The world of EarthBound is home to many oddities due to Giygas' influence. The last chapter had Lucario sense said influence cover the entire land… So, what if that influence had other effects? Also, it's about time for Ness to make an appearance.

I encourage all fans of the occult to read on, enjoy, and review.

Disclaimer: The author does not own any characters other than the main duo.


Chapter 3: Odder Oddness

Brick Road

The group rushed inside the cave not knowing what Lucario had sensed earlier. Once having entered, they weren't expecting the cave to have some sort of special features. "Huh…" Jeff fixed his glasses, staring at the rows of boulders in front of them. "This can't be good, can it?"

From a bird's eye view, the cave held rows of boulders that loosely made up a big maze meant for travelers to cross. Judging how the actual floor seemed clean, the maze was probably man-made. The floor was constructed mainly of bricks. "Lucario," Chris began, "we could've probably jumped down the dirt fence back outside… What is wrong with you?"

Lucario growled, seemingly staring across the boulder walls with his eyes. "There are malevolent auras in here…and they're not like the others I've sensed," he said.

Jeff started to look skeptical. "If it's not related to the aura that you said was covering the entire land, then why come here?" he asked. "Hmm, hold on. Perhaps if we ignored this, it could come back and bite us in our backs…"

Chris really needed to enforce the idea that they needed to act without being so suspicious, so he decided to support Jeff's idea. "Y-yes!" he said nodding. "Who knows, maybe we could…uh…find something useful out of investigating this tunnel."

"All the more reason to explore, I suppose," Jeff said. "…But let's not waste a lot of time. I fear what might happen to Ness and Paula if we were to be late."

The teen stepped forward and looked around. "…Oh, great, this is some sort of maze," he said. Lucario, growling, walked to a boulder taller he was and suddenly used Force Palm on it, completely obliterating it into pebbles. The other three stepped back at the sudden move.

"T-that's one way to cross…" Jeff muttered, sweat-dropping.

Feeling worried about his Pokémon's serious state, Chris walked to him. "Lucario… Could you keep your rage in check?" he asked. Lucario wasn't turning to face him. "…You're kind of scaring me…"

Gasping a bit, Lucario turned to Chris, looking guilty. "I'm sorry," he said. "That's how the way I am…"

His trainer smiled and hugged him by the side for a bit. "You're just acting like this to keep me safe, aren't you?" Chris asked.

Lucario put up a happy expression. "Yes, this is all for you so nobody hurts you under my watch," he said.

Inside his mind, Chris looked suspicious. "(I wonder how much of that is even true…)"

"A-hem…" Jeff cleared his throat to get their attention. "I'm sorry to be demolishing this touching moment between you two," the duo slightly blushed and looked away, "but we must proceed through this tunnel."

"Right," Chris said. He turned around just to find a newcomer waltzing into their view. The fact Chris gasped to himself made it a bit obvious that said newcomer wasn't a good one.

In front of them, a Primid stood, staring with its red eyes at the group of four. Tilting its head, the Primid fixed its hat on top. "And what would that be?" Jeff asked. He saw the Bubble Monkey shaking a bit at the sight of the purple man. Seeing Lucario grunt made the point even more obvious. "A monster?"

"Yes," Lucario said. The Primid fixed its gaze on Chris and suddenly rushed at him with a fist ready to be tossed at his face. As Chris yelled, Lucario smacked a heavy punch into the Primid's side, sending it rocketing into the air as it left a trail of black aura behind that vanished in an instant. Feeling grateful, Chris sighed.

"…At least that kind of monster wasn't easy for you to behead," Jeff noted.

"Would you please drop that already?" Lucario asked, looking perplexed. "I'm not going to behead anyone else…"

"(I can't tell if he was going easy on that Primid. That worries me,)" Chris thought, looking at the trail of air the Primid once occupied. "Are there any more of them?"

Lucario nodded. "There are a lot of them surveying the whole perimeter of the cave," he said. "Also…there's something big in the center; something else that's radiating a whole lot more of that sickening red aura."

"Oh boy," both Jeff and Chris said, not looking forward to what he had told them. The Bubble Monkey uttered something to itself at the same time. "Please do get rid of it if you can…" Jeff added.

"Totally," Chris added. Lucario nodded, and they all proceeded down the unblocked way.

Lucario had taken overall control of decimating the Primids that stumbled into their path. From afar, wild explosions of aura and flying enemies could be seen very easily. Boulders were heard shattering into small rocks. Roars of fury echoed through the Brick Road. Other than Lucario, the other three were just walking behind him.

"I know we're kind of taking the easy way by allowing Lucario to get rid of everything, but…this seems kind of wrong to me," Chris said.

"It's all good," Jeff said. "We're still being taken into consideration. Besides, our levels are going up the roof even if we don't raise a finger in battle, further increasing our own personal performances should we find ourselves in a bind."

"Okay," the teen said before digesting what Jeff had said. "Wait…levels?"

"Uh, nothing, please don't pay me much attention," Jeff muttered, hearing another Aura Sphere going off right in front of the powerful Pokémon. "Let's just calmly continue."

The Brick Road wasn't as long as it seemed to be, mainly because they were literally plowing through the maze. In almost no time at all, the quartet made it to the center of cave where they identified the supposed spot where a lot of malevolent aura was supposed to be stationed at.

Chris's heart skipped a beat, the object at the very center being of a very meaningful value to both he and his Pokémon. Jeff and the Bubble Monkey only stared long and hard at it.

A fresh Subspace Bomb, with an R.O.B. on each side, was slowly counting down. At the time they had arrived, it only had five minutes to go off and consume the entire area they were in.

"What in the…" Jeff trailed off. "Is this some sort of…bomb? Is it perhaps part of this man-made tunnel?"

"N-no," Chris shook his head. "I-I don't think this is part of the cave at all!"

The two R.O.B.s attached to the bomb turned to face them. The group stared back at them, feeling some kind of emotion from the inanimate robots. "And these robots…" Jeff continued, going to inspect one of them to see their mechanical claws firmly inserted into the bomb, "why are they even attached to this?"

Lucario growled. "There is a dangerous amount of black matter inside this thing," he said. "We need to destroy this before it goes off!" His trainer gasped and grabbed his right arm. "What are you doing?"

"Destroying a bomb is pretty much like making it go off," Jeff suddenly said. He felt nervous, but he pressed on. The blond was wondering what to do with the bomb as the Bubble Monkey playfully got in a thinking position. The countdown was at four minutes. "Maybe… Maybe I can try to disarm it…"

A method of disarming a Subspace Bomb was never heard of before; at least that was what the otherworldly duo thought. They doubted if somebody like Jeff could even pull off the feat. "A-are you serious?" Chris asked unsure.

"Whatever you do, don't punch this bomb just yet, Lucario," Jeff said as he approached the counter, inspecting whatever open lid he could find in the contraption. Looking below the counter, he found a small lid that he could easily open by unlocking a simple lock. "Okay, I found something here."

Chris was mildly amazed, but his nervousness became worse to the possibility of Jeff accidentally triggering the bomb earlier by accident. "A-alright, now comes the hard part..."

