A Zandra Belle Story
Zandra was home from school early because it was Fun Friday and she had NO homework for the weekend. She carried her backpack to her room and took off her coat and shoes and sat down on her bed thinking of something to do with her free afternoon. She had not played Club Penguin for a while because her brother had been using the computer to do his homework, anyway that was the excuse he used but Zandra had seen him watching YouTube videos. Zandra hurried upstairs and asked her mother if she could turn on the computer and play Club Penguin. Her mother told her okay, but just until dinner was ready.
Zandra ran downstairs and hopped in the computer chair and hit the ON button. She watched as the computer screen came to life. When the welcome screen came up she moved the mouse and clicked to launch the web site for Club Penguin and waited for the message that said: PLAY NOW. At Login, she typed in her pink penguin name of CHECKERS and her secret password. When the list of Club Penguin servers came up she selected ‘South Pole’ where her penguin friends played. There was RedPen, Blaze, Splash and CanCan in her Waddle group.
Zandra squirmed in the chair waiting for Checkers to show up in her special igloo where her pet puffles lived. She leaned close to the computer screen anxious to begin playing when suddenly the screen was completely filled with a penguin face that loudly exclaimed, “Finally you show up. I’ve been waiting for you for days.” Zandra’s mouth dropped open when she realized it was the red face of her penguin friend RedPen. “Hurry, we’ve no time to lose. Club Penguin is in trouble.” RedPen shouted at her.
Then the weirdest thing happened. RedPen reached out of the computer screen and grabbed her arm. Zandra wasn’t exactly sure how it happened, but RedPen pulled her out of the chair and right into the computer screen. It was a strange feeling and became even stranger when she tumbled forward and landed on the floor. “Ouch! That hurt.” Zandra loudly exclaimed and rocked back and forth. Rocking – what is this about?
Zandra looked around and noticed she was in a small room with a computer and other equipment that was hooked to the computer. RedPen was standing beside her waving his flippers up and down squawking, “Hurry. Get dressed. We have to go before they find us.” Zandra could tell that something had RedPen very upset, but that was nothing compared to what she felt when she tried to stand up.
Zandra could barely see her feet, if that’s what they were. A chubby pink belly was blocking the view and her arms had been replaced by pink flippers. Zandra was in shock and couldn’t speak. RedPen reached down and helped her to stand up. Zandra was having trouble balancing on her new legs and rocked back and forth. When she finally steadied herself, she noticed how oddly RedPen was dressed. He looked like a huge bumble bee complete with wings. She asked him, “Why are you wearing a costume?”
“It’s a disguise and I brought one for you. The Others know what we look like and were becoming suspicious, so we all decided to wear disguises to confuse them.” RedPen quickly explained and handed her a pile of clothes. “Who are the Others?” Zandra was confused, everything was happening to fast for her to keep straight. “Put on your costume; we must hurry and join Splash, Blaze, and CanCan.” RedPen ordered.
Zandra realized that she wasn’t going to get any more information out of RedPen and agreed, “Okay. Just give me a minute to put my costume on.” It took longer than a minute to get dressed, because of her strange new feet and nothing but flippers for arms. Zandra really missed her fingers. Finally, she was dressed and looked down and exclaimed. “A Cheerleader — that’s the best you could do?” “Stop complaining and follow me.” RedPen opened the door and peeked out. “All clear. Let’s go.” He said and then hurried out of the room.
Zandra found that walking was another challenge and understood why penguins waddled. It was like having your legs tied together at the knees and trying to walk. Finally, after running into both sides of the door way, she made it out. Once out of the small room she recognized the Coffee Shop from playing Club Penguin. It was strange seeing the room and all the furnishings from the inside and wanted to look around but RedPen was already waiting at the door for her. He turned and cautioned, “Don’t talk to anyone. We don’t know who we can trust.” Then RedPen hurried outside and down the sidewalk.
Zandra waddled as fast as she could without falling down and RedPen stopped frequently to let her catch up. He didn’t have to worry about her talking to anyone because it took all her concentration to keep up with him and not fall over. She decided that being a penguin was hard work. Although, she did notice that there were only a few penguins in Town and usually the Town was always crowded.
