Part one of Tales of Destiny. Fifteen years after the events of Earthbound, an embittered and broken Ness is approached by an enigmatic figure and given a mysterious mission.
"Come get me." He whispers quietly, and they come. They detach from the shadows, pulling around him in a ring of darkness. Small, chattering creatures that stare with fiery eyes. And then suddenly they pull back, making room for their master.
"So, Ness of Onett" he said in his horrible voice, "You appears you've managed to make yourself into a far greater thorn in my side then I anticipated."
"Yeah," Ness says, "Seems that way."
"You should not have been able to defeat the demons I sent after you. I know your power, and it was a challenge far, far too difficult for you. So how did you do it?" Ness did not respond, but instead simply pulled back his sleeves to reveal Mahna's golden wires. The circle of dark figures pulled back as all its constituents recoiled, and Ness' foe hissed angrily.
"The Ã†sthetaron? You mean to use those against us? Who gave them to you?" Ness merely stood there in stony silence.
"Was it that meddling pawn? Did he come to you in the night, give you those ancient tools? He takes away as easily as he gives. Do you think he will fulfil whatever promise he made to you?" Ness again refused to respond, only looking forwards in silence. "Answer me, dammit!"
"It is no business of yours where I come by my tools," Ness replied, "But as long as we're questioning each other, why don't you tell me: Who are you? What do you hope to accomplish?" The dark beast chuckled deeply.
"Very well, I'll tell you. You know me very well, although not with this face. I am the one who dogged your every footstep. I am the one who impeded you at every turn. I," it said with a grin wide enough to devour the world, "am the one who turned off the Devil's Machine."
"Pokey?" Ness asked in amazement. This was difficult to fathom. Pokey had stood head-and-shoulders shorter then Ness, and it was difficult to reconcile Pokey's pudgy body with the solid mass of sinew and muscle.
"Yes, Ness. Pokey. I told you I looked a bit different last time I saw you." Pokey said with a grin. Ness could see small fires burning in the center of his eyes. "After you defeated Giygas, I thought I'd made a clean getaway. After all, who could catch up with a time machine, right? Well," he continued with a sharp edge to his voice, "/they /can."
"Who?" Ness asked curiosly.
"My masters. You thought Giygas was the Universal Cosmic Destroyer, but he was nothing more then a slave, a pet they sicced on worlds to do their job for them. They have some difficulty crossing over to this plane of existance, and so they have Giygas wipe out the planets they choose."
"Who are they?" Ness asked again, with a slightly harsher tone.
"Demons, Ness. An enormous army of demons. All of them, dedicated to nothing more then the destruction of everything that lives and breathes. They were very angry with me for losing their tool to a bunch of kids; But they saw some use still in me. They stripped away everything about me that was human, and now I serve them as Giygas once did."
"What do you hope to accomplish?" Ness asked him.
"I am going to bring my masters into this world myself." Pokey said with a laugh, "The powerful ones can't cross the barrier without help, but the blood of humans can force open a hole in the wall that divides our worlds."
"Like the girl in the alley." Ness realized. "Human sacrifice."
"Precisely." Pokey responded. "Human sacrifice on a large scale, across an entire week. We preyed on the weak, the homeless. Those no one would miss. And as the power grew, so did the storm. Very soon, the storm's power will be unleashed on this earth and rip open a gap in the barrier. My masters will come, and this world will burn with the fury of a thousand suns."
They began moving slowly, circling each other. The chittering sounds from the circle of demons increased, like spectators at some great gladiator match.
"Now, Ness, surely you didn't just come out here to hear me talk. What say you, /old friend/," He asked mockingly, "One last battle before Armegeddon?"
With a cry, Ness threw himself foreward, throwing out his right fist. Pokey easily swung to the right, sidestepping it. Ness pulled back to a standing position, then swung forward again. Pokey ducked under it, then attacked with his own fists. Ness rolled away, narrowly evading a right cross.
Pokey took the offensive, barrelling into Ness recklessly. Ness brought his arms up to deflect Pokey's blows, but a few got through, hammering into him like piledrivers, leaving behind claw marks on his cheek and shoulders. Ness staggered, then countered with a heel to the gut followed by a fist to the face Pokey seemed hardly fazed; He immediately jumped upwards and delivered a devastating kick to Ness' chest. Although his psionically reinforced ribs didn't break, he was sent flying backwards, crashing into the circle of lesser demons. They squealed and fled as he fell to earth, cracking the hishway's asphalt. He pulled himself back up to his feet, but much more flowly then before.
He's too strong/, Ness thought as he strode forward, trying to look more confidant then he was feeling, /and I'm too tired. I need to end this quickly, or I don't stand a chance.
He sunk once more into a fighting stance, readying himself for Pokey's next attack. When it came, he ducked below Pokey's fist and then straightened up, elbowing Pokey in the back of the head. Pokey was caught by surprise and stumbled foreard until Ness kicked his ankles, tripping him. Ness whirled around and shot psychic light into the pavement where Pokey's head had lain just a moment ago. Pokey, unwilling to sit still and take such an assault, had rolled to his feet. He charged at Ness, who erected a psychic shield to hold him off. Caught aback, Pokey hesitated for a moment, and Ness caught him in the chest with a blast of power from his left hand. Pokey flew backwards, but landed on his feet. He skidded a few feet before standing errect and laughing loudly.
"That's all there is to your power? Ever with those ancient artifacts, that's the best you can do?"
Pokey's clenched fists began to glow, and then he threw them forward, shooting out a stream of dark fire. Ness raised a shield, but the power he was up against was staggering. His shield began to buckle almost immediately, and he had to draw on his mental reserves to reinforce it. When a pause in the bombardment came, he abandoned his shield and dove to his right. The fire missed his feet by mere inches. He landed with his shoulder and rolled back to his feet, then immediately began running in a circle around Pokey, keeping one step ahead of Pokey's demon fire. After dodging a few blasts, he turned, pivoting on his left foot, and ran straight at Pokey. When Pokey answered his offensive with a large gout of flame, he leapt over it, landing right in front of Pokey. He threw his hands out, seeking a purchase on Pokey's body so he could attack with his PSI from point-blank range. Pokey did the same.
Their hands found each others'.
Their hands glowed brightly, Ness' with the brilliant white of his PSI, and Pokey's with the dark fire his masters had given him. Their respective powers clashed and battled for control, and both faces furrowed in concentration. Sweat dripped from Ness' face, but it was unnoticable among the heavy rain.
Then, suddenly, both of their grips failed, and the power amassed between them exploded in all directions. Both were sent flying backwards. Ness landed on his back and slid along the pavement, ripping his shirt. He pulled himself to his feet, clutching at his aching chest. Pokey was already standing, and looking at him in disgust.
"You were foolish to come here, Ness." Pokey said harshly as Ness silently commanded his PSI to heal his chest. This was impossible; Ness was keeping pace, but his body had almost given up. He was keeping it up by expending his psionic energy, but there was a limit to how long he could keep doing that, and he had almost reached it.
He straightened as his pains receded. Pokey glared. "You still wish to fight? Fine. I'll end this quickly." and then he threw his arms skyward.
The faint smell of ozone was the only warning Ness had. He threw up a shield just in time as lightning came crashing down on him in bolts of incandescent fury. The burst of electrical energy was blinding. It stopped as suddenly as it began.
Ness fell to the ground, screaming and clutching at his eyes.