Jeff found several sets of cables inside the circuitry of the bomb. Sweating a few bullets, the blond took out a screwdriver and school scissors. "Hate to say this, but I'll be doing some trial and error procedures to find something. Let's cut this cable here…" He cut a red cable.

The countdown was reduced to a half, nearing two minutes. Their stomachs felt sick as soon as they saw the seconds drop fast. "JEFF!" Chris shouted loudly.

Jeff saw the countdown and gulped before going back to the cables. "N-no, that wasn't the one…" He rummaged through the cables and pulled an orange one. He cut it slowly. "This should do…"

It looked like the seconds were being counted down faster. What took three seconds was now taking one. "It's going down faster!" Lucario said, pulling Chris next to him to be ready to run.

Jeff sweated even more as he searched for something else. "If only my IQ was higher than it is now!" he complained seriously.

"Why are you even saying that?" Lucario asked.

"Eh, Lucario, I think he really meant it," Chris said, his eyes petrified on the countdown. The Bubble Monkey clutched himself onto his right leg.

Jeff cut a green cable, and the countdown gained ten minutes.

The trio behind the blond was completely deadpan. "…Did it just go up ten minutes?" Chris wondered, confused at the event.

The blond boy sighed in relief, grabbing a magenta cable. "Now that's a relief. It'll give me more time to find the one…" he said as he cut the cable he grabbed.

The countdown suddenly took a heavy fall until it reached half a minute. Chris promptly screamed bloody murder and the Bubble Monkey muffled a loud scream inside the bubble balloon he blew into. Lucario had now assumed a running position.

Jeff looked up and shook his body violently, throwing his arms up. "Oh, screw this bomb! I'm cutting all the cables!" he said as he hastily cut down all the cables at once.

Lucario, with Chris in his arm, reached out for Jeff's legs, but then they all heard a clicking sound coming from the bomb. Looking up quickly, the countdown had stopped at twenty seconds. They all stared at the countdown, their jaws hanging down in shock. The R.O.B.s at the sides had been turned off as told by their lifeless eyes.

"…Dear goodness," Chris breathed out.

"It did stop…" Lucario added calmly.

Jeff froze into place for a little while until he stood back up, dusting off himself. "O-oh, I did it," he said. "I can't believe I actually did it…"

Lucario let go of Chris, who had been holding onto his neck with both arms for dear life. The teen and the monkey stepped away from each other while still staring at the defused bomb. "There goes one year of my life," Chris said.

"Don't say that," Lucario almost instantly said out of worry.

"W-well, that was a very adrenaline-filled experience! I've never predict we would come across something like this!" Chris complained. "B-but anyway, it was stopped after all! We should be glad we weren't blown to smithereens!"

Jeff forced a twitching smile. He was still scared of what he had done. "Yes, it stopped. Hopefully, it won't resume or anything."

As the four smiled to each other in triumph, Lucario suddenly felt something from the bomb itself. Staring at it seriously, the bomb started to shine brightly in a second. "What in th-!"

What followed wasn't a usual explosion from a Subspace Bomb. Instead of engulfing the entire area into the Subspace, the bomb merely blew up into a shining light that pushed the non-Lucario people away to the boulders. Lucario couldn't react in time to shield Chris from the pushing wind of the explosion. Luckily, the flash was only wind that emerged from within the bomb. "A-aah!" Jeff gasped as he crashed against a boulder behind him.

"Chris!" Lucario yelled, just as the bright explosion died down. The spot where the bomb and the robots once stood was clear. The Aura Pokémon, though, looked around and almost immediately found Chris's aura to his right. Preoccupied, he found his trainer's body lying down on the ground. His loyal Pokémon knelt down and picked him up. "Chris, are you…"

"…" Chris had briefly lost consciousness, but he didn't get hurt much besides just being pushed away. The teen slowly opened his eyes and found his worried Lucario staring down at him, holding his frail body with both arms. "Lucario…"

Jeff and the Bubble Monkey slowly stood back up from where they were pushed and approached the duo. "Is everyone okay?" the blond asked before facing Chris. Jeff noticed his glasses were slipping slightly so he pushed them up.

Chris shook his head as he stared at their rather deadpan looks. "…Why is everyone staring at me like that? I-I'm fine," he said in an oddly, slightly high-pitched voice. When he noticed the sudden change of his voice, he gasped. "W-what the hell happened to my voice? It sounds like I-I sounded when I was younger!"

"More like…" Jeff trailed off, confused, "…your entire body got younger."

The teen's jaw hung open before he started to look at his hands. They were slightly smaller than they used to be. When he looked down at himself being held by Lucario, the Aura Pokémon could probably just grab him with one free hand. Once Lucario set him down, Chris could only stare up at him in horror. "Lucario…please tell me you got a sudden growth spurt out of that bomb going off…" He stared at Jeff, who was now at his eye level perfectly. "…Oh…"

Lucario shook his head. The boy before them was his beloved trainer. "N-no… You…you really got…younger," he managed to say, baffled at what had happened to Chris.

Chris's next reaction summarized the entirety of his situation as he stared at his relatively smaller hands. Never before in his life he expected to utter a heavy swear, but the event forced him to yell, "HOLY SH-!"

Threed – Graveyard Underground

Down below the graveyard of the spooky city of Threed, two children were sitting down on the cold ground as they awaited the arrival of the friend they had contacted with using telepathy. Since the door that held them captive was tightly locked (and pretty hard to burn down and destroy to boot), there was almost no hope for them to escape on their own unless Jeff arrived from Winters.

"Paula, this is insane," said the boy wearing a red cap. "You should've contacted somebody closer to where we are…"

"Impossible," said the girl sitting beside him. "The rest of the population I tried to get into was all protected through Gyigas' influence warding off my powers. The closest friend I told you about happened to be all the way to Winters…"

"What about the fourth?"

She shook her head. "No use. I couldn't detect our fourth friend at all. It's like he's hidden away somewhere remote…"

"Like across the globe?"

"My powers DO have a limit, Ness."

"Oh yeah…"

The boy was an Onettian that had started a very surreal adventure to record eight different melodies that were spread across Eagleland so that then he and his band of three friends could confront Gyigas. He wore red shoes, shorts, a blue-and-yellow stripped shirt carrying a small backpack, and a red cap on top of his short black hair. It was the first Smasher, or soon-to-be veteran Smasher, named Ness. Although he had quite a docile look, there was an infinite amount of potential within him due to his adeptness to PSI…that he hadn't fully developed yet.

Next to him was a young blond girl originating from Twoson who wore a bright pink dress with red shoes and a medium-sized red ribbon behind her head. She was the second chosen one to accompany Ness in his adventure along with Jeff and the fourth friend. Her full name was Paula Polestar. Just like Ness, Paula possessed strong PSI abilities that might even surpass his own. She was more like a teacher to him, but it only looked like that in a few occasions.

"Ugh, that Jeff guy better come here soon or we're gonna die of starvation…and probably become zombies," Ness complained.