RedPen led the way out of Town to the Snow Fort. When they were close, Zandra could see other penguins in the Snow Fort. “It’s RedPen and Checkers.” One of them yelled. Then three crazily dressed penguins hurried out of the Snow Fort to meet them. One of them exclaimed, “Checkers we were afraid you wouldn’t come.” Zandra stopped and stared at a bright orange penguin dressed like a court jester and the costume included a matching hat with bells tied to the long pointed ends. “CanCan is that you?” Zandra gasped. CanCan giggled and nodded her head, which caused the bells to jingle.
“It’s me. It’s me.” Up hopped up a bright blue penguin dressed like a pirate with a patch covering one eye. “Splash, I like your costume.” Zandra told the pirate penguin. “Thanks Checkers.” Splash replied and winked his one eye.
Zandra turned and looked at a bright green penguin in a basketball player outfit complete with ball and high top sneakers. “Blaze you make a great basketball star.” Blaze did a double dribble with the ball, spun around and jumped making a fake shot at a fake net. Then he took a bow in front of her, “Just getting into the game Checkers.”
Zandra realized she was going to have to get used to being called Checkers because that was the name her penguin friends knew her by. “Now will someone explain what is going on and why all the disguises?” She asked the costumed group, it was time for Checkers to get some answers.
RedPen shooed everyone inside and to a back room and checked to make sure no one else was in the Snow Fort. Then he explained, “There is a new building in Club Penguin, in the back behind the Mine. It just seemed to have appeared over night, but no one really goes behind the Mine so it could have been there longer. It’s a strange looking oriental place called the Dojo Courtyard. All the penguins inside are dressed like Ninjas and they won’t let anyone come close or see inside.”
“They don’t look like normal penguins either.” Blaze interrupted RedPen. “I agree,” said Splash and then he added, “They are odd shaped and walk funny too!” Zandra wanted to chuckle at Splash’s statement; she thought normal penguins were odd shaped and walked funny too.
RedPen continued to tell her, “We think they came in the new boat at the Dock, but we’re not sure. At night we’ve watched them make secret trips in to Town and around sneak around Club Penguin.”
“Other penguins have started missing things from their igloos and the Gift Shop hardly has anything left to buy.” CanCan said and looked like she was going to cry. She looked at Zandra and sniffled, “We’re so glad you’re here Checkers; we know you can stop the Others. You are so good at all the Club Penguin games and figuring out the puzzles.” Zandra just stared at CanCan not sure what to say. She wasn’t sure how much help she would be against the Ninja penguins. Maybe she could hit them with her pompoms, like that would do any good!
RedPen cleared his throat and said, “The Others are running the regular penguins out of the South Pole and causing lots of trouble. They throw snowballs at everyone and won’t let anyone play the games, no soccer or skiing or boat races. There’s only a few of us regulars left.” Then it became quiet while the penguin friends looked at Checkers waited for her to respond.
Zandra thought out loud and would have counted on her fingers, but she didn’t have any. “First, something strange allowed the Others to get into the South Pole without logging in.” She thought hard, “Second, how did I get into Club Penguin?” She looked at RedPen and asked, “How were you able to see me when I logged on but before landed in my igloo?”
“In the secret computer room inside the Coffee Shop. I followed one of the Others and watched him go in and I waited until he left and then snuck inside. I saw the computer and figured out what he was doing from the history log. Then I watched for your computer to connect and you to log in.” RedPen grinned at her and proudly said, “I’m really good with computers.”
“Then that’s how we get the Others out of South Pole. You need to explain exactly what happened and then we can reverse the process to rid South Pole of the Ninja penguins.” Zandra was sure the five penguin friends could outsmart the Others, even if they were Ninjas.
After discussing various plans, the penguin friends decided to sneak back into Town and hide in the Coffee Shop until dark. CanCan, Splash, and Blaze would watch for the Others and if they came into Town, everyone had a hiding place picked out. RedPen and Checkers were to go back to the computer room and figure out how the Others were able to get into Club Penguin and Zandra was sure that it was by a computer and not a boat.
