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"Space... the final frontier. These are the adventures of the foolish passengers of a small unnamed ship. Their mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out the human civilization, to boldly save others as no toon has done before."
Kate groaned loudly.
"What?" Glue Stick protested. "It's from this show I've been watching today. I feel like we can compare our experiences to it. All we need to do now is get some more colorful shirts."
Evina tried to ignore him, but he wasn't frustrated any more, just bored. Ever since he returned from the cave he felt like a brand new individual. The thing living inside of him could still be felt, now more clearly than any other time before. It was like a strange, cold, weighty presence somewhere around the area of his stomach. But now that he was no longer fighting it, it was no longer hostile. Now he could relax properly. He was getting used to it.
"But just listen." Glue Stick pleaded. "Don't you think it would be cool to like... beam places? Just think about it. It's a shame this ship can't do stuff like that."
Gyro smirked but tried to conceal it.
The horse had still seen it. "What was that? Are you hiding something?"
"Maybe." Gyro grinned. Even he seemed to be in a better mood.
"Fine. If you are too busy to talk to me then... I can still have fun on my own. Yeah, I am just as busy as you are. Actually, I'm even more so." He turned back to the monitor and started another episode.
Evina could tell that Glue Stick was also angry at Kate. Apparently he didn't like standing in a funny way and breathing slowly for hours as she did. As much as the idea of being a ninja was appealing, the horse still wasn't up to putting all that effort into it.
Then there was a small beep which interrupted everyone's activities. Gyro looked down at a small red light and then turned it off.
"What was that?" Evina asked his father.
"Oh, it's nothing."
Of course the duck didn't believe it, and surely enough the light turned on again.
The son walked up to the control panel. "Does interesting mean good or bad?"
"Well, just look at our energy readings?" the pilot pointed to a dial with its needle jumping up and down. "Even though we're in hyperspace there is something out there that's strong enough to cause these fluctuations, no, we're actually losing energy. Without it we will be in serious trouble."
"Will we have to drop out?"
"I really don't want to, but now I don't think we have much of a choice. But there's nothing that's supposed to be out here in this region except the empty void of space." His hand moved out to the drop out lever and hovered there for a moment as he worried about whether he should, but the energy readings were too troublesome so he gave in.
After the ship's repairs the hyperspace transitions were smoother, but it was still shocking to someone who wasn't expecting it. Glue Stick leapt out of his seat, slammed the headphones down, and stormed over the cockpit. "You scared me half to death! Why didn't you tell me we were dropping out?"
"It's because our energy is dropping out." Gyro angrily pointed to the dial again. "And if you don't want to miss your show then how would you feel if we got stranded out here literally in the middle of nowhere?"
The two of them argued while Evina watched. He was getting tired of seeing this kind of contention going on. It was too predictable, but what he didn't expect was what happened next.
"Hey guys. What's this?" It wasn't any of their voices but Kate in the back.
Evina turned to see that she was pointing to one of the monitors. "What is it?" He walked over to take a look. And even though he knew he wasn't an expert, it still alarmed him to see it.
"Is everything alright back there?" Gyro asked.
"Um, you might want to come here and look at this." Evina replied, his voice shaking a little.
The pilot rushed over to them and glared at the image. "Holy cog sprocket, what is that?"
Indeed, it was the question that was in all of their heads. Out here in the middle of space where there were no stars or planets around a world had been detected by the computer. It was very close to them. It was barren but there were huge waves of crazy magnetic pulses coming out of it. There was no way it could've been natural. This is what was draining their ship.
"We need to get out of here. Now!" Gyro was sweating and he jogged back to the controls.
But the thing inside Evina tightened painfully. This was the strongest thing he had ever felt from it before. The answer was so obvious and so clear. "We have to go down there."
"Are you out of your mind?" the father cried. "There's nothing there but certain death!"
"No, dad. There's something calling us. And the feeling is so strong that I know you can feel it too. Don't deny it."
Gyro was panting. He carefully withdrew his shaking hands from the controls and inhaled deeply. "Ok." He admitted quietly. "I can feel it too. But can you really trust it?"
Evina paused for a moment to think about it. All eyes were on him. The feeling inside was so intense that he couldn't ignore it. "I do trust it."
