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Evina was conscious. He had initially feared he was dead again because he was in complete darkness. He couldn't see anything, and he could barely move his limbs at all. Every inch of him hurt. He had no idea where he was or how long he had been knocked out. There was cold, heavy pressure pushing on every side. Feeling around with his fingertips he noticed that he seemed to be entirely buried in cog parts, mostly gears. In his mind, the truth was finalized; he had just destroyed the president. Now there was not a single cog left in the world. They were gone forever. The rocket didn't launch. It was blasted to pieces. His dream had become a reality; he had really saved Toontown. Now he was a hero to all the toons of the world. None of this, however, relieved him of his guilt. He remembered perfectly what had happened to his friends.
It isn't fair at all, he thought. I know everyone in Toontown is celebrating their freedom, and they won't remember us. They probably never cared about what happened to the silly toons that left their world weeks ago, and they would never know how much we had to sacrifice.
His greatest wish was that nobody would ever find him. It was dark and uncomfortable, but he didn't seem to mind. He couldn't live with the pain of that knowledge, of knowing what he had caused. He was certain that none of this would have happened if it wasn't for his stupid idea, his desperate attempt to have an exciting adventure. If nobody found him here, it would be the best for everyone. He was okay now with everyone believing he was dead because he didn't feel alive inside.
Silently, he waited among the gears, wishing he could disappear as soon as possible. He still felt the cold and emptiness inside of him. It was something different from guilt; it was something he couldn't explain. Clearly, he wasn't the same toon he had been before. So, whatever creature he was now was anyone's guess.
Then the president's last words unexpectedly came to his remembrance. "My master approaches." Does that mean what I think it means? Is it possible that there was someone in control of the president? How could anything be more powerful and more evil than that? Who is this leader of the cogs that they speak of, a legendary figure whose eyes stare down from the top of every building?
Just as he was pondering on those words, he heard a noise that interrupted his thoughts. There was a crash followed by the sound of some very powerful engines. Some kind of vehicle was arriving nearby. It seemed to stop only to be replaced moments later with the sound of footsteps crunching on metal pieces. There was someone walking on the gears up there, and Evina didn't know whether it was a friend or a foe. In all likelihood, he probably had no more living friends. Trying to remain as motionless as he could, he waited for the thing to pass. He did not ever want to be found, especially now by a stranger. He merely wanted to be alone and wallow in his sorrow. The feeling of invincibility had faded, and fear began to return.
The footsteps stopped directly above him. He was petrified, thinking he might have been discovered. At first it seems like nothing would happen, then a hand reached down into the gears and grabbed his leg. It was a very cold, hard hand with a firm grip, and it kept tugging him until he reached the surface.
Evina didn't notice anything else in the room. He only saw the creature who had rescued him, and the sight frightened him. It was the same man from his dreams. He had finally arrived. Evina had been looking forward to the day they would meet, but now he was anxious about it. The man was still dressed in the same shiny, white suit; a silver gear was delicately embroidered on the chest. The tiny blue lights on the helmet formed the shapes of menacing eyes, and worst of all, he was pointing a large energy gun at Evina.
"Identify yourself," the man demanded.
Evina paused. "Uh... I am Evina.... and I'm a resident of Toontown Central."
The man slowly lowered his weapon and remained silent and motionless for what felt like ages. "Evina..." he whispered quietly. The lights forming the eyes on his helmet turned into ones less angry. "Evina?" he repeated. "Wait... did it actually work?"
"Excuse me?" Evina asked.
"I said... did the plan work?"
"Honestly, I don't know what you're talking about."
"Ok then, describe what your home is like," the man asked impatiently.
Evina shrugged. "It's really kind of boring."
"Are there any wars, or corruption, or anarchy?"
"No, for the most part, the people are happy... and they work together."
"They're friendly... and they work together?" The man in the white suit raised a hand to his head. He looked bewildered. "Um... I think I need to talk to you. Please sit down." His voice was gentler now.
Not knowing what else to do, Evina carefully sat down on a nearby pile of gears as ordered. He took a deep breath to relax.
"Alright, you can come over now," the man called over his shoulder. Evina looked and saw there was something running toward them from a spaceship. It was the small squeaking thing in its tiny white suit.
When it arrived, the man began to loosen his own helmet. He twisted it around until there was a suction noise and it pulled off. Underneath was the last thing Evina expected. There was the head of an old, white chicken. He took off the rest of his suit, and Evina viewed the old, tattered clothes he had been wearing underneath it.
"Wait, you're a toon," Evina said.
"Eh... no, not exactly," the man smiled feebly. "But I promise you I'll explain everything in due time."
