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In a failed attempt to turn worthless metals into gold, Duchess Lucinda creates Zerconia, a shape-shifting jelly-ball (it's basic form is, indeed, a "ball") that takes up any metal-based impersonation it sees (a crown, a key, a belt-buckle... anything metallic) and has an appetite for electricity (makes her grow) and dispute for rubber. While rolling in on penguin HQ, Zerconia gets Kowalski on trouble with the other penguins as her key-form unlocks the box containing her fruit-absorbing, fish disliking, super-condensed, cube-shaped "soul-mate": Jiggles! Lucinda knew at once these two were "planning" to get, in a sense, married, and she forbids it for (along with the fact that "in-laws" aren't meant to date, separating her from Kowalski) there's no telling how Jiggles and Zerconia would "mix"... or what could happen when and if they do "say 'I do'."!
Bang! The fifth explosion after closing-time this week, and it wasn't even from the penguin HQ! This time, it happened to come from the shed on the far end of King Julien's lemur kingdom... once used as Mort and Maurice's "invitation only" party, now the main location of Duchess Lucinda's personal study and Alchemy Lab.
King Julien himself was tempted to send one of his subjects (Mort, most strongly) to check on her for him, but as both the ruler and her twin brother, he knew he had to do this himself, regardless of chances for what the penguins call "the worst"... besides, since the last party thrown in that place, he was curious as to what's really in there (before and after his sister moved in).
"Yoo-hoo! Lucinda! You alright sis?"
"You forget I'm raised by humans, Banana-Brain!" (That's what she said, but what she meant to say was "Easy, big brother, I'm alright." or "Don't you ever knock?"... maybe both.)
"She's Okay!!!" Julien shouted, after a sigh of relief. Usually, he would've left her back to her work, but the combination of wondering about the shed and family concern for his sister practically pulled him inside. Indeed, it was roomier then it looked... practically a palace (he tried hard not to faint, the matter was so overwhelming)! Getting his bearings straight, King Julien explored the place. He found that his sister's human cousins had been playing around with the magic-box that even they called a "camera", as there were several "intent-paintings" of the party-mess left over before his sister moved in, showing the two people-children cleaning it up, moving her things inside, and making weird faces at each other.
Being a picture-puzzle champ, Julien arranged the most useful images of the move-in and turned them into a map... one that allowed him to know where in this big place that explosion came from (that, and the big hole in the ceiling, helped him find his sister).
Duchess Lucinda was alright, a bit ash-covered, and she cracked the play-glasses she used as lab-goggles, but she was alright... such a shame her pride was hurt when she tasted the formerly-aluminum-can, which glittered yellow like gold, only to find, instead...
"Yuck! Lithium! I should know, it tastes of the overcooked chicken! Nasty!"
"Uh, sis... Who are you talking to?" Julien noticed as Lucinda removed her "goggles" that this was one of those moments he should've kept his big mouth shut. "Bro! Get Out Of My Room!!!" "I will only get out if you do!"
Maurice overheard the whole thing outside... he knew what was coming next better then his king did, and began countdown: "...three...two...one..."
The royal twins tumbled out after each other, and Lucinda threw the lithium soda-can at Julien, knocking the crown off his head... from then on, things only got worse before they got better, and after all that commotion, one can easily guess who in the zoo was the first to check in on the lemurs.
"What in the name of Loki's mask is going on here?!" Skipper said, as he and the rest of the penguins commandos jumped in for an intervention.
"Just a typical royal-temper-tantrum... times two," Maurice said, standing between Julien and Lucinda as they were nose-to-nose on each other, "these things happen."
"But they are almost all better!" smiled Mort, reaching for Julien's feet (he got better at telling the two apart).
"MORT! NOT NOW... NOT EVER!!!" with a soccer-kick to the left, King Julien sent Mort all the way into Joey's pen. (What happened next should be obvious.)
"I don't care who wears the crown, Mr.High-but-not-so-mighty," Duchess Lucinda scowled, "the shed is my personal workshop... off limits, even for you!"
