Huff, huff, huff. Marlene had to run as fast as her feet could take her. Huff, huff, huff. She was getting tired already. Her heart was beating so fast and her throat became dry from her deep breaths of the chilly night air. She could hear the fast patter of her own feet on the cement. I can't cover my trail, panicked Marlene in her thoughts. What can I do now? She tried evasive maneuvers, zigzagging throughout the zoo. Making sharp turns, crossing through other animal enclosures, anything she could possibly think of to escape. She also knew very well that would only trap herself if she ran back to her habitat. Marlene's legs were killing her now, but she can't let herself get caught! She had to win, she won't lose!
After running through the whole Central Park Zoo, she leapt over the black-barred fence and dove into frosty water of the penguin habitat. This was the place in the zoo where she can find safety. Within the minute she splashed in the water, she quickly leapt out and onto the platform. She scurried to the fish bowl entrance, she was almost there! She can do this! She would be safe!
Marlene stopped dead in her tracks. A shadowy figure stood in her way of the hatch. Marlene was wide eyed and she became terrified. Suddenly another figure leapt beside her from the fence. And then another and another. Now she was surrounded by silhouette figures. What can she do now?
Duh, fight of course.
"Alright," she growled as she clenched fists. "Let's play. There's no way I'm giving in now."
Suddenly one of the figures charged toward her. She quickly stepped back, dodging a punch. When the figure punched a second time and she dodged it, she quickly high kicked it out of her way. Then she noticed another one was attacking from behind. The figure swung an arm but she quickly ducked and immediately uppercut it and watched the shadow fall before her. When Marlene heard another figure running towards her, she swung her leg back and kicked it right into the stomach. She turned her body around, but it proved to be a fatal mistake as another shadow wrapped its arms around her shoulders. Marlene squirmed for a bit before she elbowed the character right in the gut several times until its grip loosened. Once that happened, she freed her right arm and swung another elbow across the face. Marlene heard the splash of water behind her, assuming she didn't have to worry about that one anymore. The next thing she realized, she was pushed right to the edge- literally.
She panted; feeling tired yet determined to remain firm. She spotted the figures she took down getting back up and approaching her menacingly. Marlene kept drawing breaths, already feeling desperate to find a way to end this soon. She was worried that she wouldn't be able to keep it up any longer.
Suddenly the goon that splashed into the water poked its head out of the water looking up at Marlene's back. It growled, and then suddenly it coughed. It coughed several times until it hacked up a beach ball, firing it right at Marlene!
"Oof!" cried Marlene. "What?"
Suddenly the group of shadows piled onto her and pinned her down on the cement platform. One figure held down her right arm and shoulder, another holding her left, and a third looking down at her. She squirmed and kicked, but she was held down good. Then the fourth figure appeared right beside the third one. It was over… Marlene lost.
She growled fiercely, "Aw c'mon! That beach ball was uncalled for!"
Suddenly the fourth figure coughed up an object and handed to its teammate beside it. The object turned out to be a flashlight and was lit up to reveal Marlene's captors.
"Well what did I say before?" asked Skipper. "Always expect the unexpected."
"Pfft!" retorted Marlene. "That's easy for you to say, coming from a paranoid bird and his covert military operations!"
Suddenly Skipper flashed the light right into Marlene's face, making her squint and frankly quite irritate her.
"And that's Honorary Penguin 101, Marlene."
"Ugh!" Marlene rolled her eyes.
"Alright men, let her up. It's game, set, and match."
Kowalski and Private released their grips on Marlene and helped her up.
"However, you truly performed well in this simulation, Marlene," commented Kowalski.
"Absolutely, bang up job!" added Private.
"Ka-blamo!" Rico nodded furiously.
"Really? You guys think?" Marlene lit up as she turned to them.
"Really! You're getting much better at it," smiled Private.
"You're picking this up much quickly than expectations actually," nodded Kowalski. "Keep this up and you should be almost as good as any military-trained penguin operative in no time!"
"Aw, thanks guys!" exclaimed Marlene. "I thought I did pretty good too."
"Eh, still on the shaky side," Skipper suddenly entered. "But, you were a lot closer to the hatch than before. Guess I can give you kudos for that."
Marlene turned back around at him and smiled proudly.
"Thanks, now that means a lot!" she replied cheerfully.
Suddenly the other three penguins exchanged smirks at the sight; they've had their secret theories about Marlene and Skipper. It's practically no secret, they were both terrible at hiding it, especially now. When Marlene realized her accidental hint she turned back around to them.