Paula sighed. "I really don't think he'll arrive today…or tomorrow…or the day after…"

"Then we'll have to make do with what we have now," Ness said, taking out from his backpack two sandwiches. He handed one to her. "We have four sandwiches after these ones. Maybe we could eat one in another seven hours."

"Bad idea," Paula said. "Let's eat whenever we feel really hungry, but not just hungry."

Ness had enough. "This does it!" he complained. Paula stared at him. "We're just eleven! We're not supposed to be fighting real-life zombies!" He stayed quiet. "…Oh my god, we're fighting real-life zombies!"

"Ness, calm down," Paula said, trying to stay sane. "I know, the fact we got dragged into this mess because destiny says so is pretty surreal, but there's nothing we can do to object… If it makes you feel any better, we're the only children capable of burning monsters with our minds."

"That's great and all," sulked Ness, "but that can only happen if there are monsters nearby! Clearly, I see no monsters anywhere in this stinky hellhole…" He smacked his face on his palms, sighing in defeat. "Now our only hope is with some guy we never met before who almost literally lives across the entire country..."

Paula looked away, embracing her knees. "Well, he's another chosen one," she said. "If he's special like us, there's a good chance we'll get out of this just fine."

Ness rolled his eyes. "Only if he could fly all the way to Threed," he replied. "But what are the chances of that?"

"Slim to none."

The Onett boy grumbled and tried to suppress the hunger that was starting to well up in his stomach. It was times like this that Ness wondered why he was a chosen one to defeat a mysterious entity that wanted to destroy the world with negative emotions. Why was destiny so cruel? He was just a boy who was suddenly granted psychic powers…but then, why did it feel like he had them from the very beginning? "…Any chance that Jeff guy is at least bringing some backup, preferably zombie busters?"

Paula shrugged. "None to impossible."

What a stupid question, Ness thought. "Oh yeah, the universe hates us," was all Ness could say.

Winters

EarthBound – Winters White

"The universe clearly hates me!" whined Chris with an even younger voice. "How in the hell could I have expected this to happen to me?! I'm screwed!" He grabbed his head and frowned. "What will my parents say when they see me like this?! I-I can't go to high school anymore if I look like an eleven-year old! I'm facing a terrible early age crisis here!"

Lucario really wanted to bring the good side of things, like for example the fact Chris would need his services even more than before. However, it was greatly discouraged to bring up the fact that Chris was close to a midget. Instead, the large blue dog sighed. "I'll…I'll try to find some kind of solution for this, Chris," he said, not sure if he could even find said solution.

The quartet was now exiting the Brick Road, leaving it behind their backs as they walked down a snowy path leading into another cave. They met up with the designer of the Brick Road, the aptly-named Brickroad who only cared more about the challenge his creation than to see he just put children and their companions through the whole thing. After finding out that his road was defeated by them, he congratulated their efforts and let them continue. Seconds later he did go back inside his cave to scream at the path of destruction Lucario left in his path, though nobody heard him at all.

With Chris having been de-aged, there was a lot of complains coming from him that it seemed like no one else would hear the end of it. There was great relief knowing that his clothes had shrunk along with his body. No way was he walking in large clothing around in the cold area. Coughing, Jeff said, "This is a strange event, indeed. But if you…accidentally got younger by that curious machine, I suppose there is something that can return you to your older self."

Chris sniffed, grabbing Lucario's far-away hand with one hand. "I want to find that solution immediately!" he yelled. "I can't live like this! The elderly would really find this super awesome, but not me! I have so many things going on with my life that I can't be seen like this!"

"I thought you said the two of you were travelers?"

The teen fell silent for a moment, and so did Lucario, though the first was more scared to reveal their inner motives to the blond. "Y-yes, but… Y-you should know how bad this is for me, anyway!" Chris said.

"Oh, I know how you feel. That much I can say," Jeff said, the other two dodging the bullet. "Still, my father should be able to find something you can use. He is a renowned scientist, from what the old magazines at the boarding school told me."

The otherworldly duo gave Jeff some odd looks at the fact, but they shrugged afterwards. Lucario then heard his younger trainer sigh. "Lucario, please be on your guard even more," Chris said. "…Like this, anybody could kill me with a stick."

"(I take offense to that,)" Jeff said. "(…Who am I kidding? I can probably die the same way too.)"

"I don't think someone can really… I mean, yes, I will," Lucario said, forcing a small smile, but his trainer didn't smile back. He was too busy sulking about his misfortune to feel optimistic while also thinking the horrendous chain of events that would follow if he never got back to his older self. His mentality was left intact, that much he could tell, but he felt too small and weak. If his parents were to see him…no amount of explanation would suffice.

It hit Chris that what he was going through was truly happening. The fact he had lived half a year with a large Lucario proved that anything could happen, but after the Aura Pokémon stumbled upon the real world, there was so much normality in their lives that the thought about transcending worlds was nearly unheard of. Even more morbid was the proof that Chris had been de-aged, but there wasn't anything even more traumatizing than this, he thought. He was now regretting his poorly-chosen life choice.

As Jeff brainstormed impossible ways to find a cure, they came across the entrance of another cave down a few ways away from the Brick Road: the Pond Cave. "And here lies our next stop in the journey," Jeff said. "Let's go."

Two caves in a row, Chris thought. It was about four hours into his journey and he was already at his second cave, except this time Lucario was a giant and Jeff was around his age. The Bubble Monkey didn't have any purpose to be added to the equation, its whole existence being spitting on enemies and chewing bubblegum.

Pond Cave

Brick Road at least had the decency of having near-clean air escaping between the multitudes of rocks. Pond Cave, in comparison, was harsher in hindsight, and it reminded Chris that his otherworldly escapades were just starting to get weirder and dangerous. It was more apparent in the odd world he had stepped into.

The cave had a damp atmosphere among the tall cliffs that had conveniently-placed ropes set on top of said cliffs to help travelers pass the humid cave. Surprisingly enough, Chris and Lucario expected bats to inhabit the cave, but there weren't any. Instead of natural bats, the cave was occasionally grazed with the presence of red fungi and slow-moving blobs that didn't have a care in the world until unaware prey would get in their way.

"(My first experience inside a dark cave,)" Chris thought, and for a moment he thanked Mother Nature for providing enough illumination to the cave's innards. Otherwise, he would be hand-grabbing Lucario the entire way. With the fact that he was younger, it didn't make things any less disheartening, but he had a super powerful Pokémon to shield him from everything so it was a big plus that kept him sane for the most part.

Sanity was of course the last thing on the long list of stuff Ness's world lacked. Shortly after, near the entrance of the cave, Chris could've sworn that a mushroom cap twitched. The others followed his gaze and saw the mushroom springing into life by taking itself off the ground, sporting a pair of thin legs. Chris and Lucario winced at the animated fungus strutting around its spot. "…That is definitely not normal," Lucario finally said, his red eyes circling around the running mushroom.

"Of course it's not…" Chris muttered, finding the strutting mushroom kind of adorable than threatening. Touching it was out of the question. "It looks…stupid."

"Well, I say," Jeff said. "Let's not get involved with it. It may give us the rabies...if we want to eat it."

