Chapter 4: Manfredi’s Nanny Goat
Manfredi and Rico sit on the ground and wait. “‘Fredi...Wait ‘uch longer?” Rico groans.
“We have to wait until we’re rescued...Or try finding our own way back.” He shrugs and glances around. “Want to risk it? We maybe could try another flare later and they might see that one.”
Rico nods. “An’ing bu’ stay.”
“Alright, then we’ll venture through the forest, but we risk getting lost worse and dying stranded out here.”
Manfredi smiles and gets up. “Who knows, maybe we’ll stumble upon a hidden away village filled with hundreds of hot babes.”
“Kaboom?” Rico asks.
“Yes, yes, hundreds of hot babes who like explosions.” He nods some, looking a little irked. “Now come on, we don’t...Well, I guess we do have all day, but I have no intention of spending all day wandering this mess.”
Rico nods some and gets up as well. “Where ‘e go den?”
“Eeeeeehh….” Manfredi glances around from the thicket and points back the way they had slid from. “Let’s see if we can find the way back to where the others had been….”
At this moment, Rico coughs up Johnson’s compass. “‘Elp?” He asks, handing the dripping, saliva-covered compass to Manfredi.
Manfredi glances over at it. “Ehm...Yeah, probably...Jonny-boy said south, right?” He glances around and rubs the compass on his muddy underbelly.
“‘Even ee ‘gees.” Rico nods.
“Seventy degrees south...So we need to go...What, thirty degrees north? I don’t have a protractor to tell thirty degrees north.” He sighs and rubs his face. “So we will just head north-ish and see where we end up.”
“O’ay.” His friend nods and watches him.
Manfredi turns the compass on and watches it for a moment before pointing back the way they had come. “That’s north-ish according to this piece of cod compass.”
Rico nods and picks Manfredi up and puts him on his shoulders.
“Hey, woah woah, Rico, nowhere in my last statement did I say for you to pick me up.” He says with an awkward and mildly embarrassed look.
“It fas’er.” Rico shrugs and keeps him there. “Li’le buddy, li’le le’s.”
“I do not have little legs! I have normal legs!” Manfredi snorts.
“Li’le legs.” The larger penguin chuckles.
Manfredi harumphs and holds on to Rico’s head, clearly unamused. “Whatever, just waddle that way, Rico.” He nods and waddles happily along that way while Manfredi keeps watch for predators or any sign of the others.
Meanwhile, Skipper, Johnson, and Kowalski are waiting still for Manfredi and Rico’s return. Kowalski and Johnson are up in the closest tree, looking for samples to bring back to analyze. Skipper sits boredly at the tree’s base and waits.
“What the deuce is taking them so long…” He groans and leans his head on the tree. “We’re going to be late to that meeting with Harry.”
“Harvey!” Kowalski shouts down to him.
“Yeah, yeah, Harry Harvey, same difference.” He sighs. “Can’t we just get this whole scientific enchilada over with so we can go back? Blaaagh.”
Johnson slides down the tree and looks at Skipper. “I conclude that we should assume Manfredi led them off course after something shiny or a woman and we need to go search for them.”
“He was ordered not to associate himself with any females on this mission!” Skipper exclaims.
Kowalski slides out of the tree as well and bumps into Johnson. “This is Manfredi we are discussing, sir...He does have a tendency to disregard orders and make up his own version…”
Skipper sighs and rubs his temples. “Don’t remind me, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt...But yes, Johnson, we should start looking for them now.” He gets up and dusts himself off.
Johnson nods. “We should start going the way that we sent them and see if we can find any tracks.”
“That’d be easier if we could use Rico…” Kowalski sighs.
“Well we can’t since he’s one of the missing, so there is no sense daydreaming, Kowalski.” The leader rolls his eyes. “Now let’s move out.” He gets onto his belly and starts sliding through the underbrush.
Kowalski mutters something incomprehensible and he and Johnson then follow Skipper. After a little, Skipper stops sliding and holds his flipper out for the others to stop as well.
“You smell that?”
“Smell what, Skipper?” Kowalski asks and looks around.
