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Story [Penguins of Madagascar] Marlene's Log (Response to prompts: Complete)

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by pronker, Mar 28, 2020.

  1. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2007
    Title: Marlene's Log

    Author: pronker

    Setting: After Un-Boxing Day Instructions and also after replacing Remember, Remember The Fifth Of November with its ending with the AU that, yes, Manfredi and Johnson chose to rejoin the Central Park team.

    Summary: Marlene ponders the wisdom of accepting Skipper's proposal, but it's too late now.


    Marlene bounced down the ladder into her team's HQ. Spring daylight shone dit dit dit dot like Morse code into the lair through the plexiglass portholes. The blue circles looked like a stained glass window to outdo the overhead lights that today appeared a sickly yellow. Marlene's world was copacetic despite iffy weather.

    "Guys, guys! I like Manfredi and Johnson, they're funny!"

    She flooded sunshine onto her sober-faced team. Rico lay in his bunk staring at slick magazine pages in Guided Missiles Quarterly without noticing he held it upside down, Private sighed as he patted his lunacorn and Kowalski regarded her gravely. The atmosphere drizzled Debbie Downer all over her Stuart Smalley up.

    Skipper sat at the head of their all purpose table as bubbles rose in the porthole behind him. "Yes, they're funny, I agree," he pontificated. "They're how I remember them in nearly every way and I missed them. But Kowalski informs me that they fail the Avian Bechdel-Wallace Test since their six-year incarceration. I can't use them and they're not here to stay."

    Marlene ran with the ball for a touchdown despite interference and threatening weather. "What? I know they're disabled now but can't you use them as dedicated liaisons on our BlackBerry sets? You know, advising or, or, consulting while you four and sometimes me are on missions. Um. I don't know what their capabilities are but you should."

    She ought to have expected that Skipper deployed Routine Thirty-Four: Confuse and Distract as he generally did when needing time to think of a leaderly answer. "Who's minding the baby?"

    "Momma Duck brought her brood to my indoor habitat and the five of them plus Sally are all having oodles of fun and don't change the subject."

    Kowalski turned away from the discussion with a good luck with that one and Marlene didn't know if he were addressing her or Skipper. Private sighed again and Rico turned over to face the inside of his bunk without even a hooboy.

    "Marlene, it was super to get them back," ventured Private as unofficial Morale Officer. "On another note, let's be thinkin' practical-like, though. Wot if --- "

    "I've got this, Private, but thank you." Skipper put aside his cup of joe. "Can you see Manfredi and Johnson tied underground to our lair? Or maybe they should dodge Alice and other humans along the zoo walkways while trying to get the best BlackBerry reception? With their handicaps? Would you want that as a life for yourself if you were a warrant officer?"

    Marlene firmed her lips. "Yes. I like feeling useful. And it wouldn't be forever, just hours or, or maybe a day and a night, right? What's the beef?" She wished for the presence of Sally who always softened her love's mood. But what was this mood?

    Suddenly, it hit her and the words just popped out. "You're sucking up to the Big Boss and showing her how you can be all hard tail and cut your two favorites from your team!" She crossed her paws and turned her back on him. Anything for a friend remained her motto and even though she had just met Manfredi and Johnson a few days ago, she warmed towards their upbeat personalities unclouded by their limitations. So what if they weren't what they used to be physically? So what if they edged upon middle age?

    Kowalski had been skulking to his lab door, but he made a U-turn. "Skipper doesn't play favorites, Marlene, and if you think he does, then maybe you better --- "

    Rico growled holdonnamint from his bunk and Private dropped his lunacorn with a "Marlene!"

    The dynamic shifted in HQ to what it had been when she got infected with cooties and everybody was against her and feared her touch, even Skipper. Of course, there was no such thing as cooties but nobody knew that at the time. Itchy old poison ivy hadn't been that bad, actually, and sharing the oatmeal bath with these birds made her feel all comrade-ly even before joining the team.

