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Part One: Dreams and MemoriesEdit
The alarm at penguin HQ went off at 0300 hours... someone broken into their turf and disturbed the dreams of the four aquatic birds that lived there. They jumped down from there bunks, preparing themselves with combat-stances for this prowler... in a mixture of surprise and typicality, it was only King Julien sneaking food-items from there fridge again. This time, however, it seemed he came alone.
"Oh! Um, hello neighbors!" Julien tried to sound like his usual energetic self, but it was obvious something was bothering him... and it wasn't Mort (the royal pain can handle that problem himself). "Don't mind me being here, your king only stopped over for a midnight snack and won't be staying long."
"At three-o-clock in the morning?!" Private asked. (All the penguins knew that although this king is stupid, he tends to schedule a few things, including meals. He never, ever, "midnight-snacks" late!)
"Nothing gets past even your youngest, does it?" Julien sighed, "Truth being told, I've dance myself exhaustion to make up for that seven-day trance I was put under last week, and I know that awful dart no longer has power over me, but even so... I could not sleep! Not with the memory of my long-lost twin sister restored to my brain!'"
"Lucinda?" Rico grunted.
"Yes," the lemur king answered, "Princess Lucinda Hira Cattamaki of Madagascar the first last and only."
"Thank goodness for that." Skipper whispered to Kowalski, who nodded in logical agreement.
Julien made it known that he heard that. "Believe me, penguins, if you know my sister as I am now recalling her, you've liked her better then I ever had. Still, not even royalty could be choosing there relatives, and I can't wipe away the feeling that Lucinda is still alive... and close."
Kowalski nudged Rico, taking his abacus from his crazed comrade's stomach, and ran though the numbers: "Since you put things that way, Julien, the lemur-like qualities of the mystery-girl that darted you in the first place are most extraordinarily high for a shrouded-specimen."
"We'll look into it after closing time," Skipper insisted, "that shall give us plenty of time to prepare for the trip outside the Zoo... that includes shut-eye for you, Ringtail!"
"How could you be expecting me to be shutting my eyes with all this excitement over a long overlooked relation of mine?!" Julien fussed, "For the record, I could've woke up Mort and Maurice to soothe me, but you already know what heavy slumberers' they tend to be, how I'm now envying that... and at least you have an alarm!"
"Wouldn't want you to look tired on any possible 'royal-family' reunion." Private said as Rico (with silent permit from Skipper) coughed up a small cloth bag for there otherwise "unwelcome" guest, "how did you and Lucinda get separated anyway?"
Although this wasn't the slumber-party Julien had in mind (he always hoped that it would be on a more joyous occasion, not on a matter of a mystery), but he was glad these neighbors where hospitable for a change so, while snuggling into the crude but cozy "sleeping-bag" laid out for him, he allows his mind to drift into memory as he told his tale:"As you're probably knowing already, I am merely the thirteenth generation of lemur kings to inherit this crown as well as my name, and I'm sure the whole mess happened about three years ago, maybe four, when my father, King Julien XII, and my mother, beloved Queen Sasha, were still alive and around to be helping the servants take care of my sister and me. I recall father used to be slightly nearsighted, only a little, so he had trouble telling us apart from other lemur children, let alone each other, which was why it was a relief that mother thought ahead and made royal pendents for me and my sister, her's was pink and I think mine was blue, on the moment of our actual birth, but I'm not sure if they were really her handy work or not... nobody recalls there first day in this world. Anyhow, on the year my sister disappeared, we all started out a happy royal family, but then Lucinda and I, hidden in the trees, witnessed the deadly and most annoying ways of the dreaded fussa for the first time ever, and then things took a turn for the worst... our parents gave up there own lives to save ours. It started out a dark age for Madagascar, and it was hard to say goodbye to mother and father at that four-year funeral tradition of ours... I forget what it's called, but I do remember that, in spite of my extremely young age, I gave up my prince-hood early, and threw away my blue pendent to prove it before I took up my father's crown and became the self-proclaimed lord of the lemurs, King Julien XIII... of course Lucinda, she was having other ideas: she wanted me to get a regent... whatever that is, I didn't know then, I know now, but I don't care for that nonsense... anyhow, I told her that if she plans on taking over and ruling things her way,she'll have