The Great City
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The toons' senses were overcome with fear. They saw what they believed was the impossible. There were skyscrapers hundreds of stories high. Their eyes glared down at them maliciously like giant silver demons. Millions of cogs rushed quickly in every direction. They ranged from levels 20 to 50. Cars, trains, buses, and trucks zoomed noisily down the streets. As the early morning sun rose, its light glistened off the monstrous buildings. Everywhere they looked there was nothing but cogs everywhere. The air was smelly, and the sound was earsplitting. The city was unimaginable in size. They knew that they were trapped, and there was no possible way to escape. They had arrived at The Great City.
The toons had a whole new perspective to look at. They saw the magnificence and power of the cogs, but at the same time, it was terribly frightening. The secret of the cogs' original whereabouts was finally known, but it wasn't over yet. Even though they knew generally where the cogs originated, they still had no clue as to how this was all started.
Harry ushered the toons over to a bench away from the crowds of cogs exiting the airport. Simeon saw a grubby map on the ground, and he picked it up. It was a map of Cogtropolis.
"Let me see it," Harry said. He examined it with fear. "Just as I thought, this city is a giant metal trap crammed with three hundred million cogs." He planted his face in his hands.
The younger toons were not having a good time either. They began to lose laff points just by looking at the city. There was no happiness left in the world, and it slowly ate away at them. A truck rumbled by and shook the ground, temporarily blocking their view of the skyscrapers and leaving a trail of smoke in its wake.
"It's all my fault," Harry cried.
Evina disagreed. "No, it was my idea!"
Harry jerked back up with an angry expression. "You were just excited! You just wanted an adventure! I knew this would never work, but I let you go, anyway!"
Evina felt a wave of guilt come over him. He feared that he had already caused the death of these toons. He couldn't let Harry, his best friend, blame himself for what had happened to the toons. A series of questions and worried thoughts swarmed frantically through his head. Why did I have to tell Harry to come with me? Why did I have to drag these other clueless toons along with me? Now we're on the other side of the world! What could nine toons do against an entire nation of cogs? They are bound to find out about us eventually!
Their Flight attendant walked out of the airport and took a deep breath of not-so-fresh city air.
"What a great day it is!" She sighed and turned her head to the toons, walking over to them and sitting down. "What are you doing here? Waiting for a bus?"
Evina decided to speak this time. "Yeah, we uh... are going to our office."
"Let me guess," she said, "it's secret business for Cogs Inc.?"
"Uh, yeah," he replied.
"I heard they do the craziest things," the Name Dropper said, taking out a small electronic device with text on its screen. "Do you want to talk more sometime?"
"No, thank you," Evina said as he was beginning to become nervous and annoyed.
She laughed; it sounded terrible, and all the toons wished she would go away. "It's just that the cogs on the flight said some of the weirdest things about you." All the toons gulped and looked at each other.
"Yeah, you act like toons a lot more than cogs. That's not a good thing, is it? Well, whatever the case is, you need to learn to relax. I know they say that there are some toons lurking around here somewhere," she teased them, "but that shouldn't worry you. I wish you good luck on whatever you—" She stopped and looked up at them. For a moment, she appeared to be calculating something very difficult. She was looking straight into their faces and froze. Her expression became a look of horror. "But it can't be! I feel it! YOU—"
She couldn't finish her words because Harry had already covered her mouth. He lifted her off the bench and took her behind an alley by the tunnel to the airport. The others followed.
"We have to talk about something," he said.
"YOU'RE TOONS!" she screamed.
They all reacted instantaneously. They took off their suits and opened their gag bags. Soon they defeated her first level 7 self and cream splattered everywhere. Unfortunately, they failed to notice she was a v3.0 cog. Pies flew, and the skelecog was soon destroyed. There was an electric crackling as a violet, virtual skelecog appeared in its place. After this was promptly destroyed with another round of gags, she was gone for good. There was a thick layer of white cream slowly dripping off all the walls in the alley. Gears and other junk were scattered about on the ground.
A Newsbot peeked into the alley, wondering what was happening. He nearly exploded with surprise. With incredible reflex, he whipped out a camera and clicked it. There was a blinding flash just as the toons were rounding the opposite corner. They were now behind the tunnel leading to the underground airport. A plane took off with a blare overhead.
"Take off your gloves!" Harry commanded them. They all took off their gloves without hesitation as the Newsbot appeared around the corner and faced them with a wicked smile. It was an Anchorman level 38 Newsbot v2.0. They knew they were in for a lot of trouble.
"This will make headline news!" he said with a terrible voice. "Everyone will know that I caught the toons in Cogtropolis and destroyed them once and for all!"
They backed up to a tall fence and stared back at him as he carefully stepped closer. They were trying to brace themselves for the attack that was coming, disappointed that they had barely arrived in the city only to be destroyed.
