Chapter 5

 

Empath's personal journal, August 15.

The spaceship is fully repaired and ready to launch.  Papa Smurf has talked to Flyro about allowing Dreamy at least one short flight to the moon and back just to prove that Smurfs can travel to the stars.  Apparently, both of them were in agreement that this was a very dangerous idea, but they were both assured that this smurf and Handy would be accompanying Dreamy just to make sure that he does come back home to tell about his space trip adventure.  Right now, as Flyro is preparing the spaceship for the moment of launching and the other Smurfs are gathered around the launch site, this smurf as well as Dreamy and Handy are inside this smurf's house, preparing ourselves in the tradition of space travelers that Flyro had known from the home world of its vessel.

 

Flyro had designed three spacesuits for each of the passengers.  Dreamy had never seen a spacesuit quite like the ones Flyro had made they looked more advanced than the one he originally wore as Astro Smurf, as if they were truly made to withstand the conditions of outer space.  There were also breathing apparatuses that attached themselves to the helmets that came with the spacesuits.  They felt like moderately heavy backpacks, though Flyro assured them that since there was no gravity in outer space, the weight of the backpacks would feel more like balloons.

"So how does it feel now that your dream of travelling to the stars is finally going to come true, Dreamy?" Empath asked as he, Handy, and Dreamy dressed up in their spacesuits, making sure everything fit and was working.

"This is the moment I've been smurfing for all my life, Empath," Dreamy answered, his enthusiasm unrestrained.  "For once, Smurfkind will be able to smurf out into the final frontier, explore strange new worlds, smurf out new living beings and new civilizations, to smurfly go where no Smurf has ever gone before."

"Gee, Dreamy, you sound like somebody who thinks he's ensmurfing on a star journey into the universe," Handy commented with some amusement.

"Or, as Brainy might call it, a star trek," Empath clarified, "though this smurf can't imagine who else might call it that, even if it's only to the moon and back."  He looked at all the indicator lights on his equipment.  "So far, according to Flyro, everything seems to be functioning normally.  Oxygen tanks are full, communication sets are operating, energy levels at maximum charge, magnetic gravity shoes also functioning."

Handy and Dreamy checked their indicators.  "Everything's a green light, Empath," Handy reported as he and Dreamy nodded.

"So let's smurf this a star trek to remember," Dreamy said, ready to go.

 

Every Smurf was gathered around the spaceship, watching Empath, Handy, and Dreamy board it with Flyro standing by, making sure it was ready for launch.  Empath himself was now standing with Smurfette and Polaris, wanting so much to say goodbye to the Smurf and Psyche that now meant the whole world to him.

"You smurf pretty good in a uniform, Empath," Smurfette remarked as she stared into Empath's eyes.  "I just wish that I could smurf up there with you to the moon, but the thing I want the most is for you to smurf yourself, Handy, and Dreamy back home safely so that you can smurf me all about your trip, okay?  I wouldn't know what I would smurf without you being here."

"Smurfette, you will always be with this smurf wherever this smurf goes," Empath reminded her.  "You're the reason this smurf will also watch out for Handy and Dreamy...for they also think about you and will not live for anything except to see you again."

"Why is it that the one Smurf your age that I find the most attractive is the one who would smurf his own life for another Smurf's?" Smurfette asked. "Letting you smurf that for me is what makes it so hard for me to smurf of anyone else now."

"Nothing would please this smurf more than seeing you happy, Smurfette, no matter what fate has in store for either of us," Empath assured her.  He then held Smurfette close as he sang, "'I will smurf you to the moon and back, if you'll be, if you'll be my baby...got a ticket to a world where we belong, for some Smurf to be my baby.'"

"Interesting, Empath, that you would choose something to amuse Smurfette as a farewell message rather than something serious in case you don't return from your space flight," Polaris commented in his usual serious-minded tone.

"Polaris, as a once-famous Smurf had said, if you've got to smurf off somewhere, smurf them with a smile," Empath said, acknowledging Polaris' concern.