"Well if you weren't blowing yourself up, I wouldn't have to go in," King Julien snapped back, "and besides Ms. Know-it-nothing, you were talking to yourself... I did you a favor by getting you out."
"I wasn't talking to me, okay?! Some of my Alchemy equipment is a a hundred or more years-of-age... they could be possessed... at that's what it's said in oriental myths and legends."
"Fiction, in more logical terms." Kowalski whispered to Private (who giggled at the very conclusion), before saying out loud, "I know what it's like to have a violated lab, Lucinda. Remember, Julien is your brother, not a hardened criminal... so if he sneaks in again, let us know before you handle the matter yourself." (Rico wasn't really listening... he was too busy wondering when and if Duchess Lucinda will make another explosion.)
Later, after the evening turned to night, the rest of the Zoo was sound asleep, but Lucinda snuck back into the shed... in the excitement of squabbling with her brother, she forgot to clean up after herself. She really messed things up this time: she left the Bunsen-burner on, and the herbal-and-metal compound she had in the bowl above that smelled horrible! She added the lithium soda-can to the concoction in frustration. "To put it bluntly, she's talking about fiction... I know what it's like to have a violated lab... let us handle your dopey brother first next time... Oh! Look at me! I'm the most handsome super-genius in the entire universe, but I have the child-like wonder equal only to a worm in a copper trout's tummy! Blah! Blah! Blah!" Lucinda laughed at herself at the last one, and then held up her pedestal-and-mortar. "Did you like those impressions of Kowalski I just did, Grinder? I made the last one up; thought it would fit him." Before anything else (like getting a response from the Spirit World) could happen, Lucinda heard a noise that called her attention to the Bunsen-burner, which she finally shut off and let cool... she put it under the hole in the ceiling, figuring the night-air would cool it off faster. She was right, except she exposed her new mixture to moonlight, turning the grey burn-stain in the bowl into a blue-ish, glowing, gooey entity, and when Lucinda came with materials to clean the Bunsen-burner off, the mess refused to be touched! In time, it dawned on her that she created something that was actually alive and found what this "creature" was panicking over... her rubber cleaning-gloves! The moment she removed the gloves, this new goo became trusting of her, and rolled out of the bowl and into Duchess Lucinda. She can tell by the scent of this still-warm metallic ball hat kind of "metal" shes made:
"A Zirconium Iron Alloyed!" She grinned, "You're not gold, but you are just as rare... especially since metal isn't usually living! Um, do you mind that I call you 'Zerconia'?"
The reaction was startling at first, as the ball bounced out of her hand and all over the lab, imitating every metal-based object in there it came in contact with: the Bunsen-burner, a disco-ball, several "spare" keys that Alice claimed she didn't need, an mp3 player, an old tiara, and a few things Julien gave her from the lost-and found, including a heart-shaped locket. When the ball bounced back into Lucinda's hands, it recapped the locket. "I shall take that as a 'yes'." She giggled. For at least a few hours, Zirconium learned by mere sight (as this new metal had took up the form of the camera) several other things it could be from a book (Metal-Work and Black-smithery Throughout the Ages), all while Lucinda was getting a good-night's rest and, by morning, went though another of her brother's dance lessons (D-, as usual) to get the other lemurs to stop wondering what she's up to... didn't work on Julien, who noticed Zerconia feeding in the loose-wires of his boom box (which explains the change in size) and said to his sister that she should show this to Kowalski, "That brain-pain of a penguin will really get a riot out of this."
Lucinda wondered what her brother meant, but didn't bring any of it up to Skipper, Private, or Rico. She only told them that she has "classified" discoveries to show Kowalski... alone. "Approved. He's in his lab." Skipper smirked, "Behind the bullet-proof door, second room to the right; can't miss it. Just look for sparks."
