(An Oddly epic retelling)
Chapter One: Bye-Bye, Buzz Buzz.
The year is 199X.
The town is a small, backwoods place in Eagleland, known as Onett to its few and boring inhabitants. It's a town like any other town, with a drugstore, a bakery, a police force, and a gang of local toughs.
But now, to move north, along a small dirt road, to a set of houses along the side of a hill. This is where the Fullerby family lives- a typical family, doing typical family things- well, as typical as it gets when the father of the house does top-secret government research, and can't be home often.
It is a clear night outside. The stars are shining... but one particular star seems to be growing larger... and larger...Wha-booom! Elliot Fullerby was jolted out of his bed. "Whass uva?" was the best he could manage.
He shook his head slightly to clear the sleep from it. It didn't work too well. He looked at the clock. Midnight. Of all the things... He had an exam in Chem. 101 in the morning. Elliot supposed he'd better check on the rest of his family, so he got up.
He looked about like anyone is supposed to look, having just gotten out of bed- he was still in a set of seersucker pajamas, with light blue stripes. He blinked, and plodded barefoot to the door.
Elliot waved a hand in the general direction of the hall light, but the light was already on. Apparently, his younger sister Tracy had been woken up too, but she had had the presence of mind to get properly dressed first. "Mrfgl..." Elliot said, in the kindest way possible."Hey, Big Bro? You know what just happened?"
"I dunno..." Elliot stood, blinking at the light. "But I think I'll go see."
He walked down the stairs into the living room. It looked like his mother had been up for a while, worrying about something. "Elliot, dear, do you know what that crashing was?""No. It wasn't an earthquake, was it?"
Elliot's mother shook her head. "Was too long to be as mild as it was and still be an earthquake."
"I suppose I'd better check it out, then."
Elliot's mother lifted an eyebrow. "Perhaps you'd better change first."
"Why? It's midnight. Not like anyone else is going to be in anything but jammies at this hour anyway."
"True as that is, many of them aren't as holey as thou's."
"Ow." Elliot put a hand to his temple. "Okay, I'll go up and change... Ugh... that was terrible..."
The headache that Elliot had persisted, even after the change in clothes. He made a mental note to put down 'Aspirin' in the next week's shopping. He looked at himself in the mirror. He had his lucky stripy shirt, which had faded long ago, with his leather jacket and blue jeans. Fine, comfortable stuff for use anywhere. Without another word to his mother, Elliot walked out the front door. It was 12:04 AM.
The police gave Elliot his first clue that all was not right on top of the nearby hill.
He saw someone else looking up to the police line. "Hey."
"Huh? Oh, it's you."
"Yeah. What's up?"
"Apparently something crashed into the top of that hill... And I'm gonna be the first to see it."
"Good luck with that."
"Sure, man." They gave a brief thumbs-up to one another as Elliot walked off on his own hike up the hill.
Halfway up the trail, Elliot caught sight of several people talking, suffused with a red glow. One of them looked like-
"Is that Dad? Yo, Dad!" Elliot yelled to the hill. Either his father didn't want to speak to him; or he was too caught up in the discussion. He didn't respond. The first time in a month that Elliot had seen his father, and his father hadn't responded. That important. Elliot wanted more than ever to see what was on top of that hill. He walked more briskly the most of the rest of the way.
"Psst. Hey. You. Yeah, you." The man who lived near the top of the hill, Lier X. Aggerate, called to Elliot. Elliot ignored him, until Lier finally said, "Yo, Ness!"
Elliot cringed at the nickname, especially coming from some bum he barely knew. "What's up? Do you know what's happened?" He said, turning to the bum. And bum indeed he was, with scraggly beard and raggedy, dirty shirt and raggedy, dirty skin, and raggedy dirty- well everything about Lier X. Aggerate was raggedy and dirty, really.
"A meteorite crashed up there. I'm fine. I work out, I eat garlic and spinach. Dunno about some of these people, though."
Elliot could smell it on Lier's breath. "Yeah, sure. See you later.""Be sure to, Ness!"
"And for crying out loud, call me Elliot!" He shouted at Lier. He had made it an ironclad rule in his freshman year of high school that only four people got to call him Ness. And none of them were Lier X. Aggerate.
There it was. The police line. Blocking the way, as police lines do.
And of course, in the center of it all... "Pokey. Just great." Pokey, Elliot's former friend and classmate, was desperately trying to find a way past the blockade.
"Pokey, go home."