"Not that it means all that much!" she tried to correct. "I mean, not that I'm saying it's not, but… y'know? I mean, it means a lot hearing from the leader of the group, right? So…"
Skipper rolled his eyes, "Now team, remember what we talked about. That part of Marlene and I is done, comprende'? We're still close friends, and that's all, right Marlene?"
"Exactly, Skipper," nodded Marlene with a smile.
That's when the team burst into whistles and mumbling amongst themselves.
"Oh, sure, right. Of course, whatever you guys say," mumbled Private and Kowalski.
Then Rico made a farting sound with his tongue. They knew it was all bologna!
Skipper's brows furrowed as he growled.
"C'mon, Marlene, I'll be more than glad to escort you home away from these knuckleheads," offered Skipper. "NOT that there's anything wrong with a friend escorting a friend home and nothing more."
Skipper made his last statement mainly towards his team, attempting to make them understand. He knew however, he failed at it miserably. Marlene then followed Skipper out of the habitat, leaving the others to enter down the hatch on their own.
* * *
On the way there, Marlene couldn't help but reminisce about the period of her life where she and Skipper had been a couple. She looked back at Skipper and wondered if he ever thought back to those times. He kept his focus ahead and didn't seem to notice Marlene staring at him. Marlene just smiled warmly. The whole time she's known the guy, she never could get over that confident look of his.
They were together for quite some time, but it just wasn't meant to last. It was just something Marlene decided. Yes, she suggested the tie to end, and they both agreed to it. Don't get her wrong, they made an ideal couple, a match made in heaven, etc, etc, etc. They were inseparable… maybe a little too inseparable. Ever since Marlene became an Honorary Penguin since you-know-who showed up, Skipper could not keep away from Marlene in whatever mission she was assigned. Marlene received the opportunity to become an Honorary Penguin for her courage and skills, giving her the chance to work alongside the penguins whenever they needed an extra pair of paws.
Skipper hardly gave such chances when they were together however. Skipper practically kept close to Marlene's heels. He told her it was because he didn't want her to get hurt during their missions. His paranoia for Marlene's safety was just a little too much… but still sweet. Although Marlene tried to fight the feeling, there was no doubt she didn't mind Skipper's actions at all. It made her feel how important she was to him. If only it didn't get in the way of their missions so much. All of Skipper's attempts would jeopardize the missions, and Marlene hated to see his hurt looks for letting his team down as a leader. So as much as it pained her, Marlene decided it was best if they ended it before they began to hate each other for it.
Marlene's thoughts were broken and she was staring right at Skipper's face. She blushed, wondering how long she stared at him. She turned away and saw they were standing before her enclosure.
"Um, thanks for walking me here," she smiled. "So, same time tomorrow?"
"Sure," replied Skipper. "Gotta stay on top, right?"
Marlene nodded back at him and quickly hopped over to the other side of the brick wall. She dove into her pond and quickly swam to the other side where her shelter was. She left the water, shook her fur, and stepped inside her home. She still couldn't believe she stared at him for so long. C'mon, Marlene, she thought to herself. Pull yourself together, it's for the best. It's over.
She sighed heavily before walking over to her bed on the rock platform and curled herself. She wasn't exactly tired but she didn't really feel like doing much of anything else. She thought of playing on her guitar a little, but tonight didn't seem to be quite her night. She lay under her lamp and thought over the thoughts she was thinking before they were interrupted. She thought of them for a long time she could've sworn she was already dreaming. She felt relaxed and very drowsy. She may have fallen asleep. And she had even forgotten to off the lamp. This was all she needed, a good night's rest.
Suddenly she felt a sickening feeling. A feeling she had never felt since a long time. At least, she thinks the feeling is familiar. Yes, she's no stranger to this feeling. Now she's almost sure. Skipper's paranoia couldn't have rubbed off on her now, could it? Then the feeling grew stronger. As if someone was watching her.
She slowly opened her eyes and after a second of waiting she turned around.
But no one was there.
"Huh?" she whispered. "Skipper?"
She looked around, but no one else was inside. She darted her eyes around with a cocked brow before she decided it was just her imagination. She shrugged and yawned, wondering if it's a good idea at all to go back for more training tomorrow with the penguins. She stretched out her paw to the string to turn off her lamp.
Something shot out of the shadows beside her and grabbed her paw before she turned out the light! She screamed horrifically, it was all she could do! Suddenly she stopped screaming and gasped when the rest of the figure stepped into the light. Those familiar deadly, beautiful, purple eyes pierced at Marlene.
"Hello Marlene," cooed a voice sweetly. "Miss me?"
"F-Femme Fatale?!" shrieked Marlene.
"My Marlene, even after all this time?" she snickered. "Just call me Fey."