Title: One To Embody Power, Another To Crave It, A Third Along For The Lulz
Era: Movie-Verse, fifty minutes prior to the film's beginning.
Disclaimer: I make no profit from this fanfiction set in Dreamworks' franchise The Penguins of Madagascar, which I do not own.
Summary: Survival of the fattest.
A squabble didn't last long in a March of the Penguins. For one thing, adults had learned by a certain age how to defuse, contain and laugh off their differences for the thirty mile trek. It remained for the youngest to heed their elders' example and some of the youngest took longer to pick up hints on how to play well with others.
Skipper, for instance.
"What's the holdup?"
Kowalski eyed his new friend. "Statistically, Skipper, we all waddle at an average speed of --- "
"Aw, you're going over my head again, Smarty Beak." Skipper paced in circles because scowling at the towering black back in front of him didn't work to hustle it along. "I just want to move."
It had taken only two minutes after making his acquaintance for Kowalski to figure out that moving formed Skipper's raison d'être. There was probably a song to be written about that, but for the moment he was more interested in a rotund penguin their own age belly sliding up to them past adults waiting in line like patient bowling pins due for a seven-ten split.
"Ahgrommtzmoooov," said the newcomer.
Kowalski noticed the recent scar savaging the edge of the left eye to score through the beak as it ripped down into newly regrowing neck feathers. He didn't want to stare and focused on the words instead. "What's that you say?" What dialect was this? He thought it was Hamarskaftet Nunatak, but he'd need more research to confirm his hypothesis. He could tell that the voice had changed some time ago, like his own.
Skipper pounced on the bird as a distraction from inactivity. "Hi! My name's Skipper! I know kung fu!"
A grin big as all outdoors split the beak of the half-grown penguin. "Rico."
Skipper seemed untroubled by any strange accent as he plunged into what he did best. "Well, Rico, this here is Kowalski and we're bored stiff. C'mon, let's you and me change it up." He bobbed and weaved like Chayaphon Moonsri, surprisingly light on his feet for such a chunky young penguin as he punched the air. He caught Rico's glance askance at his shorter stature. "Aw, don't be afraid. I won't hurt you."
Small bird, ego the size of the Pantanal at full flood, analyzed Kowalski as reality tempered the glow of new friendship. Nevertheless, he wanted to do something, as well. "I'll be umpire."
Both of the other penguins burst out laughing. "Umpire?"
Kowalski tried again. "Shimpan?"
There was dead silence as Rico and Skipper traded glances. "Um, yeah, Rico, Kowalski is the brainy one so I just throw his big fish words like recalcitrant back into the gobbledygook pool."
This might kill a friendship, new or, um, newer. "Take that back!"
The audience factor likely played a big part in the tussling takedown of all three by all three as they spun out of the line: Kowalski smarting over being dismissed by Skipper in front of Rico while Skipper wanted to show Rico the ropes about how to fit into 'tween penguin society, at least the way he saw it, with Rico simply pining to show off what he could do. Soft snowflakes flew everywhere in the flurry until the scuffling threesome reached harder packed snow and Rico had had enough. He coughed, wheezed and hacked after he toppled over until both Kowalski and Skipper stopped throwing wild punches. They gathered around in concern.
"What is it? What's the matter, buddy?"
"Do you have asthma? Where is your inhaler? Show me quick, Rico!" Kowalski always knew his nurturing instinct would push him into a leader's position if the situation called for it.
Rico ceased breathing. He added a convincing rattle.
"No!" Kowalski pounded on Rico's chest, or meant to; in his panic, he hit the belly again and again.
Skipper edged away, noticing for the first time that the three of them had moved the venue of their bout quite a distance from the stalled March of the Penguins. "I'll get backup!"
Before Skipper could belly slide for help, a rainbow colored silk parachute blossomed out of Rico's gut. It ballooned over the three birds to trap them inside and it was only long after the incident that either Kowalski or Skipper could piece together what happened next.
Kowalski heard the desperate words as he concentrated on stop-drop-rolling upon the ice, thinking to spin out from under the enveloping shroud. What occurred was that he tangled himself further. Shroud, he thought, they'd need a shroud for Rico if he didn't free himself so he could search for Rico's inhaler, which must have fallen along their squabbling path. "Eeeeeeeyurgh, I'm trapped! Rico, hang in there! I'll give you beak to beak if I can't find your inhaler --- "
Grunts, thumps and a series of ouches in Skipper's voice that hadn't changed yet reached Kowalski's earholes. He bellowed back in his premature baritone. "Skipper, I'm your backup oh if I only knew better curses than dangit --- "
Something resembling a laced whalebone corset compressed his flippers and squeezed them against his body. Kowalski felt his breath sluice out of him until he couldn't breathe, either. The pressure kept up until he saw spots. Ooh, pretty little bubbles like dolphins make, he wondered in amazement. I wonder how they taste? He stuck out his tongue in a daze and then air pumped into his lungs. The bubbles popped.
Between Skipper's angry mutters and Kowalski's befuddled huhs came the whisper of rainbow silk whisking off to drift away in the stiff Antarctic wind. Kowalski and Skipper gasped like babies in a gale as Rico posed before them, hale and hearty.
He fixed them with an arched brow and disciplinarian gaze. "Nuffnao, Kwoskii. Nuffnao, 'Kippaaahhh." He patted his gut. "Morewherezatcamefrum." He started to say something else and settled for batting his baby blues at them before rumbling thanx.
"So you're okay? And you can do weirdo stuff with your blubbery belly?" Kowalski halted at a warning frown. "Um, well, it is. Sorry if the truth hurts."
Rico glowered before breaking into a sunny smile that showcased his good nature. He bounced his spare tire with a gleam of pride. "Eh, whayagonnado?"
"What was this, a lesson --- oh, I get it." Skipper rubbed his head. "You pounded some sense into us." Rico and Kowalski swiveled to stare at him. "Okay okay, mostly into me." He nudged Kowalski. "Science Boy, he squeezes like grinding pack ice, don't he? You look like a pipefish."
Kowalski sized up Skipper. "And your head is a --- "
"All right, point taken."
"Taken off, you mean," Kowalski jabbed back. He was willing to be a friend and follow this dynamo of a penguin but that didn't mean he diluted his own spice. He passed some sauce along to Rico just to be fair. "What did you do to your top feathers? Did your mama fix them this morning?"
Rico drew himself up as he curled a flipper into a fist. "Aye,shedid."
Skipper stepped in fast to lead them from the brink of disaster. "Guys, guys, mamas are off limits, agreed?"
Kowalski thought of what other tummy contents might lie in wait for anyone who crossed Rico and gulped. "Agreed."
The three melded into a trio by the time they waddled back into their place in line. After five minutes that seemed like five days to Skipper, the March resumed. The three 'tweens passed the time marching by playing the dozens until they came into view of the ocean.
"That's a beautiful sight, boys."
"It's cerulean as anything gets on our good earth, I think." Kowalski forgot to use a smaller word and winced as he waited for the figurative knock out punch. He was pleasantly surprised.
"Cerulean or not, it's as lovely as a new laid egg."
"Right, Rico, or lovely as a freshly caught smelt." Skipper did a double take. "Wow, you can sing? All we need is one more penguin and we could do barbershop!"
As the March continued, Fate eavesdropped to grant the request in four ... three ... two ... one ...
A/N SPOILERS FOR FILM
Rewatched bits and: