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"Wot's that lorry doin' parked way out here? Suspicious, right, K'walski?"

The trickle past the snowy verge of the road contained only inches of water, so Private's march was truly a March. Intel said that the trickle turned into a sizable moat around the impressive castle. Pfft, some defense by a puny moat, snorted Kowalski to himself, as if penguins would ever use water as an effective tactic for protection. Kastelholm lay miles in the distance and personally, Kowalski preferred sliding in the snow to marching. He studied the logo on the lorry's side that depicted starry-eyed parents emoting over their brand new home while a little girl clutched her stuffed polar bear and cried. "Let's consider that Åalanders move house as much as anyone else does in life, Private, and continue until the castle. Skipper, sliding is the optimal method of transport at this point. Permission to slide?"

"Yeah, my feet hurt, too. Commence sliding on my mark." The four lined up abreast as if competing in the Penguin Olympics 200-meter Breaststroke event. "Mark." The verge was wide enough for four little penguins to slide in a row. After a moment to find proper placement, the team kicked, wriggled, and steered in a perfect formation. Anyone watching would have noted four bodaciously fast seabirds zipping like a Blue Angels aerial routine along the quiescent island countryside. The miles slid away, too, until a slight rise in the landscape made them resume walking.

Kowalski consulted his abacus. "Kastelholm is still a mile away, Skipper." Some woods sheltered the road, deciduous trees bare and sad while the evergreens supplied spotty cover.

Skipper brushed ice crystals from his pristine front. "We should march single file."

After another quarter mile, Private could no longer keep silent. "Skippa, I'm lonely."

"The March is mostly single file. It's tradition. Suck it up."

An agreeing squeak issued from Rico at caboose position as he stomped along in close order march behind Kowalski as Kowalski's attention seemed elsewhere. Another quarter mile passed with Private at point and Skipper next in line waiting for the next gripe. It would likely be not long in coming, and then he could put his compromise in place if needed. If he felt like it. For the good of the team, of course. Always think ahead, Skipper thought to himself, a plan B is preferable to being caught flat-flippered. And Private was so damn, um, cussed young, he mused. He wasn't coddling him, he wasn't.

"Are we there yet?"

It was best to give reasons for orders when time allowed. "We walk single file so that anyone pursuing can't gauge our numbers."

"Who would be followin' us?"

"You never know."

The snow was plain white in these woods. Kowalski found the regular color boring now that he had experienced watermelon snow.

"Skipper, I think we're all right."

"It's my job not to."

Two hundred fifty steps later, Private sighed loud enough to be heard but didn't crab anymore.

"Private, don't make me turn this March around --- okay, fine. Traditions, laws, customs, made to be broken, I say. Did you ever hear New Yorkers talk about something called Prohibition? Fall out and take five."

"Skipper, come look at this." Kowalski ought to have been nearly invisible in the shade of a mighty roadside pine at night, but he wasn't. An eerie glow illuminated his long form and he looked like a Central Park lamppost in travel size. "Phosphorescent moss and lichen and some fungi known as foxfire."

Skipper scratched at the lichen and some flaked off on his flipper. He sniffed it. "This could be useful to weaponize. Kowalski, analysis."

"It's bioluminescent to glow in the dark, but it's unpredictable. Analysis is that a Maglite is more practical. Rico can nearly always upchuck one of those."

After a moment, Skipper cocked his head. "And Rico isn't unpredictable? But good analysis, Kowalski. Not everything needs to be a weapon."

"A monumental concession for you, may I say, sir. Sometimes we just appreciate Mother Nature." Kowalski studied his leader. "You look all green like you did when we thought you were a zombie."

Skipper stretched out each flipper and waved the one that was broken during that fiasco. "Why bring that up?"

"I did poorly with the team. Maybe I need a do over on training as your second in command."

Skipper glanced over to where Rico and Private made penguin snow angels. "It was weird and stormy out that night. Your imagination got the better of you. You did all right in the end."

Kowalski moved away from the glowing moss and was invisible once more. "My imagination does that a lot."

"So? We all have weaknesses. I just don't like to talk about mine. Hah, there's the sign for the bridge to the castle, see it down the road? Rico! Private! Two minute warning!"