It didn’t take long for RedPen to discover a problem with the security on the South Pole server that allowed the Others to ‘hack’ their way inside. RedPen explained to ‘hack’ a computer was like breaking a window to get into a house. RedPen ran a program that back tracked the Others’ computer and got the ip address. RedPen explained that a computer’s ip address was like a house address when you mailed a letter.
“Here is the main screen to Club Penguin and if we can get the Others all in one place, I can reverse their program and send them back where they came from.” RedPen pointed to the screen to show Checkers.
Checkers agreed, “We must find a way to get them together at the same time.” Checkers thought a moment then suggested, “What if we plan a party and advertise it with games and prizes. I bet they would all come and try to ruin it.”
“Good idea.” RedPen responded as he shut down the computer and motioned for the other penguins to follow him to the Forest. On the way Checkers told them about her idea to give a fake party to trick the Others and get them all in one place, allowing RedPen to do his computer magic and send them back where they came from.
After dark the five brave penguins would keep watch in the Forest until the Dojo Courtyard went dark and all the Ninja penguins were inside for the night, then they would sneak into the Dojo Courtyard.
It was cold waiting in the Forest; snow covered the ground and trees. Checkers stomped around to keep warm and wished she had a snow suit for a costume instead of the short cheer leader outfit, besides she was getting tired of carrying around pompoms. Blaze had gone ahead to check the Dojo Courtyard and came hurrying back. “The compound is dark and all the Ninjas are inside. It’s time to check things out. Remember to be very quiet.” He cautioned everyone.
Single file the four penguins followed Blaze from the Forest to the Dojo Courtyard. When they reached the large iron gate that secured the compound, they all pushed to open it enough to be able to squeeze through. One by one they slipped in with CanCan being last in line. Her costume caught on the gate and she tumbled over and rolled down the entrance path with the bells on her jester hat jingling all the way.
Checkers hurried over to help CanCan up, with SSsshhhhss from RedPen, Blaze, and Splash, then they all waddled to hide in a long row of bushes along the fence. Single file they crept toward the large pagoda-like building, with CanCan being extra careful to not jingle her bells. In the front, a large window was brightly lit and they inched close to peek inside. “I can’t see anything.” Splash whispered. Checkers looked at him and explained, “Your patch is covering the eye you are looking through.” “Oh.” said Splash as he pushed the patch out of the way to be able to see inside.
Through the window, Checkers could see a large room lit by Chinese lanterns and the Ninja penguins moving around. Two of the larger Ninjas waddled over to a table by the window and bend over, and then they wiggled and wiggled and removed their penguin skins. What? The five peeking penguins couldn’t believe their eyes. How can penguins shed their skins?
One of the skinless penguins stood up and stretched his long arms above his head and said, “Boy, it sure feels good to get out of that stupid penguin suit. It’s so much better to be a weasel.” Then the two weasels laughed in a menacing way exposing long pointed teeth. The five stunned penguins turned around and slid down the wall to the ground, not sure of what they had just seen and heard.
The five friends were in shock, sitting on the ground like statues when they heard one of the weasels say, “Only a few more stupid penguins to run out of South Pole and then we’ll have the place all to ourselves.” The other weasel added, “And then I’ll block the South Pole server and not allow anyone else to connect.” RedPen motioned it was time to leave and he signaled to CanCan to hold on to her hat to keep her bells silent.
“Those sneaky mean weasels.” CanCan kept repeating. “They won’t get away with it. Not if I can help it.” She pounded on the table in the Coffee Shop. The five friends had made it back to Town and were drinking hot cocoa trying to warm up. “I counted eight weasels total in the Dojo room.” Splash said and then added, “How do we get them all in one place?” “Since they want to take everything that isn’t theirs, we make a really great prizes they can’t resist.” suggested Checkers.
“I got it.” RedPen jumped up, “There are eight cars in the Mine ride. What if we say the first eight to finish the Mine ride will each get a grand prize?” “Great idea.” The other penguins responded in unison and crowded around the table to plan the fake party and weasel surprise.
