His head hurt a whole lot. That was what Oswald knew the moment he came to. His head hurt and his body was sore.
Groaning softly, the cartoon rabbit opened his eyes, regretting it as soon as a blinding white light was the first thing he registered of his surroundings.
Closing them momentarily and trembling a bit, Oswald tried once more to open his eyes, but not before he shielded them with his hands.
He was in a bed. Not just any bed though, his bed. The one back at home with Ortensia and the kids.
Had it all been a dream? Goofy coming to him and the Gremlins getting captured by some strange machine?
From the pain in his head and the soreness of his muscles, the lucky rabbit guessed no.
he couldn't have dreamed it all...
Suddenly, someone came into the room, looking worried yet relieved that he was awake. That person was Clara Cluck. A forgotten character like any other that had taken it upon herself to become the nurse of Ostown.
She quickly clucked at someone outside of the room, which ended in having a wave of bunny children and Ortensia running in and crowing Oswald.
"Oh Oswald! You gave us such a fright!" Ortensia exclaimed. "The Clock Tower awoke everyone by screaming himself hoarse! When we got to him, he was broken and holding you! You weren't moving and the Clock Tower couldn't say anything and reacted badly to anyone going near him, so we turned him off so that we could get you."
Oswald smiled as his wife kissed her, but then frowned. The Clock had screamed himself hoarse and had to be turned off for a bit just so that people could help him?
He owed him big time for this...But wait! The Gremlins!
"Ortensia honey, this isn't the time for the mushy stuff...Last night the Gremlins were attacked by a giant machine that caught them all! That's why i got hurt and why the Clock Tower was broken!" he explained.
Both his wife; kids and Clara gasped at this. Sure they had noticed the Gremlins' absence, but they thought they had simply fled from the horrid noise the Clock had been making or were inside trying to repair him.
"A giant machine?" Ortensia asked. "Of what kind?"
"I don't know...It was very weird looking and it's body was like a Gremlin Cage...Whom ever made it wanted to catch every single one in a row..." the lucky rabbit pondered. "Gus said we needed to call Mickey...Something didn't seem right to him about this and considering the Mad Doctor's a redeemed toon now, I don't think he'd want to harm the Gremlins..."
"Are you sure he's redeemed?"
"This time I'm positively sure..." he replied.
"Then lets go call Mickey...He might be able to help."
The Gag Factory. It had once been abandoned and then taken over by Prescott on Gus' demand. During this time, the factory had been at it's best, producing all sorts of gags, some designed by Prescott himself. But as time went on, the gags had become duller and duller, marking the Gremlin's growing resentment like a twisted calendar.
Now it was abandoned once more, left to rot until someone took over it once more.
It was a sad sight, what Prescott had managed to rise from the ashes became as empty as a cemetery on a lonely Monday night.
Well, aside from the boxes and boxes of old gags and broken down machinery.
This was a complete graveyard for innocent humor.
Looking around, Oswald aimed his flashlight at the various boxes that lay about, abandoned to forgetfulness much like the characters in Wasteland it's self.
"This is kind of sad..." Oswald couldn't help comment as he looked through the open boxes. "Now...What exactly is it that Gus told me to find?"
Then he spotted it, a large TV like machine that looked newer then the endless rusting gags. This was the machine Gus had made for him and Ortensia to call upon Mickey when the quakes had first stroke Wasteland.
Walking over to it, Oswald aimed his remote and fired away, activating the machine which quickly turned on with a blast. Old and new cartoons of Mickey Mouse quickly flashing before his eyes. His brother had become quite the success, he couldn't help grumble.
Testing it out, Oswald began to call out for Mickey, much like Gus had done three years ago. But this time, Mickey already knew where to find the source of the voice.
Mickey had been painting his house. The poor thing was loosing it's bright yellow color and frankly, the toon mouse didn't want that.
He had come back from shooting another cartoon which would be featured in the next week's House of Mouse.
The mouse couldn't wait.
However, he was also excited for something else. He had told some connections of his experiences in Wasteland. They were going to make a game out of it! With some luck and hope, Oswald would once more enter the hearts of the people and be finally remembered as the one who actually started it all.
Suddenly, a voice made the mouse come out of his thoughts. A voice that was eerily similar to..
"Oswald...?" He asked softly to no one in particularly.
Getting off the ladder and closing the yellow paint can, Mickey Mouse ran inside as fast as possible. The voice was riddled with static and he knew very well what this meant.
Jumping through the mirror and grabbing the Magic Brush, the famous toon mouse jumped into Wasteland.
His brother wouldn't personally call him if it wasn't serious, and he knew this very well.
Meanwhile, in an isolated part of Wasteland. Four figures were ignorant of the two rodent toons' actions.
They were too busy laughing as their glorious machine came back with it's catch.