"Something else, Skipper. Do you like the northern or the southern lights better?"

"The southern lights are just the same as here, but as an Antarctican through and through, I like them better. I'll never claim to be a citizen of the world. Antarctica is home. Answer your question, Mr. Science Guy?"

Kowalski put on his softest voice. "Getting to the homeschooling, the odds are 0.005231 against that there will ever be a new Viking uprising. Look around you. Isn't this about the most peaceful place we've ever been?"

Skipper got strident before Kowalski caught his second wind. "Homeschooling would do that, now wouldn't it! All these little kiddies being rested up to learn bright and early tomorrow morning about how to conquer the outside world, prepped by their mommies and daddies. No school dances, no talent shows, no schoolkid crushes, no back to school nights, just work work work."

Rico and Private came over to see what the loud talk was about. Kowalski tried not to cave in front of them. "Sir, it could be that the woman was encouraging her child to study hard, you know? If I ever had hatchlings, I would do that to help them --- "

The door to discussion slammed shut. "Do you know that? Do you? Nope. There was a definite solid plan there. I could feel it. We march." Kowalski ignored a loon's laughing cry somewhere around the nearby fjord as he took up his position in the small column.

They crossed a bridge and stopped at the base of a smallish hill.

"So this is Kastelholm."

IOIOIOIOIO

TBC
"Morning briefing, gentlemen.  Private, memorize these minutes.  Sasquatch meeting memorable, yet filled with questions.  Perhaps the delay in her transportation to Helsinki for three weeks will answer those questions.  In the meantime, I'm bored."

At these words, Private swayed on his feet, Rico choked on something halfway up or maybe it was halfway down, and Kowalski spluttered,  "It's always d-dangerous when you get bored, sir.  Cultural exchange between zoos is a good thing.  Let's give this one a chance. It doesn't have to end like the Great Ethiopian Cultural Exchange program of Ought Nine."

Skipper bounced on his toes.  "Hooha!  Wasn't that a trip and a half!  Our feathers didn't grow back for weeks.  Rico's never did come in right again."

"I need sugar, sir."

It was one week and one day into the exchange.  Rico had hacked up some simple necessities of life for the four of them.  He hadn't packed Miss Perky for some reason and was the only one of the four not to need some grounding in familiar possessions.

At the mention of feathers, Rico pulled at his ragged topknot and made an indescribable noise, even for him.  Private rooted in his duffel and handed Kowalski one of his Peanut Butter Winkies.  "But I don't like --- never mind.  Thanks, Private.  Say what, Skipper?"

"I'm still bored, gentlemen.  We've never been about being just plain playful penguins ---we're about being awesome by solving problems that nobody else could."

The others nodded.  Rico pointed to his scar.  "Wif price."

"Yes, my friend, with a price."  Skipper got back on track.  "So now boredom is a problem."

"For you," muttered Kowalski.

"Yes.  Damn straight!  And when I have a problem --- "

"We all have one, Skippa?"

"Let me finish, soldier.  I want my problem put in the solved file ASAP."  This was supposed to be a relaxation program.  Perhaps one week was all that Skipper could handle, thought Private.  Just as if they were back in Central Park Zoo rather than under a foreboding sky that promised a change in the weather, Skipper paced in front of his squad as he waved his coffee mug.  "We solve Marlene's problems, we bring Mason and Phil back together when they've broken up again, and blah blahity blah.  That's what we're in Zooville for, right?  I mean it isn't like we couldn't leave any time we wanted."

"And do wot, exactly?"

Ever logical when it suited him and sometimes when it didn't, Kowalski threw out options.  "Return to Madagascar?"

Skipper choked on his coffee sardine.  "Aw hell no."

"Will we be goin' back to Antarctica where there are leopard seals like Hunter?  And others not so nice?"

"Possibly in retirement, but that's a long way off for all of us.  Well, for you most of all, you little rapscallion."  Private dodged a ruffling of his head feathers.

"Skipper, Rico and I think that --"

"Oh, Rico and you."

"Yes, we were talking the other night and --- "

"You were.  Do tell."

