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Duchess Lucinda thinks every storm the "Sky Spirits" send is her fault, and how she hides from them is driving everybody crazy! Although her intrusion of their HQ was going too far, it helped the penguins learn one thing that can come in handy if they are to get Lucinda to get over it... she has a "secret" crush on Kowalski! Will such a calm before the next storm be enough? Would Lucinda ever understand that, in life, a little rain must fall? Do the porcupines really get the new animal's name wrong on purpose as a joke... or are they bewildered by the lengthy title "Princess Lucinda Hira Cattamaki of Madagascar the First, Last, and Only"?
The penguins were out in the rain all night... Skipper wanted to get the squadron in top shape, and this thunderstorm was the perfect setting for a battlefield-at-war scenario. Being water-proof birds, the rain didn't ail them, although all that thunder-and-lightning had got all of them (even explosion-obsessed Rico) on the edge, which was the worst state for who-ever set up a bridge between the fence around the Penguin Pool and the Iceberg-like platform that leads to the main entry of their headquarters. In stealth-mode, they snuck inside their own home to find out who was trespassing: It was a lemur...
a ring-tailed lemur... but it wasn't who it usually is...
Usually, it was King Julien who drops by for unexpected visits, but not this time; this time it was Duchess Lucinda (Julien's "know-it-all" twin sister) who had unauthorized access to the HQ's equipment, including the TV and DVD player, and what she was watching would've turned a certain penguin's white face-feathers dark-pink...
"A poem... for Doris... the Dolphin."
Lucinda smiled sarcastically, as she got the popcorn to her side: "...This better be good!"
"We swam as one/ I touched your gentle flipper/ then we were done/ YOU WANTED SOMEONE HIPPER!!!"
Seeing the video footage of Kowalski beating himself up over a love-life gone wrong, Duchess Lucinda burst out laughing! "Boy was that corny! She's way to good for you anyways, Kowalski... way too good to you, and with poor taste in relationships! You don't really need her anyway!"
"Considering the tone of you voice and the way you worded it out, it only seems logical that you are jealous of Doris on my account!"
Skipper would've slapped Kowalski (the real one, that is) for blowing their cover, but the look on this "Mystery Girl's" face, upon realizing that she isn't alone, was just too priceless.
"Wha...?! Kowalski! I wasn't doing any...! What are you doing here?!"
Typical royal lemur, Skipper thought to himself (knowing that Private and Rico were reading his expression), breaking in, then acting like she owns the place.
Kowalski didn't have to look (or bring out any gadgets) to know what was on the head-of-the-flock's mind, but he knew that Lucinda is more likely to be reasoned with then her brother: "I live here!"
"Interesting recap," Lucinda said, inching her way to the exit, looking embarrassed, "but what I meant to ask is what are you doing back! Oh, forget it..." she get's to the surface of the top entry, hand-first (to check the weather), and then binging her hands back in and pointed up."...I have to get back to my brother before... they start temper-tantruming on me again." She slid down, and then got up to Kowalski's face, as though to be dramatic. "I can't stand having to put up with all these storms." She holds Kowalski by the side & trys to kiss him, but slaps herself after trying.
After an awkward moment (and by "awkward", we'd mean it seems like she left when she didn't) The penguins had a secret conference with Amy on the situation (which was even stranger, for it's rare that agent-penguins assume humans useful in classified matters), and she laughed it up. "She snuck into you're personal stuff, huh?! I knew Alice has no idea how to look after things around here... let alone my little foster-cousin... but she's cocky and ignorant." "Good thing to," Skipper remarked, "we wouldn't want her to find out that there's more to us then cute and cuddly."
Amy Shook her head, "Still, we have to keep a close eye on her if she is to stay out of trouble. I raised her better then to go into someone else's space uninvited... I even taught her how to knock! She's smart beyond expectations, but it still took awhile for her to adapt to our kinds ways of... anyhow, the only excuses she had for trespassing had to be the storm. After all, she was ship-wrecked! Regardless, one can't trust her kind of loner to be alone this much. I wouldn't, not after her what happened the last time she was left home alone. It was also her first Alchemy Experiment gone wrong."
"What happened?" Private asked. "Trust me," Amy said, "you don't want to know. Only one thing is for sure: I never should've entrusted Duchess with a skateboard, a Bunsen-burner, and a tube of cookie-dough! Thankfully, daddy had us on a minimum sugar-intake policy, so there is no way that will happen again! I'll help you get even with her if you like."