"And don't try to make any!" Private joked, and Rico enhanced that by kissing his doll. Skipper was just about to slap both of them when Julien (unaware that "plan B" was no longer necessary) dropped in by surprise, tackled Skipper, and shouted, "Come on, Silly penguins! Last one to the farthest room in the reptile house and back gives the monkey-ape Bada a bath!" Lucinda aside, who could resist? As three-fourths of the penguins squadron ran outside, Julien winked at his sister on his way out. (Duchess Lucinda was never more embarrassed!) After that, Lucinda knocked on the door to Kowalski's lab. "Give the north-by-north-west password!" Kowalski said through the door. (He has a random set, and even this royal female knows that one... still, she managed to give it a whirl) "Atomic cold-fusion."
Kowalski opened the door, and said (in his best imitation of the nutcase/special-agent, Rockgut), "Good guess, Moonbeam."
"You do impressions when stressed-out too?" Lucinda was told the story of the super-advanced paranoia penguin from Bert (elephants are the best choice for historians), so she knew well who Kowalski was talking like.
"The highest odds are that I'm getting as bad as Rockgut was anyway," Kowalski sighed, "I'm glad you shown up, Duchess. I'm running low on scientific ideas, regretfully, and I assume that it's the affects of insomnia. I would wind-down naturally, but I am always so sure that I'd come up with something in the middle of the night that I stay up waiting for it, and when I tried several sedatives and knock-out bombs on myself... long story short, I've become immune."
"How long has this been happening?"
"About a week, truth be told... I suppose many experiments gone wrong motivated me to try to make something else, but I couldn't come up with anything I haven't already thought up. perhaps that's why I'm so restless."
Lucinda pulled Zerconia out of the bag she brought it in, and whispered to it, "Any ideas of your own, girl?"
In response, Zerconia transformed into what appeared to be a scepter. Lucinda always wanted one to hit nuisances on the head, but she knew better then to do that to Kowalski... then she recalled how her mother used to sway stubborn servants into listening to her just by swinging a stick back-and-forth in front of there eyes. It worked for Queen Sasha, why not her daughter?
"Oh Kowalski," she said, in a flattering, mesmerizing tone, as she turned the Zerconia Scepter into a pendulum while she had her friend's attention, "you expect so much of many things, yourself especially... now you must let all that go, and let all that mental build up go way... ease into a void in your head as the ideas come and go as naturally fitting... relax your mind... close your eyes... and listen to me...something will come to you in your dreams... but only after I guide you into mine... Kowalski..."
The hypnotherapy was crude (being done by a beginner), but it seemed to be effective at first, for as his eyes followed the movement of Lucinda's "scepter", the tense expression on Kowalski's face grew into a vague, disattached look, and he began to look like he was going to doze off, but the "mental void" didn't have much strength, as Kowalski caught on, shook himself awake, and slapped the artifact out of Duchess Lucinda's hands. "DON'T DO THAT!!!"
"Easy Kowalski, I was only trying to help. Excuse me... Zerconia! Where did you go? Come on out! I didn't know he'd hit you like that... I won't let it happen again!"
Before long, she and Kowalski found where the scepter had landed... only it wasn't a scepter anymore, but an entire ring of blue-ish colored keys, opening a locked box unaided, and out of that box jumped a wiggly-giggly green-jelly cube, that caught on to the sent of Lucinda's lunch, ate it, and grew to a size equal to that of the blue metal's roly-poly base-form... the two lab-experiments gone wrong chased each other all over the place. "Aw!" Lucinda sighed, "Zerconia found herself a little playmate! Is this thing you son, Kowalski?"
"In a sense, yes," Kowalski said chasing after them, "but you must understand that I have to get Jiggles back in the box before he gets too big for it... and especially before anyone else finds out that I still have..."
"Jiggles...?" Skipper's voice said (as he and the others obviously returned from the race), "... and a new little monster? KOWALSKI! FRONT AND CENTER!"
Kowalski slapped himself in the face when he heard that call to duty and moaned, "I'm in deep, Cretaceous, radioactive sludge!"
