The Return of Winifred

By Jareth

Chapter Twenty-four: The real battle begins

The Rangers watched in horror as their beloved teammate began to lose consciousness. At the speed Tammy was punching, Chip was sure to lose more than his consciousness before she was done with him. “If I can’t give him another pill, then at least give me one to use!” Gadget pleaded to Professor Nimnul.

“Forget it!” Professor Nimnul snapped. “You’re just going to throw it to him the second you get it!”

Gadget was about to yell at Professor Nimnul, but was interrupted by Sparky. “If you won’t give one to her, then at least give one to me!”

“How do I know that you won’t give the pill to her?” Professor Nimnul asked.

“We’re not trying to work against your plan!” Sparky shouted angrily. “We’re on the same side! Now give one of us a pill so we can help!”

“So this is what it’s like to die…” Chip thought as he felt himself slide from the wall, onto his back. “Funny though… I don’t even feel Tammy’s blows anymore… I guess that means I’m in heaven…” Chip forced himself to open his eyes, only to find Professor Nimnul (still in his mech), standing over him. “Oh no, Nimnul’s here; this must be the other place!”

“Hardly.” Professor Nimnul said irritably.

“Chip!” came Gadget’s voice.

Chip turned to see Gadget, Monty and Zipper running towards him. “Guys?” he asked as they both reached him, kneeling down to make sure he was all right. “But, who saved…” Chip turned towards Professor Nimnul. “Please don’t tell me that it was him.”

“Actually,” Corrected Monty, “it was Zippa!”

Zipper flew over to Chip and made an “are you okay?” noise.

“Zipper?” Asked Chip, as Gadget helped him up, “but how…”

“He flew over and grabbed a pill right out from under Nimnul’s nose.” Explained Gadget, overjoyed that Chip was all right. “But to save you, he had to head but Tammy into that wall over there.” Gadget pointed to the wall at the far end of the room, where Dale, Foxglove, and Sparky were gathered around Tammy’s stunned body.

“You really took a beat’n mate.” Commented Monty. “How’d ja get back on your feet so quick?”

“I not really sure,” answered Chip. “It’s like the second Tammy got away from me, my strength started to return.”

“It must have been a powah Winifred gave ‘er” suggested Monty.

“What do you think?” Asked Dale, poking Tammy’s fallen body. “Is she dead?”

“No,” Sparky answered, as he bent down to check on Tammy. “She’s just unconscious. Her head did hit the wall pretty hard though...” Sparky stuck his index and middle fingers out and felt Tammy’s neck. “Hmm… Pulse is… Erratic. That’s not good.” He said, reaching up to her forehead. “Temperature is… WOAH!!!” He shouted, jerking his hand away from Tammy’s forehead and backing a good ten feet away. “Wh-what was that feeling?!”

“That was Freddie’s evil.” Answered Dale, bending down to get a better look at Tammy’s “W”. “I think you get that feeling when you touch the “W”, because—”

Suddenly, Tammy’s eyes shot open, turning their focus towards Dale.

“Look out Dale!” Foxglove shouted, pushing him out of the way as Tammy’s arm shot up, Grabbing Foxglove by the neck.

“No! Foxy!!!” Dale cried, scrambling to get back up to Rescue Foxglove from the sadistic squirrel.

However, Tammy hadn’t even so much as squeezed Foxglove’s neck, when she suddenly loosed her grip, allowing Foxglove to break free.

“Huh?” Foxglove asked quizzically.

Foxglove, Dale, and Sparky watched in confusion as Winifred’s insignia evaporated from Tammy’s forehead. The evil look disappeared from her eyes, as small tears formed in them. She then proceed to collapse onto her stomach.

“FOXY!” Dale shouted as he ran over to hug Foxglove

“What was that?!” Shouted Sparky.

“Are you alright?” Came Chip’s voice as he approached Foxglove, leaning on Gadget’s shoulder for support; Monty, Zipper, and Professor Nimnul following close behind. Although Most of Chip’s strength had returned, his chest hurt so much, that he needed someone to support him as he walked.

