. It headed for Ness and was halfway around him when-
"PSI Memory Alpha." Ness said, opening his eyes.
"Pokey knows PSI." Ness said, looking up at her.
"He does. And... He's the one who made me forget everything. He said 'PSI Memory Alpha' and he pressed that button.... We were all hit with a white flash of light, but I was hit with the spell and was thrown backwards because I was only half-covered with the shield..."
"That explains your lapses, then..." Paula said, looking out the window, "You could only half-remember..."
"But what happened to Onett?" Ness asked.
Paula sighed and looked at the floor. "The flash of light wasn't the PSI," she explained, "The PSI was invisible. The white light was dimensional scrambler. It sent Onett into another world. A world of Pokey's creation. Since we were protected, we managed to escape... You escaped the scrambler as well, but you were hit with the PSI before the shield covered you...
"I don't know why you say you were thrown backwards... Because you didn't move. You just collapsed. We were forced to escape without you, and we planned to get you from the hospital... But Pokey kept us too busy. It took him all of those ten years to get Twoson as well, and now he's started on Threed..."
"So Pokey's creating his own world, huh?" Ness asked.
"Yeah. Pokey's Earth. He modeled it after Moonside, and hoped to enlist the help of the Mani-Mani statue in building it..."
"But the Mani-Mani was broken in half," Ness said, "When we destroyed Moonside."
"Its spirit still exists, though." said Paula. She looked at him, "In Magicant."
"No, you didn't." Paula sighed and sat down next to him, "Because Magicant isn't real, the things that happen in it can be rearranged. Therefore, when you destroyed the Mani-Mani, it stayed destroyed for a while, then came back when you remembered it, just now. Pokey wanted to be the one get to you first, so he could give you fake memories and make him give you the Mani-Mani's spirit. But we kept him from you. And now that you remember, you're going to have to keep him from getting into Magicant.
"And before you ask me if you can control the rearranging in Magicant," she went on when Ness opened his mouth, "I'll tell you that you can't. It's controlled by something far more powerful than the human mind alone... We don't know just what that is, but we're trying to find out. And when we do, we'll make sure Pokey can never get in."
"I don't get it." Ness said after a moment's silence, "Haven't people noticed that two towns have just gone missing off the face of the earth?"
"No," Paula shook her head, "Not even my parents, who we managed to save... We're the only ones who do because we're powerful enough to overcome the waves of the scrambler..." she stood up and walked to the window. "Everyone else's mind is just too weak."
"So what happens if someone drives through the tunnel from Threed?"
"They end up in the town that Twoson and Onett used to be blocking them from. This world is slowly growing smaller-" she turned to look at him, "And we're the only ones who can bring it back."
There was a silence that descended on Ness' shoulders like a heavy blanket. This was all happening too quickly, he thought... And yet, it all made sense now. It was almost a relief to have all this sudden information piled atop his brain...
"Am I too late for the explanation of Pokey's world?" said a voice. Poo was back.
"Yes, unfortunately." said Paula.
"Ah, Ness." said Poo, walking up to the one he was addressing, "So you have recovered your forgotten adventures, have you?"
"The wonders beyond all imagination?"
"How do you feel?"
"Like I got somethin' to say. And no teleporting out on me this time..."