Suddenly, the Struttin' Evil Mushroom waltzed to their side and stopped in front of Chris. The little kid backed off a bit, but then he remembered he was confronting a two-legged mushroom that didn't pose any threat. "O-oh, this is stupid. I can surely cut it down with a random stic-OWW!" The mushroom bashed his right knee with its cap.

Lucario growled and grabbed the mushroom by its cap. Growling, he tore the animated fungus in two and tossed its lifeless halves aside. As Jeff was greatly discouraging the fact Lucario had beheaded yet another creature (that luckily lacked any blood fluids to force the others into a puking session), the Aura Pokémon knelt down to check on his trainer. "Are you alright?" he asked.

Chris rubbed the spot where he was bashed. "I-it's really okay…" he trailed off. "That was…a bit too hard, but it wasn't that bad. Thank you for getting rid of it."

"Ignoring how he literally beheaded a walking mushroom with all the intention of the world…" Jeff began, "let's move on, shall we?"

The group of four walked through the cave to find the other exit on the other side. The Bubble Monkey proved to be an invaluable ally that helped them climb over the cliffs by throwing ropes down, but he was quickly overshadowed by Lucario's superb jumping skills, making the monkey's usefulness useless. It didn't bother the monkey, though, because he was being fed with bubblegum from Jeff. It was all good in his book.

After some walking on the high cliffs, they stopped walking when they came across an ominous sight before their eyes. There was some sort of sparkling light blocking the way to another exit that led to a small northern portion of Winters. Frightened by the weird light, Chris backed off and hid behind the growling Lucario. "F-forget about the two-legged mushroom. What is that?!" Chris muttered, the first time in his life to see a weird glittering light that wasn't fake at all.

Lucario immediately used his aura. The light emitted a red aura, but behind that red aura was an entity blocking the path to a sacred spot across the exit it guarded. "Its aura is serene," Lucario muttered. "Yet, it's an enemy… It's not attacking us, though. I don't know why." Jeff approached the light. "It'd be wise if we left it alone…"

"What a weird phenomena," Jeff said, staring up at the glittering light. "…" There was something odd that called Jeff out through his mind as he stood close to the light.

"You are not allowed to come through here," the light suddenly spoke to them all. "Only Ness can absorb the power of this place. Be gone."

Most of them yelped at the deep voice telling them to stay away from it. Jeff backed off and fixed his glasses. "U-uh, alright…" Jeff said. "I don't suppose we really need to pass this particular exit…but what if we need to? This light won't let us through unless we have this Ness person with us."

Recalling that Lucario could survey a large stretch of land with his aura, Chris suggested him to scan the area for another exit. Nodding, the Aura Pokémon quickly found an exit to the west of their position. The area behind the light led to a dead end, except there was a powerful feeling that enshrined the small field of grass. Moreover, Lucario listened to an ethereal sound that resounded several times with the same beat. However, there was no real need for them to go look at it. "There's an exit to our left," he said, still remembering the sounds that continued to echo in his head.

"Oh, that's better," Jeff noted, sighing. "Let's go to that exit… But as for this light…" He looked back at the light. "…Ness is the other friend Paula mentioned in her call… I should probably mention this to them."

Chris took one last glance at the dim, shining light behind their backs. He sighed to himself, and Lucario overheard him. "Is something bothering you, Chris?" he asked. "Um…besides your current condition…"

"Well…my current condition is another thing of my growing list of odd stuff I've seen so far," Chris said, noticing that Jeff wasn't within earshot along with the Bubble Monkey. "So far…I've seen gruff goats, friendly lake monsters, those…Subspace enemies we're facing…walking mushrooms and now some weird light…" He shuddered, rubbing his shoulders. "…It's so hard to take in all at once, you know."

Lucario nodded. "It'd feel more natural for me to find other Pokémon, not this," he emphasized. "Alas, this is our first job as…Smashers."

"Ugh…" Chris shook his head. "Don't use that refer to us. It sounds so barbaric, and I'm not even barbaric in the slightest! I really, really am regretting doing this…"

Lucario growled a bit, getting Chris to look up at him. "This only means that my job as your guardian hasn't been done so well," he said, feeling guilty over his statement. "…I must enforce my performance by being more protective of you." He looked a bit sad. "I'm…I'm shocked I couldn't prevent this from happening to you, Chris… Please, forgive me…"

"…It's really not like I'm mad at you," Chris admitted. "…I'm mad at myself for not…for not doing the right thing at the wrong time… But I didn't know beforehand that the damned bomb could go off differently and affect me like this!" he complained a little too loudly. "Expect the unexpected, they say…"

His guardian nodded. "I'll expect the unexpected even more than before, for your sake."

It was a nice feeling to have Lucario around. His trainer smiled a bit. "Thank you… That's really sweet of you," he remarked, to which Lucario replied with a small, pleased growl. Eventually, the group exited the Pond Cave to come outside to the last setting they would get to see of Winters.

Stonehenge Entrance

Whatever strand of reality Chris had was cut once more when he saw a large herd of dumb-looking cavemen sleeping and walking around the suspiciously-familiar landmark of stones. Cavemen were supposed to be either long dead or frozen somewhere in his world, but these ones were completely fine, except for their brains. "And this is another reason why I keep getting freaked out so often…" he muttered loud enough for them to hear them out. Trying to act like a foreigner, he added, "Do you, um, Eaglelanders have more oddities to see?"

"Asking me that kind of question is not recommended," Jeff replied back, his eyes looking at the cavemen doing some disgusting moves like eating whatever monstrosities were in their navels or licking their smelly armpits, usually not their own. The four felt sick just watching them that they looked away and tried to forget the event. "Y-yes, I don't get out much to know this…"

The Bubble Monkey kept chewing bubblegum nonstop, but then it found itself stopping with his teeth when, suddenly, almost out of nowhere, a similar female monkey wearing a red bow on top of her head passed by and climbed the nearby rocky wall. Chirping something close to, "Now she's my type…" the monkey parted ways from Jeff and followed his newly found sweetheart on the trees overlooking the plane they were on. "…Oh well," Jeff said. "I grew annoyed with the constant chewing sounds he made."

The Bubble Monkey left your team.

Chris and Lucario blinked. "Okay… There was it again," the young kid said. "That odd feeling about somebody announcing something is there…"

"…Look, Chris," Lucario began, looking deadpan, "it's futile to make sense of the strange events in this world…" Jeff gave him an odd look. "I-I mean, EagleLand, that we shouldn't think too hard about it. What with the walking mushrooms and cavemen freely prowling this area and all…"

"If the past is any indication, we're expected to see even weirder stuff down the road," Jeff said. None of them could go against his wise words. "…Anyway, with the Bubble Monkey gone, we're only three left. I wonder how long it'll take for us to meet up with Paula and Ness. Surely the long way will be perilous… Ha!" He suddenly laughed and looked up at Lucario. "As if! With you for the long ride, our security is…" He stared at Chris for a long while and recalled that the Aura Pokémon couldn't prevent the explosion from affecting him. "…mildly assured…if that makes any sense," he finished.