“Yes.” Answered Foxglove. “But Tammy…”

“What should we do with her?” Asked Dale.

“Just leave her.” Commanded Professor Nimnul. “She’ll only slow us down.”

“We don’t just leave people to die!” said Chip. “Not even our enemies.”

“We also don’t allow our friends and teammates to get the pulp beat out of them.” Sparky said, directing it at Professor Nimnul.

“Yeah!” Dale chimed in “What was with that? It was like you wanted him to die.”

“Actually…” Professor Nimnul said, trailing off.

“I don’t bloody believe it!” Yelled Monty. “All that talk about work’n together and whatnot, and you still try ta kill us!

“I believe it.” Sparky said bitterly. “I knew he would turn on us, I just didn’t think it would be so soon.”

“Actually,” Corrected Professor Nimnul “technically the squirrel was doing the killing.”

“Why you—” Sparky began, but was cut off by an echoing voice.

“So,” Came Winifred’s voice from nowhere, sounding unusually calm, “you’ve defeated Tammy have you? You may think that that was a major accomplishment, but she was noting special. Now, the real fun begins.” Suddenly, The floor in the center of the room opened, as a small glowing sapphire platform rose to fill it. “Stand on the platform,” Continued Winifred “and you will be teleported up to the next level, where Jamba will be waiting. Try not to die too quickly now…” Winifred’s voice ceased.

“Okay,” Chip began, directing his attention toward Professor Nimnul “If were going to do this, then we all have to trust each other and work together. If we don’t, we all die. We trusted you, now you have to start trusting us.

“…Fine.” Professor Nimnul said bitterly as he tossed the steel case containing the Purple Power Pills to Chip. “You can divvy those up amongst yourselves, but you little— err, big rodents better not try anything funny while my guard is down.”

“Like what?” Asked Dale.

“Like… um…” Professor Nimnul trailed off, realizing that with his Human Hunter 8000, there wasn’t really anything that the Rangers could do to him. “We’re wasting time!” Professor Nimnul shouted as he quickly tried to change the subject. “Every hour, another city is wiped from existence, so lets go!” With that, the Human Hunter 8000 jumped onto the glowing platform (which was a good twenty feet away) and with a brief flash of blue light, vanished.

“Guess he doesn’t like to be wrong.” Mumbled Dale.

The Rangers passed the small steel case around, each of them taking a pill and putting it in their pocket (except Foxglove, who put it behind her ear).

“So,” Gadget asked, tossing the now empty steel case aside, “What should we do with Tammy?”

“Hm…” Chip thought aloud “Monterey, do you think you can carry her with us.”

“No trouble.” Responded Monty as he lifted Tammy and draped her over his shoulder.

“Well…” Chip began nervously “Lets get going.”

“You sure you’re all right mate?” Asked Monty.

“Yes.” Chip lied. “My chest is just a little sore.” Chip couldn’t very well say, “No, I think I’m going to die of pain.” If he was to let everyone know about his true condition, they would more than likely get too worried about him to focus. With the fate of the world at stake, telling the truth was not a risk worth taking.

“If you say so…” Monty said skeptically, trailing off. Having been in quite a few brawls in the past, Monty could tell by the way Chip was standing, that he must have some kind of internal bleeding going on. However, if Chip was telling everyone that he was all right, he probably had a reason for doing so.

The Rangers slowly approached the glowing platform. “After you.” Dale said to no one in particular. He obviously didn’t trust Winifred (I mean, who would!?).

“How polite of you of you.” Chip said as he tried to push Dale onto the platform. He stopped halfway however, to grip his chest, as it momentarily felt as if a spike were being driven through it.

“Hey!” Exclaimed Dale, just barely avoiding stumbling onto the platform.

“I’ll do it.” Gadget bravely offered, jumping onto the platform. As soon as her feet hit the platform, she disappeared in a flash of light.

