The Legend of Toontown

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Chapter 12

Gray Rising

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	The wind blew droplets of sweat off his face as he tumbled. He was struggling to have faith that this wouldn't be the end of him or anyone else he cared about.
	On and on he fell, and it felt like ages. Even the thing inside couldn't do enough to calm him. Finally, he thought he noticed something. He saw a beautiful light coming into view. It wasn't his mother, and he knew he wasn't dead yet. He seemed to be approaching a ground. Yes, it was amazing to discover that a ground existed down here, like a world inside a world. And it was covered in little buildings with lights that broke through the vast darkness. It momentarily made him feel like he was flying up toward the stars, even though it was quite the opposite. He closed his eyes and braced for impact. If this was the end, he would take it with dignity.
	A kind of static field formed around him and braced his fall. He hit the concrete ground, and it felt like the softest of all mattresses. As he stood up, he couldn't help but laugh. He was overjoyed to still be alive and not even the least bit hurt. Yet the momentary bliss didn't last long.
	"STOP!" someone shouted at him. One of the aliens had landed a small spaceship nearby and was investigating to see who had fallen from the sky. Evina was dizzy from the fall, and it took his eyes a moment to adjust to the image. Unlike the guards he had seen earlier, this one was wearing armor that looked stronger. It was shiny and decorated with spikes. This looked like an elite soldier. It slowly approached Evina with a fist in an iron glove. There were electric sparks jumping off it.
	Evina fired his laser and jumped into the soldier's ship. The controls were simple enough. They were much more familiar than the buttons at the security room. The engines roared to life, and he lifted off the ground. The thing inside him was like a compass, and he went speeding in the direction that it led him.
	A few minutes passed before he arrived at the right place. It was a small building, much like the many others all around this place, except it had no windows. Evina landed the ship in a hurry, causing it to hit the ground with a bang. He cringed and hoped it wouldn't draw more attention to him.
	When he located the entrance, a locked door, he realized that the handle was made of some strong alloy. It couldn't be broken so easily, so he had to do it the hard way. He sustained the beam of laser to cut away around the handle. The metal began to glow orange, and there was sizzling heard. He found it hard to control his breathing, and every few seconds, he jerked his head around to see if anyone was coming. But for the moment, it looked like they had stopped pursuing him.
	Come on... why is this taking so long?
	Eventually, he finished, and the red-hot door handle fell out and clanked on the ground. He had essentially bypassed any lock within it, and he swung the door open.
	It had the appearance of a normal library, except for the futuristic architecture and cold lights that weren't present back in Toontown. It contained shelves full of strange artifacts packed tightly together. Now the situation began to make sense to him now.
	This is their vault. It's what they value the most, the things they want to hide and preserve. Anything that they found interesting from their conquest, they brought here. Each shelf is labeled with the name of a planet that its contents were stolen from. This planet is a war machine! It's generating countless clones to conquer and enslave as many toon worlds as it can! It made Evina nauseous to think about it.
	The thing inside was creating a lot of mental noise. It tried to direct Evina where it wanted him to go, but Evina resisted. He wanted to learn more about this place first, even if it would only make him angrier. In vain, he searched the shelves and looked at things that he did not understand. But it wasn't long before he gave up and followed the directions to the thing he was supposed to find.
	This shelf was marked only with a mysterious question mark, and somehow, the peculiarity of it disturbed him more than anything else in the room.
	I wonder if it means the aliens don't know where these items are from. Could they really be that unusual?
	He stretched out his hand, and it was guided to a dusty, rectangular item that he promptly picked up. All that he had done to get down here and everything that he had risked was for this reason. This had to be the answer to everything. This was the key to the success of their adventure and the future of the tooniverse. He blew the dust off lightly and stared at it. "It's... a book?"
	"I don't know. What did you think it was?"
	Evina spun around at record speed, and he couldn't believe who he saw. "Kate?"
	"Yeah, it's me," she smiled lightly. "I figured that by saving myself I could save you the trouble of saving me."
	"But... how did you find me? You're not possessed with that thing!"
	"It was actually pretty easy. I followed all of that red alert shouting and the fleet of ships flying off into the dark to find you."
	"What?"
	"Seriously, dude, there's like a million weirdo soldiers looking for you right now. I'm surprised I got here before they did. Now, do you want a ride out of this place or what?"
	"Let's go!" Evina shouted, running to the door without hesitation. They jumped into the ship and were in the air within seconds.
	"Oh, and about that energy disturbance," she said, "I found out what's causing it. There's a huge amount of energy that they're hoarding below us in the core. I have no idea what they plan on using it for."
