The Return of Winifred

By Jareth

Chapter Nineteen: Nimnul’s Proposition

The Rangers stood breathless, barely believing what they had just been told. Winifred, Nimnul’s sister? It couldn’t be, could it? Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Chip broke the silence by yelling “Your what!?” Not one of his better questions.

“My sister.” He repeated impatiently. “My little sister, Freddie Nimnul… What?”

“You have family?” Asked Dale, astounded by the sheer thought that someone so evil actually had loved ones.

“Well, had a family.” Corrected Nimnul, “We don’t really speak to each other anymore. I’m not sure why she’s so upset though, or how she's become so attractive. She’s really lost that honker of a nose.”

“It’s a spell she used.” Said Foxglove, who had now gathered enough courage to speak to the strange man. “She used a spell that increased her powers and made her beautiful…” She paused “on the outside.” She quickly added.

“Is that so? Nimnul asked, sounding intrigued. “And how precisely would one perform this spell?”

Foxglove was beginning to look nervous, so Dale quickly jumped in. “You’ve gotta be a witch to do it, so forget it!” He shouted

“Drat.” Nimnul cursed, sounding disappointed. “Well, if I—”

This confrontation probably would have continued, had they not suddenly been interrupted by the unmistakable roar of fighter planes.

Professor Nimnul and the Rangers looked toward the horizon, only to see what appeared to be dozens of fighter jets, roaring toward Winifred’s onyx towers.

“Alright men,” The lead fighter pilot announced to the others as the towers came into view, “This is the kind of mission we’ve been training for. The entire world is counting on our success, so don’t let them down.”

“Fighter planes!?” Chip shouted “Are they nuts!? Don’t they realize that they’re going to their deaths!?”

“Apparently not.” Said Nimnul, watching the jets near the towers, “This is going to be quite the show.”

“Why you heartless—” Sparky began, but was interrupted by Monty.

“Eh, not to be rude or anything mates, but if those fighters blowup the towahs with us next to em…”

“Ah, your right!” Chip said with alarm.

“Run away!” Commanded Professor Nimnul, running as fast as he could go, with the Rangers and Sparky right behind him.

“Rouge one, this is rouge four, awaiting permission to fire”

The lead pilot flipped up the red guarder covers over the missile buttons and kissed a picture of (what was probably) his wife. “Fire at will.” He said with a grin. “Take that mother down!”

With that, every fighter simultaneously released a slew of misses, sending them hurling towards the two towers.

Nimnul and the Rangers watched, awestruck as the tower was bombarded with what appeared to be around two thousand missiles. Everyone covered their ears as the deafening explosions continued, masking the towers on smoke.

Back at the base, the middle-aged mission commander watched the live feed nervously as the missiles stopped impacting. “Rouge one,” He called into his receiver, “has the target been destroyed!? Repeat, has the target been destroyed!?”

Rouge one watched the smoke shrouded area where the towers stood. “Just a minute.” He said nervously “This thing doesn’t show up on radar, so I’m going to have to wait until the smoke clears before…” He stopped, dumbfounded by what he saw when the smoke cleared.

“Well?!” The commander asked nervously. “Has the target been—”

“N-negative.” Rouge one replied sadly. “Target remains. Repeat, target remains. There’s not even a scratch on it.”

The commander hung his head is despair.

“Crikey!” Monty exclaimed, staring at the towers (now, from a safe distance.) “not a bloomin scratch on her!”

“To be that impact resistant…” Nimnul began, trailing off.

“Hey!” Foxglove shouted, pointing at the top of the right tower. “What’s that light!?”

“Wait!” Rouge one shouted, now fixated on the right tower, “There’s some kind of red light!”

“A red light?” The commander asked, looking back up at the screen.”

“Yeah,” Continued rouge one “It’s like a second sun it’s… HOLY—*shhhhhhhh” the pilot began to yell, but was suddenly replaced by static. So, apparently, was the TV screen.

“Rouge one, this is the colonel, Please respond!” The commander shouted. Static. “Rouge two, this is the colonel, Please respond!” Still static. “For the love of God, is anyone alive out there!?!?” He desperately shouted into the receiver. “Any one!?”

“Blimey! Did you all see what I saw!?” Asked Monty as he stared at the now, empty sky in disbelief.

“It-it was like a giant, wide spread version of Winifred’s beam attack.” Gadget commented, also staring at the eerily empty sky.

“Now do you see how serious this is!?” Chip shouted at professor Nimnul. “We’re trying to save the world right now, so leave a message at the beep, okay!?”

“But How?” interjected Dale “Did you see what Freddie did to those planes!? Imagine what she could do to us!”

“Dale’s right.” added Gadget, “I don’t want to sound negative, but we’re not even a remotely a match for her.”

“A match!?” added Professor Nimnul. “Not even a spark!”

“Oh shut up you.” Snapped Sparky, glaring at Nimnul. “If you don’t want to help, then just go away!”

“Actually, I do want to help.” Professor Nimnul said, very matter-of-factly.

“You what!?” The Rangers all asked in unison.

“You heard me.” Answered Professor Nimnul.

“Why?” Chip asked suspiciously. “What’s your angle?”

“Angle?” Professor Nimnul asked, sounding almost offended. He cleared his throat. “I bear you no love, that much is true. And whether or not any of you rodents live or die is a matter beneath my notice. But I have plans for this world, and I allow no one to interfere. Especially not my raggedy little sister. Alone, we find ourselves almost equally outmatched! Together however, our abilities may prove just useful enough to take down Freddie!!”

