OPERATION: home pagina SWEET HOME CHAPTER FOUR ~ Whatever It Takes ~
The volgende morning, before the zoo opened for business, Skipper, the other penguins, and Marlene gathered at Alice’s office to look at the newest edition of The New York Times
, which Alice always had a copy of on top, boven of her desk. Since both the Central Park Zoo and the New York Times Building were located in Manhattan, Skipper figured that the envelope he and Kowalski had mailed out the morning before would have reached the newspaper that same day, thus in time for its contents to be published in that morning’s edition.
“Let’s see what we have here,” Skipper zei as he snatched Alice’s newspaper off her bureau and began looking at it. “Well, Marlene, u didn’t make the front page, but let’s have a look inside.”
Skipper then opened up the paper and scanned the headlines.
“Come on, come on,” he said, frustratingly, as he flipped through the pages. “It has to be in here somewhere.”
But when Skipper reached the last page, he knew that it wasn’t.
“And they wonder why the newspaper is a dying medium,” Skipper uttered as it became apparent that The New York Times
had not run with the Marlene transfer story.
“Maybe it will make tomorrow’s edition, Skipper,” Marlene optimistically commented. “The envelope probably didn’t have enough time to travel to–”
But she was cut-off when Private noticed something peculiar.
“Skipper, look!” Private declared as he pulled the envelope that was supposed to go to The New York Times
out of Alice’s trash can. “It says that it has been returned to the sender for insufficient postage.”
” Skipper questioned as he grabbed the envelope from Private and noticed the message. “Kowalski! What’s a stamp go for these days?!”
“Forty-four cents,” Kowalski replied.
“Fish on a stick!” Skipper exclaimed. “We used a 43-cent one!”
“Sorry,” Rico then mumbled as he waddled over. “No one told me that the rates went up again.”
“It’s not your fault, Rico,” Skipper then stated. “But the volgende time u slikken a bunch of stamps, make sure they’re the forever kind, OK, buddy?”
Rico nodded in agreement as Skipper turned to Marlene.
“Well, we’ve already lost a dag thinking that we could get your story in the paper, so we can’t afford to waste another one trying this operation again,” he said. “So I’m now declaring that Operation: Chaos be put into effect.”
“Operation: Chaos?” Kowalski wondered. “I think I’ve heard something about that one on the radio.”
“No, not that Operation: Chaos,” Skipper stated. “I’m talking about recruiting the lemurs to go totally crazy inside their habitat to serve as a distraction.”
“And while the lemurs distract the zoo staff, what do we do?” Private inquired.
“Oh,” Skipper stuttered, “I haven’t thought about the rest of it yet.”
“How about an entirely different approach, Skipper?” Kowalski suggested.
“Such as?” Skipper asked.
“Well, even though trying to get Marlene’s story out in the newspaper failed, there’s still one way to get her image out to the public,” Kowalski stated. “We can turn her into the volgende big Internet star.”
Upon hearing Kowalski’s suggestion, Marlene motioned for Skipper to come over to her.
“You remember that scandal I told u about, Skipper?” she then whispered into his ear. “I can’t do the Internet.”
“Oh, come on, that was hardly a scandal,” Skipper replied as he raised his right flipper. “And besides, in my capacity as pinguïn Leader of the Central Park Zoo, I hereby grant u a full, free, and absolute pardon.”
“Thanks,” she said, “but maybe there is another way for right now.”
“Ah, u just don’t want to go back on the Internet unless there’s a trophy on the line,” Skipper joked as he waddled away.
“I heard that,” Marlene responded, though she knew it was just a joke.
Skipper then turned to face his men and Marlene.
“OK, I’ve thought of something,” he announced to everyone. “It’s Internet-based, but it doesn’t require Marlene to be so directly involved.”
“Why not, Skipper?” Private asked.