Their hearts pounded in their chests, and the noise of the city drowned out all other sound and perception. They almost seemed to forget what was about to happen. Then suddenly Simeon pulled out a trigger box and hit it. A Big Weight came whistling out of the sky, and the Newsbot jumped out of the way.
"Is that the best you got?" he mocked them.
"Oh, not quite," Goopy said with a smirk.
Suddenly, chaos broke out once again. Everyone ran forward and threw everything they had at the cog. He was stunned for a moment, not knowing what to expect. After the initial surprise, he swiped his hand and knocked a few throw gags out of the air.
"It's time for you to slow down," he said. He threw a strange, foggy, glass sphere about the size of a tennis ball. It shattered on the ground releasing a cloud of rancid white gas. The toons coughed, and everything became blurry. Several corporate attacks came at them from the cloud and their laff points plummeted. They walked out of the cloud of smoke feeling light-headed and nauseous.
"I got a plan!" Zany cried and pulled out a fire hose. She put a finger over the opening, so the water would come out in a spray. The Newsbot was blinded and stood in place. "Drop all your gags!" Zany shouted.
Everyone dropped as many drop gags as they could, hoping that their effect altogether might cause enough bonus damage. A loud metallic thud could be heard as each item fell. Soon the cog was implanted deep in the ground. He struggled to get up with an awful creaking noise. He shook the dirt and grass off him suit and glowered at them. With one flick of his finger, they were all tripped and fell flat on their faces. The toons could see he was weak and shaking while struggling to stand. He was dented and dirty and sparks could be seen.
Before the cog could do anything more, Catman took out the first gag he found, a squirting flower, and hit the button. There were many sparks, and the cog froze from lack of energy. He still sneered at them though he couldn't do anything else. Everybody took out all their cream pies and threw it at him. Pie after pie splattered everywhere, and soon he fell apart.
The skelecog underneath was somewhat damaged from the drop gags, but it could still move. The battle went on as everyone exhausted their supply of gags. Incredibly, a single cog had taken all the strength and attacks of nine toons. Then Ricky used his last resort. He threw down all three dynamite bundles at once.
"NO!" Harry screamed, but it was too late.
There was an incredible explosion as had never been seen nor heard by them before. The skelecog was blown to smithereens, and the toons were blasted up against the fence from sheer force. The deafening boom echoed off every building in the area, and the city almost seemed to stop. They were covered from head to toe in thick, black soot.
As the smoke cleared away, the toons were still stunned but were quickly coming back to their senses. They heard the voices and feet of many cogs coming around the alley, but they didn't dare move. They knew they were invisible to them under the soot when they closed their eyes.
The cogs were horrified by what they saw. There was cream dripping off the walls with broken parts of two destroyed cogs scattered everywhere. They started to shout and run away.
"THE TOONS ARE HERE!" some of them exclaimed.
Harry jumped to his feet. "Let's go!" he said, and they ran as fast as they could. They darted across the street and nearly got hit by the speeding cars. They caught their breath on the median in the middle of the street before resuming their run. Cogs were rudely pushed aside. Hundreds of cogs shouted and pointed at them as they darted away. Soon the entire street was full of cogs frantically running away from the toons. Some of the braver ones were chasing the toons.
The toons were very tired, but they knew they could never rest until they were safe, and they would always have to be aware of everything around them in the city. The mysterious, dark figures of the heroes ran quite a few more blocks and then dashed into another alley.
"We're all going to die!" Evina gasped through his pain, but nobody seemed to be listening.
"I know we're going to die," Harry whispered "but why surrender now? I would at least like to give it a try."
Evina did his best to give him a weak smile, but it didn't last long. He knew that even if they were to survive this, they would have a lot of hard and depressing work ahead of them.
By now, thousands of police were arriving at the scene. The sirens flashed and sounded loudly from every direction. They flooded the streets and assured the cogs that things would be alright.
The toons now noticed that the sky was getting darker overhead as the police began their search for them. They lied quietly among the garbage, shedding tears of hopelessness as the lights flashed and alarms blared. The dark clouds above them started swirling around.
"Well, things could be a lot worse," Pink said optimistically.
There were thunder and lightning. The policemen barely finished hanging their crime scene tape when they called off their search; one of them glimpsed into the pile of garbage briefly before walking away. He thought he saw something unusual.
It began to rain; it was not light rain but a heavy downpour. Cogs were running as fast as they could to find shelter, and within a few minutes, the panic was over. The streets were empty. The only sound was that of the rain.
The toons were bewildered. The soot slowly washed off their bodies as they sat in the pile of garbage. They had no clue of what to do. They were burned from the dynamite, exhausted from running, and petrified with fear. They sat there in the rain, half dead, and yet somehow relieved.
The rain coming down the alley between the skyscrapers looked like a tunnel up to the clouds. The water was much warmer than they expected. The hot streets began to cool off, and the pain from their burns was relieved.