The Rangers all stared at Professor Nimnul, blow away by his rousing little speech. It was Sparky who broke the silence. “Forget it!” He shouted.

“But Sparky,” Gadget began “He might be right on this one.”

“No!” Shouted Sparky. “He’s a mad man! A lunatic! He’ll turn on us the first chance he gets!”

“What do you think Chip?” Gadget asked, looking at Chip.

“Well,” Chip began “Normally, I’d say no, but these aren’t exactly normal circumstances. What do you think Monty?” Asked Chip, turning to Monty.

“Well personally… I’m not really sure. Whada you think Zippa?” Monty asked, turning to Zipper.

Without answering, Zipper turned to Dale, and then Dale to Foxglove. “Whada ya think Foxy?” Asked Dale.

Foxglove thought hard for a moment. From what she had seen and heard so far, Nimnul seemed to be downright evil… But then again, desperate times call for desperate alliances… Why did Dale have to put such a major desiccation on her shoulders? “Well…” She began, looking very nervous. “…Yes?”

“See!” Professor Nimnul pointed out, “The bat thinks it’s a good idea!”

“Foxglove!” Dale corrected angrily.

“Of course, heh heh. My mistake… Come on!” He shouted, “You know you need me to do this!”

Everyone except Sparky slowly nodded in agreement.

“Well Sparky?” Asked Gadget. “Are you going to help us?”

“…Fine” He answered sulkily. “I only hope that I’m able to contain my nausea at the thought of joining with the likes of HIM.” he said, pointing an accusing finger at Professor Nimnul.

“It’s settled then.” Chip said in a semi-excited tone. “We’ll join forces TEMPORARILY, until Winifred is defeated.”

“Come on,” Professor Nimnul said hastily. “I’ve got a backup lab at the old cake factory down town.” He began to walk, but not toward the down town area.

“Where are you going?” Asked Chip, pointing in the opposite direction Nimnul was headed “Down town is that way!”

“Yes,” Professor Nimnul answered nervously, “But there are less people this way. Don’t forget, there’s an unbelievable bounty on my head. Everyone will be looking for me. Honestly, some people can be so greedy.

“Yeah,” Dale said sarcastically “greedy.”

The route that Professor Nimnul led them down was indeed void of all signs of life. It took them through the run down industrial portions of the city, it took them through all sorts of alleyways, and it also took them almost a full hour of walking to reach their destination. On the up side, it didn’t feel like an hours walk. On the down side however, it felt like a years walk. For once, The Rangers were actually glad to see Professor Nimnul’s laboratory.

“Ah.” Professor Nimnul said, breathing a sigh of relief. “Home sweet backup home.”

The place looked anything but homey. If anything, it looked haunted. The unreadable tattered billboard above the entrance to the wide building was bent over, as if it were going to fall at any moment. The wind blew over the broken sky lights, creating a noise that, if they hadn’t know any better, would have thought to be a ghost.

“I’m not going in there.” Foxglove said abruptly.

“Aw come on Foxy,” Dale reassured, “I’m sure it’s nice on the inside.”

“Actually,” Said Professor Nimnul, wiping his glasses, “The back portion is nice. The front looks like a mechanical grave yard, what with all the dusty cake boxes lined up like graves on the conveyor belts, and the robotic arms hanging out of the mixing bins… Very spooky, heh heh.”

Foxglove quickly jumped behind Dale for protection.

“Hey! come on Normie!” Dale said angrily, “lay off Foxgl—”

“Hello, my subjects. It’s that time again” Everyone’s vision shifted from whatever they were looking at, to Winifred, again, standing atop the left tower on the clover shaped platform, overlooking the clouds. “That’s right.” She continued. “You’ve all been very bad… Good for you. However, as I said before, Good equals one city every five minutes. Bad equals one city every one-hour. It is now 4:00 AM; Time to scream.” Winifred reached into her vase, and pulled out a scarlet paper. The image faded to what, judging from the sky needle, could only be Seattle, Washington. Again, a red light enveloped the entire city, leaving only a smoking crater. The Image then faded Back to Winifred, who now, for some reason, had Jamba perched on her shoulder. “Well, there you have it.” She said with a grin, stroking Jamba’s muzzle. “Two down, millions to go. And remember, your city could be next!” Jamba began whispering something in Winifred’s ear. “hmph.” She said, looking back toward the “camera”, “My loyal friend Jamba claims that the people of this city don’t think I’ll destroy it, just because my towers are located here. I’d like to make it clear, that if this city is chosen, all will be incinerated, except my towers. After all, I’m trying to be non-partial here.” Jamba then whispered something else into Winifred’s ear. “hm, okay.” Again, she looked back toward the “camera” “One last thing, shooting either Jamba or Darien with a BB gun, or any type of gun for that matter, is punishable by a most gruesome death. In other words, you become a mouse, and Darien tears into you. That is all.” With that, Winifred’s image disappeared, and everyone’s eyesight returned to normal.

Chip looked up at Professor Nimnul, who seemed to be staring off into space. “You DO have a plan, right?” He asked uncertainly.

“Of course I have a plan, it’s a good plan!” Snapped Professor Nimnul. “Follow me,” He instructed, heading toward the entrance “I’ll tell it to you once we’re inside.”

“Do ya think we can trust him?” Monty asked Chip, watching as Professor Nimnul led the way.

Chip paused before answering. “At this point,” He said semi-confidently, “What choice do we have?”

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