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Evina's body was pushed further back into his seat as he watched the clouds fly past them. They went almost straight up into the sky, and the engine rumbled loudly. It was thrilling, but a little hard to breathe.
Then, as he expected, the sky became darker and darker until there everything was black with lots of little stars. At this point the pressure eased up and instead of being held to his seat, he felt held to nothing. He was falling, such an unusual sensation which quickly became wearisome. Then there was a loud electric zap as the helper activated the artificial gravity.
Evina looked back and saw Glue Stick's face. The sarcasm, the excitement, and anything he had been before was all gone. There was nothing but sheer terror on his face, and he didn't look like he was going to calm down. And then he looked further back through the rear window. It was odd that they weren't orbiting the world as he remembered before. They were moving away. At this point Evina started looking scared just like Glue Stick. Everything he had always been, both of the toons and the cogs, and all of their history, and anything that had felt real, it was all fading away. Their wonderful planet looked smaller and smaller, a beacon of beauty in the empty silence and darkness.
He stood up and walked over to Glue Stick. "Okay, now calm down." His words were for both the horse and for himself. The other didn't seem to be listening to him. "You're still alive, and everything is fine." The horse was finally starting to breathe more evenly and he took his eyes off of the fading world.
It was like claustrophobia, because their fragile lives were contained in this small ship, even though it was still of comfortable size. Also, it was like the opposite of claustrophobia, the vast expanse of space was intimidating. It was never-ending nothingness.
"Is everyone alright back there?" Gyro asked.
"Yeah," Evina returned uneasily.
"Well you need to say goodbye to Toontown and get back into your seats. Things are about to get wilder."
As Evina buckled up again, he looked back and caught one last glimpse of his world, so tiny in the middle of nothing.
"Also, I hope you're not sensitive to motion sickness. Helper, activate warp." Gyro ordered.
The ship suddenly blasted forward faster than Evina had ever felt before. He didn't know what was going on as the pressure against him was intense and all the stars were a blur. He closed his eyes and tried to breathe, and then things became calm again. When he opened his eyes again there was nothing seen outside the window. All he heard with the low rumbling of the engines.
"Where did the stars go?" Evina asked.
"We're going too fast to see them. We are traveling using technology that hasn't ever been used by our toonkind before."
Evina was stunned. Now they were completely isolated in this ship without seeing where they were going.
"You better get used to it," Gyro explained, "because it's the only way to get anywhere in this huge tooniverse."
"It must be incredibly vast..." the younger one replied.
"Oh yes, and it just keeps expanding. New ideas and creations are constantly streaming from the human world."
Evina took a moment to consider this. "So how long will it take us to reach Earth?"
Gyro shrugged. "It's uh... kind of hard to tell, especially more so because my ship is still rather weak. It needs to charge frequently using toony radiation. So we'll need to land on several worlds along the way. Is that alright with you?"
Evina beamed. "That's great. I wanted to explore all kinds of places."
"Plus you know what they say..." The older one continued. "It's not so much about the destination, but the journey that counts."
A groan came from the back. Glue Stick was looking sick. "I wish we could just turn around and go home. Why did I decide to come with you kooks?"
Evina tried not to laugh. Instead he got up and walked around. "I think we need to familiarize ourselves with this place."
"Ah yes!" The chicken agreed. He jumped out of his seat and walked back to them. "Let me show you everything."
He walked over to a large control panel and pointed. "Don't touch this. If you look here, there is a clock with Toontown time on it. We will base our schedule on it."
Then he gestured to the area they were standing in. "This is the main area. It can be our game room, lounge, kitchen, et cetera."
He now faced the back of the ship. Those are the bedrooms. Evina can take the one on the right, and Glue Stick can take the one on the left. The rest of them can be left alone for now. I will be staying on the room at the back left across from the bathroom.
Evina couldn't help but look at the horse. "Uh, speaking of which, you could probably be the first to check it out. One might need a shower after all those years of being a cog slave."
While the horse went to clean up, Gyro and his helper were still checking things on the ship, and so Evina was free to do whatever he wanted. He went to his room to check it out.
He turned on the light and saw that the place was very small. It was not claustrophobic so much as it was compact and hard to move around in. Still, it was more than anyone could ask to have on a crazy adventure like this one. His bed was on the floor, and above it was a series of shelves and drawers where he could keep stuff. Right next to his pillow there was a window looking outside, although there wasn't anything to see now.
He lay down on his bed and noticed that above him on the underside of the shelves there were some controls to manage air flow and extra lighting. It was similar to the airplane he took in Cog Nation. How could Gyro make all this so detailed? Did the helper do most of the work? For that matter how could he fit all this into the small ship? How could he even design all of this? Where can a toon possibly get so much knowledge on these topics? Is it somehow related to that thing that lives inside us? I think there might be a lot more to it than we realize.
He shut his eyes to try what it felt like. Surprising, it was relaxing. The hum of the ship provided a calming noise to sleep by. But obviously it wasn't time to rest now. He needed to stay on schedule, and it was only five in the evening on the clock.