	"How do you know this?" He paused and sighed. "Okay, let's not talk about it now. We need to focus on escaping in one piece."
	Kate was nearing the dock now, and her landing of the ship was no better than Evina's last attempt. They hopped out. Evina had his laser ready, and Kate had her sword.
	"Don't stop, show no fear, and trust me," she ordered. They ran into the main hanger where alien soldiers were waiting for them. They had blocked every exit. There was a deafening noise as dozens of lasers were fired at them. Evina realized his laser was useless compared to theirs. But then he saw what Kate was doing, and he was astonished.
	She spun the sword in circles, and it absorbed every beam shot at them. It began to glow so brightly that it soon became overwhelming. The aliens ceased their shooting and covered their eyes.
	"Now, let the fun begin," she grinned.
	The sword emitted an intense, hot stream of white fire that destroyed any obstacle in their way and made all the soldiers flee in fear. Windows shattered and doors were blasted off their hinges until the blade finished and stopped glowing.
	"Ahhhhhhh!" Evina didn't know what else to say.
	"I know, right? But it does require a lot of power. I only discovered this trick before picking you up when I destroyed the main power converter coming from the core. Oh, did I mention this planet is going to explode in a few minutes?"
	"WHAT!?"
	They did not stop running. Evina and Kate were quick, and they managed to avoid all the soldiers and their deadly beams. They followed the signs to the exit of this evil place. Finally, they saw it. It was the final staircase to the surface. The door burst open, and hundreds of soldiers flooded out and surrounded the area. Even Kate looked scared now. She couldn't block them all. This was too much to escape from.
	Then it happened. Time seemed to slow down. The sounds of the laser blasts faded. Evina's fear vanished, and the entity took over every fiber of his body. He had become something else. His eyes opened again. They were pure gray and full of incredible power. They were the eyes of some other being. It had happened once before, but now the hero has returned, and it was stronger than ever before.
	He seized the sword out of Kate's hand and sprinted into the chaotic jumble of soldiers. He could see every individual beam of laser in motion, but he didn't care. He embraced the power. He conducted it like metal. He soared through it like a storm cloud. Each beam was merely a drop of rain. The less he resisted, the less it hurt. He let the heat flow through him. He was unstoppable, and all the excess energy was shifted through his hand and into the sword. It began to glow immediately.
	"You better use it now!" Kate screamed, but he didn't listen.
	Evina knew exactly what to do, and there was nothing that could stop him. The soldiers were knocked off the stairs left and right like they were nothing more than bugs. With Kate right behind, they soon emerged from the ground into the frigid snowy wind. Fortunately, the book was still strapped inside the pocket on his waist.
	Evina squeezed his left wrist lightly to signal the ship, but then he saw that it wouldn't be needed.
	"I won't leave you again, Evina!" Gyro shouted through the voice of his white battle armor. He charged full speed toward them.
	This wasn't something Evina had been expecting at all, and he lost his focus for a moment. His father was shooting his laser at the soldiers still coming up the stairs. "Dad, this place is going to explode!"
	"Then you better get to the ship!"
	Kate was staring at the sword that was glowing so bright now it was blinding to look at. "I don't think you should do that!"
	Evina grabbed the book and tossed it to her. "Get to the ship! We'll be right there!"
	She didn't look like she was going to cooperate, but a sudden earthquake caused her to change her mind.
	A colossal hole had suddenly opened in the planet, and countless ships flew out to space like a swarm of insects. Lastly, a gigantic battleship emerged from the chasm. It was completely black and one of the most intimidating things Evina had witnessed. The aliens were trying to escape the explosion, but it was obvious that they were livid as well. They turned toward Gyro's tiny ship and began preparing to attack.
	Evina returned to full focus, and the thing regained control of his senses. He remembered Kate's words and tried to be a ninja. He looked for every little detail. It seemed like there was a piece of a lower wing that looked thinner than any other part of the ship, and it was probably close to the ship's energy reserve. He compressed all of the energy together, including the energy of his suit and the energy of his whole body. All of it went into the sword that was brighter than anything he had seen before.
	With pinpoint accuracy, he aimed for the weak part of the wing and unleashed every bit of energy at once. Of all the lasers seen that day, there was none brighter or more spectacular than the pure white beam that shot from the blade. The whole sky was set ablaze, and the heat burned them even in the snow. There was no way the ship's shields could've stopped it. The fuel tank exploded in a ball of fire, and the giant metal monster dropped like a rock. The ground shook violently, and billows of smoke poured out in every direction.
	With his eyes softening, he felt the thing's influence leave him. All the energy had been used up, and he collapsed in the snow.
	Gyro scooped his son off the ground, whose hand was still clenched to the sword, and he ran with him to the ship. Their work there was finished. They rose above the cursed planet and rocketed away into space just before the energy core collapsed and the planet vanished in a fiery flash.

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