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The duck's eyes opened. He didn't know what time it was but he felt relatively well rested. No, it was actually very hard to tell how he felt. If he could get a clock in here that would be useful.
He stood up and felt his way to the doorknob in the dark. He opened it and stepped out into the dimly lit main chamber. The clock said 7:13 in the morning, so it wasn't quite so bad.
The helper seemed to have charged quickly because it was already checking the systems, reading the monitors, and pressing buttons.
"Are we on course to get to Gyro's first stop?" he asked. The helper nodded in reply. "That's nice." Now that he was standing up he could begin to notice how tired he still was. Sounds of movement coming from the other rooms told him that the others were beginning to wake up as well. He decided it would be best to eat now.
There was a cabinet devoted to breakfast and he scanned the items. A breakfast burrito sounded interesting, and this suddenly reminded him of his friend Rocky. While he waited for his food to heat and inflate, he checked his pocket, making sure that the glass vial he was given was still there. He still have no idea what the thick red liquid was, but it needed to be put somewhere safe, so he quickly returned it to his room.
"So how are you doing this morning?" Gyro asked at the kitchen table. Although they were in space, the aroma of food after waking up was something familiar and comforting, and the inside lights were turned up brighter.
"I'm fine." Evina replied sleepily, still unaccustomed to the effects this strange adventure was having on him.
The chicken finished a glass of orange juice and then looked over his shoulder to read a monitor. "Oh, we only have three minutes until we drop out."
"We need to get into our seats." Gyro said, doing his best to clean up everything rapidly. "Did you bring any formal clothes?"
"What? No." the duck replied feeling astonished.
"Hmm, well, it probably won't matter too much. Just make sure you and Glue Stick have your seatbelts on tight enough."
Evina went to his seat and buckled up. It didn't matter how tired his body still felt because he was excited to see what their first stop was going to be. The countdown timer only had a few seconds left.
"Brace yourselves," the pilot warned, "this may be a little rough."
Suddenly Evina felt like he was being pushed forward out of his seat. It was the reverse of yesterday and he felt like he was slowing down a whole lot. Then after a few moments, everything returned to normal. After a slow and blurry flash the stars could be seen outside the window again. They were headed towards a planet that shined silver. "Is that where we're going?"
"Yes." His father confirmed.
As much as Evina tried, he could not think of a reason why they were going there. But he also found it hard to contain his excitement of seeing a new world.
The glimmering silver sphere grew larger as they neared it. Something down there was very shiny. The ship fell faster and faster. This world didn't look like it had any atmosphere.
The helper turned off the artificial gravity as the gravity from the world began to be felt. Gyro was navigating to a point on the surface that his computer was guiding him too. Soon it looked as though the ground was made of glass, in towers of so many heights and shapes.
They approached the world rapidly and Gyro attempted to brake as they sunk down past the glass structures to a circle in the ground. A glass dome shut over the circle, trapping the ship inside.
Evina was confused and worried at first, and then there was a sudden flash of red light which startled him. Several lasers seemed to be thoroughly scanning the ship inside and out.
After the lasers stopped there was a hissing sound of air moving. According to one of the monitors he looked at, the outside pressure increased until it matched the pressure inside the ship.
"Unseal hatches." Gyro ordered, and promptly the suction sound happened again.
Evina opened a door cautiously and looked out at a beautifully bizarre alien world. He took a step out on the polished metal floor. Then he looked up at the black sky and the many stars and galaxies out there. "Where are we?"
"You'll see very soon." His father answered.
Just then, on the far side of the dome, a door opened and a cog walked out. It was definitely a cog, and Evina was certain of it, but it looked different than any one he had seen before. It was wearing a formal white suit with a gear on the front.
By this time the duck was beginning to understand where they were. He remembered Gyro saying yesterday morning how he had sent the President's hard drive to another world. But how could they have built this so quickly?
"Welcome, honored guests. Please come with me." The cog requested with a familiar cogish tone, although friendly.
Gyro followed it and Evina was about to go as well, but he noticed that Glue Stick was still sitting in the ship.
"Are you coming?" He asked.
"No way! I just escaped the cogs and now you come to see more of them? This is cruel. I'll stay here, thank you very much."
Evina smiled a little and then ran to catch up with the other two. As far as he could see, everything was made of glass. Every building and hall could be seen out of every wall. He was walking with Gyro and the cog in a hallway, lit by bright lights. They soon reached another set of doors that looked like a wide elevator.
"He wishes to see you upstairs." The cog finished, bowing to them as they entered the doors.
Even the elevator was made of glass and Evina could see the rest of this huge place behind him. They didn't need to press a button on the elevator because one was automatically selected and they began a smooth ride upward.
They quickly arrived at another set of doors identical to all the others they had seen before. After the doors opened they stepped out into a large oval room with guards standing around and leather seats set neatly at the end of the room.
In the center seat sat William Gears, the former Chairman of Cogs Incorporated. He wore a smile, a white suit like the others, and had his eyes wide open.
Evina had seen the eyes many times before, mostly filled with anger in dreams, then once on the rooftop above the clouds, filled with confusion and fear, but this time was different. Now the gleaming silver eyes were full of compassion. The face was no longer pulled tight and now it was polished clean. It didn't even look the least bit threatening any more.
"Welcome Masters Gearloose." The cog spoke in a calm but very deep voice. "What a pleasant but unexpected visit."
"Well I'm sorry that I didn't call ahead of time, but you know, we do live on another planet." Gyro grinned sheepishly.
"It's perfectly fine." Bill continued. "Please come and have a seat." Both Evina and Gyro went and sat in leather covered armchairs facing the chairman.