Amy's little brother, Zeke, ran into the area in a panic, shouting for his sister's attention, and when he notice she was busy, he tried to slide to a stop... his bad brakes knocked Rico over, who coughed-up a parachute to avoid crashing into Alice (naive as ever).
Amy wasn't happy about that, "This better be good pipsqueak, or I'm not helping'you clean the skunk habitat!"
"It's Cousin Cindy!" Zeke panted, "She just stole matti... matto... a whole bunch of stuff from the Spider-monkey cage to build a storm-away-fort! And I saw her with tools that aren't even hers... she said she 'borrowed' them from the flamingos... they said she didn't ask permission!"
"Sounds to me that this Sky Spirit tantrum ordeal is getting out of hand..." Skipper thought it over, "... Kowalski! Get our weather machine reactivated and prepare a 'telegram-to-the-heavens' pronto!" "To think she had actually spotted a misprint in my formula calculation, and she still think supernatural forces...!" "That was an order mister!"
"Denied!" Amy said, "Faking it isn't going to help, and if that device gives her what she prays for, which is for storms to stop forever, it'll doom us all. She has to be given a more sensible way to face her fears without loosing sight of the culture she struggled for four-years to keep!"
The penguins gone over the issue... and Skipper spoke for them all: "Little Ezekel took our storm-generator apart to make a race-car-themed cuckoo-clock, did he?"
"I love the time I made!" Zeke smiled proudly.
"Yes, he did. Sorry about that," Amy said, "but what I say is true: there has to be a way for her to better tell a good storm from a bad one. Come on boys, think! There must be something in you place she would want... maybe you might be able to bribe her into co-operating when you set her straight."
Kowalski tried to look like hes running though the math, but it was obvious that her almost kissing him was all the evidence he need for the theory: "Apparently... the only thing she wants is... me!"
Soon enough, it was arranged that Kowalski and Lucinda spend the day together (King Julien eavesdropped and, as the king and a big brother, he permitted it) before another storm hits. When the duchess learned that she had a date with the only one she knew for both brains and good looks, she was thrilled, and decided the quills from the jokingly-forgetful porcupines (to patch up leaks) will have to wait until later. Kowalski brought out a pocket watch and tried to keep her attention on it (he even claimed it belonged to several generations of penguin strategists... and it surprised him that she already knew that "strategist" was just a fancier term for the "Options-Guy"), but although she almost fell into a trance... Mort ruined it by getting her mixed up with Julien in a bet against Maurice he can find the king's feet blindfolded... it didn't matter, as she was losing herself in this penguin's eyes instead of the watch, proving that although susceptible to hypnosis, she'd never provide the desired results willingly.
The cause of Lucinda's immunity was revealed: her and Julien's mother, Queen Sasha, was a peasant girl of sorts before she even met the previous lemur king, and had been lacking in a savage side to increase her chance of survival (let alone win men over), she used to make up for it with many mind games and hypnosis tricks... first she learned all too well that the fussa were suckers for colored lights-and-patterns, then by trying pendulum tricks to sway other lemurs into obeying her (or at least submissify them into shutting up and listening). As all generations before him, their father was too stubborn and will-strong to fall for the charms Sasha used when she thought she wasn't pretty enough to satisfy royalty, but he fell for her just the same. (The now-generation of King Julien was the same way... except when it comes to shiny things.)
While discussing that, Skipper, Private, and Rico were working on a crude-but-effective Storm-at-Sea simulation, and said that "duty calls" the moment it was ready... Kowalski would've participated in this "session" without Lucinda, if Julien didn't use the "Chicken-mock" on her. Although going though that with Kowalski made her slightly less likely to stay in fear, she still hated every minute of that, and the penguins had to try something else
Morning turned to noon (and thank goodness it was another "Fun Day"), so Kowalski invited Lucinda to join him for a clandestine-lunch ("clandestine" meaning its a secret because they aren't really allowed to sneak out of the zoo for it), but instead of the parts of the park that humans have no access to what-so-ever... not even Amy and Zeke... they had a picnic of things that both their kinds can actually agree upon (like fruit juice, shrimp-poppers... the only kind of sea-food Duchess could stand the taste of..., and a minuscule portion of candy buttons) in the least romantic spot any animal would know about: a station in the city subway-system! Duchess Lucinda was startled by the noise, thought for sure it was thunder, but Kowalski actually looked amused as he explained what was really making the racket... "I am somewhat skeptical of the supernatural but, to put it simply", you might never handle what the Sky Spirits have in store if you can't even handle this."
Lucinda rolled her eyes. "My brother told you about my connection to Mort... did he?"