Evina returned to the main hall. Gyro and his helper had finished their work and were now building a card tower. Then the horse emerged from the bathroom, wearing new clothes that Gyro seemed to randomly have with him. Glue Stick looked much better in this condition, and the duck hoped his attitude would eventually be cleaned up too.
"How are you doing?" Gyro asked his son.
"Good." Evina answered, and this time he was telling the truth. Glue Stick went to his room and then suddenly the image of the pencil came into Evina's head. He knew this was the perfect time to discuss some things on his mind. "Could I talk to you for a minute?"
"Sure thing." His father answered.
"Uh... alone." Evina said kindly to the helper who then walked away. When they were alone, Evina sat down on a seat nearby across from his father.
"What's on your mind?"
Evina was hesitant to ask, afraid it might be something wrong to say. "I was just thinking about... the pencil."
"Well, we used it bring back my friends, and even the four cogs. Why can't we also use it for something else?"
Gyro looked nervous like he knew where this question was going. "You mean..."
"Mom." Evina finished.
"Uh, well, I'll be honest. That thought occurred to me too."
"So why not?"
"Because... son, some things are complicated. Some things are not meant to be tampered with?"
"What could possibly be wrong with being together as a family again?"
"There's nothing wrong with a happy family, but you don't understand. The tooniverse has moved on without her. So many things have changed. Too much of our world can be changed by modifying fate. We must be extremely careful."
"Because... we just can't! Literally anything could happen and we couldn't ever take that risk!"
Evina was feeling sad yet again that day. He wondered if it would be even harder on him if he had known her when she was still alive. "I... uh... what happened to her?"
Gyro's eyes looked slightly wet now. "For the time being, I'll tell you this: It was an accident. Nobody can be blamed."
Evina was only barely satisfied for the moment, so he decided to change to another topic. "Why did you bring that pencil with us anyway? What use is it if we aren't supposed to change fate?"
"It has immense power. I thought we might use it bargain with the humans."
"Bargain for what?"
The chicken gulped and was silent for a while. "Alright, son, I'll be completely honest with you now. I wasn't on Earth for long because something happened, something very sinister."
Evina began to sweat. "What was it?"
"I encountered a man in a dark alley. And his mind was briefly open for a second so I could see inside. It was seething with rage and anger. He knew exactly what I was and he wanted to destroy me. There was nothing that would ever deter him from completing his mission. Also, there could be a change he located the portal that I used to enter Earth."
"What? We could be destroyed any moment!"
"Well take comfort in this small thought: if there was a way he could use it, we might be gone already. I don't think he can hurt us from over there, but we'll have to go there to try to stop him anyway."
"What did he look like?"
"I can't say. It was dark and I just ran. Only the thoughts in his mind that moment were what I saw."
Then Glue Stick exited his room and came over to them. Evina had had enough information to think about for now, so he decided it was time to eat and go to bed.
"What's for dinner, dad?"
"What?" Glue Stick asked.
"It's not as bad as it sounds, or at least my version is better." He walked them over to a cabinet neatly filled with cubes. "This is it. Just choose your flavor and add water. The cube is the most efficient way to store nutrition."
Evina didn't know what do so he chose at random, taking a small but heavy white cube of mac and cheese. Then he took a plate and placed the cube on top. "Is this right?"
"Yes, now just add water."
Evina noticed a jug of water was already sitting nearby. He poured some onto the cube which began to burn immediately. It glowed white and hot for a few seconds, and then with a pop it exploded into a full steamy meal on the plate. "This is epic! How did you do this?"
Gyro smiled. "Well, I've been studying toon science, specifically physics, which happens to be much different from the human world. And from the things I've learned I put them into developing things like this. The ideas have been around for a long time, plus I've had fifteen years alone..." the helper suddenly squeaked. "Sorry, almost alone. That was plenty of time to think some things through."
All of them were optimistic about the trip so far. Even Glue Stick began to be more polite once he had eaten well.
"So," Evina began while cleaning up the food, "do you have a plan on where we're going?"
"Not really, except for tomorrow. We are going to see something very special, and I want it to be a surprise. After that, well, we could go anywhere!"
The lights in the ship were dimmed when the clock said nine at night. It had been a really long and eventful day for everyone, especially Evina. That morning he had woken up far away, in his home in Duckberg, unaware that that night he would be in space, traveling to other worlds.
Gyro's helper stretched, then sat down on the floor and plugged himself into an outlet in the wall, going to sleep.
Glue Stick and the Gearlooses headed back to their respective rooms. Evina didn't worry about changing clothes but slid into his bed drowsily. The temperature was nice, the low hum of the ship was relaxing, it was dark, and he was comfortable.
There was so much behind him, so much ahead of him, so many memories, and so much confusion from so many unanswered questions. But for now he could be patient and set those things aside for later. Tonight he only peacefully drifted off to sleep.
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