Lucario felt his pride hurt, but then his aura alerted him of a vicious entity bent on taking them on. With an alarming scream from his trainer, the Aura Pokémon turned to the left and saw a feral Caveman dumbly rushing to them with a large wooden mace meant to squash the poor kids. "W-what did we do to enrage that one?!" Chris asked.

"My guess is that this Giygas is responsible!" Jeff said, carefully taking out his Pop Gun. "H-here it comes!" he yelled as the Caveman let out a very scrambled yell while raising its weapon over its head.

Not wanting to fail his trainer one more time, Lucario decided to go all out on the Caveman before a battle could start. Using ExtremeSpeed to instantly warp right in front of the demented human monster, the Aura Pokémon placed a pulsing palm over the creature's stomach and released a potent Force Palm that, quite literally, blew the insides of the Caveman outside, turning every single twisting limb into dust because of the potent force of the blow obliterating them all. With missing organs, the Caveman fell on its back and died.

When Lucario's brief state of rage calmed down, he soon realized what he had done. His jaw falling down, he looked down at the morbid bleeding corpse of the Caveman seeping its blood into the white snow. His palm stretched out, Lucario gulped and looked over his shoulder at the two kids, hoping that they had looked away at the last second…

They didn't. The sheer morbid-ness of the scene was enough for Jeff and Chris to faint face-first on the snow. Lucario even saw the sickly shade of blue of their skins from the uncovered parts of the snow that he knew he went too far with his power once again. Feeling guiltier than ever, Lucario hoisted both of them on one arm and walked away to the south from the scene of the murder, the Aura Pokémon brainstorming the best apologies he could come up with to lessen the incoming scolding session.

After he walked away from the corpse, the other cavemen that were minding their own business smelled the sick scent of their former ally that they drew close to it, their mouths suddenly drooling as they formed a circle around it. They weren't actually above cannibalism, so they rejoiced with the feast for tonight and thanked the omnipotent beings they thought existed for giving them the present of food.

Several minutes later…

"Is it not enough for you to behead creatures?"

"I-I'm so very sorry, really! I-I went too far with my strength again…"

"Oh, really now! Apparently, beheading is a level lower than blowing creatures' intestines! I do like that incredible strength of yours, but there is something called 'control' that does work wonders by preventing these accidents from happening!"

"…If it's not much, at least this time the blood vaporized before it could soak my hand."

"Gah! Don't say that!"

"S-sorry!"

"Could we please just…stop talking about intestines?" Chris pleaded, clutching his stomach. "I can't bear it any longer… B-bluh…"

Lucario just couldn't stop getting scolded by Jeff. Chris could have joined in, but he was too busy trying so hard to forget about the mentally-scarring scene. It was futile, sadly, as the argument between the other two only fueled his thoughts with scary mental pictures. Lucario's super strength was surely a good thing, but now Chris started to regret why the hell he got an obscenely-powerful Pokémon that could kill anybody in one blow. Why not a normal one, he thought. Perhaps he was more of a wimp than he thought that he was in serious need of a super being to keep him very safe…

Keeping his health safe, on the other hand, was an afterthought that went largely ignored.

"Is he always like this?" Jeff asked Chris, but the young kid wasn't ready to answer, seeing as his face looked sick and about to puke. "I can infer from your reactions that he hasn't done this too much…which means I'm having bad luck."

"W-well…" Chris managed to say, catching a second breath, "I like how protective he is… It's just that he can get out of hand sometimes…" He lied. Back in the real world, the only enemy Lucario faced off on a regular basis was hunger and the occasional video game boss whenever he felt like playing something. Those weren't worthy enemies to mention. "…He means well." Lucario nodded for support.

Jeff sighed as they came across a metal building that overlooked a sea of trees far down below a tall cliff. Coming to a stop, the group wasn't open to the idea of climbing down. There wasn't a path anywhere else, meaning that they came to a dead end. "Only reason I haven't turned down your offer to escort me to Paula is that his help, no matter how sickening, is an invaluable tool for my survival…our survival," he reiterated until looking at the odd building next to them. "Huh, this building right here is the only spot we can enter. I don't see another path going south unless we dive into the forest down below…"

The building was odd-looking because of its metallic walls and roof, but it was better than nothing, Chris thought. "Let's ask for directions inside this place," he suggested as he walked around the construction, finding a metal door. "Okay… I've never gotten close to a door like this…" Weakly knocking on the door, Chris gasped when it opened up by itself. The other two got to his side and exchanged confused glances until they decided to enter. Lucario had already sensed a blue aura inside.

Dr. Andonuts' Lab

The cold from the outside couldn't hope to reach inside the building, as there was a warm heating system keeping the temperature at a stable level. Feeling some sweat, Chris took his jacket off and carried it on his arms as they inspected the place. It was a lab that had many weird-looking machines leaning against the walls, with tables displaying many unfinished gadgets and tools. Among those were devices Chris thought were toys, but there was a good chance everything was real. No doubt a scientist lived in the building somewhere.

Said scientist hadn't noticed them coming in, as he was busy tinkering with other devices on another table. It was an old man dressed in a white lab coat. He sported glasses that looked similar to Jeff's. He had a long white mustache that was coupled with the impossibly-tall sideburns that stood on the sides of his ears, acting as his hair since he was bald. It was the somewhat renowned scientist Dr. Andonuts.

Jeff had a hunch that it was his father. He cleared his throat loudly enough for the scientist to hear him out. "Hello?" he said.

"Hmm?" The scientist looked up from his workstation and turned to the direction of the entrance. Staring a long while at the fascinating creature that was Lucario, he then noticed the blond kid waving his arms to look at him. "Oh… I didn't see you coming in," he said. "What brings you… Wait… Could it be?" He approached Jeff. "You're…you're my son…"

"…" Jeff fixed his glasses and rubbed a small tear from his right eye. "I got a feeling that told me you were…my dad," he responded. "…It's nice to see you at last, dad."

"Well, I'll be," his dad said. "The day you finally ventured out from the boarding school finally came. Having you around the lab would've been disastrous when you were younger. There was an explosion almost every day! Back then, I was young and naïve…"

"Suddenly, all my bottled-up frustration at you has disappeared."

Chris then started to wonder what kind of family they were. Jeff was put in a boarding school just so that his dad's inventions wouldn't kill the blond in an explosion, but there was something awfully wrong and stupid about the reason. He wanted to question the poor excuse of a father for even going so far as t-

"Imagine my complete lack of housing issues when I sold my house for this lab in Winters," Dr. Andonuts said, laughing for a bit. "I could only barely afford a table for me to sleep on, and I twist a lot during my sleep! Having you around ten years ago would've been a nightmare for you. You'd have hated me even more if you missed an arm or an eyebrow!"

Chris couldn't believe men like Dr. Andonuts even existed.

"Uh…" Jeff fell speechless for a moment. "…You know what? I'm so very glad you put in me in that boarding school. I don't regret it one bit. Nope. Not at all." Chris and Lucario exchanged dull sideway glances at each other.

