The Legend of


Chapter 32

Top Secret

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	The elevator ride was very short. When the doors opened, the toons stepped into another room, large and empty like before. However, the lights were brighter than the previous room, and the marble floors were pearly white. The doors surrounding this room led to the offices of the secretaries of various federal departments.
	A Flunky wearing a guard suit walked out of a door, munching a doughnut. He saw the toons and screamed, but it was too late. They crushed him with an anvil before he could retaliate. Strangely, no other cog was around to notice what had happened. This facility was suspiciously empty.
	At the end of the room, there was a strange vehicle. It was a sleek looking, cylinder-shaped capsule with leather covered seats inside. The toons walked up to it, and Catman put his hand on the scanner to unlock the glass doors.
	A female voice responded, "You are not an authorized staff member. You cannot access this top-secret area. If you are a visitor, please board the train no earlier than half an hour before the time of your appointment with the president."
	The toons looked down at it sadly. "I suppose they don't want anyone to unexpectedly see the president," Catman sighed, "but we didn't come down here for nothing!"
	Goopy went to work. He unscrewed the screen off of the scanner device and cut one of the wires below. Then he put the screen back where it was before.
	"Access granted," the voice said as the doors slid open. The toons clambered inside, although it was a very tight fit. Then the capsule closed. It began to move down a glass tube to the unknown. Little, dim overhead lights flashed by over their heads.
	They were sent left and right and down through the tube. They went faster and sometimes slower. After about three minutes of traveling underground, they were wondering how much further they would go. At last, they stopped at the top-secret area. The doors opened, and they stepped out.
	Now they were in a narrow hallway. It went both ways, to their left and their right. Both ends seemed to curve around ahead of them like the hallway was one continuous circle.
	The lights here were dim too. The floors were metal with many thin grooved lines going through them. The only sound they heard was the faint humming of machinery.
	Then there was a sound of feet clanking on the floor. A black-suited guard cog was rounding the corner.
	The toons jumped onto the walls, using their suction cups to hide in the shadows of the ceiling. Fortunately, the cog walked by without noticing them. Goopy took this opportunity to access the security circuit and disable the cameras and alarms.
	"I don't like this place at all," Zany whispered.
	"Me neither," Harry breathed. "Are you sure that all security is turned off?" he asked Goopy.
	"I cannot believe how much tech there is down here! There are lasers, cameras, heat sensors, motion sensors, and some technology that I've never even seen before," Goopy whispered back. "But I think I've safely disabled most of it; I hope the cogs won't notice anything's wrong."
	"So, we are safe?" Harry asked.
	"I can't be sure," Goopy shrugged.
	They were all beginning to get tired of hanging upside down, but they weren't going to risk being seen down there again. They proceeded to move slowly across the ceiling and around the hallway. After a few minutes, they concluded that the hallway was indeed a very large circle. Doors lined all the outer walls; however, they didn't find any doors on the inner wall.
	They peeked inside one of the rooms and found what looked like a prototype of a trolley that the cogs were inventing to practice fighting toons and get them free cogbucks. Unfortunately, they didn't have any time to waste looking at stuff, so they went further down the hallway.
	They saw a black-suited Backstabber guarding a door. They figured something important must've been in there. Rocky carefully pulled out an anvil and positioned it above the cog's pointy head. The toons hoped it would stun the cog long enough for Goopy to disable it.
	They were so nervous that they could barely move, but Rocky had to do it before the sweat dripped off his face.
	There was a crunch, and the toons dropped off the ceiling, going to work immediately. Goopy opened the cog's control panel and disabled it. Then the toons ran into the guarded room, dragging the disabled cog with them to hide it.
	Rocky slammed the door shut and locked it. The toons sighed, thinking they were finally safe. But something wasn't right. There was a mysterious light behind them in this room. All at once, they slowly revolved away from the door and saw what the cog had been guarding. It was a giant pencil hovering in a column of light.
	There were spotlights pointing at it, making it glimmer like a diamond. It was the most amazing thing they had ever seen. It mesmerized them. Harry stood closest to it. His face was glowing from the light. It was as though he had seen this before and needed to have it. There was some hesitation, but then he reached his hand out toward the column of light without warning.
	"DON'T DO IT!" Ricky shouted.
	Harry didn't listen. He pushed his hands into the light and seized the artifact.
	The moment Harry grabbed the pencil, the light vanished. A shrill alarm was activated, and a gun mounted on the wall shot something at Harry. It was a glowing, green liquid. Dip.
	Time seemed to slow down. The alarm faded away into the background. Everything else was gone as the toons watched Harry in disbelief. A hole quickly burned through his suit, he looked up at them with sad eyes, and lastly, he gazed at Evina. Harry melted away before their eyes.
	"NO!" Evina screamed. He was petrified. He wished it had just been a dream. He pretended it didn't happen although he had seen it with his own eyes. Harry was gone. The pencil rolled away on the floor. He picked it up and stuffed it in the pocket of his suit. It dropped into a bottomless hole. He couldn't stop thinking about Harry. There was nothing that could make him leave this room.
	The cogs out in the hall were trying to kick the door down. Goopy yanked Evina's arm and threw him against the wall.
	Evina stuck to the wall with the suction cups. Tears poured from his eyes as the cogs broke the door open. He climbed up the wall and followed the other toons the best that he could.
	He was too weak from sadness to keep up with them so Simeon and Goopy helped him along. The cogs were shouting frantically below. They ran along the halls with their sadness blasters pointed ahead of them.
