The Return of Winifred

By Jareth

Chapter Twenty-Two: Nimnul’s plan revealed

For several minutes, Sparky and the Rangers sat outside the door to the abandoned cake factory a.k.a. Nimnul’s backup laboratory.

“Mmm… popcorn…” Dale mumbled in his sleep; his head resting in Foxglove’s lap.

“He looks so cute when he’s asleep.” Foxglove commented, looking upon him with loving eyes. “I just hope we all survive this.” Foxglove looked around at the other Rangers. Chip lay on his side, using his hands as a pillow. Monty lay, propped up against the nearby wall; Zipper lying on his stomach. Sparky and Gadget lay on their backs (in different spots), their hands behind their heads. “Guess I’m the only one awake.” Foxglove thought to herself. As she turned her attention back to Dale, continuing to gaze at him, she began to hum a semi-heavenly/semi-mysterious melody.

“What song is that?” Came Gadget’s voice. Apparently, she was also unable to sleep. “It’s beautiful.”

Foxglove stopped humming. She hadn’t even realized she had been doing it. “I… I’m not sure.” Foxglove answered slowly. “I didn’t even realize I was doing it.”

“How strange.” Gadget commented, sitting up. “Maybe you’re mother sang it to you when you were younger.”

“Hm, maybe…” Foxglove began, trailing off.

Gadget was about to make another suggestion as to where the melody was from, but was rudely interrupted by a loud slam as the door to the lab flew open, reviling Professor Nimnul.

“The cookies are done!” He said jokingly, as everyone sat up, rubbing their eyes. “I said: the cookies are done!” He repeated, still waiting for his laugh.

“We heard what you said,” Chip said, sleepily “It wasn’t funny.”

“Don’t worry Normie,” Dale reassured as he stretched his arms, “you’ll do better next time.”

“Why do you keep calling me that?” Professor Nimnul asked, turning his attention toward Dale. “My names not even Norman, It’s Norton.”

“Well,” Dale began to explain. “Freddie called you Norman, and since you call her Freddie, I figured that that makes you Normie.”

“By the way, why did she call you Norman?” Gadget asked, now making her way into the conversation.

“Well,” Sighed Professor Nimnul “if you must know, at age thirty-two after I was laughed out of my fifth university, I had my name changed to Norton to wipe the stench of failure from my name.”

“You changed one letter?” Sparky asked, half laughing.

“W-well,” Professor Nimnul stammered, embarrassed “I liked my name, and— Wait! Why am I even discussing this with you rodents! The fate of my plans for world domination is at stake!”

Later, in the lab…
Professor Nimnul slowly approached what appeared to be a half melted easy bake oven, and stuck a pair of long tweezers inside, pulling out a small clear purple pill. “And that’s number seven.” Professor Nimnul proclaimed as he turned toward the Rangers, who waited patently on the floor. “Now, on to phase two!” Professor Nimnul said, heading toward the cabinets and beginning to sift through them.

“Okay Nimnul,” Chip began, a tone of irritation coming into his voice. “You’ve kept us in the dark long enough. Now tell us the rest of your plan!”

“Yeah!” Added Dale.

“Alright, Alright. Hold your horses.” Professor Nimnul said, walking back over to the Rangers, clutching something in his right hand.

“Well?” Chip asked, tapping his foot impatiently.

Professor Nimnul began to pace back and forth for a moment, and then stopped to face Foxglove. “A pallid bat and a flying fox get into a fight, who wins?” He asked extremely quickly.

“Th—” Foxglove began, but was interrupted by Professor Nimnul.

“The flying fox.” He finished, answering his own question. “And do you know why this is?” He asked.

No one answered this time, waiting for Professor Nimnul to answer his own question again.

“Anyone?” He asked, looking around.

“Bec—” Dale began, but was interrupted by Professor Nimnul as well.

“Because,” Professor Nimnul finished “They’re a good ten times more massive. Ten times larger. Ten times stronger… However, I, being the genius that I am, have come up with a way to fix those odds.” With that, Professor Nimnul opened his hand revealing a small metal remote control, possessing a large red dial in the center, and a spirally antenna protruding from the end. “Do any of you rodents recognize this?” He asked, showing the small device to the Rangers.

Gadget recognized it immediately. “That’s the shrinking ray you used on the museum!”

“Actually,” corrected Professor Nimnul “I was forced to make it. Anyways, using this, I’m going to make you all human size. That way, you’ll be able to take the pills I’ve made, and be able to avoid being stepped on by Freddie’s two cronies, who will most likely, be guarding the place. Well, what do you think? Ingenious plan, isn’t it?”

“Wait a minute!” Gadget said in sudden realization. “The shrinking ray was destroyed, so how did you get another one.”

Professor Nimnul smiled as if a two-year old had asked him if bunnies lay eggs. “My dear,” He began “This is called a backup laboratory for a reason. You see, anything and everything I’ve ever constructed or invented, I’ve always made a backup, all of which are stored here.”