“So will I.” Sparky said as he too, stepped onto the platform and disappeared.

“Welp, here goes noth’n.” Said Monty as he, Zipper on his shoulder, stepped onto he platform, vanishing instantly.

Chip, who had now gathered all his strength, stepped onto the platform, just barely managing to not flinch in pain

Foxglove looked at Dale nervously. “Dale…” She began. “…Can we both…”

“Sure Foxy.” Dale said reassuringly. Foxglove smiled as she and Dale, both hopped onto the platform and, with a brief flash of sapphire light, vanished.

Winifred sat, eyes closed, on the floor atop the Onyx tower. “So,” She thought to herself as the wind blew through her hair, “You’ve made it to level two…”

“Master.” Came Darien’s voice.

Winifred opened her eyes to see Darien, sitting in front of her. “Yes Darien?” She asked.

“I was watching the battle that just took place, and something struck me as odd.”

“Odd?” Asked Winifred

Darien explained. “When the insignia curse is placed on someone, they remain a mere puppet of your will until the day they die, correct?”

“Correct…” Winifred answered slowly.

“Tammy however, was released from the curse shortly after being defeated by that fly. Are squirrels able to be freed from the curse for some reason?” Darien starred at his master with questioning eyes.

“…No…” Answered Winifred. Winifred hadn’t really thought about this until Darien had mentioned it just then. Now that she thought about it, Sparky had been released from the curse as well. “That is odd...” Winifred said, trailing off. “With the power I wield, no mortal could possibly undo any of my spells.”

“What about an im-mortal?” Asked Darien.

“I know what you’re implying!” Snapped Winifred. “Don’t even suggest that! Vigo Carpathia's guide to universal history, says that that thing was killed by Chaos The Destroyer, a long time ago.”

“I read it too, but what if it wasn’t?” Darien asked slyly.

“Go back to your post!” thundered Winifred. She watched as Darien calmly walked away without saying a word. “The sheer notion is foolish.” Winifred thought nervously to herself. “If Zoniha were still alive, it would have come for me by now…” Winifred trailed off again. “Perhaps I should prefect my henkei spell, just in case.”

“Wow!” Dale exclaimed as he and Foxglove appeared next to Chip. “Just like on Star Trek.”

“Wait a minute,” Professor Nimnul said, looking about the room, “Did we even go anywhere?” Everyone looked around the room as well. Indeed, the room they had been sent to, appeared to be identical to the first, only dimmer.

“It does look Identical, doesn’t it?” Came a David Bowe-ish voice from above. Sparky, the Rangers, and Professor Nimnul’s head all simultaneously shot upwards towards the pitch-black ceiling. “However,” Continued the voice “There is one minute difference between the two, and that difference is…” With that, the lights came on, revealing Jamba, hanging from the ceiling. “…That this one has a perch on it’s ceiling.” With that, Jamba let go of the perch and glided to the floor. He looked at the enormous rodents that stood before him. “Well well,” He said, eerily calm as usual “someone’s had a growth spurt.”

“Wow,” Foxglove thought, looking down at the 14” Jamba that stood before them, “I can’t believe that this is the same bat that almost crushed me.” Before, when he had been bearing down on her with his wing, he had seemed extremely frightening. Now, looking down at him, he almost looked cute.

“The rules are simple,” Jamba said firmly “I’ll take on up to two of you at once, but no more. Whoever dies, loses.”

As Foxglove listened to Jamba’s words, she began to notice something very wrong about them. From what Jamba had said, it should have sounded menacing and evil, but instead, it sounded almost sad. Apparently, judging from his expression, Sparky had taken notice of this as well.

“Do we really need to fight?” Sparky asked, walking up to Jamba.

“What?” Asked Jamba.

“We came here to stop Winifred, and Winifred alone.” Explained Sparky. “I don’t think anyone here wants any unnecessary casualties.”