	"WE HAVE A LEVEL ONE SECURITY BREACH!" one cog shouted into a radio. The toons snuck into another room with the door already opened. Evina tried to drive out his sadness and focus again on what they had to do. He had forgotten that he was the leader now. Their survival rested on him.
	This new room was full of foul smells and machinery that was making peculiar noises. They walked further along the ceiling to see what was happening.
	Then the toons saw a green light and witnessed the most loathsome creatures they had ever seen. There were two weasels beneath them. Weasels were nasty characters who were never to be trusted, so it made perfect sense that they were helping the cogs.
	A skinny weasel was operating machinery that was spurting out dip into a giant tub. He wore a clean, pressed suit and a fedora. The other weasel was larger and appeared far less intelligent. He was mixing the dip with a giant spoon. The only light in the room was the eerie, green glow of the dip.
	"I gotta tell ya, it's da oldest trick in da book," the large weasel stammered. "That's, er... what we did to, er... Roger Rabbit. Dip dem all at once. Ain't dat right, boss?"
	"Right," the boss answered in a sly, sickening voice.
	"Dis Operation D.R. is perty clever," the large weasel continued. "Until today, I did not know dat it meant 'dip rocket'."
	"That's because you're too stupid to understand it, stupid!"
	They were interrupted by a black-suited Ambulance Chaser who skidded into the room. The alarm lights were flashing in his eyes. "Have you seen any toons around here?"
	"No," the boss said.
	"Don't try to weasel out of this one!" the cog snapped. "Tell the truth!"
	The large weasel stopped stirring. "B-b-but we are weasels!"
	The boss pulled out a giant mallet and smacked the other on the head.
	"We really didn't see any toons... honestly," the boss said more sincerely this time. "Why would there be any in here?"
	"Haven't you two been listening!? Haven't you heard the alarms!? Toons broke in and stole the pencil! I hope you're almost done with that dip because there's no more time left. We have to load that rocket immediately!"
	"We're almost done," the boss weasel assured him.
	The toons snuck out of the room and into the hallway again.
	"So, that's where they make the dip," Pink said with amazement. "What are we going to do now, Evina?"
	This was the first time on the adventure that Evina had been seriously asked what to do next. As he hung there on the ceiling, he could only think of Harry. He was going to start crying again, but he stopped himself. He thought about what Harry would do in this situation. "If anything happens to me, Goopy is in charge," he said. "But right now, I want you to try to use your cog radar."
	Goopy just stared at Evina.
	"Will it not work in here?" Evina asked.
	"It'll work, but if I use it, the cogs could pick up our signal! They'll track us down to where we are right here, on the ceiling."
	"It's really important," Evina said.
	Goopy looked unsure about it, but he turned on his cog radar anyway. After looking at it for a few moments, he turned back to Evina. "They are all on the other side of the hall," he said. "We're safe to go."
	They dropped down from the ceiling and walked as quietly as they could down the section of the hall that was furthest from the cogs on the radar. They were grateful that they didn't wear shoes as their feet didn't clank on the metal floor. It wasn't too far that they walked before Evina stopped at a door.
	"Goopy, are we safe?"
	Goopy looked at his cog radar screen. "One of them is walking this way. He'll be visible in less than a minute."
	"Great," Evina said. "Have you noticed that all the doors in this hall are on the outer wall of the circle? Well, this big door is the only one that points inwards to the center."
	"So, how do we get in?" Ricky asked.
	Evina frowned after seeing that the door had no handle. There was only a small, narrow slot in the center.
	"Twenty seconds until the cog arrives," Goopy warned.
	Evina pulled the Chairman's small, jeweled gear out of his pocket. He pushed it into the slot, and it clicked into place with half of it in and half out. He spun the gear around and heard the interior locks of the door moving. Then it swung open.
	"Ten seconds," Goopy whispered.
	They all shuffled through the door, and Evina removed the gear. He closed the door behind him just before the cog walked by. Once they were safe, they sat down on the floor.
	"Where did you get that gear?" Pink marveled.
	"It was in the Chairman's pocket," Evina explained. "Now, let's go." They beheld the room that they were in. It was very large, plain, and circular, filling all the space inside the hallway's curve, just as he thought it would. And most importantly, it was empty. The only thing here was a wide staircase that went down about a hundred steps. They stood up and carefully walked down the stairs. The steps narrowed the further they went.
	"How far down are we?" Ricky wondered. "This place just goes deeper and deeper!"
	"I think we're almost there," Evina said.
	Once they reached the bottom, they were at the mouth of a very long hallway. There was a thick, red carpet that stretched the length of the hall. It was made with thin, golden gears embroidered in it. The lights were dim, and there were mirrors hung along each wall. It made it appear like there were infinite copies of themselves walking down similar halls.
	They marched down this hall watching their reflections in the mirrors to their right and to their left, afraid that they would find they were not alone. They also had the strange suspicion that they were close to finding the president.
	They reached the end of the hall to find an ancient set of double doors before them. They were tall and reddish-brown with rust, clearly very old. Imprinted on the doors was a giant gear. Half of the gear stretched across each door.
	It looked so intimidating, so ancient, so out of place that the toons felt more hesitant now than they had ever been before. They heard a faint noise behind the doors, and they were afraid to find out what it was.
	"We promised Harry," Evina said, "we would never surrender. We can't let them launch that dip rocket! We can't let all of Toontown be destroyed!"
	The toons looked at him and nodded nervously, even though they didn't know what to do when they reached the president. Evina looked back at them, wishing he didn't have to go through the doors either. Harry was already destroyed. Knowing that he might have to face the same fate was appalling.
	"For Toontown," Evina said as tears collected in his eyes.
	"For Toontown!" the others repeated.
	Evina took a deep breath, and with a loud creaking noise he swung the rusty doors wide open.

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