Kowalski stood his ground, flippers akimbo like Skipper's.  "Yes, we were.   At any rate, maybe a break from routine would be good for the team in general.  We're here in an, an adequate zoo without those lemurs and Marlene and all the rest having problems.  We're not bunking on top of a fusion reactor thirteen levels underneath our HQ.  Can't we stop and smell the blåklocka?"  He crossed his flippers firmly over his chest and favored his leader with a judgmental glare.   "That's what you told me to do one time."  Rico muttered something.  "Oh, all right, Rico. You said that I do it sometimes but not often enough."

Skipper got his getting-ready-to-prevail look on.  "I don't recall saying that.  And that was then, this is now.  I want action."

Rico burped up a half-completed ship in a bottle.  

"No.  Hobbies don't cut it."

Private regained his voice.  "Skippa, I'd like a break."

"And normally I'd consider a teensy weensy break, but not now.  Do we want these North Polars like Imelda to think we're made of hippie dreams and light frothy metaphors like sea foam and dolphin spray --- oh. Sorry, Kowalski, I forgot ---"

"It's all right, Skipper.  Time marches on."

"March!  That's it!"  There was a gleam in Skipper's eye.
 
Rico managed to get out four clear words.  "I don't get you."

"Private's never done a March of the Penguins.  Even better, what month is it?"

"March.  But Skipper, that's coincidence."

"No, it isn't.  If Ringtail were here, he'd say the Sky Spirits arranged our exchange for a reason.   It's so Private can do his March.  And it'll be easier on the little guy.  It's not as cold as Antarctica and there are fewer humans than in New York City."

Private dragged one toe in a circle.  "Do I have to?"

"It's a rite of passage.  You're ... ready."

"You hesitated, Skippa."

"It's just that I can't believe how much time has passed since you joined our unit.  Makes me feel old."

"Too wrong by half, Skippa, you're not --- "

"Can the sympathy.  We leave tonight."  Skipper warmed to the subject.  "We'll gather intel about homeschooling along the way, Private can do his March, and Rico can swim in the fjord around Kastelholm that we've heard so much about by eavesdropping on the humans.  Win-win-win-win."

Kowalski's voice rose in that way that it did.  "All in one night?"

"Under pressure, the way we act best.  Aren't you going to ask what the fourth win is?"

"Continue!  Get on with it!  Drop the other herring!"  Kowalski really was getting on everyone's nerves.  An outing was just the thing that the unit needed.  Even Kowalski's performance for the kiddies was subpar these past few days.

"It's going to snow tonight."

IOIOIOIOIO

"This watermelon snow is fascinating!"  Kowalski, Rico, and Private inspected their feet and gleefully tracked red trails in a checkerboard pattern on the broad island in their temporary home.  "Look, it turns our feet pink, too!"

"Woohoo!  Look, everyone!  I'm makin' plaid snow!"

There was no shutting Kowalski up.  "Watermelon snow contains a species of algae holding red pigment along with green chlorophyll.  It loves the cold!"  

Private spared a thought for the matter.  "But, K'walski, when you mix green and red don't you usually get a nasty brown color?"

"Red is way cooler, so no."  Kowalski tromped through the thin layer of snow, head swiveling back and forth as he glanced behind himself to admire the garish tracks, and it wasn't long before he smashed into Rico.  Rico had stopped in awe to gaze at the midnight northern light display.

"Kaboom kaboom kaboom!"  Rico rolled onto his back with ninja grace at the impact, forcing Kowalski's long body to sprawl on top of him, toe to almost-toe.  He twisted the second-in- command's narrow shoulders until Kowalski, too, beheld the ever-changing ribbons of color that swirled through the brighter-than-bright Milky Way.  