With that little character-builder (close as it was) being a failure, Skipper then got Kowalski alone and asked if he had any other options for this... other then telling her Sky-Spirits aren't real because that'll never work on any lemur, let alone her! Kowalski said he was already working on it, then got back to Lucinda and asked if there's anything she wants to do (all part of the plan).
She wanted to see if the Dehauntedos family managed to find a new home and get out of the half-way house, but Kowalski "made a wrong turn" and landed them in a work-in-progress water park. (Duchess Lucinda was able to tell he did that on purpose!) After a few swimming lessons (difficult, but she managed) and the most risky test-runs of the wet and wild rides, Lucinda still says that what he was doing to "help" was nothing compared to the real storms. She ran off to get herself dried off alone, but Kowalski spied on her to make sure she gets a grip... and heard her singing voice, as clear and melodious as many who knew her (Chester the Chatterbox, especially) described:
"'Twas Friday at dawn when we set sail/and we had not gone far from the land/ when the captain had spied a lovely mermaid/ with a comb and a mirror in her hand...
...Oh the Ocean waves will roll/ and the stormy winds shall blow/ while we poor sailors are skipping to the top/ and the land-lubbers lie down below below below..."
"...And the land-lubbers lie down below."
Kowalski's join in started Lucinda, but it should've been known that he knows it when this lemur used to read his memories (after all, that song was Skipper's namesake, and they used to perform it whenever a chance was given in their younger years). Lucinda told about how Pappy sang that just the day after he saved her in his fishing net... she couldn't help laughing: "He thought I was a mermaid! Alas, such a Water-Goddess could never be equal to me; after all, mermaids are not only beauteous, they are also one of the toughest creatures in the seas... all seven of them. Seriously, pirates and vikings think themselves indestructible just for surviving stormy, rocky places, but mer-peoples... they live in those parts of the ocean! Can't top that; can't top it!"
Just then, the unstable flange-rides started to collapse. Kowalski, as though it were natural, acted on instinct to get both of them out of the way of the current, as the entire theme park began to flood! He then tried to think up the best chance of an exit to truly avoid drowning, but in the middle of a calculation, the platform that the two of them stood upon crumbled apart... the brave and cleaver penguin fell into the rushing waters.
The other penguins jumped in to help him (Never Swim Alone, both literally and metaphorically, was indeed the penguin credo, and good thing to, for along with struggling to swim along with this "un-natural-riptide", Kowalski was tangled in the construction-ropes anchors with cinders blocks)! The rushing water, the sounds, the spark of the neon "welcome" sign, all reminded Lucinda of the disaster that left her vulnerable all these years, but the sight of the other penguins working together to help her crush reminded her that the same Sky Spirits that destroyed her zahatra with lightning are the ones that put wind into the sails of the sailing-ship American Duchess, which gave her an understanding:
"...they didn't want me to face the world's dangers on my own!"
Lucinda, though a novice at swimming, jumped in and managed to help untangle Kowalski just as he was running out of air... she almost drowned herself. Unknowing if she was still alive or not, a voice oddly like that of her father called out to her.
Did she really cross over?
Redonculous! The voice was like her father's but the wording was more like that of her mother, and if she was calling out to her as well, she'd hear two voices instead of just one.
"Rise and shining...!"
Only one character she knew of has both.
"Sis! Please! WAKE UP! I cannot be loosing you AGAIN!"
Just one lunge against her stomach, and her mouth sprayed at her brother as though she swallowed a river. She didn't come to her senses until something got into her face (Zeke let Rico keep the race-car-themed cuckoo-clock), and there she saw she was surrounded by the penguins, and King Julien, her foolish yet well-meaning twin brother, was telling them to give her some space... just a failed attempt to hide the mallet he used.
The penguins saluted her for her bravery, and Kowalski told her that, though the eyes of a watery-grave, one could've mistaken her for a mermaid, easy. He also said that no real mermaid could ever top her. They came home before 0900, but Alice already had the feeling she missed something... what the fisherman who raised his duchess said to cheese the zookeeper off had sparked inspiration for Maurice.
In due time (after full recovery), a real thunderstorm hit New York City... Lucinda still gets the willies from them, says "I hate it when they do this!", but looking at the new royal portrait, in which she was the very mermaid from the song she knew well, she found that not all storms are dangerous... usually, they are for the greater good, especially to those who know well the wisest words she ever re-translated into her native island tongue (though living up to it would still be hard to her):
Sanatria mandano fotsiny (Never swim alone)
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