"Well, if it isn't Elliot," Pokey said, smirking. "Are you here to annoy the cops- I mean, officers?"
"What, like you? No offense, but I'd rather eat glass.""Aw, still bitter about Cherise?"
Elliot shrugged. "Meh. You can have her. Just don't come crying to use me as a human shield again." Elliot left it at that, walking back down to the house.
Elliot's mom was already standing outside the house, waiting for him. "Well, what did you find out?"
"I think that Dad's up there."
"Well, no need to tell me everything now. You can tell me in the morning."
"Thank you." Rubbing his temples, Elliot went to bed. He'd get some sleep yet, headache or not!
It was wet. It was wet, and dark, and there was a vague scent of salt in the air. He'd come this far, but now his courage had died, and he became afraid. Well, no turning back now. A shape passed by his vision. He had the feeling it was someone important who he'd never met. Two other shapes passed his eye, catching his attention, but formless, lost, scattering before a small platform among the water- a shadow on the platform.
Horror filled his every breath. A drop of water fell onto his head. It was warm. The first shape turned to face him, and called him Ness, and attacked him. No matter. He kept going. The second shape moved aside, and the third- the third turned his back on the whole affair. The shadow upon the pedestal- it was looking right at him, and then it reared its head back, and laughed. For some reason, the laugh filled Elliot with even more dread.
"W-who are you?" What the shadow said was covered in the sounds of the cave collapsing around him, the shattering of stones. And the shadow laughed at Elliot's fear, laughed at his doubt, made Elliot so afraid of it that he would do anything to just escape, but he knew that if he didn't go forward, he would die.
With the cave collapsing around him, Elliot was trapped.
Elliot sat up in bed. He hadn't had that dream in a while. Someone was pounding on the front door, and Elliot was covered in cold sweat. Whoever it was changed rhythm and volume almost at random, so as soon as you were used to one part of the knock, another would show up and wake you up. Elliot was trying, by various degrees of stuffing his pillow into his ear, to ignore this knock. Eventually, Elliot gave up on sleep. Still in his street clothes- comfortable jeans with the faded-to-grey striped shirt- he walked out the door to see what the matter was.
His mother and Tracy were both awakened by the noise. "I have a final in the morning."
"Then get the door." Tracy rolled her eyes.
Elliot walked downstairs to get the door. He turned the doorknob and- Pokey burst through the door. "Ness!"
Elliot narrowed his eyes. "What do you want, Pokey?"
"Huh? I don't want anything!"
"Pokey, the only time you ever call me Ness is when you're trying to butter me up for something. So spit it out."
Elliot's mom had come down the stairs. "Mrs. Fullerby, always good to see you. Anyway, Ness-"
"Don't call me Ness-" Elliot muttered under his breath.
Pokey continued as if Elliot hadn't said anything. "The police left suddenly, probably to deal with the Sharks- you know, that gang? Well, I lost Picky! I blame the cops...""You would."
"My parents are coming home any minute! They aren't going to be happy. You gotta help me, buddy!"
"Elliot..." Mrs. Fullerby spoke up. "You're going to the meteorite, aren't you." It was a statement, not a question. "Here, take this." It was a Velcro strap with a small device attached. "Your dad left it behind an hour ago. He has a new project, and he wanted me to record phenomena at the meteorite. You might as well, if you're going."
"Okay." Elliot strapped it on.
"And take Azazel, too. He should be able to handle himself, even if he's not much of an attack dog."
"Fine, but only if he wants to. Azazel?" Elliot looked at Azazel. Azazel gave Elliot all he needed to know by grumphing and going back to sleep.
"That's the verdict." Elliot shrugged. "But I have a feeling you're missing out on something huge, Azazel. Let's go, Pokey." Pokey started to follow Elliot. On his way out, Elliot got a pole that his father had always intended to help make a garden trellis. Something wasn't sitting right with him regarding the outside.
He found out that his hunch was right. The first stray dog he saw tried to jump him. Quickly, he lifted the trellis pole, using it like a staff, flimsy though it was. He shoved away the stray- no, wait, it had a collar and tag, it was a runaway dog- and beaned it on the head with the trellis pole. "Down, boy," Elliot cracked.
It shook its head briefly, and walked off, confused. Elliot grinned and the two walked on, but Elliot got the distinct feeling he was being watched.
The rest of the trek up the hill presented no further incident, but Elliot's apprehension increased. Pokey looked even worse off than Elliot- as if someone were looking over his shoulder, ready to ambush him at any time.