Kowalski grunted and turned away.  "We've all seen auroras before, Rico, what's so special ---"

Rico pinned Kowalski underneath him in a Routine Twelve maneuver, spouting something wild that Kowalski disputed. "I do not need preening at the moment!  Stop!  What are you --- get that out of my eyes --- my eyes --- what did you do --- it's --- it's --- beautiful --- I never knew it could be like this --- "

Kowalski was at a loss for words as he flopped nervelessly by Rico's side.  White, green, blue, and violet gavotted across the Arctic sky, but underneath the dance of primary and secondary notes glowed colors that Kowalski could not name.  He scrubbed at his eyes.  "The oil from your preening got into my eyes and I see even more ultraviolet range in the aurora.  It must interact with our avian retina's fourth cone and now I see --- I see --- indescribable --- thanks, Rico.  You've made a discovery this time."

Rico crooned a question.
 
"No, I already rubbed a lot of it out.  But that's okay, I saw enough, you don't need to --- "

Rico couldn't be dissuaded.
 
"All right. Preen me again, big fella."

"Hey you two, some other time.  Let's move out.  Form up."

IOIOIOIOIO

TBC
In the end, Rico's kaboom! was more a bubbling pop! followed by a slow fizzling splpsh.  The primate doors opened obligingly and they were in.  The warmth of the building soon made them gag.  

"Onward, men.   Through humidity, mist, and thick, choking heat.  Follow me!"

Private stood lookout as Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico slid on condensation-slick tile up to where an ancient orangutan dozed on his perch.  The ape's habitat featured glass in the front with an admirable attempt to make it appear Asian.  Just enough bamboo screened in three stunted trees in front of a stunning painted backdrop, but that's all it was: a backdrop.   The reality for the old orang was right before them.  Three dried trees, whereas on Sumatra he would have had the lush arboreal canopy to explore.  

Kowalski tapped gently on the glass.   "Hugo?  Hugo?"

The senior citizen awakened slowly.  "Huh.  Penguins."

"Yes.  Sorry to wake you.  We live next to Imelda."  At Kowalski's desultory words, Rico yearned to speak more clearly.  Anyone who could infiltrate without kaboom!ing earned his grudging respect and a large amount of pity.

The surprisingly spry superannuated simian looped himself down from the tree and approached the window.  He searched an armpit and came up with a bobby pin.  Two clicks and one prod later, the glass door swung open.

He addressed Rico first. "Twilight scuttlebutt said you want to meet Orang Pendek."

Rico didn't get much attention outside of his brothers unless he were blowing something up.  "Huh?"

"Otherwise known as Sasquatch."

Skipper stepped up as leader as was his custom.  "Right a rooney.  Is she available?"  Rico thought that Kowalski and Skipper looked alike at that moment.  Their desires practically radiated off them, Skipper's to meet and greet, Kowalski's to scope and probe.  Rico shivered.

"I'll check her calendar."  While the three peered around the unfamiliar space and panted with incipient heat exhaustion, Hugo's dark eyes seemed to see into their souls.  He reached a conclusion and with a gesture that appeared rude but wasn't, he pointed to a solid door at the end of the main hall.

"She's in the back room."

Kowalski couldn't contain himself. "The brutes!  Such a rare treasure ought to be in the best habitat the zoo has to offer."
Hugo shrugged.  Past other tropical denizens such as the nocturnal aye-aye who waved bony fingers at them and a colobus monkey that was one indistinguishable fluff of black and white, he led them to what looked like a subverted storeroom.  One twist of the bobby pin more and the lock clicked.

Silently, Hugo gestured for help and the three penguins heaved up the articulated overhead door.

A dark shape turned.

"I'll lock up when you're done grilling her.  And," Hugo said over his shoulder as he waddled in a penguin-like gait back to his perch, "be nice to her.  Orang Pendek, the saola, and my kind are all on the way out."

Skipper protested to the orang's retreating back, "But we don't want to grill her, we just want to meet --- never mind."  He stepped out from the other two penguins.  "Miss Sasquatch?  I'm Skipper, this is Kowalski and this is Rico.  Encantado de conocerla."

Silently, the furred hulk approached.  From a face eerily similar to Hugo's, a contralto voice asked, "What are you?"

"We are the penguins."

Sasquatch drew nearer.  The silkiest of fur the color of Fred The Squirrel's tree trunk draped a form that dwarfed Commissioner McSlade.  "From where?"

"The splendid continent of Antarctica originally, but we are travelers like you.  Where are you from, young lady?"