    "Hah bupbupbup, I said I've got this, men. Rico, Ringtail has been quiet for too long and we know what that means. Take Private and check the perimeter of the lemur habitat. The weather is inside outside upside down with clouds today and makes the weak-minded itchy for action. Lemur action we don't need, correctamundo?" There it was, gathering consensus for an order already given and just like Marlene expected, Rico and Private scurried up the ladder. Private hesitated at the top and seemed about to say something, but Rico's muscled flipper hauled him topside even as a kung fu kick replaced the food bowl hatch.

    Marlene turned to face her superiors and Kowalski rounded on her with feathers ruffled and voice level. "You didn't know Manfredi and Johnson earlier and you've formed a hypothesis. Let's hear it."

    Skipper held his tongue as his love proceeded. "I, I just wondered if they couldn't prove some use despite everything and, and what if some horrible injury happened to me like it did to them? Would I get bounced, Kowalski?"

    "Ye--- N--- I don't --- At least allow me to get out of the blast radius!" Kowalski edged toward the hatch's welcome escape. "Catch you later! If you're both alive!"

    "Marlene, do you regret joining our team?" Skipper broke in with a dismissing nod to his lieutenant. Kowalski assumed parade rest, eyes front, beak clamped shut and earholes wide open.

    "I'm thinking."

    "The team depends on everyone in tiptop shape. Manfredi lost a leg along with one eye and Johnson's flipper will always be stiff. It's his burn under the flipper that bothers him the most because I caught him the day after his return with a pained look as he bent to do something or other --- well, it was just sad. I have to look beyond my own feelings and think of the team."

    "You --- You would bounce them from the team?" She had never thought to put these thoughts into words but dangit, she had to. "I've never thought of you as a mean penguin. Paranoid yes, but not cruel."

    By his face, he was having difficulty dealing with the issue, too. "I can't help what happened to them and I can't fix it. I would if I could." His next words alternately comforted and disturbed her. "If you, Godmother Death forbid, were injured then I'd bounce you to wherever you'd be safe, just like I intend to do with Manfredi and Johnson. Think about it: What if Hans shot them with one of the weapons he loves so much because they couldn't evade him --- they're compromised and they won't get better, they won't recover."

    "Way to rub their faces in it, Skipper." Now she deployed Routine Thirty-Four. "What's the Avian Bechdel-Wallace Test?"

    "Kowalski, science Marlene, por favor." Skipper folded his flippers and put on the face that Marlene honestly didn't know how to break up short of doing a fandango.

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Super use of the prompts as Marlene speaks her mind :D
    pronker likes this.
  3. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
  4. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2007
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thanks, I'm pleased you think so! :D
    @earlybird-obi-wan They're such fun characters to write ... [face_love]


    At the first sentence out of Kowalski's beak, Marlene wondered if he had dumbed down the intel just for her. He'd never done that before. He broke from parade rest to place flippers akimbo in unconscious imitation of Skipper, or was it conscious? "You know how all our team likes movies?"

    "Well, sure, who doesn't like movies?" Where could this possibly be heading?

    "I don't mean just Commodore Danger movies, I mean all sorts. Even animated ones." He and Skipper traded glances, Skipper's face remaining blank as an unshucked quahog.

    Still in the dark, Marlene went on, "Yup, all kinds, when time permits. Where are you going with this because I don't know how long Momma Duck can babysit."

    Kowalski continued, "Skipper prefers action movies, but I'm open to all sorts and I thought you were, too." Way to go, 'Ski, get me on your side against Skipper. I'm not buying into that, but you're a brainy bird.

    "Huh? Yes, I like about anything domestic." Marlene considered. "Foreign, not so much."

    Kowalski seized on the point like he would on a baby bluefin tuna. "So you fess up to standards and will understand how the Avian Bechdel-Wallace Test works." He harrumphed. "The Avian Bechdel-Wallace Test prevents boredom in selecting a movie to watch."

    Curiouser and curiouser. Marlene blinked. "Huh. Uh huh. Yeah. So this is a movie thing that --- applies to real life? Really?"

    Kowalski waggled a flipper as if it were a pointer and he pranced at the head of a classroom. "Sassy Mae West said it best: They say movies should be more like real life and I say that real life should be more like the movies."