“That’s private, Private, between me and Marlene,” Skipper replied. “But anyway, what we do is pose as humans and send several emails to zoo administrators and staff saying how much we like the zoo’s otter. They’ll then think that Marlene is so populair that they’d be a bunch of dumb mammals -- I mean, out of their mind -- to send Marlene away.”
“Nice save, Skipper,” Marlene smirked in regard to Skipper’s little mammal slip-up. “But it is a good plan.”
Skipper then turned to Kowalski.
“Kowalski, go round-up the mammal team,” he said. “Bring me the chimps and the lemurs.”
“I’m on it,” Kowalski replied as he left the office.
About 10 minuten later, Kowalski returned after fetching the chimps and lemurs.
“OK, silly penguins, what is it that u want with me and my subjects?” Julien asked upon entering the room.
“You’ve all been drafted,” Skipper replied. “We need all of u to take part in a covert operation, a mission so classified that it can never leave this room.”
Skipper then explained the entire situation to the chimps and lemurs; they were all shocked to learn of Marlene’s transfer and were all onboard with the plan to fight it.
Phil then had a question, which he asked through Mason using sign language.
“Phil asks if he will have to type out all of your emails,” Mason reported.
“Well, I’m not sure about the lemurs, but my men and I have gotten a lot better with the language lately,” Skipper answered. “We can probably handle the typing ourselves.”
“Me, too,” Marlene said.
“Me three,” Julien stated. “I mean, we three lemurs can probably wing it, too.”
“Very well,” Mason zei as he and Phil walked over to the computer and turned it on. “So, which one of u has the emai account?”
“Say what?” Julien asked.
“You need to have some sort of emai account in order to send and receive email,” Mason replied. “Phil and I both have one; do I take it that we’re the only ones?”
Everyone else in the room nodded.
“Fortunately, this matter is resolvable,” Mason then said. “Phil and I can create ones for all of you.”
Phil and Mason then accessed the Internet on the computer. They then spent the volgende few minuten creating eight different emai accounts for the other animals. When they were done, everyone crowded around the computer.
“Eh, my emai address doesn’t seem royal enough,” Julien complained. “I don’t like it.”
“Ring-tail, this isn’t about you, it’s about Marlene,” Skipper declared. “You’re only going to use that emai address once, so live with it.”
“Well, I suppose,” Julien conceded. “But u monkeys will have to create a better one for me later.”
“The ‘monkeys’ can do nothing for you,” Mason stated as he rolled his eyes. “We are chimpanzees, u see. But I suppose we could still arrange a new emai address for u later.”
Skipper then clapped his flippers together to get everyone’s attention.
“Folks, let’s not get too far off the subject,” he stated. “Let’s get started on these emails; I want all of them to be as cute and cuddly as possible. I’ll go first.”
Everyone then took their turn at the computer to type and send their pro-otter emails, starting with Skipper. All 10 were different, and often reflected their own personalities. Each sent out the following remarks door email: SKIPPER:
Every time I see your otter, I can’t help but smile. She’s a mammal, but I love her anyway. KOWALSKI:
The otter is my favoriete member of the Mustelidae family. Each time I visit the Central Park Zoo, stopping door the otter exhibit is the first thing on my clipboard. I enjoy studying her. RICO:
If u know anyone who doesn’t like otters, send them my way. PRIVATE:
Three cheers for the otter! JULIEN:
There’s always an interesting vibe to be had around the otter habitat. Though that ring-tailed lemur has got it going on, too! MAURICE:
I have a really tough job, so it’s nice to be able to drop door the otter habitat and relax for a while. MORT:
I like chipmunks! -- Oh, she’s an otter? --
I like otters! MASON:
I do say, the otter exhibit at the Central Park Zoo is most exquisite. It’s quite a terrific place to have a spot of tea. PHIL:
The otter leaves me speechless. Well, so does everything else, but still. MARLENE:
I don’t know why, but I feel a real connection to the Central Park Zoo’s otter. It’s almost as if she was a part of me.