The contralto got deeper.  "Many places.  And I'm not so young."

This was turning into an interrogation despite good intentions.  "What's your name, your real name?"

"Sasquatch."

"Come on, that's your species.  Do you want a real name?  Because I'm going to say Mikaela."  Skipper added a winning smile, and he hated to smile.

"No.  Sasquatch will do.  It always has."

"How about Sassy, if you don't mind?  Because Quatchie sounds, um, really weird."  This wasn't going well.  Under the glossy fur were small curves, right to Skipper's liking in a mammal.  He imagined himself preening her, but stopped at the thought of pulling a Doris.  Not only yearning for another genus, but another class was Kowalski's thing.

"I mind.  It's Sasquatch." She jerked her head in Hugo's habitat's direction.  "He thinks I'm related to him somehow because of the orang pendek thing, but I don't think so."

"But you don't know," Skipper pressed.

"I do know so."  The meet-and-greet seemed to be winding down until Kowalski bustled over.
 
"Miss Sasquatch, would you mind lifting your arm so I could take your temperature?"  The medico bag that Rico had barfed up bulged with stethoscopes, sutures, syringes, a sphygmomanometer, and six tubes of surgical lubricant.  "It's for science!"  He drooped at her next words.

"No.  Enough measurements."  Sasquatch sulled up.  "Are we done here?  I want to say we're done."

Stonewalled, Skipper stepped back more from her personal space.  "We are here to help you.  It's what we do."

"You can't."  Sadness permeated the small room like a smell of wet fur.  She waved a leathery palm and the pelt on its back seemed mismatched, as if an old injury had not healed well.  "I'm off to Helsinki, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week.  Who knows?"  Sasquatch turned away to face the blank wall.
 
Despite the ambient heat in the building, the back room felt chilly.  Skipper wondered how many blank walls she would need to face in the near future.  Well, none thicker than the ones she was putting up now.  "Good luck on that.  If you change your mind --- "

"We won't," chimed in Hugo from the open door.  He did something at a wall outlet and the door lowered slowly.  The penguins smiled and waved goodbye, but Sasquatch remained unmoved.

After jamming the sphygmomanometer in between the blasted primate house doors to keep in the warmth, Kowalski muttered, "Let them explain this!" and grumped all the way back to the penguin habitat.

IOIOIOIOIO

"Skipper's Log, Hiatus Version 1.0.  We've met a Sasquatch and she is a riddle trapped inside an enigma with a pretty good reason for being there.  She'll never fit in at any zoo.  It makes me mad or sad, I can't decide which.  She doesn't want our help, but that's never stopped us before, right, Log?  We push on to where no penguin has pushed before --- "

"Sir, you didn't pack your tape recorder.  D'you want me to start memorizin' or I'll see if Rico can bring the recorder up on his, um, screen, shall I?"

"No, Private, never mind.  It was an unsettling entry anyway."

IOIOIOIOIO

TBC
"Cálmate, chica, tienes que relajar...you're so beautiful, me haces volverme loco.  Sí, como ése, ése ... now!  Madre de --- "

"Skippa, wake up."  Private prodded and kicked until he received a response.

"Huh?"

"You were talkin' in your sleep.  It must have been quite the lovely dream."

Åaland's version of a habitat had no windows and only the dimmest light filtering from the stars and aurora entered through the curved opening.  It must have been this soft anonymity that undid Skipper.

"Dream?  I guess.  The memory is better, though.  We were on Bouvet Island, the most remote island in the world.  We swam through swells and crested crescendos of wicked waves until landfall on the sweetest little beach you'd ever want to see.  Those ladies kept up with me, swimming I mean, and then some."

"Um, sounds romantic.  You don't have to tell me any more."  Private yawned.

"I did say they were the Chinstrap Sisters, right?  From Chile?  It was paradise, just we four."

Private shot awake.  "Four?  But how?  With three, yes, but --- "

"Never you mind.  Someday I'll tell you in a special briefing.  Go back to sleep, young Private.  That's an order."

"But how will you --- "

"I'll deal with it."

"Can I help?"

"No."