"Indeed! That saved your life countless of times," Dr. Andonuts said. "Well, either way, I'm glad you made it all the way here, my son. I'm so happy to have you back."

"Too bad our meeting will have to continue another day…" The scientist gave him an odd look. "Dad, listen… Earlier today, I got a call from a girl named Paula who begged me to go help her and another friend named Ness. They're being held captive at the basement of…some place I don't know somewhere in Threed, and I must get there at all costs before something happens to them."

"Oh, that's completely understandable."

The other young kid was bewildered. "(…Did he just seriously understand that?)" Chris thought.

"(No objections, no worries, no questions?)" Lucario wondered. "(I'm starting to believe he's not a good father.)"

"Allow me to help you out with that!" Dr. Andonuts said. "I thought something like this would happen, so that's why I finished my latest invention yet: the Sky Runner!" He motioned them to follow him to the left area of the lab where a large object sat on a small platform. The object was actually a flying ship that looked very close to a UFO more than anything. It was large with an oval shape, sporting small windows on the upper half of the gray metal. "Here it is. Your method of transport is ready."

"That…looks like an UFO," Chris spoke. "Aren't we getting shot down by an army base on the way to Threed?"

Perhaps he was oblivious, but the scientist just noticed that Jeff wasn't alone. "Who might you be?" he asked.

"(On top of all that, he's ignorant,)" Lucario thought ashamed.

"U-um, my name's Chris," Chris said. "This tall guy next to me is my guardian Lucario." Lucario preened a little at the description. "We're travelers traveling with Jeff to escort him to Threed."

"Why, you're too young for being a traveler," the scientist said. "Do your parents know you're here?"

The young kid felt a bit offended. "(Really… You're seriously asking me that when you put Jeff in a…)" Chris grunted mentally. "Y-yes, they do know… But…" He remembered that he was talking to a somewhat-mad scientist. "…But they don't know I've been de-aged! An hour ago, I was a teenager until some bomb that Jeff managed to disable by hims-"

"Jeff disabled a bomb?" the scientist said. Instead of voicing concern, he smiled wide and said, "Atta boy, Jeff! You make me so proud." Jeff kept looking deadpan despite the praise he got.

"Um, yes, kudos to him," Chris said, sounding desperate. "That bomb he disabled on the way here suddenly blew up anyway, but instead all of us getting affected, I was the only one who got screwed! Meaning, I turned into a kid!"

Dr. Andonuts pinched his mustache. "So, I take it you want to find a way to go back to your old self?" he asked. Chris nodded vigorously. "You're so lucky, young man! I have an invention that will help you out: the Age Jumper 1000!"

With all the impossible things that were happening today, Chris lost all sense of questioning what was going on. He just looked hopeful that there was a solution.

"Let's pray that it won't blow up or cause you to grow even older! That '1000' can…I mean, probably will reduce you to dust… Lately, I have had a bad streak of luck… But who knows, this may be it!"

That was enough for Chris to remember that this man wasn't the most reliable person to ask for help. "Y-you know what? Forget I asked about that. I don't want to take any chances…"

"Ahh…" the scientist muttered in shame. "That's too bad… I was hoping to find someone to test it out…" Lucario shot him with a nasty glare that he ignored. "In any case, Jeff, you should take the Sky Runner. It can take you all the way to the place you want to go where that Ness and that Paula are waiting for you. Here." He approached the UFO and pressed a button on the front, opening the door to it that fell down on the floor. "Go ahead! Oh, and when you can, please come back to check the Phase Distorter I'm working on. It'll blow your minds away, like, boom."

Obviously, the ship was meant to go in the sky. Chris hardly boarded any airplanes in his life so he didn't know what to expect from his first experience. Then again, he went through so many incredible experiences several moments ago that flying was the most common thing in the list. The flying machine being an UFO, though, was the only fact that put it next to the oddity. "This is probably a personal opinion of mine, but, why did you…modeled the Sky Runner after a UFO?" Chris asked. "Why not a normal, small helicopter?"

"Pfft," Dr. Andonuts chuckled. "A helicopter? Where's the fun in that? I like going for the most extravagant designs so that people can recognize me! Mundane is boring."

It occurred to Chris that the adults he had met in the world so far were very strange. The Tessie club should have been an early example of foreshadowing. "…Good enough…" Chris muttered.

Lucario scoffed at the UFO. He could easily take Chris and Jeff all the way to Threed using ExtremeSpeed, but Master Hand told them to avoid deviating from the plot or else they would suffer the consequences. "Let's go inside and hope this machine doesn't fall midway," he said.

"That won't happen, I assure you," Dr. Andonuts said. "…Lucario, I hope I'm not being rude, but can I put you inside a stasis chamber to study you in great detail?"

"Bite me," Lucario responded, glaring down at the scientist.

"Oh, the no glare… Fiddlesticks."

Several seconds later, the trio boarded the machine. The inside of the ship was a bit too cramped for their tastes, especially for Lucario who had to duck and push his ears down. The small windows provided them with enough sight of the outside, even when they sat down. Jeff opted to operate the flying vessel from the control panel on the front center, the blinking buttons distracting Chris. "Okay, Dad, we're ready to take off," Jeff said, closing the hatch.

"Good luck, Jeff!" Dr. Andonuts shouted. "Let's see each other in ten years again!"

The scientist started waving a hand as he saw the ship floating up from the platform into the open ceiling of the lab. When the Sky Runner exited and started flying southwest, the opening closed down slowly, a small piece of snow falling down onto the platform.

A full canister with gasoline was sitting behind the platform, hiding behind the large ship. Noticing the canister, the scientist blinked a few times. "…Oh boy, I forgot to refill the fuel tank of the Sky Runner…" he trailed off. "…Yeah, they'll crash down and Jeff will get into a ten-year coma for sure."

Above the Skies

Surreal experience after surreal experience, Chris and Lucario sat down on a corner of the small machine as they felt the occasional rumbling movements of the cruising UFO. It was a miracle that Jeff was quickly learning how to operate the Sky Runner as Dr. Andonuts completely forgot about making instructions on the go or even an instruction manual. A nearby sticky note on the control panel read, "Nobody reads the manual anymore these days and won't do that in the incoming years." Those were wise words, since Chris himself never bothered to read them unless it was very necessary.

Ironically, the situation was asking for a manual of the sort, but Jeff had everything under control.

Trying to forget about their worries, the duo looked outside through the small windows at the clouds. They were riding in a UFO, but that didn't make the scenery outside any less enjoyable. The clouds outside were being touched by the light of the sun. Since Winters was a particularly cloudy region, going further away reduced the cloud mass as holes in the sky started to appear, making the sunlight rays look majestic in a way. "…I was scared about riding this ship," Chris said. "But…but it's so amazing to look outside and watch the clouds."

Lucario kept a tight grip on Chris's smaller body, pulling him to his side with one hand. Sensing the calming aura from his trainer and seeing the small bright smile on his face, the Aura Pokémon felt at peace. "I agree," Lucario said. "This is also my first time flying through the sky."