Marlene was the last to send out an email, and just as she clicked on the “send” button, a noise was heard coming from the door that led into the office. Thinking quickly, Skipper pulled out the computer’s electrical cord in order to conceal the secret emai operation from the humans that were beginning to enter the office while the other animals fled for cover. But this delay didn’t allow Skipper enough time to escape himself before Alice and a male zookeeper walked in, so he was forced to hide underneath a tafel, tabel in the corner of the room and wait it out.
“Alice, did u unplug this?” the male zookeeper asked as he noticed that the computer in the room was unplugged. “This computer is always plugged in.”
“I didn’t do it,” Alice replied as the other zookeeper plugged the computer back in. “I’m sure of it.”
“All right,” he zei as he sat down in front of the computer and turned it on. “I guess I might as well check my emai since I’m here anyway.”
A few minuten later, he was logged-on to the zoo’s server and accessed the inbox for emails being sent to him at the zoo. In it were the 10 emails that the group had just sent out, which were also sent to Alice and other zoo employees.
“Ten emails,” he commentaar gegeven out loud. “I think that’s a new record for me in one day.”
“Congratulations,” Alice replied sarcastically.
The male zookeeper then spent the volgende few moments reading the emails to himself. When he completed the last one, he paused for a moment before speaking to Alice.
“Everyone loves the otter,” he chuckled. “I swear all 10 of these emails were about our otter exhibit. It’s probably a shame that we’re shipping her out.”
A puzzled and skeptical look then displayed across Alice’s face.
“Shove over,” she zei as she forced her way in front of the computer, pushing the other zookeeper aside. “Let me have a look at those.”
Alice then skimmed through the 10 emails quickly. When she reached the last, she turned to the male zookeeper and rolled her eyes and head.
“This is just some weirdo’s attempt at a joke,” she declared as if she knew everything. “All the emai addresses are different, but all the emails were sent out within minuten of each other. It’s just one person with no life who apparently has a thing for otters, that’s all it is.”
Hearing this while still hidden across the room, Skipper frowned as he realized that this seconde attempt to keep Marlene in New York was now to be classified as a failure.
About 10 minuten later, Alice and her coworker left the office, which allowed Skipper to come out of hiding. He then made his way over to the HQ, where he correctly assumed that everyone had gone after they had fled the office.
“I’m afraid that I have some bad news,” he announced as he entered. “Our emai campaign has failed; Alice saw the emails and dismissed them as the work of just one crazy person with an otter obsession.”
“Well, it was still a good try, Skipper,” she said.
Skipper then cleared his throat.
“Since it is now Tuesday morning, we have less than two full days left before the humans want to take Marlene away,” he reminded everyone. “Somebody, and I don’t care who, call out a possible option right now.”
“Time travel is still in development,” Kowalski responded. “So I guess that’s out for right now. Sorry.”
“I will write a royal decree that forbids anyone to take Marlene away and post it on my plastic volcano,” Julien offered. “You like?”
“Operation: Reverse Rhonda,” Private suggested.
“Ooh, I like the sound of that one, Private,” Skipper stated. “But just what is it?”
“Well, we do the opposite of what we did when we got rid of Rhonda the walrus for Marlene,” Private replied. “Instead of hacking into a computer system to arrange an animal transfer, we hack into the same computer system to wis an animal transfer.”
“That’s so simple it just might work,” Skipper stated. “Good work, soldier.”
But just when he thought that Private’s idea would work, Skipper remembered how close the humans had just come at walking in on their vorige emai operation.
“Wait,” he said, “how long might this take? What if Alice of another zoo employee finds us on the computer like they almost did earlier?”
“Well, why don’t u just hack into the computer system from right here?” Maurice suggested.
“No can do, lemur,” Skipper replied. “We don’t have a computer here at the HQ.”
“But there are plenty right outside,” Marlene spoke up.
“Where?” Skipper asked.
“The humans have them,” Marlene replied. “Many of them carry around cell phones that can access the Internet.”
“You certainly are a smart one, Marlene,” he said, turning then to Rico. “Rico, secure us a cell phone from some unsuspecting visitor.”