"You're going alone then?"
"No!" Kate cried. "I'm coming too!"
The inventor scratched his head, still trying to fully absorb this unexpected situation. "Well..." he started, "I guess that means we only have one option now." He turned to the tiny little robot. "Helper. Activate battle mode."
"What?" Glue Stick cried as the helper pressed a large red button. The images on the monitors changed and the lights in the ship turned red.
"Battle mode engaged." The ship computer responded.
"You two, into the back room now." Gyro ordered his son and Kate. Glue Stick stood in the main area with his mouth wide open. The helper made sure he didn't follow them.
In the back room Gyro hastily threw a drawer open and took out the briefcase he had received from Harry. He shoved it into Evina's hands. "Meet me in the main room when you're ready. Then I'll explain everything."
He ran off and the two of them were left in the room standing clueless. Evina carefully flipped the latch on the case and opened it. He couldn't believe what he saw inside. It was his black suit, the one from his last adventure, complete with the gloves. He turned to Kate. "Do you mind giving me a minute?"
She stepped outside but left the door a crack open to talk to him. "Would you kindly tell me what this is about?"
"Yeah, we went on another adventure before." Evina explained. "We explored a nation of robots called the cogs. And we fought them. The suits helped protect us against the laff drop, our energy draining. Oh, and it made us more stealthy."
"Ah, I can see now, with the black and all. With those cogs, did you win?"
"Yes... um actually, sort of. They're our allies now. It's complicated."
"And what about this thing you keep talking about? You're feeling something?"
The duck chuckled lightly. "Ironically, I found out towards the end that I'm part cog. Or the thing that makes them alive is inside me too. It's also in my dad."
"Nice to know. I usually like to learn all about the lives of the rookies I work with."
"Hey, about that, why are you coming anyway?"
"What? You think that because I'm a girl that I can't handle it?"
"I know you men are all the same, and I don't listen to you."
"That's not what I-"
"So I'm coming with you and there's nothing you can say to stop me!"
Evina paused. "Um... ok." He slipped on the last glove and could feel a sensation of power wash over him like a warm wave. It was wonderful and he felt so excited again. There was one more item in the suitcase but it was unfamiliar to him, so he brought it with him to the main room. The girl followed right behind.
"Wow, you look... good." The horse remarked.
"Thanks. That's the best compliment I've heard from you so far. By the way, do you know where Gyro is?"
A door opened up and out of the pilot's bedroom came the man in white. It was that very odd technology-packed suit with the helmet that formed eyes out of tiny blue lights. Evina had once feared this appearance and it still surprised him even though he knew it was actually his father inside.
"Good." Gyro said. "I take it the suit still fits well?"
"Perfectly. But what's with this battle mode?"
"Oh, it's just precautionary. I don't want to be attacked out here, but I don't plan on doing any attacking either. With a place like this that could possibly be filled with all kinds of terrible things, we can never be too safe."
"Glad to hear it. So are we going now?"
"Wait a moment." The pilot went to his seat in front of the controls. This made Evina remember pieces of his old visions. "When Harry gave me your suit I was overjoyed. He isn't that bad of an inventor. But I took the liberty of adding some more special features to it."
"You'll see." He teased. Although Evina couldn't see his face, he could tell his father was grinning again. "Now step onto this circle both of you." He ordered. "I will beam you down there. And please remember that I can't help you at all once you're below. Evina, squeeze your left wrist to signal pickup. In your hand you have a mask that I made. It's not so much to protect your identity but it is armored and has inferred vision. Oh, and good luck to you two. Don't get yourselves killed." He sounded worried like he thought this was all a very bad idea.
"I promise you." Evina responded, although even he wasn't so sure about it. He only hoped that the thing inside him knew what it was doing.
"Ready?" the father asked.
Evina put on his mask. He took a deep breath and exhaled. "Yes, I'm ready."
"I hope to see you soon."
There was a blinding flash and Evina instantly saw himself standing in the frigid snow. The wind was howling and he was very nervous all of the sudden. But at least he was fully alert.
"You good?" he asked Kate.
"Yeah." she assured him, rubbing her head like she was disoriented. "We need to get out of the snow."