When Kowalski was finished explaining what really happened the last time Jiggles was on the loose, Skipper slapped him on the face... twice! (the first one was for lying to his own squadron, and the other was for "the fun of it".) Although Lucinda kept her distance, she had to explain she didn't even know about Jiggle's, let alone copy the structure, but was merely a coincidental similarity when she was cleaning up her workspace but had left the flames on. Also, she claimed that Zerconia's ability to shift-shape into any gadget might've actually made this accident useful... "... unlike your Jiggles, Kowalski. Obviously, it's nothing more then a mindless, unflexable, overly-protected GLUTTON! Not to worry, though, because Jiggles isn't really as useless as he turned out to be: you kept him in tact for the pleasure of having a pet. Rare privilege to our world, since animals usually are pets to humans... that's just me talking from experience. Also, it seems that Jiggles and Zerconia are reacting to each other nicely..." She then thought it over, "...mayhaps, too nicely! Come on Zerconia! High time we got back home anyway, before the peoples come to visit."
Zerconia turned herself into a coil-spring and set herself on top of Jiggles (imitating a blue dairy-creme topping on lime flavored Jell-o), as though to say "No! You can't make me leave... I'm in love with Jiggles."
King Julien laughed, "I'm confuse-ed sis... which jelly-maker is the 'overprotective-parent' again?"
The penguins glared at Duchess Lucinda... it's obvious that this self-proclaimed lemur king had a point. "Fine," She scowled, "Zerconia can stay with Jiggles... but only until after closing-time! If she's returned to my workshop late, you boys are in big trouble. Besides, I don't want them to keep any of you awake! Take notes on both there behaviors every chance you get... I'd say every five minutes at least, but Zerconia can shift-shape into any metallic object she sees, so I wouldn't leave her alone for half-an-hour if my life depended on it. Her diet happens to be electrical jolts, so don't let her get too close to any loose-wires or rechargeable batteries. I don't want her getting too big for the special bag-pocket I'm making for her on my utility-sash... heroes need sidekicks, you know. Oh, and also... she seems that she is terrified of rubber! Weak-sauce, I know, but if she misbehaves..."
"Okay Lucinda, enough," Julien said, shaking his head and straightening his crown, "I think the penguins gotten the basics down. I'm sure they'll take good care of my so-called 'niece'." (It was a long goodbye... Julien had to actually tug on his sister's arm just to get her to the door!)
Kowalski did his best to look after the two gelatinous-masses, but that was difficult since he had to keep from blowing his cover as a zoo-animal.
Meanwhile, Lucinda was getting worried (she tried not to show it, to avoid an "I told you so" from her brother), for although "in-laws" couldn't date (separating her and Kowalski completely) was the least of her problems, the mere thought that she ended up making The Bride of Jiggles couldn't stay out of her head. After all, the obviously soon-to-be husband and wife were both artificial... golems, but with will-power! Goodness knows how this will end up!
Closing time became official, and so did her nightmare-gone-real... It was obvious that the penguins made attempts to return Zerconia in time (via the noise) but they weren't quick enough for the now hooked-up cube and ball, as they become symbiotic enough to figure out an escape-route, and at the worse time too! Alice accidentally drove the zoo-cart into a near-by ambiance and (of all mistakes) decided that it was not her problem and left the area, causing the sound-pole to become an all-you-can-eat buffet for Zerconia, while not too far off Bada and Bing were giving each other "the business" with a food fight among themselves, creating a pile that Jiggles couldn't resist!
Soon enough, Jiggles was as large as he was the last time he was out in the open, while Zerconia as only slightly larger, and had imitated the zoo-cart to carry Jiggles... of course, if not for an extra surge and a city bus passing by, they wouldn't had been able to get though the locked gate!
Lucinda would've been furious, but she figured that it was Jiggles, not "his" maker, that is to blame for Zerconia's "corruption". Comparing notes, it was agreed that both Kowalski and Duchess Lucinda were both responsible for there creations gone crazy, and managed to figure out were Zerconia would go...
...as it turned out, Zerconia and Jiggles were both gluttons, which means that they shall keep wanting more with every feeding. There isn't enough fruit in the world to appease Jiggles, although the City Superstores do come close, and the route most likely taken is the quickest one to the Manhattan Power Plantation, the source of energy to every switch and outlet in New York City!