Then Elliot heard someone- someoneÉ snoring. "Snoring?" Elliot took a quick look around. Sure enough, Picky was sleeping. Pokey and Picky were clearly brothers, but it was hard to imagine two people much more different from one another. Elliot stretched a hand out to wake Picky. Picky's face smiled, and Picky grabbed Elliot's wrist. "Ness."
Elliot grinned. "Picky." Picky stood up. He was several years younger than Pokey, and it showed. While Picky was much shorter than Pokey was, he took better care of his body- Pokey had just let himself go ever since his junior year in high school. Both had blonde hair, but Picky's eyes had a green hue to them, while Pokey's were dark blue.
Picky looked at his brother. "And what are you doing here? I thought you ran home to momma." Picky looked back at Elliot. "Oh. Same difference."
Pokey and Elliot winced in unison.
Elliot looked at the Meteorite, pointing the sensor watch at it. He didn't know quite what he was supposed to do with it, but he hoped that was enough."Well, this takes care of everything," Elliot said. "Picky, are you ready to go?"
"Wait," Pokey said. "Do you guys hear a buzzing? LikeÉ a wasp or bee or something like that?"
Elliot paused. If you listened very carefully, there might be a faint sound in the air that maybe- just maybe- might be considered the buzzing of a flying insect. "Now that you mention it"
A beam of light shot up from the meteorite. When it had faded, what looked like a small metallic insect started to buzz around Elliot's head. "Hey! Get off! You stupid bee!""A bee I am not!"
The bee talked. Elliot looked at it in shock, as did Pokey and Picky. "Buzz Buzz is my name." It said, lightly dusting itself off.
Elliot tried very hard to suppress a laugh.
"Ah, yes. Appearance mine is comical to you, Ness?"
Elliot let off a loud curse. "Does everyone know my nickname?"
"Of course not. Zero sent me."
Elliot didn't feel any more assured by this statement. "Who's Zero?"
"I come from ten years in the future, where all is devastation. Giygas, the universal destroyer, has laid waste to the Earth. " The high-pitched voice contrasted with the seriousness of Buzz Buzz's tone. "But- there is a legend- that four stood against Giygas in the beginning of its reign, and failed. These four were unprepared, but they are known as heroes for their sacrifice. You, Ness, are one of these heroes."
Elliot looked around. "You must be mistaken. I'm no hero."
"Hero you are, and Zero has sent me to warn you of the coming time, that you might stop Giygas before its reign begins. To protect you I am, until ready you are to face the coming threat. Until the Nightmare Rock, shattering, reveals the path of light, and you, the Chosen Boy, find your world and your power.""Wait- You said four stood against this- destroyer. Who are the other three?"
"We know not for certain... only that they number three, and that they are two males and one female. They are forever enshrined where resistance dwells still within the Earth."Pokey looked around, quickly. "I'm not one of them, am I?"
"Familiar you look to my eyes." Buzz Buzz paused, and looked at the pudgy man, hovering an inch from his face. "But- Chosen you are not, for the Chosen did not know each other before the fight. Allay your fears. For now, we must continue."
Buzz Buzz continued to buzz around Elliot's head uncomfortably, enhancing his already nasty headache, as they strolled down the hill. Elliot rubbed his temples as he spoke. "So, this Zero fellow. What's his real name?"
"I know not. He is my Creator, my Programmer." The capital letters fell into place easily. "He did not say much to me beyond my mission. For a year now have I been searching, nearly in vain, for a way to travel here, to my past. More I cannot divulge now, but later you will learn all, when alone we are."
Elliot didn't talk any more as they continued down the hill. As they reached the foot, another beam of light came- but this time, it came from the sky. A thing that looked like a man in a space suit looked at the assembled party. "Well. Three boys and one bee? No- you. Buzz Buzz. You have been a thorn in the side of our Master for far too long, insect. Prepare to die."
Elliot looked at the other two humans in the area. "Pokey! Picky! Hide!" Pokey didn't need telling twice. Picky, however, advanced on the thing, letting it have it. Picky flinched and held his hand. "Ow!"
Elliot felt- something- from Buzz Buzz, and a thin bubble surrounded himself. Another bubble surrounded Picky, and wherever Buzz Buzz was, There was probably a shield around him too. The- Starman, Elliot called it in his mind- no, it was too small to be a Starman, it was the Son of a Starman- extended a- pseudopod? Whatever it was, it shot fire towards Elliot. Elliot braced himself, because this was going to hurt. Nothing happened. The fire had bounced harmlessly off the bubble.
