Private didn't know what had happened... one moment, he was practicing his tracking skills by trying to find out what Alice does on her time off (he hates spying on a non-enemy, but Skipper did say it was only a training session), and the next thing he knew, he was inside a cage (the kind fit for a canary... not a penguin). He still had a heartbeat, was still breathing; still alive... his head was aching like crazy, though. The room he was in was dark, and the only light was that in the next room, and shadows were cast across the floor. A large... what-ever-it-was was strangling that of other creatures harder to recognize then itself, and it's raspy voice was disturbing:
"One? You managed to capture only one penguin?! Ugh! There goes my bonus from the boss! He's been planning to destroy those water-vultures for years. We might as well put the little one into the arena against the Morrigan for his amusement. We'd be more successful destroying them one at a time, anyways."
Water-Vultures? Why does that term sound familiar? Private wasn't about to stick around to find out... he had to get out and back to the zoo before his comrades come here to save him, as instinct sensed a trap. Little did he know, it was already too late, for Skipper, Rico, and Kowalski were hot on the trail!
Private did his best to stay quiet as he tricked the lock, a hard task not only because of fear, but also because it wasn't as stealthy a task as it looked...and he watched both Kowalski and Rico handle this sort of thing dozens (maybe hundreds) of times. Soon enough though, he managed to get out of that cage, and used every stealth maneuver to insure nobody caught on, for along with trying to find a way out, he managed to find materials for a decoy to make sure none realize he was gone (would fool anyone, so long as it's just a silhouette), and then had to scout around to ensure his escape is through... Private was young and appeared naive, but he was down-to-earth enough to figure it out: the place lacked alarms and hi-tec booby traps, but it was wall to wall with mutated monsters that'll give Dr.Blowhole's "Chrome Claw" a run for the money. Whoever this maniac was, he mixed a cobra with a tarantula, a Rottweiler with a crocodile, and a Polar bear with (of all things) a leopard-seal!
It didn't take long for it to dawn on Private that, though not as bad as Blowhole, he was captured by that maniac sea-mammal's former apprentice, who is also a traitor to all other species as he copies the science-warped humans' gene-splicer experiments to prove that there's no such thing as the natural order. Private shook, nerve wrangled, as he whispered the name.
"Professor Von Razorbill."
"That's the guy's name, don't wear it out!"
Private turned around when he heard those words from a voice cuter then his own, and saw the one thing wackier then a penguin in a canary-cage... a young raven girl in a giant hamster ball. "Hi! I'm Harriett, and I'm only 3 1/2 weeks old. Who are you?"
"My name is Private." answered Private.
"Don't be shy, silly boy," Harriett smiled, "you should know better then to keep your name a secret."
"No! I mean my name is 'Private', as in..." he took a deep breath before explaining, "...First-Class Private Soldier Ace Ryan Tux Penguin of Sector I8BGAPL23CR!"
"That's a big name for a little guy," Harriett giggled, "glad you shorted it. You know I like to shorten my name to 'Arri' sometimes, but I prefer using 'Harriett' because it's prettier."
(Although Private has a big heart and liked Harriett right away, he was slightly suspicious of her... even Kowalski didn't know this much at 3 1/2 weeks of age, and this wasn't genius knowledge either!)
"You are trying to find a way outta here, right?" Harriett asked, and Private noted the mischievous grin on her face after he nodded yes, "Silly Razorbill! He thought he could lock me in, but I managed to find the door. I'd trick it myself, but he already experimented on me... something about an arena and the next full moon... and I know he had enhanced it with an alarm or something while I was passed out. You seemed to had gotten out okay, so... a little help here, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease Private?"