Private was asleep again when Skipper rose to survey the northern lights cascading over the island he currently was on.  The sight churned up more memories than he wanted to consider, and he didn't stay outdoors long.

IOIOIOIOIO

When no one was looking, Kowalski sang to himself in his HQ lab.  Here on Åaland was precious little privacy like that, but after exercise one morning a week from Skipper's homeschooling announcement, he found a warm lie out between the Calluna vulgaris and the Viscum album.  The song lyrics came as easily to him as thinking about Doris.  He cleared his throat and directed himself with both flippers as if he were a maestro.  "Hummmm.  Kaff.  Kaff.  Me me me me.  Ahem.  Like a briiiidge over a cup of water, you can lay me down ...   no, that's not it."  

A cloud ghosted over the sun.  He dropped his flippers and sighed as the Calluna vulgaris' bare branches stirred in a chilly breeze.

 "Hmmmmph.  This is more to the point, Doris.  I call your name, but you're not there.  Was I to blame for being unfair?  Don't you know I can't sleep at night since you've been gone.  I always weep at night, I can't go onnnn ... "  The weather cleared and some scuffling next to the Viscum album made him peer out at the interloper into his space.  There in a splash of sunlight stood Rico with his feathery crest stirring in the zephyr.  He gestured for Kowalski to follow him.

"Team, there's a new animal in this zoo.  A fascinating animal.  The humans have captured a Sasquatch.  She's in a top security section of the primate house temporarily before transfer to Helsinki. I want to meet her.  Kowalski, options?"

Kowalski didn't even need to think.  "Imelda says that inside the primate house is an orangutang, and we all know how effective orangs are at getting into and out of enclosures.  I think his name is Hugo.  I recommend Rico's expertise at exploding entries" --- Rico beamed at the praise --- "tonight into the main primate house and we'll ask Hugo to get us into meeting, meeting her, h-her ---   wait --- a Sasquatch?! They're a myth!"

"Thus the fascination.  Rico, I want the smallest possible kaboom, understood?"

"Awwwwww --- "

"I know, I know, but we don't want to startle the lady.  She's even more a stranger to these parts than we are."

"Aw riiiiight."  Rico's pout could turn the toughest hearts to mush, but not this time.

"Operation Welcome Wagon is a go."

IOIOIOIOIO

TBC
Åaland Island Zoo's outdoors habitat for foxes and now penguins had a spare charm, Rico would give it that.  And there was small chance that he couldn't come up with --- up with, he snickered to himself --- anything they truly needed on this hiatus.  Out in the late winter sunshine, the world looked sturdy and stoic, as if this island had weathered many a winter and would weather many more.  At the same time, the mood of the zoo spoke of slight weariness, as if come on already! was on all the animals' minds.  Spring was right around the corner, as welcome a change of season as it always proved to be each year.  

Rico was content, but then he nearly always was.  It took an overwhelming menace singling him out from his brothers or the threat of Skipper's prolonged absence to shake his foundation.  Even kaboom!ing didn't rattle his soul like those two things did.

"Got to keep in shape, men.  Drop and give me fifty."  Nobody whined and Skipper, leading from the front as always, drilled them until they would have sweated if they weren't penguins.  "Six laps, and we're done.  Find a spot in the sun to lay out, away from each other."

"Good idea, Skipper.  No need to get tired of each other this soon."  Kowalski seemed to have been watching psychological TV shows again.  "Dr. Oz says that changes in residence are a challenge for relationships because you don't have the usual support system to defuse stress."

"K'walski, I'm thinkin' you mean Dr. Phil.  He's not always right, you know.  When have we ever gotten tired of each other?"

"I'm already tired of this debate.  Actions speak louder than words."  Skipper performed a flawless open pike dive, Rico cannonballed, Private aced a closed pike, and Kowalski dove backwards with a half somersault.  The crowd cheered and when the laps were done, all but a few people had moved along to the polar bear enclosure.

IOIOIOIOIO

"Hemskola, hemskola, nej nej nej ... "

"Du vet att.  And now let us practice the English, darling.  We must not neglect the lesson because of our outing in this lovely weather, nej?"

"Mummy, I do not like homeschooling."