Chris looked up and chuckled, leaning his head against Lucario's furred body. "Hey, this is one of our first times doing something new together!" he pointed out.

Lucario chuckled. "It's very refreshing to experience something like this for the first time together," he admitted. "For that, I'm grateful."

"I wish I could stare outside," Jeff spoke from the control panel. "Sadly, my Dad didn't build an auto control option for the Sky Runner. I'm slowly figuring out how to operate everything… We're lucky that Threed is far away from here, though I theorize we'll get there in…an hour or so if we keep the same speed."

"(…And Ness is there,)" Lucario thought.

His trainer also realized the gravity of the situation. Ness was the reason why Master Hand sent them to his world. Keeping him safe from the army would be easy with Lucario, but Chris wasn't so sure if they were up for it judging how they had screwed up very early. Moreover, Ness was the leader of the group of chosen children. Convincing him would be another ordeal to pass. More lies were needed to keep their charade up, unless they figured something out first. Jeff was just a stepping stone for what was to come.

The duo fell silent and exchanged worried glances.

"(How are my two saviors doing?!)"

Both of them gasped loudly when they heard a mental scream inside their heads. Jeff looked back at them. "Is something wrong, you two?" he asked. "We're not crashing into an airplane…right?"

"E-eh, no…" Chris muttered. "We just…we just...we just…"

"…realized we haven't eaten in a while," Lucario finished, faking looking ashamed. "Yes… We're starting to get hungry…"

"…Unfortunately, the Sky Runner also lacks a fridge with food," Jeff noted, turning his face to the panel. "Hang in there for another hour, guys. We'll immediately head for a food establishment to rest. We haven't stopped walking ever since we left the Tessie club people…"

The two sighed with relief, though Jeff thought they sighed at their hunger. Because talking verbally in secret was not a good thing, Lucario resorted to telepathy. "(Chris, I assume you also heard that voice, right?)"

"(T-the booming voice? Yes, I heard it…)"

"(Oh, good! You two heard me clearly!)"

Even though they weren't keeping up with things, the duo heard the voice clearer than before. No doubt it was Master Hand himself. "(M-Master Hand?!)" Chris said alarmed.

"(The one and only,)" the hand spoke to their minds. "(Good to see my dimensional telepathy skills are on top of the game… Howdy there, you otherworldly travelers! I've seen your every move ever since you departed to your long-ass journey to save the universes. Happy to see you two are doing…sub-par for the moment.)" He grumbled. "(I expected more from you, Lucario! You're certainly FAR stronger than the one I had with me, but geez, you're screwing up even more… Are you sure you're up for this task? I saw everything you've done like, for example, letting Chris turn into a kid…)"

Lucario winced. "(H-how was I supposed to know that bomb would react like that?)" he asked in his defense.

"(Well, I can tell you this. There was no real need for Tabuu to develop a bomb like that,)" the hand said. "(Bombs don't do that at all. What I can infer is that Ness's world had some sort of influence in how the bomb went off… That or your little Assist Trophy Jeff did a weird number on defusing the bomb. By the way, that kid is something. You could learn from him, Chris.)"

Chris winced next. "(He's just as inexperienced as I am! But what he does have is more IQ than I do…machinery-wise.)"

"(No excuses,)" the hand retorted. Afterwards, he sighed. "(…Look, Chris. You're starting to feel like the load for our little team, and I'm starting to regret not giving you a single job to test out your devotion for the rather suicidal choice you so foolishly chose to take on with Lucario…who can kill you if he were so much as to step on your frailer little body.)"

"(…Are you deliberately insulting me? I can't tell,)" Chris said.

"(If he is, I will 'deliberately' murder him while you're away so you don't have to faint,)" Lucario said in a threatening voice.

"(Empty threats fall in my deaf ears. As I was saying, Chris, I feel pity for you,)" Master Hand said. "(No way in that body you're going to dish damage. I'm going to go ahead and give you a break.)"

Chris was finally getting a break from the ordeals. "(You mean you're going to appear and finish the bad guys off?)"

Master Hand laughed, and then Crazy Hand joined with the laughing by laughing even louder. "(Are you effing kidding me? Doing that will put me in peril with the army! I go out from my hiding spot and Tabuu will call the National Guard on my wrist, the death rate in Ness's world will hit the top, you will either puke, faint, or do both and die in your sleep, and Lucario is probably getting a nuke dropped on his head...)"

"(…Holy crap,)" Chris said. "(Is it incredible to say I can totally expect all that to happen at this point?)"

"(Seriously…a nuke,)" was all Lucario could say.

"(…Yeah, things will get that crazy. You two are my only hope to keep things under control, and if I have to give you a job, Chris…then it's all better. So…snap.)" Fingers snapping echoed.

"(…Wait, give me a jo-)" Chris was interrupted as he felt something pulsating on his body for a brief moment, but the feeling quickly died down. It was a very strange feeling that even alerted Lucario through his aura senses. With a quick scan of his trainer's soul, the Aura Pokémon didn't see anything hazardous. "(A-ah!)"

"(Congrats!)" Crazy Hand said. "(You have obtained your first job: the PK Kid!)" He announced cheerfully. "(The description says: Blast foes with mind attacks, using a variety of elemental skills that only come out from your thoughts.)"

To be honest, Chris felt no different except for the smaller body size. "(But I don't feel a difference! Did you really do anything to me?)"

"(Sure I did,)" the hand said. "(I just didn't want you to make a scene in front of Jeff. Look, let me explain here how this works… Chris, your job list has finally obtained a new job; a job stylized to resemble the powers that Ness has. You won't only get his powers, but your appearance will get affected… I left out the part where your body goes through some horrendously painful alterations, so to indicate you're using a job, you'll be wearing the same clothing Ness wears. Don't worry about cosmetic things like shirt size. The job will always fit you with the right size.)"

"(Unbelievable…)" Chris trailed off. "(…This is really happening to me…)"

"(What a culture shock, huh? Really now, all will work out in the end if you add some courage into the mix,)" the hand, for once, encouraged the kid. "(Since I didn't change your appearance for some security, I'll tell you how to change jobs manually at will… All you have to do is think hard about changing to the job desired in your mind, and presto, you'll be wearing the job's clothes in an instant.)"

Though not having changed to the job, Chris sighed with some relief. "(At least I won't be that much of a load to the team now…)"

"(That is still to be seen,)" the hand said, confusing the duo. "(You see that job I just gave you? It only has PK Fire for usage… Everything else that Ness has is locked out to you from the start.)"

Once more, Chris was cursing his dumb luck. "(You gave me a CRIPPLED job?! Do you really want me to make a difference in a battle or what?! I-I can't believe how much pressure you're putting on me!)"

"(Alright then… Chris, show me you'll at least fight back in a pretty serious fight against a living being that's fully sentient… Oh, and to make a point, don't count on Lucario for support as if he's not even there to help. Imagine you're just you against, say, Galleom…)"

"(…)"

The kid was left speechless when he considered about such a situation ever happening to him. Who was he kidding? Fighting a monster was less heartbreaking than fighting a real foe that could feel emotions and think its own thoughts. It dawned on Chris that the chance to even going so far as to killing a sentient being just for the sake of keeping his own life safe was possible… Ness's world was filled with odd creatures that made no sense to live. It was like a tutorial world for him before the serious stuff showed up.