    Skipper and Kowalski nodded as one and if Sally were there, Marlene would have clapped her paws over her little pengotter daughter's eyes so she wouldn't see this. "You can't be serious. It isn't science, guys."

    Uh oh, now she'd done it. "Marlene, science is my life. Do not presume to know what science is." Kowalski crossed his flippers tightly over his chest and presented his tall profile to her. "Do not."

    It was too much to bear. "So you're saying that Hollywood's Commodore Danger is realistic when he bebops into the Big Bad's hypersecret base, nixes his scheme to take over the world and wins the Big Bad's lady to the side of the angels with one kiss, all without owwieing so much as a hangnail?" The two started to speak at the same time and she cut them off. "Yes, I know that happened in From Sweden With Furniture but we know what a flop that one was. Cubby Broccoli was lucky to get the next one in the series produced."

    "Please, Marlene, no mention of broccoli! I have a delicate stomach." Kowalski smothered a burp as he brought himself back on track. "To continue, the Avian Bechdel-Wallace Test insists that the movie has to have at least two birds in it, birds who talk to each other, birds who talk to each other about something other than each other for more than two stinking minutes!" The scientist's voice rose throughout the explanation until the final five words echoed throughout the HQ. Skipper chimed in.

    "Did you add that last part upon further research or is that just hysteria, Science Boy?"

    Marlene blanked her own face at Kowalski's embarrassed study of his left great toe while he mumbled, "I could see where Bechdel and/or Wallace was going with it, sir."

    "Carry on. Tell Marlene what you told the rest of the team and make it snappy before Manfredi and Johnson return from their snack run and/or Momma Duck needs to get back to the park."

    She and Skipper were parents together and always would be; they did not have to always be teammates. Marlene prodded her brain to push ahead to a conclusion to help her new friends as she pushed aside notions of adopting a less demanding motto. "Okay, so Manfredi and Johnson spent six years in an aquatic-themed fun park always within ear, uh, earhole shot of each other, same enclosure day after day, same nest night after night for all I know." It must be Kowalski boning up on his stoic side that made him match Skipper's adamantine expression at her speculation. She could parse this later because she must offer her intuition as a duty-bound team member. "That's certain to make any two animals groove on each other more than normal. You'd think our team could handle it."

    Skipper was a clever bird himself at forging alliances in difficult situations. "Yes, Marlene, I told Kowalski that but he holds that too much togetherness leads to attachment that could hurt the team if a certain somebody thinks of his other certain somebody first rather than the whole team. Or something like that." A peal of thunder rumbled on this unsettled day and everyone ignored it because May flowers depended on April showers in New York City. There must be a way to make Central Park Zoo better than Seaville incarceration for Manfredi and Johnson, so think smarter, not harder, Marlene.

    As the third and non-officer wheel, Marlene felt compelled to leaven the mix of gloom and doom with lighter options. "Security guard duty one at a time in the government weapons lab! You know, rent-a-cop stuff where each could just sit around, be a, a presence to scare away baddies like Hans --- "

    "Six years
    , Marlene. They're not getting better from their injuries and they rely on each other more than ever since they returned. I won't risk them physically or tactically in a sensitive and critical position like guarding. And I'm done explaining my position." There it was, silk draped over steel that originally attracted her and now proved a bone of contention. This would not turn into a family fight if she had anything to say about it.

    Kowalski broke in with a comment tinged with exasperation. "Sir, I suggested splitting them up a long time ago because they are codependent."

    "Yeah, you mean synergized but I'll let that pass." An uncomfortable silence descended as Skipper did that thing with his cup of fish coffee involving sucking the sardine's head and tail to get the last caffeine droplet before downing the fish headfirst. Marlene needed an out.

    "I can't breathe in here because it's, uh, sultry. The HQ is crowding on me." She aimed a pleading glance halfway between her commander and her lieutenant while trotting out her winsome look. The two appeared tetchy, bordering on alarm.

    "You're not going feral, are you, babe? I thought we had that problem licked."