"Nonsense, Per.  We are having outings and you play with your little comrades every other Thursday for one full hour."

Per kicked a stray pebble from the immaculate path.  It landed near Skipper's lie out by the saltspray rose bush.  He observed without seeming to as he waddled casually back and forth in front of the woman and the boy.

"We move to Åaland because your father and I desired the homeschooling for you.  We do not regret this.  Do not make us regret, Per."

Bird or mammal, slumped shoulders signified defeat.  The boy ran his knuckles back and forth across the smooth steel fencing that would repel a charging polar bear.  Typical overkill on the security, thought Skipper, like we penguins are in danger up here in Peaceful Hippie Land.  He paced in front of the boy as if he were just another specimen hoping for a tossed snack.

"Does this make us Finns now?"

"Never!  We are not Finns.  Our government in Sweden outlawed the homeschooling and we move to Åaland for you, Per.  Finnish government here allows the homeschooling."

Oh ho, lay on the guilt, lady, grumbled Skipper to himself.  This was becoming a little too soap opera-ish for his taste and he eyed his lie out spot, which was now nicely in full sun.

"I want more, and I know that I should not, Mummy."

The woman was manipulative, just like Ma and her fainting spells.  She opened her coat and snagged her son inside it, hugging him and tickling him until his bad mood fled.  "You will see how much this way is better, my boy.  You will not see now but when you are grown, you will be ready for the conquering of the outside world when you leave Åaland for career.  Oh, yes, you will see."

"My friends will conquer, too, Mummy?"
 
Skipper's mouth dropped open.

"Yes, yes.  All the little homeschoolers will make the legion of informed road warriors in tune with the technology of tomorrow and the world view to conquer first Scandinavia and then, who knows?  And it all starts here with my little boy and his little friends with dedicated homeschooling by their loving families.  Soon the world will be yours.  Come, Per.  Du och jag nu."  She waltzed him around once while he stood on top of her heavy boots, they both laughed merrily, and then she released him from her coat and led him away.  Their footsteps receded.  Skipper processed the unexpected intel and forgot about lying out in the sun.

IOIOIOIO

The right moment came just after the long winter twilight began.  "Brace yourselves, gentlemen.  I just found out Åaland is Finnish and they allow something sinister to happen to innocent little children!"

"You don't mean --- "

"Yes.  Homeschooling. "  Skipper's blue eyes turned as stormy as an ocean churned up with towering waves that were very stormy.   "It might be just my imagination" ---  from where he stood he couldn't see the others' nods and eye-rolls --- "but I don't think so.  Åalanders could be building an entire army of Scandinavian scavengers, sackers, pillagers, and lutfisk eaters."  He whipped around to face his team.  "Sound familiar?"

The three spoke at once.

"Pastry chefs?"

"Vikings?"

"Legos?"

"One vintage 1953 salted herring to you, Kowalski.  Private, I'll just chalk up that response to your usual adorable innocence and Rico, Legos coming from" --- Skipper took a calming breath ---Denmark is the exception that proves the rule that nothing good comes from Denmark."

"Reptilicus was a good movie from Denmark, Skippa, remember?"

"I have spoken, Private, and no, it wasn't.  There's something up with the humans around these here parts.  I want to find out what."

Kowalski whipped out his tongue to demolish the last crumbs of the danish a zoo patron had tossed to him this morning.  He began diplomatically,  "Ah, Skipper, a legion of homeschooled Viking warriors isn't completely out of the ballpark, but you'll have to admit that it's unlikely.  Hee hee.  Skipper?  Hee hee?  Um, hee?"

It was a measure of Skipper's leaderly patience that he did not blow up, at least on the outside.  "How so?"  

Kowalski whipped out the options clipboard.  "One: all of Scandinavia including Denmark is famed for its current peaceful condition.  Two: the world has changed since the Vikings ravaged their neighbors."

"And three?"

"I don't have a three."

"These things always come in threes.  Try harder."