Elliot didn't need any further pushing to smack the Son upside the head with the trellis stick. Buzz Buzz rushed straight at the Starman, hitting it in the visor hard. It stumbled backwards, stunned by Buzz Buzz's strength. It came back with another fire burst that faded against the shield. Elliot took this opportunity to advance and hit the Starman in the visor. It cracked, revealing inhuman- nay, inorganic- eyes- more cameras, really. It struck out at Elliot, who jumped backwards to avoid the swipe. Picky was chanting some kind of spell. Elliot knew it wouldn't work.
Buzz Buzz rushed it again, going into one side of the Starman's head- and out the other. Head sparking, it screamed in apparent pain. "Your death is still assured, Insect!" were its final words before falling to the ground, deactivated.
"Such is the way. This thing will not be alone among the evils that the Destroyer will put before us. Mechanical monstrosities like this one. Animals turned aggressive and unafraid by the Destroyer's power. Even humans such as yourself, who have turned to the will of evil within. It is the truth, so listen!"
"Pokey? You can come out now. It's dead." Pokey crawled out of the bush he had been hiding in."Okay! Now that we've taken down this- thing- Let's go home!" Picky muttered, "What's this 'we' business?"
They walked up to Pokey's house. It wasn't all that much bigger, really, than Elliot's. Elliot opened the door, and tried to sneak past Pokey's waiting parents-
To no avail. "What are you two doing out so late! Get to bed, right now!" Pokey's mom said.
Pokey's dad looked at the two of them go upstairs, and followed. There were some sounds of altercation upstairs, and then Pokey's dad came down. "Well, you little hooligan, I hope you're happy." Elliot rolled his eyes. "Don't you roll your eyes at me! I think it would be much better if you and your family moved out. I've loaned your father a lot of money. It may have been a hundred thousand dollars or more."
Elliot stared at Mr. Minch. "You owe my dad twenty bucks. Get over yourself."
"In any case, we live in poverty because of him!"
"Whatever. Can I go now?"
"Yes, by all means, remove your face from my sight."
Elliot turned to leave. It was at that moment that Mrs. Lardna Minch, Pokey's mother, decided to look right at Elliot and scowl. Buzz Buzz decided to alight on her forehead. Mrs. Minch screamed. "Aieee!A bug!" She smacked Buzz Buzz into a wall. Elliot ran to check on it. Buzz Buzz was badly damaged.
Elliot's head snapped to Lardna. "I'll kill her-" He started to say, but Buzz Buzz interrupted.
"No! Not kill! Never kill! Only peace to tortured souls bring. Exorcism, peace, these are your watchwords. Never kill." Buzz Buzz was earnest about this point. "Take this..." He gave Elliot a small marble. Or, at least, that's what it first appeared to be. On closer inspection, it was inlaid with an odd crystalline design. "It is the Sound Stone. With its aid, you must bind yourself to Mother..." Buzz Buzz's speech started to slow. "Find your Sanctuaries. Use the stone to recover energy... There are eight... The first... Giant Step... In Onett. Go there. Do you understand?"
Eliot nodded. "I understand."
"Good. Already, light dawns. But life only dims within me. I am glad I met a hero... Such as you, Ness..." And with those words, Buzz Buzz died. Elliot picked up Buzz Buzz's all-too frail body, and left the Minch household without another word.
Indeed, it was dawn outside. He ran home and collected his backpack, and quickly rushed out the door, putting the body of Buzz Buzz safely inside one of the backpack's pockets, and putting the so-called 'Sound Stone' into his own jeans pocket. Saving the world was all well and good, but he had a Chemistry 101 final to get to.
Two hours later, Elliot left Onett Community College, hating the fact that he had to take a final on one hour's sleep. He blew off his friends, saying he had to do something. "Don't worry, guys. I'll laugh with you tomorrow."
On a small knoll, Elliot took out the body of Buzz Buzz, and made a small cross out of two thick twigs. Elliot looked down at the tiny robotic body in his hands. "Buzz Buzz... I didn't even know who you were, and you didn't know who I was. But you called me a hero. I don't know if I can be a hero yet- heck, I don't even know if I'm this Chosen you talked about. You called me Ness. You called me Chosen, and you called me Hero." Tears welled up in Elliot's eyes, and he nodded as he came to a decision. "Well, Buzz Buzz, I'm going to respect your last wish." He laid Buzz Buzz into the ground, covered over the body, and stood up.
"My next stop is Giant Step!"
End Chapter One