to beat me at something I was good at, and everyone in the village already knew that my sister was the one member of the royal family that didn't find her groove when she should've, I was there reason for knowing, and I wager that she still haven't found it! What's more pathetic was that I was really giving her a chance to be fixing that but, rather then seizing the grand opportunity, she chickened out and challenges me to a game of 'cry mercy' instead... kind of our version of, how you call it, 'say uncle'?... Lucinda was a whirlwind on that game, she set up several different tricks and traps to get me to see things her way... now that I recall, she even found a curtain orphaned mouse lemur who knew his parents less then we did... Mort was only a baby at the time... and she told that if I couldn't handle this, how could I possibly handle an entire kingdom?... at first, I thought she was loosing her touch, until I found how grabby the little guy was...IT WAS THE FIRST TIME MORT EVER TOUCHED THE ROYAL FEET, AND I LITERALLY COULDN'T GO ANYWHERE WITH HIM!... even so, if not for all my fussing over it, without crying mercy, of course, I'd never would've met nor been aided by Maurice... He didn't lose his parents but they did try to loose him on account his fingers were, even then, quite short for those of an Aye-aye, but he survived, he knew things ahead of his years, and ...<yawn!>... and I was most swayed by such wisdom, that was why I made him my adviser... up-til then, my sister was the one that tries to lecture stuff to me, and she was around three minutes or so behind me, and when she learned I gave that task to someone else, she called me 'banana-brain', and gave Maurice the jealous look. The next morning, we looked everywhere for my sister, but couldn't find her anywhere. I do seem to recall...that the night before... she seemed to be holding a crab toward Maurice while he was sleeping... like she was going to use it's claws to hurt him, or at least shave off his back-hair or something...regardless... I'm not sure if that one was a real memory or not... I was drowsy then... even now I... I'm a little...<yawn!>" Julien didn't need to say any more, for his eyes grew heavy, he could hardly hold his head very high, and his body was limp in the bag. He didn't even notice his crown fell off as he conked-out, allowing those memories to turn into dreams.
"Finally," Skipper said, "I was beginning to think he'd keep us up until dawn. Kowalski, did you record Ring-tail's mementos."
"Every word of it Skipper." Kowalski shown the whole group the notepad he used the whole time (he got quite good at using the "older-code").
"Good," Skipper said, "we're going to need that info if were to find out whether or not this Mystery Girl is really a lady ring-tail. Back to the bunks men, were going to need all the energy we can get for tomorrows big mission."
Rico yawned, and was the first one back in his bunk... then Kowalski... but Skipper noticed a delay in Private.
"Private, what part of lights-out aren't you getting here?"
"Sorry Skipper," Private answered, "I was just making sure Julien actually settled down. Wouldn't want him waking us up again, do we."
"You done well Private."
Part Two: Peoples, Pookas, and a PhotographerEdit
In a part of New York City between Little Italy and what most would refer to as "Suburbia", the cops were bewildered as several shoplifters, claimed to be "attacked" (the only damage they notice is a prick mark on there skin) and were begging to be taken into custody to make the "nightmares" go away. No sooner was that done that a dart (purposely missing the officer closest to it) landed needle-first into the sheriff's desk. The police examine the piece of paper tied to the dart's tail, and recognized the markings painted on it.
"This is the work of La Phantasma, the ghost of the alleyways." said one cop.
"She's doing our job for us again!" said another.
"So the mysterious loose-cannon has a new toy," said the NYC Chief of Police, "so what if it worked. Remember, La Phantasma may be quick and clever, but she's weak! Just a little girl in the big city. We won't be outdated by her."
La Phantasma (a.k.a. Duchess Lucinda, a.k.a. King Julien's long lost twin sister) stood on the roof of a nearby building, listening in on the cops' conversation (aside from a micro-microphone, the dart she shot into the police station was actually empty) and was disappointed that none of them considered thanking her for her heroic act. "I'm surrounded by idiots." she muttered to herself, "Selfish, ungrateful idiots! They shall see, once I am a full fledged alchemist, they shall learn to respect me, and if that isn't enough, Auntie Sala's promise to make me an honorary pooka will be."Suddenly a bunch of flashes appeared from behind her, and turning around to see what's going on wasn't the best idea, for she ended up (momentarily) blind. Before her eyes recovered she heard and recognized a voice, as well as it's use...