Checkers and CanCan were in the back of the Gift Shop busy making signs to advertise the Club Penguin party in Town. The Gift Shop’s shelves were almost empty so they had lots of room to work. Once the signs were finished, Splash and Blaze would post them around Club Penguin. Checkers figured two signs for each main area, Ski Village, Dock, Beach, Cove and Town, should cover it.
They would paint five signs announcing “Welcome to Club Penguin Party in Town” and five signs for the “Mine Ride – Eight Great Prizes for First Eight Winners – starts at 5 pm.” They would hang streamers in Town to make the party look real. Checkers seemed to get as much paint on herself as the signs, paint, paint brushes, and flippers were somewhat awkward for her.
As soon as the signs were dry, CanCan taped them to poles to stick in the ground. Then she called Splash and Blaze to start posting them. Splash would do the Ski Village, Beach, and Dock; Blaze would do the Town and Cove, and the Others, those sneaky weasel penguins, were sure to see them.
RedPen had been busy in the small computer room testing his program and making sure it connected to the Mine car ride. When the Mine cars crossed the finish line the Others, big dumb weasels that they were, would one-by-one transport back to where they came from. RedPen had patched the security hole on the South Pole server and there was no way those sneaky weasels could ‘hack’ back into Club Penguin ever again.
Checkers and CanCan carried tables and chairs out of the Coffee Shop and put bright red table clothes on them. Then they brought out cups for hot cocoa and plates of cookies. If the Others did come to Town, it would look like a real party. RedPen carried a juke box from the Night Club and selected songs that sounded like a party. With the music playing, colorful streamers, party tables with hot cocoa and cookies; it really did look like a penguin party in progress.
When Blaze and Splash returned from posting the party signs, RedPen told them they were to run the fake Mine ride game and not start it before 5 pm. “Make sure all eight Ninja weasels are the first ones to ride. Blaze when you start the mine cars down the track, beep me on the two-way.” RedPen handed Blaze a small two-way radio and said, “I’ll start the computer program to zap those weasels back where they came from.” Checkers worried if their plan would really work, but didn’t say anything to upset her four friends. There were all excited and ready for the poof-goes-the-weasel game to begin.
Checkers and CanCan were surprised to see that the few penguins left in South Pole had left their igloos and joined the party in Town. “This is great.” “Maybe our friends will come back.” “Good cocoa.” “I love costume parties.” Were comments they heard from the penguins waddling around Town. A green penguin dressed like a scuba diver complete with diving mask and snorkel came over and asked CanCan to dance and they both waddled and waved their arms to the song “Splish Splash.”
Checkers was getting into the party fun when RedPen’s two-way radio crackled to life. It was Blaze reporting in. “They are all here and like we figured the first eight to crowd in line. The first eight Mine cars will hold eight sneaky weasels homeward bound. Start your program. 10-4.” Blaze ended the call.
RedPen and Checkers hurried to the computer room. RedPen started the program and moved the mouse to the Mine area and they watched Splash loading the awkward fake penguin into the Mine ride cars and pulling the safety belts as tight as he could. “OUCH, OUCH.” The fake penguins yelled. “Don’t want you to fall out and get hurt.” Splash said grinning. Then Splash went over to the Mine ride controls and pushed the lever to ‘full speed ahead’. One by one the eight cars took off down the tracks into the dark mine tunnel. RedPen and Checkers watched as eight blinks of bright light lit up the dark tunnel.
RedPen, Checkers, and CanCan all rushed to meet Blaze and Splash. Splash was excitedly shouting, “It worked. It worked. The weasels have excited Club Penguin.” With high flipper fives, Blaze said, “It was so great when the Mine ride cars came back empty. Like a magic trick – poof – now you see them, now you don’t. Great work RedPen.
RedPen grinned and said, “It was a group effort. It took all of us to make it happen.” The five penguins friends joined the party in Town. More penguins had come out and were dancing with the music, enjoing the eats, and having lots of wild and crazy penguin fun. The five friends were sitting around one of the tables enjoying the happy scene when RedPen noticed Checkers had a sad look. “What’s wrong Checkers? Aren’t you happy the weasels are gone and Club Penguin is again a happy place?”
“Oh yes. I’m so glad those mean weasels are history.” Checkers answered, then sighed, “I’m just worried how am I going to get home. I really need to get back before my mother misses me and starts to worry.”