Though the visibility was low Evina could see a metal structure close by. "Over there. Quickly!"
It looked like a small station, probably just one of many leading to the real place underground. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, they found that it was locked with a keypad combination.
"Yeah, I don't know what we're going to do." Evina confessed. Even though he was insulated with his special suit the bitter cold was starting to get through to him. Kate couldn't even hide how she was freezing.
Then they both seemed to notice something at the same time. A security camera from the roof was looking down at them, and they knew they were being watched. Kate panicked and sliced it off the wall with a swing of her sword.
"What did you do? Now they're really going to know we're intruders!" Evina shouted. As he finished that sentence the ground opened up and they fell down a bottomless shaft.
It was pitch black as they fell with nothing else but the sound of the air rushing by. It was terrifying, but after a few seconds there was some kind of force that slowed their fall until their faces rested on the hard ground. The lights turned on and they jumped up to see where they were.
It was a small, simple, concrete room with no windows or doors. It was illuminated by eerie light coming in from the cracks along every corner. They were trapped.
Kate tried to kick one of the walls even though it appeared pointless. "Let us out of here you cowards!"
"Stop it. There's no point." Evina calmed her. "Our plan messed up big time. We shouldn't have come in here following that stupid voice in my head." He watched her keep on trying for a while. He was at least grateful that it was warmer in here. Then he got bored and turned his head. In total shock he gasped. They were at the end of a long hallway now.
"What?" Kate marveled. "Wasn't there a wall there?"
"There was." Evina said. "But now it looks like the room has stretched itself."
He thought about it. "I have no idea. But it might mean we're meant to go over there."
They made their way to the other side of the mysterious hall which still gave the feeling of being unusually alien.
Then when they reached the end, Evina turned around again and jumped in fright to see he was inches from another wall. "What the heck! I wish it would stop scaring us." They were stuck in another box.
"But I think I saw it." Kate spoke.
"As a ninja you are trained to notice every little detail. It moves lightning fast, but this whole place seems to be made of tiles that silently rearrange themselves into different shapes."
Evina considered this. "But... why? What is this all for?"
Kate shrugged but pointed to the ceiling. "Maybe we should press that button and find out."
It was true. There was now a red button protruding from the ceiling and Evina jumped up to press it. When he fell, he didn't hit the floor but a padded area much further below.
"Very good." A robotic voice spoke, though it didn't sound very friendly. It came out of all the walls in each direction.
They were now in a larger room. There was a huge cube lying nearby with three large flat buttons on the floor.
"What is this? Are these supposed to be puzzles?" The duck contemplated.
"I believe so. Strange, isn't it?"
"Yeah, but at least they seem easy."
"Something tells me they will get much harder soon enough." Kate added.
Each of them stepped on a button and they used the big cube to hold down the third button.
"Very good." The voice repeated again in the exact same tone. "Now try this."
One of the walls opened up and the opposite wall began moving inward to force them to move into the new area. Then they were sealed in the new room, and for some reason, Evina had lost track of where Kate was. It was impossible.
"Hello? Where are you?" he called out and then started to panic again. Finally he spotted her. She was on the floor on the other side of the room and looked like she was injured. "What happened?" He ran over to her.
Then she faded away abruptly. Obviously it was some kind of cheap trick. Evina turned around to see he was trapped again. This time he was alone. "No!" He pounded his fists on the wall even though he knew it would do nothing.
"Evina?" a muffled voice sounded. It seemed she was on the other side of the wall. "Are you in there?"
The duck suddenly jumped in glee when he heard her voice. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine." Kate assured him. "But I don't think it wants us working together anymore."
Evina growled in frustration. "What is the whole point of this anyway? What is this insane place?" He looked around the room and spotted an air vent on the ceiling. "I think I found a way out."
"What? Oh, that's great." she replied excitedly. "Go on without me and I will survive."
Evina imagined suction cups in his mind and then they popped up on his hands, elbows, and knees. It was just as he had done before. He jumped onto the wall and crawled up to the vent as fast as he could. He feared the room would change itself again.
"I promise I'll come back for you!" He shouted as he ripped the grate off and climbed inside. "Good luck!"
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