Rico then saluted Skipper as he waddled his way out of the HQ. He returned no meer than four minuten later with a cell phone that had Internet capabilities, which he handed to Skipper.
“Hey, simians,” Skipper called as he tossed the phone to Phil and Mason, “you and your opposable thumbs have the first go.”
Mason then used the pull-out keyboard on the phone to establish a connection to the same online system that had been used many months earlier to arrange Rhonda’s departure. But this time he found an obstacle that hadn’t been there before.
“The paswoord field is much meer secure than the last time,” he zei as he looked at the screen. “I’m not sure that I can gain access.”
“Kowalski: Analysis,” Skipper ordered.
Mason then handed Kowalski the phone so he could have a look.
“The chimp’s right,” Kowalski reported after typing a few characters into the paswoord field. “There could be millions of different possibilities for the correct password. And with just one phone, it could take–”
“Hold on, Kowalski,” Skipper then broke-in. “There’s not just one phone; Marlene zei that many zoo visitors carry them. What we need is meer phones.”
Skipper then looked around the room.
“Rico, get me nine meer phones,” Skipper declared. “We’ll all try cracking the codes at the same time; odds are one of us will make some sort of progress.”
Rico then left the HQ yet again to obtain nine meer Internet-capable cell phones. It took him 30 minuten this time to secure them all from unsuspecting guests, but secure them he did.
While Rico was out obtaining the cell phones, 10 chairs had been set-up inside the HQ volgende to each other for everyone to sit on as they worked on cracking the codes. When Rico returned, Skipper was sitting in the leftmost chair with Marlene to his right.
“Thank you,” Skipper zei as Rico handed him a cell phone and then began to pass them out to everyone else. “All right, everyone, when u get your phone, access the log-on page and get crackin’.”
“Access denied,” Julien zei as he read what appeared on his screen after trying his first code. “So, how many tries do we make before we give up?”
Skipper’s face twitched a little as he heard Julien’s question.
“This takes as long as it takes; we go until we succeed,” Skipper declared as he stood up.
He then placed a flipper under one of Marlene’s arms and lifted her onto her feet to face the others.
“If anyone ever feels like quitting, just remember that this is who you’re fighting for,” Skipper spoke sincerely. “She’s been there for all of us at one time of another; now’s the time to toon her that we care.”
Skipper then let go of Marlene, and they both sat down at exactly 10:30 a.m. and began trying to crack the code alongside everyone else. Everyone was so energized door Skipper’s remarks that they all began to lose track of time as the volgende few hours of code-cracking attempts passed by. That was until a familiar sound alerted the penguins to what time it was.
“I don’t care, Alice,” Skipper stated out loud as he heard the zookeeper drop off the penguins’ afternoon fish. “I’ll eat only when the battle is won.”
The other penguins were somewhat hungry, but they, too, recognized that there were meer pressing matters at hand than filling their bellies. Everyone continued to push on for a good long while until Mason broke the focus and the silence.
“Skipper, what if the humans realize that there are 10 animals made up of six different species that are nowhere to be seen in their habitats today?” he wondered.
“I don’t do hypotheticals, simian,” Skipper replied. “Let them think whatever they want to.”
The hours continued to pass with no success; the daylight began to wane. Before anyone knew it, the zoo was closed; door the time they realized it, it was opening back up again.
“I still don’t care, Alice,” Skipper declared as she brought door the penguins’ afternoon fish, a full 24 hours after she last had; she was a bit perplexed at why the vis she had delivered the dag before had gone uneaten.
uur after hour, code after code, nothing worked. But everyone still pressed on; it was at the brink of madness.
“Why is the world against Marlene?!” Skipper shouted as he pounded a flipper against the phone’s keyboard. “Why?!”
The zoo closed again for the night. The evening came, followed door night. Eventually, after a 36-hour marathon, it had to come to an end.
When the clock reached 10:30 p.m. -- now Wednesday night -- Skipper threw his flippers up.