Private was caught between his gut feeling and the training that taught him to use it... the training that told him not to "mollycoddle" with an enemy. He himself knew he wasn't tampered with, but he was passed out to, and didn't know how long he was out, but by what he heard the (assumed) leopard-seal/polar-bear say, he assumed that the full moon was tonight... and he did overhear the children of tourists recite stories from there homelands (mostly about monsters and demons) during one of the zoo-camp-outs, and an Irish myth describes the "Morrigan" as a deadly mixture between a crow, a falcon, and a werewolf. If those stories are the inspiration for the experiments Harriett been though, then that would mean only one thing: Harriett was re-created to eat him! Despite knowing that, he recalled Kowalski was working on several gene-experiments of his own (he was figured to be part-human in his DNA, though his recent Genetics test proved it false, and had learned all about anti-mutation as a result) and Private then figured that if any can cure his new friend, its the friends he has at HQ... "Alright then," Private said, "but only if you promise you'd control yourself along the way. Oh! Also, please let me know if you start feeling strange at the first sign."
While Private was relaxing, his unlikely comrades, Skipper, Rico, and Kowalski, fell into a trap that split them up into cages in three separate rooms, and in sight of each was a screen showing an Auk with purple feathers (Pr. Razorbill himself, as this was his way to insure his enemies stay trapped) gloating:
"Ha! I knew the rest of you water-vultures would come to save your little hatchling, but it's already too late! I will soon be able to use a serum to weaken him and make things interesting during his final battle against my morrigan-beast. Oh she's still underdeveloped in her mutation, but in a few hours, as the full moon arises, she shall have the strength and size of a resurrected pterodactyl, the killer appetite of a hawk, and the destructive instincts of... Scout-mistress Nana Bluehair! I can assume your thoughts, boys: that is evil even for me, Pr.Von Razorbill, but if it'll get my ex-mentor, Dr.Blowhole to shut up about me being a pathetic villain, it'll all be worth it! Now prepare to say bye-bye... Birdseed?!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
The three older penguins were impressed at the decoy, and managed to escape easy as he did as soon as they heard where Private was... and with whom... but as soon as the cages opened, the room was gassed ad all three of them were weakening. Pr. Razorbill chucked on screen (he was the evil giggler type of villain... never laughs aloud):
"I didn't underestimate you three as much as I had your little trainee... and I hear needles are far too obvious for you Skipper scaredy-pants, so I bought my strength destabilizer in aerosol form and booby-trapped all corners of your cages. Private is the appetizer, but you boys are the main course! Bon Appetite!"
Private and Harriett were still looking around for an exit, but only found the arena instead, and Harriett squawked: "Private I feel weird! I think I'm gonna... you better run!"
"Harriett no!" Private insisted to his transforming friend, "You can fight this, I'm sure of it! once we get to the zoo, Kowalski is sure to find a cure, I swear!"
"Oh please little water-vulture," Pr. Razorbill sneered on the big screen, showing the three captured penguins dangling in cages above the helpless Private's head, "none of them can even save themselves. They aren't dead, yet, but they will join you in the morrigan's stomach in less then ten minutes! Should've made popcorn!"
Harriett had fully turned into the morrigan-beast and Private, despite personal feelings, figured the only way to survive was to fight her... then he noticed a loophole in Razorbill's plan: it doesn't matter if he wins or not, he just has to last ten minutes!
Managing that best he could, Private had only a few scratches on him by the time Skipper revived... then Rico (who hacked the locks and set a time-bomb on the big screen)... and finally Kowalski, who manged to find the right pressure points to, for the time being, turn Harriet back to normal. Skipper times the escape just right, as the five birds escaped though a sewer-hole above them... the explosion not only quickened the return to New York from (of all places) Connecticut, but it also exposed Razorbill for what he really was... an oddly-colored auk only half the height of what's expected of his age and species. As his own creations teased him, he hid himself and told them to shut up!
Using a chemical stabilizer he took with, Kowalski cured Harriett completely so she can return home. After saying goodbye and exchanging thanks (Harriet to Private for saving her, and Private to Harriett for leaving nothing permanent) it was smooth-sailing... until they all saw what the lemurs were up to in there absence!
END OF ARTICLE