"Well howdy-do, salutations, greetings, hola, bangiour, nihow, conichiwah, jambo, aloha, and all the other fond hellos there are in the whole world to you Duchess Lucinda. Still vigilantying around the neighborhood as La Phantasma, I see. You know I looked it up last time I saw you and you happen to be right little miss, 'La Phantasma' really is old European for 'The Ghost', which kind of explains that white scarf you keep wrapped around yourself as a so-called 'robe', because if you wore it for any other reason, I'd say you have the weirdest taste in fashion I ever saw, but I still say you are the prettiest lady-fox my eyes had seen since I left my family fox hole back in Kentucky. So anyway, how's my favorite young miss? Still a girl of few words, I see."
Lucinda's eye's recovered after the flash, and there in front of her is a boy kit-fox with an old-fashioned flash camera, several photos of her laid out across the roof, and, of course, the worst Kentucky accent anyone ever heard. She rolled her eyes and said "Hello Chatterbox."
"Yep! That's my name, Chester the 'Chatterbox' fox, don't wear it out before I do. You know, in some country-like parts of many cities, like this one, I am also known as The Park-Crier, although personally I prefer to be called Dr. Weird-N-Stine, even though technically a drifter like me can't really be a doctor on account that they can't get a degree in anything, or an office, by circling the world due to the lure of the open road, except in Canada of course, because I've always had been afraid of geese! I'd tell you all about it, but it's a much longer story then the ones I usually tell, especially since it's about me and not some rumor I picked up on along my travels, now those are what I usually tell everyone, besides I'm sure that you of all who listen to my stories have already heard it 54,321 times... or was it only 12,345 times? Math never really was my strong suit, never cared for it anyway. Oh! Speaking of stories, I've just arrived here in NYC last week and thought I'd restock my camera and while looking for shelter and some gruel to eat from the trash, I met a nice pair of opossums, I think they're cousins or something... so anyway, they told me a lot of stuff that's been going on lately since I last been here, feels weird, listening, but it's what keeps me from running out of story to tell, and you already know I like to tell a lot of story, mostly on gossiping, food, how ugly my mother gets whenever she tells me to shut up... trust me miss, that was ugly... and, oh yah, gossiping! I love to gossip, and the latest news is that the Opossums told me that the pigeons told them that the church mice in the temple in Little Italy told them that a married couple had it rough the day before I shown up. Say that a giant squirrel had crashed their wedding party and stolen the cake, leaving it on the roof! I mean, that creature must be at least 99999 1/2 miles high to demolish a fourth of a building and move desert to the top of the remaining three-fourths!!!"
"I'm surrounded by idiots!" Duchess Lucinda moaned again (knowing that no creature could survive the altitude of being that high up!).
"'I am surrounded by idiots! I am surrounded by idiots!' You're a girl of few words alright... no! Worse then that, you're like a broken record, and I don't mean the kind you can brag about and keep in some book of world records either! 'I am surrounded by idiots' is the closest thing to 'no comment' I ever got from you, and it is twice as cliche! Maybe you should practice saying something else for a change, I mean, who knows?! It could be the much needed attitude adjustment you might get, and it also might work wonders on your sanity!"
Duchess Lucinda almost said "I'm surrounded by idiots" again, but she stopped herself and, instead, blurted out: "Well, you try spending a day around those that act like citizens of Yaka... Yoky... that out-of-whack-for-200-years village, and see how well you can remain sane! Besides, it doesn't matter if I've gone all nutso or not anyway, because tonight of all nights, I can't wipe away the feeling that something even crazier is about to happen, like my twin brother is getting this much closer to finding out that I was here all along!"
"Wow! You never told me anything about you having a twin brother before! Then again, aside from the fact that you like to sing, have a fear of storm-clouds, and you were born on an island somewhere, you never told me much of anything about yourself... why don't you tell me anything? Hey! Did you know I am a twin too... well, technically I'm an octuplet, but I feel like I have a twin-like connection with all seven of my siblings, we even made up our own language before I left. For example, whenever we say 'good-morning' to each other..."
"You can tell me later, Chatterbox," the female lemur said, "It's three a.m., I'm way past my curfew."
"three o'clock already? It was only midnight when I found you and started taking pictures of you! Where has the time gone?! Well, I guess it's so-long, fare-thee-well, adieu, audios, aloha, sayonara, ciao, and all the other goodbyes in the world I can offer you for now Duchess Lucinda."
"And good riddance to you too!... my dear friend Dr.Weird-N-Stine."