“Speak for yourself.” Mumbled Professor Nimnul.

“Isn’t that a contradiction?” Jamba asked, starring up at Sparky.

“What do you mean?” Sparky asked, puzzled as to what Jamba was getting at.

“By destroying human civilization, Master Winifred is helping save us all, why can’t you see that?” Asked Jamba.

“What Freddie’s doing, is evil.” Dale said, walking up along side Sparky.

“Evil!?” Jamba shouted as if it were the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. “…Let me tell you a little bit about evil… Back in Madagascar, I had a family.”

“A family?” asked Gadget, sounding interested.

“Yes” Continued Jamba, “My pregnant wife Chespi and I, lived in a tall tree near the center of the island. Every day, I would fly out into the foliage and bring back pomegranates for us to eat. Life was perfect… Until, THEY came.”

“They?” asked Monty.

“Humans,” Continued Jamba, “they spotted me while I was out getting our food. I tried to fly away from them, but was too slow, and was hit with a tranquilizer dart... I awoke some time later, in a large cage, surrounded by other many other large cages, containing bats of all sizes. I later realized, after overhearing humans that passed by my cage, that I was in a country called America, and that I was in a prison called a zoo.”

“Wait a minute.” Interrupted Chip, “I thought the animals in the zoo were bread in captivity.”

“Whoever told you that, lied.” Jamba said angrily. “For days on end, I was unable to sleep. I kept thinking of Chespi, for she would be waiting, and I would not return. As tiredness finally forced me to sleep, I began to have nightmares of Chespi, starving, in pain, being eaten by other animals. I tried to focus my mind on finding a way out of that place, but I was unable to focus on anything but my own nightmares, and couldn’t bear the thought that I might never see my wife ever again. I began to hear voices; I was going insane!” Jamba paused for a moment. “Until, one night, I was awoken from a nightmare by a loud continuous humming noise. I opened my eyes and turned, to see a woman, hovering by my cage on a vacuum.”

“Winifred!” Exclaimed Foxglove.

“At first,” Continued Jamba, “I just dismissed it as a hallucination… that is, until it sprayed me with water. The woman refused to tell me her name, but said that she would set me free if I retrieved a man’s false hair for her…”

“That’s awful.” Gadget said sympathetically. “They took you from your family.”

“Yes.” Jamba said, looking at Gadget. “So you see, by eliminating the plague that is humanity from the Earth, master Winifred will make the world safe for all of us.”

“You moron!” Professor Nimnul shouted, banging his fist on the control panel in front of him. “Don’t you get it?! Your “master” is just using you to help her gain power. She’s not in it to help others! She just a manipulating, self-serving witch!”

“It’s true.” Added Foxglove

“SHUT UP!!!!!” Jamba shouted. “Master Winifred warned me about your tricks!”

“We aint try’n ta trick ya mate.” Monty said, sound mildly offended. “We’re just try’n ta help you.”

“Spare me you lies.” Jamba said, his voice now returning to its eerily calm tone. “It doesn’t matter what you say, I’m still going to protect my species and family from humanity… even if it means my own death.” With that, Jamba put a leg backwards and made a fighting stance.

Professor Nimnul gave a brief, evil smile. “Give it up,” Professor Nimnul shouted in a mocking tone “you’re pathetic!”

“What?” Jamba asked, turning towards Professor Nimnul.

Foxglove suddenly shuddered.

“What is it Foxglove?” asked Gadget

“I-I’m not sure,” Foxglove stammered, her eyes fixated on Jamba “But I think it has to do with him.”

“You are pathetic!” continued Professor Nimnul “I mean look at you, you’re barely over a foot tall, and you making threats! Look out, the munchkins are coming! Ha ha!”

Sparky eyed Professor Nimnul suspiciously. “What is doing!? Back in the lab, he told us that Jamba and Darien were extremely dangerous, so why is he— AH!” Sparky suddenly realized exactly what Professor Nimnul was doing. “He’s provoking him!”

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