“Everything?” Dale asked in shock.

“Everything,” Professor Nimnul continued, “including this baby…” With that, Professor Nimnul walked over to the large object covered by a sheet near the cabinets, and promptly yanked the sheet off, reveling the hulking machine underneath. “Like I always say, why make one, when you can make two for twice the price!”

“I-is th-that…” Monty stammered in disbelief.

“The Human Hunter 8000!” Professor Nimnul thundered, raising hand hands into the air. “Although how you rodents know anything about it is more than a mystery to me. Were you spying on me or something?”

“We saw enough.” Sparky said bitterly, remembering what Professor Nimnul had attempted to do to a police officer’s neck using the mech.

“…YOU!” Professor Nimnul angrily spat, pointing an accusing finger at the Rangers. “YOU called the police! My favorite lab burned to the ground all because of you!!!”

“Actually,” Corrected Sparky, “Those three officers were being controlled by Winifred’s insignia curse. How else do you think they could have gotten so strong?”

“Y-you’re joking, right?” Professor Nimnul stammered. “Freddie can bend people to her will?”

The Rangers all nodded at once.

“Drat!” Professor Nimnul cursed. “That changes everything! If there are more than just Jamba and Darien in that tower—”

“Good morning my subjects,” Came Winifred’s voice, “It’s that time again!” Everyone’s vision faded to the image of Winifred sitting atop her tower. “That’s right,” She continued “It’s time to see what city will disappear from this planet next.” Winifred reached into the hovering vase and drew a red paper. She stared at it a moment before looking up. “Well what do you know,” she said cheerfully “The next city to be annihilated is… This one!”

“What?!” Professor Nimnul, Sparky, And the Rangers all cried in horror.

“It can’t be!” Protested a distressed Foxglove “Not now!”

“We’re gonna to die!” Shrieked Dale.

“…However,” Continued Winifred “due to recent events, I’m going to spare this city.”

“What?” Everyone asked in unison.

“Yes, you all heard me correct,” Winifred continued, dropping the scarlet paper back into the vase. “Because you see… My brother… I’m anxious to see you again!”

“How could she possibly know what we’re planning!?” Professor Nimnul shouted.

“Why Norman,” She answered slyly “I know everything.”

Professor Nimnul froze. He had no idea that that Winifred was able to hear their comments.

“However,” Continued Winifred, “in compensation for the temporary sparing of this city… I’m afraid Australia has to go.” With that, the view changed to a view of Earth from space, in which Australia was visible. Suddenly, the entire continent became black and orange, like a burning piece of newspaper. Australia had been completely incinerated.

“Noooooo!” Cried Monty, “not Australia!”

“That is all.” Winifred said casually, as if nothing had happened. However, this time, her image didn’t fade. “And now,” Winifred began “A private message for the eight of you.”

“She means us!” Exclaimed Dale.

“No, really.” Chip said sarcastically.

“As you all know,” Winifred continued, “I am well aware of your plan to defeat me. However, as much as I love watching you try to figure out my defenses, I hate waiting for your arrival, so to save you time, I’m going to let you in on my defense status.” Suddenly, Winifred’s image faded, and was replaced by a side view of her towers. “First, let me start by saying that I’m in the tower on the left.” With that, the left tower lit up. “The one on the right was my practice model, but it took so long to carve, that I decided to keep it. Now, as for my defense, there are three levels you must pass through to reach me. The First level contains a new recruit, who I’m sure you all know.”

“New recruit?” Chip thought to himself

“On the second level, Jamba awaits you, poised and ready. The third level contains Darien, and on top, of course, I will be waiting, though I doubt you’ll get that far…” She paused for a moment before continuing. “While I am quite well aware of the fact you have a plan, to keep things interesting, I’ve avoided finding out exactly what it is, so don’t even think about wasting even more of my time thinking up a new plan. In fact, if you take any longer, I’ll change my one city per hour policy to a one city per minute policy! Well, That’s about it.” Winifred finished, wrapping up her little speech. “See you later… Maybe…” With that, everyone’s vision faded back to normal.

Everyone froze, taking in what had just happened. “A-Australia…” Monty whimpered softy.

“Alright!” Professor Nimnul shouted, causing everyone to jump. “We’ve got no more time to strategize, so here’s the plan: There are four opponents, and eight of us. We divide into groups of two giving us a two to one advantage. I don’t care who takes who, but Freddie is mine.”

“Same here!” Foxglove said angrily, surprising everyone, including herself.

“Wait,” interrupted Dale “how’re we gonna get there, walk?”

“Actually,” Professor Nimnul began, turning his back to the Rangers “The Human Hunter 8000 is my be a one seater, but it has more then enough extra room for a few rodents and a fly. At full speed, this thing can easily get us across town in five minutes.” Professor Nimnul turned back to face the Rangers, a crazy look now in his eyes. “Wanna take a ride?”

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