    "Sir, relative humidity in our lair approaches 92 percent and with ambient temperature topside of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, we feel like it's 80 degrees down here. Soon we'll show symptoms of" --- he sniffed his pit --- "unsociability."

    Skipper capitulated. "I see. Let's adj--- "

    "Last one topside is a rotten Eggy!" Marlene coiled her tail to push herself up the ladder and bounced onto the faux floe under the changeable spring sky. Clouds raced each other up high as the wet cement mirrored their scudding in the puddles of the recent shower. The wind whistled throughout the zoo while Marlene's jaw dropped and she froze. She blocked the hatch as glory filled her soul.

    "Hey, babe, I'm in fighting trim but not that trim so move aside to let me pass."

    Marlene shifted to the right in a zombie-like fashion while all thoughts of crafting a decision about her team, her new friends and her motto fled. She sidled aside a littleneck clam's width more to allow her love to escape serious issues, too. Skipper halted in the hatch as he took in the sight that his years of experience had never witnessed. Kowalski's voice slithered past the blockage.

    "Sir, I can't get by --- Skipper?"

    A double rainbow glowed in two arches, rarer than rare. Marlene thought her soul could fill no further but she was wrong because approaching were Manfredi and Johnson with Private and Rico trailing behind. Surely this inspiring view of Nature would lead to a solution agreeable to all.

    She had to believe that.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Great continued discussion and the double rainbow certainly makes for a lovely setting!
    pronker likes this.
  6. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    love the movie-discussion
  7. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2007
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @earlybird-obi-wan Thanks for reading! ^:)^


    Along with the beautiful rainbows, music filtered through Marlene's consciousness as some Madagascar-y song drifted throughout the zoo from the lemurs. She could almost hear a divine chorus as Julien, Maurice and Mort thumped their feet in syncopation. Julien's voice alternated between annoying, cute and ringing at the best of times and this time she spotted him dancing his ringtail heart out while he proclaimed royal joy to his Sky Spirits about the heavenly display. It was actually inspiring, or she hoped it would be to bring satisfaction to the ticklish situation.

    As Skipper's jaw dropped at the visual and auditory overload, Manfredi and Johnson were the only animals who retained the power of speech at the moment. Marlene pricked up her otter ears to catch what they said as they pivoted to see what their friends saw behind them.

    "Hey look, Manfredi."

    "Yeah, what's that, Johnson."

    "A double rainbow."

    "Any different than the ones of Bora Bora or up in Nunavut?"


    "Well then, stop gawking and teamwork me over the fence, nature lover."

    Johnson shrugged. "You always was a nature hater."

    "A rock's a rock and a tree's a tree wherever you roam."

    "Says you?"

    "Says me."

    "C'mere, you big baby, and Poppa'll give you uppies over the nasty old fence. Yeah yeah, I remember how ticklish you are. I'll be careful."

    Waving off Private and Rico's offers to help as they trotted up, Johnson slipped his bad flipper out of its sling. He passed his snowcone to Manfredi and then princess carried him to the fence, balanced him atop it and eased the good leg down first. The wooden leg followed. Manfredi adjusted his eyepatch after gaining his balance and then he stuck his good leg through the fence while clenching the bars with the appendage not holding the two snowcones.

    With such a small boost as that, Marlene admired the tactic that Johnson could stand upon Manfredi's knee and use his good flipper to grip the top metal rail. Johnson's bad flipper stayed clamped to his right side and Marlene heard him hiss, either in pain or to signal Manfredi to flex his knee. Johnson placed a foot on Manfredi's knee and jumped upwards. He swung himself with a grunt over the fence to land adroitly at Manfredi's side and retrieve his snowcone for a quick lick. He replaced his sling, high-oned Manfredi, hip bumped him and bowed low. They managed all that without dropping their treats as they stood on the outer lip of the habitat's pool. "Ta dah!" came from both of them.

    Now they only had to cross the water to reach the island. Piece of cake. Marlene could almost hear Private's hmmmngh of worry from the other side of the fence as Johnson made himself into a stiff Frankenstein and toppled into the water face first after passing Manfredi back his snowcone. He rotated with kicks from powerful legs and fountained water from his beak with a grin. He looked like Sally did when her teething produced more drool than the law allows.