Gremlins yelled and kicked at the cage they were trapped in as the machine stopped in front of the four.
"Lucky here, it's the big catch of the day!" Small Pete said mid laughter.
"Not as big as what you'd imagine but it's like they say, the more the merrier!" Pete Pan added.
The Gremlins glared at the four Petes, demanding for them to let them go, only to be quieted down as the machine began entering a hidden building which looked slightly like a factory. A very familiar plane factory which made each and every Gremlin frown sadly as forgotten memories made their way into their minds.
They were in the area that replicated their home which had been lost to the plane factory which then lead them into meeting their masters.
The one that had been lost to them even before the Thinner Disaster.
As they were taken inside and into a spacious room with several cages hanging from the ceiling and many crates and boxes of tools and damaged, salvaged parts, Gremlin Markus leaned against Gus and Jamface, looking frightened.
"What do they want with us?" he asked sadly.
"I...I have no idea Markus..." Gus replied. He truthfully didn't know, but since it was the Petes, it wasn't good to anyone.
Finally the machine stopped and began opening the empty hanging cages, which it then threw three Gremlins at a time into.
The cages were slightly cramped and cold, not to mention uncomfortable and rusty.
It wasn't exactly the best place to put a Gremlin, even less three of them at the same time.
Yelping and yelling, Markus, Jamface and Gus were thrown into the slightly bigger cage that was at the front of the rows of tight prisons.
The three looked at the Petes that fallowed the machine into the room, with anger and annoyance.
What ever they were planning, they wouldn't get away with it.
"Hey let us out!" Gremlin Habel yelled.
"Yeah! or else Oswald will get you four and kick your sorry buts!" Gremlin Sparks added, to which Big Bad Pete broke out in laughter.
"Oswald ain't helpin' ya this time you little pests! Ya can't get here through a projector, it's miles and miles of walking on foot from Venture Land...And lets not forget the twists and turns that are almost completely impossible to memorize or guess! We Petes have been here for a while getting things done and it ain't gonna be a bunch of flying idiots and a rabbit that'll foil our plans!"
Gus frowned at this. He spotted several half finished machines in the room, it looked like they had indeed been busy, and from the looks of it, the machine that had taken them was the only one they had finished.
Still it confused him. How had the Petes built all of this?
Petetronic was the smartest and strongest of the Petes, but he was still a complete idiot, specially when it came to building.
It didn't make any sense...
But before he could ask, the four laughed evilly and left the room, locking the door behind them.
They were trapped and unable to teleport out of the cages. teleportation required a fair amount of space, and the little they had was taken away by another Gremlin which was in the same cage.
The worst was that they were right. Where ever they were it would probably take Oswald a while to figure out...
The Gremlins began to nervously whisper to each other, trying to look for a way out, making Gus look down in thought.
What was he to do now?
How did a leader react when he and his protegees were in the same grim situation?
A loud whistle suddenly pierced the air, causing an unseen figure to jolt in his sleep, blueprints covering him falling off, revealing slightly scratched horns and a tangled puff of hair sticking out of the small figure's head.
"Prescott, get back to work you worthless waste of paint!" Petetronic's voice sounded out of the speakers on the wall.
The Gremlins quickly turned around and spotted their long missing comrade, angry that he was working with the Petes, but then widening their eyes at the mere state of their fellow Gremlin.
His clothes were torn and filthy, his helmet was gone, discarded in far corner of the room, visor broken as if a foot had slammed down upon it in pure anger and despair.
The puff of hair that didn't quite go away as he grew up (much like some Gremlins tended to have) was covered in grease and tangled into an unrecognizable mess.
He had dark circles around his eyes and he was quite pale, almost a tone of depressing gray. He was thin, very thin.
Without sparing a glance or even a word, the Gremlin got up and dragged himself to the closest machine, a trembling hand grabbing for his wrench which he seemed too tired to even grip properly.
It was like looking at a almost completely thinned out dying toon.
The concept of death for toons was very vague. If they came in contact with thinner they would either get badly hurt or disappear forever. But another form of death was the toon its self forgetting who it was and what function it was born to do.
They would lose their color and become mere shells of who they once were, leaving a depressed scrap behind.
What ever the Petes had done to Prescott, had really ruined him.
"Prescott..." Markus said slightly above a whisper, causing said Gremlin to flinch and look up at him with tired eyes.
He stayed like that for a while before uttering a few words and getting back to work on the machine he'd chosen for the day.
"I told it to be gentle..." he had sounded hoarse and sickly.
And with that said, the next sounds the Gremlins got out of him were of him using the wrench to tighten some bolts and of a blowtorch connecting metal.
Gus couldn't help look back at the nightmares he had once had and then whisper to himself, guilt consuming his very core.
"What have I done?"