Part Three: The "Chatterbox" finally shuts-up!Edit
"...And then I wished her all the goodbyes in the world, temporarily, since I still don't know how many languages she speaks, when and if she speaks, the moments are few and I don't know why, but I know she has a voice because she says a few things to me and I heard her singing once, like a miracle took a living breathing form... anyway, after I said good-bye to her and got down from the roof, I realized I forgotten my camera up there and went to get it back, and when I did I found that half of the pictures I took of her, the less-blurry half, if I remember correctly, were gone and I found the same number of her crazy calling cards as there were missing photos tied to the strap of my camera. Later... Feather-brain!"
"EXCUSE ME!!!!" Kowalski shouted, as he dropped his pencil in offense. By the time he regained focus and picked the pencil back up, Chester the kit-fox was gone, but his tracks were there, still fresh. The other penguins came out of their hiding places, as did King Julien. "Great grievousness!" the royal pest pointed out "I am seeing now why one of his many nicknames is 'chattery-box'! He has broked my record for telling long stories like I had done this Tut-kid's record for youngest king! Talks so much, yet obviously knowing nothing. If my sister really is this vid-jell-antsy, 'La Phantasma', 'The Ghost', whatever they call her, I doubt this drifter ever gave-en her a chance to speak." "Let's just stick with Mystery Girl, unless she insists otherwise," Skipper remarked, "and little as he knows, he might still be useful in finding out if you are really related."They followed Chester's tracks to a pier, where the fishermen just shown up with their latest catch (the penguins felt tempted, Julien felt sick, but they all stood strong), and there they saw the motor-mouthed gossip with a white-shrouded figure... the one they were looking for! Chester was talking with his mouth full (it's obvious that whoever is in that robe doesn't like fish) and was talking a lot, some moments about the mystery girl's beauty, others about this crazy story he heard or experienced, but mostly about nothing at all, and that seemed it'll go on forever when Chester noticed that "La Phantasma" had broke into a sweat... and it was a cool afternoon! "Hey girl, are you sick or something? Because you look like you've caught some kind of fever, and fevers are just aren't a healthy thing, which kinda makes 'are you sick or something?' kind of a stupid question. Boy! Bad time to get a fever; I was just going to invite you over to my place, I'm staying in a cardboard-box with plastic-bottle furniture behind an oak tree this time, big plant in suburbia can't miss it... hope you aren't too sick, otherwise the thing I'm going to do to cool you off won't work!" He then takes a bucket of water and dumps it on her, which not only made Mystery Girl quite ANGRY, but shrunk the cloth wrapped around her to the point of taring and falling off! "You're...not a...fox-ette!" was the last thing Chester the "chatterbox" fox ever said that day, and he was right: she was a beautiful, female ring-tailed lemur (exactly the same age as Julien)... with two amulets around her neck, pink and blue (Private noticed that, and Rico coughed up a set of binoculars for a closer look, but got sidetracked by the pieces of shredded cloth that reminded him of explosions).
"Took you long enough to figure it out, Dr. Weird-N-Stine!" She said, with an accent that blends Manhattan with Madagascan quite nicely (for she spoke with her whole voice, not the usual mysterious hushed tones), and an attitude equal only to a royal tantrum, "Smooth move, by the way, for ruining my last woolen scarf! Now I'll have to switch back to cotton, and you know that doesn't keep the cold out long enough, especially in the alleyways, were my bounty-hunting is done! Well, what do you have to say for yourself?!"(Chester didn't say anything) "No words for once, huh? That's both a relief and a disappointment! Truth is, I've always felt annoyed by that gossiping you do, but I look forward to you being here to do it, because then I don't feel so lonely, not to mention with you doing all the talking, I'm better able to keep things to myself, like the fact that I used to be royalty before I gave that up. My name, really, is Lucinda Hira Cattamaki the first last and only, ring-tailed lemur and second in line to the throne of Madagascar. Maybe my twin brother, King Julien Darius Cattamaki XIII, would've gave up the crown to me if I had shaved his adviser's back, regardless of whether he saw me or not, but I didn't follow though because...'cause I have my limits. Such cruelty isn't worth getting that self-proclaimed ruler, and destiny-proclaimed dufus, to cry-mercy, nor is it worth the crown, which is why I'm glad to come to the new country, were Democracy is more then a fad... here it's a way of life! True, the Sky Spirits destroyed my raft with a storm in order that I get my people family, but it's worth it!" she blabbed on-and-on of all the things she's kept to herself for about four years, especially around Chester, but for the first time since they met, she did all the talking, and he stayed quite and listened (both unaware that someone else was also listening in on Lucinda's every word, from how she got pet-named "Duchess", after the fishing boat the SS American Duchess, to how accidentally ruining an Irishman's pooka-shrine offering and being forced to restore it caused her to meet a 746 year old Earth Spirit, in the form of an old-lady squirrel, named Salasi, who not only told of a Treasure key she had to guard until the pure-hearted-one was found and the treasure itself was destroyed, but also was around in the grand age of alchemy, which she learned from her, motivated by the promise of special access to the spirit world, yet couldn't help feeling that "Auntie Sala" had something else in mind). "...But what do you care about details? All you like is stories that make all listeners giggly except the one the tale is really, truly about. Well, go ahead, let the world know all you found out about me though your silly gossip chain, because, for once, I don't care!" But Chester already left, without a single goodbye in the world.