    "Stop showing off, Johnson, and execute what we practiced, you goofball." Johnson docked himself near Manfredi, who stepped aboard without wetting his wooden leg. He stuck his flesh leg into the water to act as a rudder while paddling the good ship Johnson with one flipper to the island. Carefully, he scootched down Johnson's long torso to reach his crotch and then rolled himself onto the cement. Still flat on his back, he extended his snowcone-less flipper and Johnson clasped it with his undamaged one to pull himself ashore. They stood up with another mutual "Ta dah!"

    There it was, the truth and nothing but about their conditions, all in sixty-five seconds' worth of activity. Marlene's smile wavered before she adjusted it to bright enough to light birthday candles on Sally's first birthday cake nine months from today. "Oh you two, that routine is one for the books!"

    "Can't read, lady," Manfredi slurped around his cherry and passion fruit snowcone.

    Johnson's tongue had turned the color of luscious blueberry and blackberry syrup as he slalomed it down one side and up the other before spiraling to the tip of the diminishing snowcone. "Too old to learn and what's the point? I already know everything."

    Marlene pushed on as Kowalski joined them. "I'm naming your Routine Eighty-Six: Steamy-Teamy-Weamy-Work," she said stoutly.

    Skipper took Marlene's paw. "Approved," he said in a loud, commander-ish voice and then murmured, "It would feel like a defeat for them to assign them to overseas HQ to let the Big Boss handle the sitch, am I right or am I right? And they're not my favorites."

    Marlene squeezed the flipper of the father of her child. She nodded. Yes, whatever happened next in her new friends' careers, or lives, because at this point the two were inseparable, ought to come from the skipper whose team they had rejoined. They had waited a long time for that chance.

    "Sir," Kowalski added sotto voce, "there's no need for words from you. I'll tell them."

    Marlene kept quiet, feeling out of the loop. Skipper squeezed her paw harder and then let go. "Negative, I'll do it." A poignant question burst from him. "Are there any other options?"

    Rico and Private vaulted over the rail to splash noisily into the water to whoop it up as a diversion, or so Marlene assumed. They, too, would miss the comrades so long assumed dead.

    Kowalski stroked his beak. "I have none worthwhile to polish except aversion conditioning to convince each one to disdain the other and that is be --- "

    "---yond cruel and unusual punishment for something which isn't their fault," Marlene finished. She buckled down for a fight if necessary. "That Avian Bechdel-Wallace Test is for the birds, yes I realize what I just said. Hush, here they come."

    "Did you enjoy yourselves getting treats, men?" asked Skipper. "Say, where's the popcorn you were bringing back to share?"

    Manfredi rubbed Johnson's belly. "I gave mine to him and he ate both."

    "My bad, sir," Johnson admitted. "I got carried away. Manfredi, don't lie, I let you have some first." He swatted the flipper down.

    "Sure, you let me have the old maids at the bottom of the packet, whoopty do."

    "That's because old maids are your date of choice since they're desperate. Hey, check this! The rainbow's blue is just like my tongue." He stuck it out for all to see. "Wookit."

    "You'll never change --- "

    "You like me this way --- "

    "Who says I like you --- "

    "Guys --- " began Marlene but on it went, the two finishing each other's sentences until Marlene got dizzy and a leaderly cough made them stop.

    "Sorry, sir, we're just so happy together --- "

    Johnson's tone clanged a warning as he pitched the soggy snowcone holder in Rico's direction. "Shut your fish hole, Manfredi. Skipper, we're fit for duty now that we've acclimated to zoo life again. Standing by for your orders."

    Manfredi swiped a thoughtful, last lick of his cherry-passion fruit snowcone before crumpling its paper and tossing it to Rico, whose wonder gut did its paper shredding miracle. "I miss Seaville in one way, though."