Johnson sniffs the air and nods. “It’s flare smoke, I think.”
Skipper nods and looks around. “Which means they are probably in danger.”
“In danger or not, they are safer than we are since Rico has all of our weapons, sir.” Johnson sighs. “Which is why I still push that we should have individual carry packs with weapons like, you know, average penguin agents.”
“We don’t do average here, Johnson.” The leader scoffs. “We do all honors and I am not having my men just be average who the deuce wants to be average?! Our whole goal in life is to be awesome, Johnson, awesome, do you hear me?!” He exclaims, standing on tiptoes to try to seem taller than Johnson. However, since Johnson is practically Kowalski’s height, it doesn’t exactly work.
“Loud and clear, sir.” The scientist sighs, pushing his glasses up his beak again.
“Good, now fanout and search.” He orders. His teammates nod and spread out in the area and search, moving ever farther south as Rico and Manfredi go north-ish with Johnson’s iffy compass.
“JONNY!” comes an exclaim from the surrounding trees moments before Johnson gets plowed over by Rico and Manfredi. He lays there on the ground with his glasses knocked off onto the ground with a look of pure irritation. Rico and Manfredi give him nearly identical sheepish looks and scramble off of him.
“I found them!” Johnson calls with a small irked mutter under his breath, “The hooligans.” He sits up and and gets his glasses, holding them up towards the light with his eyes squinted to see how filthy they have become.
Rico watches him and then gives the glasses a long, wet lick. “Be’er?”
Johnson has a grim and slightly disgusted look, but nods and wipes his glasses on his chest feathers. “Thanks…” He sighs and puts them back on his beak. Rico then helps pull him up and the scientist dusts himself off. “Where the hadron collider where you guys?”
“Meow-meow.” The weapons specialist nods solemnly.
Johnson blinks and looks at him before just shaking his head and looking at Manfredi. “What?”
Manfredi sighs and rolls his eyes. “We had a run in with a big angry cat, lost the trail. Nothing major.”
“You two could have been eaten alive while we waited at the start of the forest and you’re calling this nothing major?” Johnson looks at him. “You have to be kidding me, even I know you’re not that stupid.”
Manfredi rolls his eyes again and then tosses him the compass. “Have your stupid paperweight.”
“Thank you.” Johnson says curtly and stashes it back away in his feathers. “Now, the others are probably too far away to have heard me so we will go back to the meeting spot and wait for them there.”
“Who are you? Our nanny-goat?” The cryptographer snorts. “Maaaaaah! Back to the meeeeeeeting spot! Maaaaaaaaaah! You’re in major trou-ou-ou-ble! Maaaaaaah! No di-i-i-inner for you!” He mocks, holding up his flippers as points on his head like goat horns and hopping around. “Maaaaah! Maaaah!”
Johnson gives him an even, school-teacher-like look over his glasses. “So mature...No wonder the ladies are beating down the HQ doors all of the time...Oh wait, I forgot, that’s the sound of all those you’ve ticked off, my bad.” He then abruptly turns and waddles back the way he had come.
“Yeah, yeah, nerd.” Manfredi makes a face behind his back and follows him, changing it quickly to an innocent smile when Johnson glances back over his shoulder to check to make sure that they are indeed following.
Rico just quietly follows along without much input on his friends’ conversation. He only sighs a little and trails behind them--pausing a moment to snap at a butterfly, but then continuing again with a chuckle. He had to admit, he was having a blast.
It is not long until the four penguins make it to the meeting spot where Skipper and Kowalski are waiting impatiently. Skipper looks over at them as he hears movement and then crosses his flippers with a stern look. “What happened?”
Manfredi rubs the back of his neck. “Got chased down by a giant cat, sir...But we can say it did look like the right direction.” He smiles a little nervously.
611Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡGMEZjy54oq
Skipper just sighs and closes his eyes and is quiet for a moment. “Be more careful.” He then says after a little while and walks over to a log and sits down with the map alone. Manfredi silently watches him and sighs as well before turning away and sitting down next to Rico.