“That isn’t a problem.” RedPen patted Checkers on the flipper, “All I have to do is update the destination ip address to the one of your home’s computer, start the mine ride and computer program, then ZAP you’ll be back home.”
HUM………. Checkers thought. They weren’t really sure the weasels actually made it back to where they came from; they could have ended up on the moon for all RedPen knew. And what if she ended up somewhere else like – Tibet with abmonimal snow monsters or stranded on a deserted island filled with huge crabs with pinchers chasing her around.
“If you’re ready. I’ll go update the computer program and Splash can start the Mine ride. Blaze take the two-way radio and call me when Checkers’ car leaves.” RedPen stood up and gave Checkers a big hug. “We couldn’t have done it without you! We will miss you so be sure to come back soon.” Then RedPen turned and waddled toward the Coffee Shop and hidden computer room.
CanCan stood up and gave Checkers a hug and sniffled, “Thanks so much. I’ll go and help RedPen, just in case.” CanCan looked ready to burst into tears and turned and hurried after RedPen. Just in case of what? Checkers wasn’t really sure if RedPen’s plan was safe and it seemed CanCan had some doubts too.
Blaze picked up the two-way and checked to make sure RedPen could hear him. “Radio check.” He spoke into the the radio. “Loud and clear.” RedPen responded. “Let’s go Checkers.” Blaze said as he stood up. “You really are one brave penguin.” Checkers didn’t say a word as they left Town and waddled for the Mine ride. She was too scared to speak and her knees, or where they should be, were knocking hard.
Splash pushed the first Mine car in the take-off position and said, “Climb in Checkers and be sure to hold on tight. The Mine ride can get really bumpy.” He held open the car door and Checkers climbed in, then he locked and tightened the safety belt. Checkers stared at Splash and Blaze thinking their funny penguin faces might the the last thing she would ever see.
Blaze leaned over and said, “Thanks for coming to help us. Have a safe trip home.” Then he beeped the two-way and told RedPen, “The package is ready to be delivered.” Splash pushed the ride lever to full speed and the Mine car with Checkers locked in started down the track into the scary dark mine.
It was pitch black inside the mine and Checkers couldn’t see her flippers but she knew they would be white from holding on so tight. She had played the Mine car ride game and knew there were lots of twisty turns and up and downs. She had ridden some small roller coasters at the fair, but none were as wild and scary as the Mine ride. Checkers was jerked from side to side and the drops after the high parts caused her to come off the seat, only the safety belt kept her in the car. She felt like she was flying at record breaking speed and if penguins had hair it would be blown off. Then she saw a small flickering light ahead and knew the ride was almost over and the car wasn’t slowing down.
It was like a huge flash camera took her picture and the light was so bright it blinded her and then she was tumbling out of the mine car, rolling over and over. Checkers screamed. Thump, she landed on something hard. She lay still and didn’t move for a minute, just to make sure she didn’t take off again. She opened one eye and peeked out. She recognized where she was, it just looked different seeing everything from the floor. She was back in the family room of her house. She opened her other eye just to make sure and then slowly sat up.
Zandra was so happy to be home and noticed her hands were back and so were her feet. She stood up and checked to make sure all her other parts were attached and where they were supposed to be. Yep. She was Zandra again with all parts accound for. Her mom came hurrying downstairs, “I thought I heard you yell. Is everything okay?” Zandra looked over at her mom and nodded and shakily said, “Everything is just great.” If Zandra looked a little white from fright, her mom didn’t seem to notice.
“Where did this come from?” Her mom asked as she picked up a blue pompom. “This is just like the ones I had when I was a Pop Warner cheerleader.” Mom did a couple of cheer moves and finished with, “Go team.” She laughed and told Zandra, “Time for dinner. Turn the computer off and wash up.”
“Okay.” Zandra replied thinking she would be very happy to turn the computer off. She walked over and saw she was still logged in to Club Penguin and could see Town. The penguin party was still going strong and in the middle of the screen were four penguins waving at her like crazy. It was RedPen, CanCan, Blaze, and Splash. Zandra smiled and waved back and then clicked on shut down.