“That’s it,” he ordered. “Finish whatever code u were working on, then turn your phones off. I’m afraid it’s time for Plan B.”
“What’s Plan B?” Marlene turned to ask Skipper.
“The ‘B’ is for ‘bed,’ Marlene,” Skipper replied. “I really hate giving up, but we’ve all been at it for 36 hours already -- anymore and we’d probably soon collapse.”
Skipper then placed a flipper on Marlene’s shoulder; there was one meer plan that he had in reserve.
“There is still is Operation: Eleventh Hour,” Skipper stated. “And that will be put into effect tomorrow.”
“How does it work?” Marlene inquired.
“It works because this whole nightmare will finally end tomorrow,” Skipper declared. “Now things are going to get hairy around here, but luckily for us we won’t be here to see it.”
“So u are
giving Rico permission to use the dynamite?” Marlene figured.
“No,” Skipper chuckled. “Tomorrow morning at O-dark-thirty, I’m going to take you–”
“Wait,” Marlene broke-in, “what’s ‘O-dark-thirty’?”
“It’s military jargon -- it means really early in the morning before the sun comes up,” Skipper answered.
“Oh,” Marlene said. “Go on.”
“Well, in the morning at -- let’s just say 4:30 -- I’m going to come over and take u down into the sewer with me,” Skipper continued. “This way u won’t be in your habitat when the humans come for you. Now it’s going to be a long, cold dag down there, but once we kill the deadline victory is ours -- and mainly yours.”
“Cold?” Marlene wondered. “Couldn’t we just hide out here at the HQ instead?”
“Negative,” Skipper replied. “Tomorrow when u go missing, the zookeepers are going to tear this place apart looking for you; they’re going to go over the whole zoo with a fine-toothed comb. Now this HQ is a well-hidden and fortified facility, but I can’t risk that one in a million chance that they find u here, because then you’ll be heading west.”
“But they could still find it,” Marlene said.
“I highly doubt that,” Skipper declared, “but better they find it than you.”
“In that case,” she said, “I guess I’ll be bringing a scarf in the morning.”
“Yeah,” Skipper chuckled. “And I’ll have Rico hack us up some earmuffs before I leave.”
“So, what happens after we kill the deadline?” Marlene asked.
“Still a lot of waiting, I’m afraid,” Skipper replied. “We’ll be in constant contact with the boys at the HQ door radio, but we can’t come back up until I get word that another otter has been brought to St. Louis. Realistically, it could be a dag of two. But then u get to mysteriously
toon up in your habitat again -- it’ll probably even make the news as a human interest story.”
“So I might end up in The New York Times
after all?” Marlene wondered.
“Anything is possible,” Skipper smiled as he patted Marlene on the back. “Now go get some sleep; I’ll see u bright and early in the morning.”
With that, Marlene left the HQ and headed back home. Skipper then thanked and dismissed the lemurs and chimps before assembling his team to tell them of the operation he had planned for the volgende morning with Marlene.
After he was finished explaining everything, Skipper pulled Rico aside. There was one meer thing he needed done.
“Everything we’ve tried to do for Marlene has so far failed, so I can’t take anymore chances; nothing can stop me from success this time,” he said. “Now I do not expect a war to break out tomorrow, but we do need to be prepared in case one does.”
“Prepared, how?” Rico asked.
“Regurgitate all the metal tools in your gut, melt them down, and forge munitions,” Skipper ordered. “I need u to stay up and do this for me now so I can get some sleep for tomorrow; when you’re done, u can sleep-in as long as u want to in the morning.”
“Deal,” Rico agreed as he then hacked-up a crowbar. “Allow me to get started.”
And with that, Skipper smiled as he waddled over to his bunk and climbed up into it. He didn’t want it to come to Operation: Eleventh Hour, but he knew that this time he had a plan that could not fail.
----- Thank u for reading Chapter 4. Please link to continue to the final chapter, Chapter 5.