Kowalski's frustrated nurturing instinct sometimes got the better of him and never so much as with his commander.  "We'll keep an eye out for Scandinavian weirdness, right, boys?"  Skipper turned away to make sure everyone was on the same paranoid wavelength or at least within tolerance, and Kowalski pointed both flippers at Skipper's back and nodded wildly.  Private and Rico picked up the cues.

"Righto!"

"Aye!"

IOIOIOIOIO

TBC
Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 6 offered loads of new canon!  I am stoked!

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pronker
pronkerpronker
Artist | Hobbyist | Traditional Art
United States
Favorite genre: Fanfiction
Favourite genre of music: Folk
Favourite style of art: Modern pointillism, i.e. pixels!
Favourite cartoon character: Bugs Bunny
Personal Quote: Ne quid nimis, etiam moderatio.
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:iconsanjaydevean:
SanjayDevean Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2016  Hobbyist
Thank you for the fave :D
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:iconpronker:
pronker Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome!
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:iconsubduedmoon:
SubduedMoon Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the favs!
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:iconpronker:
pronker Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome.  I'm certainly enjoying this fandom!
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:iconveveco:
veveco Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for faving :D
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:iconpronker:
pronker Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're very welcome - I've just spent an entire afternoon on dA and am blissed out.  Now, back to work :(  Happy drawing, pronker
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:iconahsokixu:
Ahsokixu Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much for the Fav!! I'm glad you like my work! :)
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JoeHoganArt Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2014
Thanks for the watch!
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:iconlixadry:
Lixadry Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014
Thanky for the fave :heart:
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:icondavidratajczak:
DavidRatajczak Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the fav !
Several SW stuff is coming soon ! keep looking !
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:iconpronker:
pronker Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Will do!
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:iconzitronenwalzer:
zitronenwalzer Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013
Thanks for the fave. I am currently doing more Star Wars art, so keep looking :)
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:iconpronker:
pronker Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
My new wall, courtesy of

[link]

PurpleWillowTrees, go on, check out the art over there!
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:iconpurplewillowtrees:
PurpleWillowTrees Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
thanx for the fave :hug:
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:iconanidoriclonewriter:
anidoriclonewriter Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
HUG TIMEEE

Send one to all your friends who you think deserve a hug (which, hopefully includes the person who sent it to you)!!

You might send it to your enemies as well!
It'll really make them stop and think!!!

If you don't receive this back, nobody likes you, and they wish you'd stop bugging them!

If you receive this back 1 time, open up! Find more friends, enemies, or enemies pretending to be friends

If you receive this back 2 times, you're off to a good start! (Unless you sent it to yourself! That's cheating!)

If you receive this back 3 times, you're a good friend.

If you receive this back 4 times, you're truly loved as a friend!!

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YOU'VE BEEN HUGGED!

Spread the DA love around! (you can copy and paste this message on their userpage!)

RULES:
1- You can hug the person who hugged you!
2- You -MUST- hug 6 other people, at least!
3- You should hug them in public! Paste it on their user page!
4- Random hugs are perfectly okay! (and sweet)
5- You should most definitely get started hugging right away
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:iconpronker:
pronker Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Huggles back atcha!
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:iconanidoriclonewriter:
anidoriclonewriter Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
;)
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:iconhomosorcerer:
Homosorcerer Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the favs and comments.
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:iconcyborgblue:
cyborgBLUE Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2012  Hobbyist
:yoda: For the :+fav:, thank you! ... :jedi:
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:iconhamster-hero:
hamster-hero Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy Birthday PRONKIE! :iconcakeplz: XD!

You're old.
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:iconpronker:
pronker Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I know, I know! Sometimes it feels like I shouldn't even be /on/ the internet; do you ever visit whenparentstextDOTcom? That's me in a nutshell. Very funny site.

And thanks for the wishes! I did have a lovely time today. And 3 more hours to go, hmm, what mischief can I accomplish ...
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:iconhamster-hero:
hamster-hero Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
LOL. You know, being insanely young for this site gives you the same feeling, that you should not be on here XD.

And nope.

and no probbie.
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:iconpronker:
pronker Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
[link]

Ta-daah! part 1/7. The rest follows in sequence.
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:iconpalinouros:
Palinouros Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks so much for the fav!
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MirrorandImage Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Squee! Thanks for all the :+fav:s! That made my evening!
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