"If Zerconia got there," Julien figured (after eavesdropping on the explanation), "it shall be the Jungle Law mishappening all over again... I'm too tired to put up with any more of the chaos!"
"That might be the least of our problems, Ringtail." Skipper said, trying signal this ruler to mind his own business.
"Skipper's right," Kowalski said, running though the numbers, "at the rate these two had been staying together and engorging themselves, a maximum fusion-process could occur, and since there diets of power and produce shall be combined as well, Jiggles and Zerconia will turn into a single, gelatinous Death-Trap!"
"Wow!" Duchess Lucinda said, "that was worse then what I thought would happen!"
Mort finally got thrown out of Joey's pen (oblivious to pain as usual), and right onto Lucinda's head... he laughed at the drawing she made of Zerconia and Jiggles married with what appeared to be nine octigongular offspring.
Once they figured out where these blobs were going, the penguins and lemurs teamed up to catch them; set up a trap... the good news was that Zerconia, the shape-shifter among the two, couldn't change colors, making her easy to spot among the other city buses (even if not for the slime trail Jiggles made whenever he got out to a fruit-stand for a "snack"), the bad news was that, even with the rapidly growing Jiggles weighing her down, she was moving so fast that Graveyard Eight looked like a snail next to her... that was way too fast, and the humans that saw this new "bus" panicked at the thought that the breaks on it could've broke! Of course, distracted by that thought didn't notice the animals in pursuit of it (aside of "wish I had time to put on my La Phantasma uniform before I gone out for this", Duchess Lucinda had no thoughts of her hero work what-so-ever... she just wants her new creation to behave herself before things gone worse)!
As expected, the bus form faded only by the time Zerconia got to the electric company, and as her turn came to feed, she and Jiggles became a Turquoise-colored Blob-Zilla! Since they didn't have the speed for any of the other traps to be set up (let alone work), Kowalski and Lucinda had one shot left at preventing Doomsday: they tied a salmon to Lucinda's rubber Axehead, in attempt to slice this gelatinous-demon back into two separate (and different) gel-creatures.
"I'll take care of this part," Lucinda volunteers herself, taking up the fused weapon in her hands, "it's because I made Zerconia that we are all doomed anyway... I'm 60% responsible for this mess, and that's the bigger half!" "Just do it already, Duchess!" Kowalski yelled, fixing the Shrink-Ray that Zerconia and Jiggles broke in there team-up and escape, "I'll be right behind you!"
With no time to waste, they followed through on the plan and... it worked! Zerconia and Jiggles were the tiny version of themselves again. There was a slight glitch, though: While shrinking them down to a more controllable size, Kowalski accidentally shrunk Duchess Lucinda as well (he and the others could hardly hear her, but she screamed in her frustration: "I've been be-mud-dolled again! Kowalski! You idiot! Change me back this instant, or I swear by Xibalba that fleabites will hurt a lot less then mine will!" Kowalski managed to reconfigure the broken design with a reverse-switch upgrade, but refused to use it until Lucinda took back what she said about him being an "idiot")!
The next morning Maurice noticed the power surged through-out the city (but no black outs, thank goodness)and when he noticed that the penguins were bringing the two blobs back home, and King Julien (in an attempt to solve two problems at once) let his sister use Mort as a security blanket until they got home. Jiggles and Zerconia were actually a good couple, so long as they didn't "eat" to much... or get caught together under the light of a full moon. Zerconia enjoys the "bed" made for her on Duchess Lucinda's utility sash, and became a blueish, much-newer version of the rusty toy-tiara the female maker had... on her head and everything. All four penguins came to the "event", and found Jiggles' sweet-heart's reaction touching... well, Skipper, Private, and Rico did, at least, it was unknown what Kowalski thought of the matter... his week of insomnia and the excitement of last night's misadventure finally had overpowered him, and he was fast asleep... using the lemurs' snack-bar as a bed before the others carried him home... witnessed by a pair of purple, octigongular jell-creatures....
The End (?)
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