"(…I…I don't feel that confident,)" Chris admitted, Lucario looking sad. "(…I don't have a lot of courage like Lucario here…)"

"(Sorry for ruining the mood, but it has to be done this way,)" the hand said. "(Don't worry about not being able to use all of Ness's powers. Those locked powers will eventually unlock themselves as you build up experience in battles. I'm not saying you're leveling up or anything. Who knows! During a battle, you may learn new skills on the go. I encourage you to assist your murdering partner and anyone else you come across with your presence… I AM still testing you out, you know!)"

Lucario smiled apologetically. "(Chris, you have me. I'll prevent the day where you have to fight alone by fighting together against our enemies… Hopefully, experience can leak to you,)" he reassured his trainer.

"(I made my choice, so… I guess there's no complaining about it,)" Chris said. "(…This sucks, though.)"

"(You can complain all you want. Somebody like you would do that during their first missions,)" the hand said. "(…So, that's all I wanted to tell you, guys. From now on, I'll cut our communication. I don't want Tabuu to catch us talking like this. I'll call you when the mission is over with, which isn't really over due to the abnormal readings I'm getting from the mansion.)"

Chris sighed. "(I knew we weren't done yet… Wait, mansion?)"

"(Oopsie! I don't want to spoil the surprise just yet,)" the hand said. "(Godspeed to you and all that! Good luck! I'll call you very soon! Master Hand out!)" The telepathy then ended.

Lucario upheld the telepathy, seeing as Jeff was busy with the panel. "(…Everything is happening, Chris. Nothing is an illusion.)"

"(I wish it was, except for you, of course…)" Chris responded weakly, trying to cope up with the huge task he was given. Drifting in his thoughts, he looked outside to admire the scenery. Arduous battles would eventually happen very soon, and he feared to think about it for too much. For now, he looked down to see that the Sky Runner was hovering over Fourside.

The ship was flying close to the city. There was a large billboard on top of the tallest building that had a blond fat kid flashing a golden toothy grin. Chris couldn't see the fat boy's eyes because they were hidden under his hair, but he did read the neon sign that read, "Pokey owns YOU." Said kid happened to be standing next to the sign to admire his "sexy" good looks on paper. When he noticed the Sky Runner, Pokey snobbishly stuck out his tongue and walked back inside the building.

"(Well, excuse me for looking at your billboard,)" Chris thought. Lucario had seen the scene, and he growled mentally. The two got bored of sightseeing the cloudy setting that they decided to rest…

Half an hour later…

The ship suddenly rocketed to the sides, making the sleeping duo wake up, alarmed. Almost getting a heart attack, Chris looked outside. Somehow, everything had turned dark, but he could see the moon in the space. At least that was everything he could make out from the violent shaking of the ship. "W-w-what's going on?!" he shouted as Lucario kept a tight grip on him.

Jeff was frantically controlling the ship from the panel. A quick glance at the gas gauge told him that they ran out of fuel. "T-the ship ran out of fuel!" Jeff yelled. "I-I'm doing my best to keep it from plummeting down!"

The other kid started breathing in and out. The outside indicated that they were far above the ground. A fall that high up would most likely kill them all…except for Lucario, Chris doubted, though that wasn't important to think. "Can we make it?!" Lucario yelled, growling occasionally.

"…No," Jeff finally said once the arrow hit dead bottom on the gauge. The rocketing ship then stopped shaking as it suddenly came to a complete stop in midair, lifelessly hovering among the clouds. "…Nice knowing you, guys."

Shortly after, the ship responded by dropping down like a pebble to the far-away ground. Not sooner than that, screams ensued as Chris and Jeff proclaimed bloody murder. Lucario was thinking about opening a hole in the ship to escape, but the force of the air could suck them all out forcibly. In the end, he pulled Jeff to his side and clutched both screaming children together under his arms. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!"

It was pure good luck that the Sky Runner stopped right above the spot where Ness and Paula were held captive.

Threed – Graveyard Underground

Feeling as if an entire day had gone by already, the two children started eating their sandwiches after so much nagging coming from Ness and his grumbling stomach. Annoyance triumphed over Paula, but she couldn't complain. She was very hungry as well.

"This has to last us," she emphasized as Ness voraciously ate his sandwich. "I'm giving us ten hours before we resort to cannibalism."

"Skruh dut!" Ness spoke with his mouth full. Paula dodged the sight by looking away. He swallowed his food. "I'll go crazy and start blasting that door over there until it gives away! A serious dose of PSI Rockin' alpha is all I need…"

Paula shook her head. "That'll exhaust your mind! I won't do that," she said. "But if you want to give it a shot, go ahead. Don't complain once you start getting headaches because I didn't stock pills up for this."

Ness mumbled with relief as he let the sandwich's taste satiate his tongue. "Hmmmmm…" he trailed off with pleasure. "Just let me enjoy eating this sandwich before it goes to waste… Man, I'm glad I bugged you to eat this."

Paula sarcastically smiled. "Do be careful now, Ness," she said. "I won't spoil the food, but destiny likes to ruin the mood when people say that kind of thing."

Ness rolled his eyes at her. "Suuuuuuuuuure," he drawled on.

Destiny then responded by dropping a large object on the cave from the newly-broken rocky ceiling.

Both children gasped loudly before the abrupt force of the crash pushed dust and rock everywhere. The two PSI children stumbled and fell on their backs, losing their grips on their food as the cave became filled with dust. They screamed loudly, confused as to what was happening.

Amidst the dust cloud, Ness uncovered his head to forward. His eyes widened in shock at the scaring sight before him… His sandwich, its ingredients covered in dust and separated violently across the ground, mocked him. The Onett boy then bellowed to the ceiling, cursing destiny harshly for toying with him and ignoring the unknown sets of coughs coming from the wreckage. "MY SANDWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICH! NOOOOOOOOOOoooooo…"

TO BE CONTINUED…


"The Oddness Gets Odder. Oh, come on! My world isn't that odd!" Ness complained.

"We're children capable of burning monsters with our minds," Paula said.

"I can't burn people with my mind, but what I can really do is fix broken machines," Jeff said.

"And I can blast foes with a single Force Palm," Lucario said.

"Thank you for reminding us how brutal you can be…" Chris trailed off.


Would you like to save your data?

Yes

Overwrite file?

Yes

-Threed-

Chris, Lucario, Jeff / Ness, Paula


Now the first arc has reached the most important point: the eventual meeting with the first Smasher.

I like how this chapter turned out. This is definitely much better than before. For those of you who don't remember, the arc had Chris turning into a very young child who confused Lucario for his dad. That was scrapped over turning him into the three children's age to add to the, shall I say, oddness of the EarthBound world. A big plus is the addition of events.

The next half will surely be more eventful now that Ness is a few feet away. Expect more unique interactions.

I encourage all readers to review.