    "Coddlemighty, Manfredi, how? We got locked up right after the hospital rehab ward discharged us! We couldn't escape with, with" --- Johnson pointed to Manfredi's remaining leg and his own crippled flipper --- "this and this! It sucked!"

    Manfredi barreled past Johnson's bluster to face him head on. "We performed best we could for the crowd. We got closer to humans when they allowed their littles to pet us. They were cute and that was the one thing about the place that made me feel comfy-cozy."

    Johnson appeared to Marlene like he'd swallowed his blue tongue or maybe it was brain freeze from his snowcone. "Uh. They sure were cute. I like babies and whatnot." His brow furrowed and then smoothed. "Maybe you'll get serious about some curvy gal and have a family yourself, Manfredi. Then you won't miss out on anything in life like littles of your own. Wouldn't that be great?"

    Truth was the order of the day and although Marlene hadn't expected Johnson to be the one blinded by sentiment, she was wrong. Manfredi answered steadily, "Look at me, Johnson. Look close. Is that likely?"

    Johnson inhaled hard enough to whistle before spewing, "Sure it is. You're a catch, bror. I'll fight anybody who says different."

    "I'm caught, bicciuridu."

    "Children's petting zoo duty it is! Splendid!" Skipper unleashed a barrage of orders. "Kowalski, do that computer genius thing pronto as soon as we can infiltrate Alice's office. Do like you did for Roger that time to transfer him and oh yeah, the lemurs that other time. Uh, forget the fallout from those missions and just do it. Manfredi and Johnson, you don't have much to pack, so chill until my mark. Rico and Private, keep lookout for Kowalski while he does his hard drive magic."

    "Aye aye, sir," Kowalski said as he joined Rico and Private in smiles so wide that Marlene thought their jaws would dislocate. She wasn't yet ready to add hers as she noticed that Kowalski was undeniably smart, but flattery won out over his brain power every time. She wondered what her own weakness as a team member consisted of.

    "Problem, querida?" asked Skipper as genial backslappings from Rico and Kowalski staggered Manfredi and Johnson while Private pirouetted in joy.

    "It's just what the petting zoo needs, two jolly penguins with kid experience to add publicity. Well played, leader man."

    Skipper preened himself. "Time for Operation: Synergy, babe."

    One more thing needed saying before Marlene could smile again. "I'm sorry I said you were buttering up the Big Boss --- "

    "The words were sucking up to, actually."

    "Yeah, they were. Sorry. Everything turned out well enough."

    Skipper crossed his flippers tightly over his chest. "As much as Kowalski spouting Doctor Phil's sayings gets my nanny goat, the medico got one thing right: Winners deal with the truth."

    "I suppose they do, even when the truth hurts."

    "There's a spot open now for a warrant officer if you want to take the test. I suggest keeping a log of pluses and minuses about your decision because I go back to my cassette tape log every now and then about my decisions. How about it?"

    Marlene jolted. "What?" Did she hear a beckoning quack from her habitat or was it imagination?

    "It took moxie to stand up to me and I appreciate moxie." Skipper slid a flipper over her shoulders to draw her near. "Think about it."

    "Rico or Private haven't kids and each has seniority --- "

    "They've already said they're not interested. I was hoping Private could --- but never mind. Think it over, huh?"

    A clot of happy penguins approached for enthusiastic high ones and Marlene joined in with smile firmly in place. The two warrant officers sparked two pitch perfect salutes, Johnson trying not to smile as he saluted with his left flipper and Manfredi not even trying not to as he saluted with the proper one. "Petting zoo duty? Sir yes sir!" he said.


    Marlene's Log First Entry, note to self: I am not a techie so I'll sing my log, Skipper, thank you very much.

    Hey, you know what paradise is
    It's a lie
    A fantasy we create about people
    And places as we'd like them to be
    But you know what truth is
    It's that little baby you're holding
    And it's that man you fought with this morning
    The same one you're going to make love with tonight
    That's truth, that's love ...

    "I'm thinking it over, Log."


    The End.

    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Hilarious use of the prompts & wonderful friendshippy/teammate feels
    pronker likes this.
  9. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Love the interaction and the actions to get somewhere