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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 the sky was black and filled with 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. It was an unusual sensation that quickly became tiresome. Then there was a loud electric zap as the helper activated the artificial gravity. Evina fell to his seat and looked back at Glue Stick's face.
The sarcasm, the excitement, and anything he had been before were all gone. There was nothing but sheer terror on his face, and he didn't look like he was going to calm down.
Then Evina 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 been, seen, and experienced, was fading away in the distance. He was away from the world of toons, and cogs, and all of their history, and everything that had felt real. The wonderful planet became smaller and smaller, a beacon of light and beauty in the empty, silent darkness.
He stood up and walked over to Glue Stick. "Okay, now calm down." His words were for Glue Stick as well as himself. The other didn't seem to be listening to him. "You're still alive, and everything is fine." The other finally started 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. At the same time, it was like the opposite of claustrophobia, the vast expanse of space was intimidating. It was an infinitely large, never-ending nothingness.
"Is everyone alright back there?" Gyro asked.
"Yeah," Evina replied uneasily.
"Well, you need to say goodbye to Toontown and get back to your seats. Things are about to get wild again."
As Evina buckled up, he looked back and caught one last glimpse of his world, now just a tiny circle.
"Also, I hope you're not sensitive to motion sickness," Gyro said. "Helper, activate the warp."
The ship suddenly blasted forward faster than Evina had ever experienced before. He didn't know what was going on. Intense pressure held him down, and all the stars whizzed by in a blurry mess. He closed his eyes and tried to breathe, and then things became calm again. When he opened his eyes, there was nothing seen outside the window. All he heard was the low rumbling of the engines.
"Where did the stars go?" Evina asked.
"We're going too fast to see them. We're traveling using technology that's never been used by toonkind before."
Evina was impressed but terrified again. Now they were completely isolated in the ship without seeing where they were going.
"You better get used to it," Gyro said, "because it's the only way to get anywhere in the tooniverse."
"It must be incredibly huge," Evina said.
"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 was hoping to explore new worlds."
"Plus, you know what they say," the father continued. "It's not so much about the destination, but the journey that counts."
A groan came from the back. Glue Stick was looking nauseous. "I wish we could turn around and go home. Why did you convince me to come with you lunatics?"
Evina tried not to laugh. Instead, he got up and walked around. "I think I need to familiarize myself with this place."
"Ah yes!" Gyro agreed. He jumped out of his seat and walked back to the others. "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 in the room at the back left, across from the bathroom."
Evina couldn't help but look at Glue Stick. "Uh, speaking of the bathroom, you should probably be the first to check it out. One might need a shower after all those years of being a cog slave."
While Glue Stick went to clean up, Gyro and his helper continued performing checks on the ship. 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 it was rather 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 lied down on his bed and noticed that above him, on the underside of the shelves, there were some controls to manage airflow and extra lighting. It was similar to the airplane he took in Cog Nation. How could Gyro make all of this so detailed? Did the helper do most of the work? And how could he fit all this into the small ship? It seems bigger on the inside. How did he design all of this? Where can a toon possibly get so much knowledge on these topics? Is it 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 according to the clock.
Evina returned to the main hall. Gyro and his helper had finished their work and were now building a card tower. Then Glue Stick emerged from the bathroom, wearing new clothes that Gyro had luckily brought with him. Glue Stick looked much better in this condition, and Evina hoped his attitude would eventually be cleaned up too.
"How are you doing?" Gyro asked his son.
"Good," Evina answered, and he was telling the truth this time. Glue Stick went to his room. 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," Gyro said.
"Uh... alone," Evina said to the helper. It shrugged and walked away. When they were alone, Evina sat down on a seat across from his father.
"What's on your mind?"
Evina was hesitant to ask, afraid it might be the wrong thing to say. "I was just thinking about... the pencil."
"Well, we used it to 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 do it! Altering the course of history could cause anything to happen! I simply can't take that risk!"
Evina became depressed once more. He wondered if it would've been even more painful 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 wasn't satisfied with the answer, but 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?"
Gyro gulped and was silent for a while. "Alright, son, I'll be completely honest with you. I wasn't on Earth for long because something happened, something very sinister."
Evina began to sweat. "What was it?"
"As I briefly mentioned before, I encountered a man in a dark alley. And his mind was 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 chance that he located the portal I used to enter Earth."
"What? We could be destroyed at any moment!"
"Well, take comfort in this small thought: if he knew of a way to use it, we might already be gone. I don't think he can hurt us from over there, at least not yet, but we have to try to stop him anyway."
"What did he look like?"
"I can't say. It was dark and ran away. All I saw were the thoughts in his mind that moment."
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 filled with neatly stacked 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, 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 sitting nearby. He poured some onto the cube. It 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 his plate. "Wow! How did you do this?"
Gyro smiled. "Well, I've been studying toon science, specifically physics, and it happens to be much different from the human world. And from the concepts I've learned, I invented 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 these things through."
They were all optimistic about the trip, so far. Even Glue Stick began to be politer once he had eaten a good meal.
"So," Evina said while cleaning up the food, "do you have a plan for where we're going?"
"Not really, except for tomorrow. We are going somewhere 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 read nine at night. It had been a really long and eventful day for everyone, especially Evina. That morning he had woken up far away, at his home in Duckburg, unaware that that night he would be in space, traveling to other worlds.
Gyro's helper stretched, sat down on the floor, and plugged itself into an outlet in the wall. It went into sleep mode.
Glue Stick and the Gearlooses headed back to their respective rooms. Evina didn't worry about changing clothes but drowsily slid into his bed. The temperature was nice, the 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 another day. He peacefully drifted off to sleep.
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