"And I will smurf you with this, Empath," Smurfette added, planting a kiss on Empath's cheek to make sure he knew what she meant by it.

"May the spirits of the Great Ancestors guide and protect you, fellow Empath," Polaris said as his farewell message.  He showed no emotional expression, but Empath could see that Polaris felt as if they were never going to see each other again.

"May your own spirit be strong for the both of us, fellow Polaris," he responded in kind.

Meanwhile, Papa Smurf was saying goodbye to Dreamy, feeling even more emotional over possibly not seeing him again than he did when Dreamy made his first attempt to fly to the stars. Dreamy couldn't help thanking Papa Smurf for raising him from the scared little orphaned Smurfling into a brave adult Smurf venturing forth into the unknown. And Hefty, despite his own feeling the need to be emotionally strong, found it hard saying goodbye to his own brother Handy without some tears falling, wondering where he was going to find another Smurf that could match his wits as far as whether having the brawn or the brains in their family was better.  In fact, with so many Smurfs wishing the best for Empath, Dreamy, and Handy, or wishing for them not to go, it seemed like the farewells would never end and they would never get going.

Fortunately, they did end. After the three Smurfs boarded the ship, Flyro entered and closed up the hatch.  They took their places in the seats at the front end of the ship, while Flyro reconnected himself to the main computer banks.

"Primary thruster engines are ready to activate at your command, Empath," Flyro reported. "The ship will launch as soon as it reaches the appropriate angle of ascent, beginning now."

"Wait a minute," Dreamy cried out. "Why can't we smurf this a bit more traditionally and have a smurfdown before we launch?"

"A smurfdown?" Flyro asked, curious as to what that meant.

"What Dreamy meant is a countdown," Empath explained, "which signals to everybody that the ship is preparing to launch into space."

Flyro took a moment to consider this.  "Sounds primitive, but I will allow you to begin the countdown sequence for the launch at Dreamy's signal.  Activating external amplification."

"Guess that means you're smurfing the shots, Dreamy," Handy hinted.

Dreamy swallowed hard as he, Handy, and Empath buckled themselves in.  He began the countdown, and as he did, every Smurf outside the spaceship could hear the countdown and see the spaceship slowly raising its nose end to the sky.  This was the moment they were waiting for.

"10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...launch!"

At "launch", every Smurf heard the rumble of the spaceship's engines come to life, and stood back as it poured a lot of heat out through its exhaust jets.  Then the ship slowly lifted itself into the sky, gaining speed as it climbed high above the treetops and into the clouds.  Every Smurf watched as it continued to climb higher and higher until they couldn't see much of it anymore.

"Good luck, my little Astrosmurfs," Papa Smurf silently baded.

 

Inside the spaceship, the three Smurfs could feel a force pressing against their bodies as if Bigmouth the ogre was pressing them hard and flat against a surface with the palm of his hand.  "What's...happening...to us?" Dreamy asked, fighting to get the words out.

"Must be...forces of gravity...pushing against us," Empath answered with the same difficulty.  "Not sure...how long...this smurf...could last...through this."

"I'm smurfing...like a pancake...right about now!" Handy commented, sharing the same sense of discomfort.

"Thanks...for smurfing that...Handy," Dreamy shot back. "My stomach...feels like...it's ready...to burst."

"We will be reaching escape velocity within minutes," Flyro reminded them.  "The gravity forces you're feeling will dissipate when we leave the Earth's atmosphere."

"Hold on...my fellow Smurfs," Empath told them. "We'll...make it!"

The feeling of pressure continued for a few minutes more, and then everything felt lighter until they could no longer feel anything.  Even the rumbling of the ship died down.

"We have now left the Earth's atmosphere," Flyro reported. "Primary thrusters have been deactivated.  Now switching to secondary burners."

They all let out a sigh of relief.  "Well, that didn't seem to be a problem," Handy said.

"This smurf agrees with you on that, Handy."  Empath had unbuckled himself from his seat and then found himself drifting away from it, as did Handy and Dreamy.