The little squeaky thing removed its helmet and suit as well. Inside, there was a skinny metal robot with a lightbulb as a head.
They allowed Evina some time to absorb this new scene. He was confused, not sure if this was all real or if anything he had previously believed was true.
"Allow me to introduce myself," the chicken finally spoke. "My name is Gyro Gearloose, and this is my little helper." The tiny robot waved its arm at Evina and squeaked.
Evina racked his brain. "I thought I had heard that name before, but I can't be sure of it... Oh, wait! Harry once told me you were a crazy inventor."
"If you don't mind, I prefer the word 'eccentric,' but that matters very little now. Please relax. I don't want you to overreact. We have a lot to talk about, and I must be totally honest with you," he sighed sadly, sounding hesitant. Evina looked into his eyes and could see the fear. "Fifteen years ago, in this very room, I created the president of Cog Nation. I was the one who started the cogs."
Evina was stunned for a moment before he could comprehend the words that Gearloose spoke. "YOU!" he screamed furiously, jumping up off the gears and positioning his body in battle stance. "Do you even have the slightest idea what kind of pain you've inflicted upon the citizens of Toontown?"
"No," Gearloose admitted miserably, "so that's why I need you to tell me. But before we do that, I need to explain a few more things. Please sit."
Evina sat down once more, trying to remain patient for a little longer before he would inevitably erupt with anger again. He decided to take some time to examine the room properly. This used to be the president's chamber, but it was completely changed now. There were cog parts everywhere on the floor, in mounds as far as he could see. Smoke and dust were visible in the air. The only light in the room came from some sunlight through a hole in the ceiling. It was shining on the man's spacecraft. Probably it was the ship that had created the hole. He observed how the dust in the air made the beams of light look solid.
"I am neither a toon nor a cog," Gearloose explained. "I am a modified toon with cog-like properties that make me nearly indestructible."
This was weird and way too much for Evina to consider right now. He was about to walk away, but Gearloose held his arm.
The old chicken sighed knowing he would have to resort to more extreme explaining to prove his point. "Please wait. Just hear me out. You see... you are my son, Evina. You are the one and only Evina Gearloose."
"WHAT?" He tried to pull away again.
"I know exactly what you're thinking!"
"No! I've never seen you before!"
"And from what I've observed, you are almost just like me. You are neither toon nor cog."
"I am a toon!" Evina hollered. "And you've lost your mind!"
"Is that so?" the inventor said. "Then how come you feel so angry and empty inside? Just try to explain that."
Evina was frightened now. He stopped struggling and shouting. "Huh? How did you know about—"
"I know because I can receive your brain's signals, your thoughts. You can also pick up on the signals of my mind too. It's like a two-way radio. That's how you kept having dreams about me. I know you have because I've felt your connection. No matter how far away we were separated, we could know of the other's existence. I could feel you buried under the gears, and it gave me hope that you were still alive. Also, this connection is the reason why things that you haven't learned would suddenly come to your memory, am I right?"
Evina carefully seated himself again. He was having trouble understanding all of this information so quickly. But somehow it sort of made sense. He didn't know why, but it did. He saw the spacecraft again and wondered if it was really possible to travel outside their world. "Uh... that's your spaceship, right?"
"So, where did you go during all these years? When all of this stuff was happening, why weren't you around?"
"I... I'll have to explain that some other time," he mumbled. "All these things must be revealed in the correct order."
"Well then, where is my mother?"
"She passed away. I'm sorry, but I can't give any more details on that now."
Evina was sad to hear the news even though he didn't think he had ever known his mother. His annoyance with Gyro was much stronger. He didn't like how he kept holding back so much information. But he was still grateful to learn something.
"Why are my memories so messed up?"
"That is something else that I have to tell you about later. I apologize."
Evina sighed and tried to stay calm. "If you went somewhere for all these years, then why couldn't you take me with you? I stayed here knowing nothing about anything for such a long time."
"Just know that I had to do it. I had to be alone. I didn't want to miss all this time with you, really. I didn't want to miss the chance of seeing you grow up."
"Well, is there something you can tell me? Would you say something that isn't so cryptic?"
"Ok, I'll share some information with you, but it will have to be from my perspective. Now, I want you to carefully practice tuning in on my brain's signals. It would be much easier for you to fully understand my story if I didn't explain what happened but show you instead."
Evina didn't know if he could completely trust this man yet. Everything that Gyro had said sounded very peculiar, but he was curious to learn more because he felt that, even as absurd as it sounded, it was true. So, he focused his mind on the man in front of him, and the president's room faded away like he was going to sleep. He was entering Gyro's mind, moving very fast, and traveling far away from his body, back to a time and place many years ago.
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