Part Four: Two Messages in "The Darkness" and the Most Unintentional ReunionEdit
Now that they know that La Phantasma really is Duchess Lucinda, King Julien and his penguin friends had no more need for Chester, so they let him go and closed the case... but the mission was still on, at least in Skipper's opinion, but Julien was reluctant to have anything more to do with this! "You heard her life-story," the lord of the lemurs explained, "she doesn't want to be royalty anymore! Why should I be letting her know that I'm knowing?" "Listen up Ringtail!" Skipper snapped back, "The thing is, though we can choose our friends, none of us can choose our relatives, and your high-class heritage doesn't make you an exception!" "Plasma-based genetics may be microscopic, but there thicker then H2O." Kowalski added (he meant to say "blood is thicker then water" but he didn't want to sound too cliche in this particular moment). "Come on Julien," Private continued, "she's the only family you got left." Even Rico said his part, in his own crazy way.
Julien was as stubborn as ever, "Okay, it's not like I'm pointing out the obvious too much but..."(to Skipper) "...you are not the boss of me..." (to Kowalski) "...you need to know when to keep things simple..." (to Private) "...you forgot I've done well as the only remaining Cattamaki on Madagascar for at least four years..." (to Rico) "...you do not understand what is truly going on around here..." (to the whole group) "...and there is no way I want to go anywhere near that freak that the world expects me to call my sister and... how come the clouds are suddenly touching the ground?"
Kowalski was about to use science to explain how fog-banks happen much quicker by the sea then they do on land, but Rico and Private (on Skipper's hidden signal) covered his beak. "Oh! You really done it now Ringtail!" Skipper said, "The Sky Spirits brought you sister to a human family were they knew you'd find her, in hopes you two would make amends for what you did to hurt each other in the past, and there upset you won't follow through and if you don't pass things up with her, they will make sure that you can't even find your way back to your own kingdom!" "Well this group of Sky Spirits must be younger then the others if they don't know that we royals have a strong sense of direction," Julien jeered, "besides, even if I was lost in this foggy-cloud, how could they expect me to get to Lucinda? You probably read there signs wrong or...!" before he could finish his sentence, a sudden wind gust pushed Julien and toppled the barrel he stood on causing him to roll into the harbor right along-side the dock that Lucinda was testing her Alchemy-based metallic fishing-net! When Lucinda noticed that she caught her own brother instead of a Sea-Goblin (and she could tell he wasn't one of those in disguise, as they can't hide their gills) she tells them he's lucky she doesn't intend on tossing him back like the "small-catch" he really is, thus starting an argument that died down quickly as it started, and they discussed a few things, the Sky-Spirits especially, and Julien explained the time they used "The Darkness" to tell him to be nicer then usual. "That was your sign?" Lucinda said, with her mouth hanging open. "Of course it was mine, silly sister," Julien cackled, "more often then not, they tell me things because I am the king!" "<Phew!> Well that's a relief!" Lucinda said, "With all the ways they could've done that, and I noticed they chose to block the sun with the moon, and mother always said we were as different as the sun and moon, so who would blame me for thinking it was some kind of prophecy that I'd return to Madagascar and..." "... and overpower me as the new ruler?!" Julien interrupted. "Right," said Lucinda, "but for a while now, I've wondered if I mistranslated anything they told me, I'm still learning spirit-talk, you know. I mean, really? Me? Taking over? I'm a bounty-huntress without a paycheck, not a dictator! Besides, you won, and I lost. What use am I to a kingdom?" "Stop by at my kingdom for a visit sometime," Julien answered, "without the tacky costume, of course. We shall be finding out together." Lucinda agreed, and though the day turned to night, the fog around them lost it's strength, and the penguins considered it an mission accomplished.
END OF ARTICLE