"Hey, what's smurfing on here?" Handy asked as he found himself drifting toward the ceiling and then bouncing off it, apparently out of control.

"Apparently, we must be where gravity doesn't exist," Empath answered.

"Empath is correct, Handy," Flyro confirmed. "There are no forces of gravity in what you call outer space.  That is why I have taken the liberty of including magnetic gravity shoes to your spacesuits."

Empath realized that, even though the magnetic gravity shoes are operational, he had not turned them on because he saw no need to back on Earth.  He pressed the button on his wrist controls to activate them and felt the sudden thump of his feet hitting the floor.

Handy did the same and felt himself instantly pulled to the floor as well.  Then they both noticed Dreamy hadn't done the same thing, but only because they saw him fly across the control room as if it were second-nature to him.

"Smurf at this, Empath," he called out, obviously enjoying himself.  "I'm flying just like you!  And look what else I smurfed outside the windows."

Handy and Empath joined Dreamy at the windows and looked out.  There, off to one side floating in the star-speckled blackness of outer space, looming larger than their ship, was the planet Earth as they never saw it before a big blue orb with greenish patches of land, covered in white fluffy clouds.

"Great Ancestors," Empath gasped. "This is truly without a doubt the most interesting thing this smurf's eyes have ever beheld."

"All those smurfs below us," Handy commented, "all smurfing up to the same sky and the same stars, always wondering what was up here, and we're the first to smurf it like this."

"Truly one small step for a Smurf, and one giant leap for all Smurfkind," Dreamy stated. "Makes me wish I smurfed a flag along with just so we can smurf visitors from outer space that we as Smurfs have finally smurfed among the stars."

"Warning!" Flyro alerted the crew. "Warp drive field active mark 21 by 33, distance 50 thousand kilometers.  A giant space vessel is approaching this solar system."

"Can you show us what this space vessel looks like, Flyro?" Empath asked.

"Activating viewscreen," Flyro responded. On a nearby panel, Empath could see a giant double saucer-shaped vessel emerging from a vortex that had just closed up itself.  It seemed to be approaching their own spaceship at incredible speed.

"Now this is strange," Dreamy commented. "I thought we were smurfing out here to visit other beings on other worlds, and now they want to smurf a visit with us."

"I think those folks had other smurfs in mind than just smurfing hello, Dreamy," Handy mused, having bad feelings about the oncoming vessel.

"This smurf may be in agreement with you, Handy," Empath stated, watching the giant vessel looming ever so closer.  The three of them could now see it outside the windows of the ship, and the closer it got, the more its size began to dwarf that of their own ship. Empath could honestly feel a hard lump forming in his throat and began to fear the worst. "Flyro, steer the ship away from the oncoming vessel as far away and as fast as you can."

"Attempting evasion flying techniques," Flyro reported.  The ship started to buckle as the computer tried to auto-pilot their way from approaching the other vessel, but they still kept getting closer and closer.

"What's happening?" Dreamy called out. "Why aren't we smurfing away?"

"Evasion flying attempt has failed," Flyro answered. "The other vessel has most likely activated a tractor beam to prevent us from escaping."

"You mean...we're smurfing into the vessel itself?" Handy asked, unsure that he would want to be doing that.

"That may be exactly what this 'tractor beam' is doing to our spaceship, Handy," Empath guessed. "It would seem to be working on the same principle as how this smurf's telekinetic abilities would work, except that a much powerful form of energy may be responsible for its strength."

"Emergency systems shutdown is in progress," Flyro reported, as the computer systems began to spark with too much energy being exerted through them to try continuing to escape.

"Shut everything down except for life support, Flyro," Empath commanded. "We might as well enter the vessel and show our other visitors that we pose no threat to them."

As the tractor beam pulled the smaller spaceship closer toward the larger ship, the three Smurfs could see a hatch opening up, and from within it, a blinding bright light was emanating.

They were stunned as they tried to shield their eyes from the unyielding brightness that soon engulfed them whole and turned everything around them white.