All the windows on the cog buildings were closed. Nobody could hear the toons nor see them. They were suddenly all alone in the great city. They could relax, but more importantly, they were still alive. They began to laugh. It may have been from insanity or it may have been from relief.
"I can't believe how lucky we are," Simeon gasped.
"Me neither," Pink agreed. The city was terribly magnificent, and they almost forgot the reason they were there.
"What do we need to do now, Harry?" Pink asked. "We should do something before the rain stops."
Harry stood up, and the group turned to him. His face lit up like he was struck with a brilliant idea. "I've got a new plan. Everyone, follow me." The tone of his voice held some hope. Visibility was low as the rain poured down on them. Their senses were overcome with the sound of rain hitting the street and draining into the storm sewers. It frightened them when they looked either way down the street because they couldn't see the end. Harry led them to the front of the building nearest to them. The glass door read:
Cogs Inc. Southwest Marketing Office
68401 Ram Avenue
They put on their cog suits even though they were completely soaked, then they walked inside. There was a rush of cool air as they entered a large lobby. They were wet and shivering, dripping water on the floor with their boots squeaking. There were dozens of Sellbots walking around here. None of the toons knew where they were going, but they assumed Harry had a good plan. He led them down a hallway past many powerful Sellbots. Then he snuck into a room with a sign labeled:
DANGER! DO NOT ENTER!
It was full of gags, just as he had expected. He locked the door once they had all gone inside. They took off their suits and waited patiently for him to reveal his plan.
"First of all, I would like to tell you how surprised I am by the number of gags that cogs bring to Cog Nation, but that doesn't matter. We are here in Cogtropolis," Harry said. "We are in for a lot of trouble. I think we only survived by luck, and now we'll be headline news. The cogs must've taken the anchorman's camera and seen our picture by now."
None of the other toons had considered this yet. They became deeply depressed again.
"Then why are you so happy?" Goopy asked him.
"This news will be the biggest in years! Cogs in Toontown will hear about it, and so will the Toon Council!"
"Ah, I see," Pink remarked, "they'll know now that we're still alive. But wait, when has a toon ever read a cog newspaper before?"
Harry lost his optimism "You're right. I guess there's a chance Toontown won't find out about us. And we also have a new challenge ahead of us. We need to live, and we need money to live. We need jobs to get money."
"So, we need to get jobs?" Zany asked as though she couldn't believe what he was suggesting.
"Precisely," Harry said. "I'm afraid we're going to be closer to cogs than we've ever wanted to be. Now, if we can make enough money we could invest some of it in our investigations to find out how the cogs started then fly home!" Everybody sighed at the mention of going home. Then they started filling their bags with gags.
Rocky was amazed. "I think I'm finally realizing it," he said. "We have to work! We have to work like... cogs!"
Ricky laughed. "Just like I told you, he's the lazy one." They laughed with him and filled their gag bags until they couldn't fit any more in.
"I wish we could bring the whole barrel," Evina sighed.
Harry, however, seemed to have all the answers to their worries. "We're no longer bound to the restraints of Toontown. Desperate times call for desperate measures." Everyone gave him puzzled looks before he continued. "I, Harry Oldman, being a member of the Toon Council, officially give us the right to do anything we must do to survive including the right to use any gag including ones that we're not trained to use. We might even create super gags and bags." Everyone continued looking baffled. "Basically," he explained, "I know how to make our own supplies that are better than the ones you can get in Toontown. The Toon Council has been careful to not let these secrets out, but I believe that now is the time to use them. I could make a bag that could hold thousands of gags."
"Now I can have as many dynamite as I want!" Ricky beamed.
"Yeah that's great," Rocky agreed, "but why were you carrying three back there? Isn't that illegal?"
Ricky changed the subject. "Now, just how will we get these jobs?"
"We should go to an employment center," Harry said. "I just need to find out where the nearest one is. We also need to get a loan and find an apartment. I think we might get enough money for food and everything we need, and everything will be fine."
"But won't the cogs know we're toons?" Pink asked. "That Name Dropper said that she could feel it in us."
"I've taken care of that," Harry said. "Without our gloves, they can't feel our magical energy. The only way they can detect us now is if we act like toons. There is a catch, though. Not wearing gloves has some negative effects on us. We cannot fall and remain unharmed. We are susceptible to injury, disease and permanent depression."
Each of them already noticed they were feeling a little weird. They were going to have to work to live. It may be hard, but they knew that they had to do it. They would now begin their secret life, living among the cogs, always wondering how long it would take to escape. A thought now occurred to them that they might be there for years before they earned enough money to leave. And they no longer felt like toons. They stood up and put their suits back on. They had stuffed as many gags as they could fit in their bags. Now, with nothing else to do, they left the room and walked back to the lobby.
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