He waited for one of them to speak, but neither did, so he continued. "Um... would you like a beverage?"
"No thanks, we're fine." Evina responded.
"Ok, I'm curious, what are your first impressions?"
"It's wonderful." The chicken answered.
"Yes, I do like your new style." Evina agreed. "But, uh, how did you manage to do it so fast. Weren't you all... extinct... only last year?"
"Our new contructionbots work extremely fast and efficiently. This planet is perfect for us as it is filled with metal that's easy to extract. And as for the glass, it's a nice theme, but you wouldn't believe how much work it is to keep clean." He paused for a while, still looking confused as to why they were here. "Why did you decide to drop in and visit The Crystal City?"
Gyro shrugged. "You are our friends, well, our family too, and I created you. We wanted to say hello, that's all."
"Then I take it things are doing well back in Toontown?"
Evina waited a moment to answer "Good enough."
"And what about Jared, Mike, George and my son?"
"They're doing fantastic. Each of them has found the place in Toontown where they fit in."
"That's marvelous. I feel bad for the way they were treated back then, you know." His eyes drifted away to bad memories. "And I hope the... scars of war have healed." He finished softly.
"They are still healing, but at least there is progress." Evina replied honestly. "But I'm afraid we will find ourselves in war again."
If it was even possible, the cog's eyes opened wider than any other time before. This looked like the new information he was seeking. "How so?"
"Well, you see, we have just started another journey. It is also for exploration as it was before, but there is more to it. We believe there is a... threat to the entire Tooniverse. And it probably has to do with the humans."
The chairman sat perfectly still for a minute, and the silence was awkward. Evina began to wonder if it had been the wrong time to tell him that. "Well, that does sound a little worrisome. But there is nothing that we can't accomplish when we work together."
"Actually there are only three of us." The duck explained. "The last one is still in the ship."
"What I mean is we, the cogs, want to be your allies. We want to help you in any way that we can."
The father and son looked at each other. They were flattered.
"So if you ever need us," Bill went on, "Well... we will know. There is that connection, you see?"
"By the way, where is the president?" Gyro asked, looking around.
"Oh, he's busy being retired. He appointed me to be the president now. After all, I once showed to the world that I enjoyed that leadership sort of thing. Perhaps too well..."
"So, speaking of this connection..." Evina interrupted. "It's obvious that my father and I have this sort of bond, and it likely has something to do with you."
"Well, would you please explain it in some way?" Evina begged. "Did he give some of his life to you? How can metal be alive and have feelings? Well, no offense. I've seen so much of cogs in Cog Nation that I know you are fully aware of your existence. What happened?"
The chairman dropped his head and sighed. "I wish I could tell you, but I still know hardly more about it than you. There seems to be a connection somewhere between us and you. That much is certain by looking into your eyes. But I am also confident that this is not caused by natural means. The source of it I can't even begin to understand."
"So you don't even have the slightest idea of how to... cure it?"
"I'm afraid not. Although, you should be more proud of who you are, master. Have you even considered how you could be alive when you are the result of some human's imagination?"
Evina was now more curious about this thing than he had ever been before. Whether he was going to accept what he had received still remained a puzzle to him. The emotions were all too confusing.
He looked outside the glass to see the rest of the city in clear view. It was nothing short of breathtaking. He saw the millions of cogs moving through the glass passageways with that beautiful rhythm that he had admired before. In his heart he was very happy for them, for this special side of his family. They had finally reached what they had always wanted, and there was nothing to stop their progress anymore.
Gyro decided to take this brief moment of silence to ask a question of his own. "Say, how did you manage to get that pencil?"
"The pencil? I had almost forgotten all about it. I believe we just found it somewhere. Its origins are unknown. It seems to be very old and possibly could have been in possession of many hands throughout history."
Gyro looked dissatisfied. "But it is unusually powerful."
"Extremely powerful!" The chairman exclaimed. "We were not foolish; we wanted to keep it safe for study. So until more knowledge is found about it, you should never let it fall into the wrong hands!"
"We are doing all we can to keep it secure."
"Good." Bill responded with relief. "Are there any more topics you want to discuss? I'm rather enjoying this."
"Probably not now," the chicken apologized, "but we will meet again."
"I know. So until then, have a great journey." The cog smiled. It was amazing to see how much he had changed since that last adventure.
The father and son stood up to leave. The chairman rose and saluted Evina, which the duck also returned with a smile. He was glad that there was someone in this humongous tooniverse (other than Gyro) who cared for him and wouldn't judge him. How many others could look at him as a toon instead of a mysterious heroic figure or some peculiar artifact?
On the way back to the ship, even the inventor had a lighter disposition. Evina had seldom seen this side of him before. "This visit was a very good idea." The man remarked. "I hope it gives us the courage to face whatever we do next."
Evina agreed with him, but he smelled something as he approached the ship. It was the odor of cheese.
As the hatch was opened, Glue Stick jerked his head to see them. He was sitting casually in the dark, watching some random film on one of the monitors with a slice of pizza in his hand. It looked like it wasn't the first piece because the place was a mess and there was trash lying around.
The chicken looked noticeably distressed but surprisingly he did nothing but groan. The Gearlooses got into their seats and the hatches were sealed. The helper looked like it was pleading with Gyro that it was innocent and had nothing to do with the horse's behavior.
"Buddy, you still have a lot to learn." The pilot said sternly, but with a faint smile. The dome opened, the ship rose into the air, the planet grew more distant, and they were back into space. "Next stop, unknown." Then with a blast they went into warp.
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