The Return of Winifred

By Jareth

Chapter Twenty-six: Sparky’s gambit

Sparky removed the pill from his pocket and looked at it unwillingly. “It’s the only way to win,” He said to himself “and as a lab rat, I’m expendable.”

“Really Sparky,” Dale said reassuringly, “you don’t have to take it. I might not be strong enough to hurt Jamba, but I’ll bet if I ran around him really really fast, it would make a tornado that…” Dale trailed off when he caught a glimpse of the distant look in Sparky’s eyes.

Sparky took a step forward, towards Jamba. “Egger to die, are we?” Asked Jamba.

Sparky forced himself to look into Jamba’s red, glowing, demonic eyes. “You speak as if you’ve already won.” Sparky said, still clutching the pill in his hands.

“What are you going to do?” Jamba laughed, “Run around me and try to make a tornado?”

“That’s a scientific impossibility.” Sparky said firmly, as if Jamba had really meant it. “But as to whether I’m going to speed up or not…” With that, Sparky popped the pill in his mouth and swallowed it. “…We’ll find out soon enough.”

“Dale!” came Foxglove’s voice.

Dale turned around to see Foxglove, pressed up against the barrier surrounding the fight. “Foxy!” Dale called as he ran (or practically teleported) over to Foxglove.

“You were amazing!” Foxglove complemented. “Jamba couldn’t touch you!”

“Yeah,” Dale said, putting a hand behind his head “But he couldn’t even feel it when I hit him…” Dale trailed off. “I just hope Sparky has better luck.” Dale turned his attention to Sparky “Well,” Dale asked “anything?”

“Nothing.” Answered Sparky. “At least, I don’t feel any thing yet. Maybe if I—AaH!” Sparky yelled, grabbing his chest.

“What is it Sparky?!” Called Gadget. “What’s wrong?!”

“Mm-my heart!” Sparky yelled, sweat dripping from his face as he dropped onto his knees in pain. “i-it’s coming apart!!!”

“Oh no!” yelled Dale. “That stuff must be poison to rats!”

“What wrong with him?!” Chip shouted to Professor Nimnul, who was watching casually, as if nothing were wrong.

“Just wait…” Professor Nimnul said, not taking his eyes off Sparky.

“Wait?!” Monty shouted. “He’s die’n!”

“Aaaargh!” Sparky yelled, as he dropped from his knees onto his side, still griping his chest in pain.

“Sparky!” Dale cried as he ran over to try and assist him. All of Sparky’s muscles were twitching. “What’s wrong?”

“My entire body!!!” Sparky shouted, “It…-it feels like it’s on fire!!!”

“What Should I d— Whoa!” Dale yelled, jumping back. Sparky’s entire left arm had suddenly become slightly more massive.

“Oh no!” Chip shouted. “now he’s swelling.”

“What the…” Sparky thought, looking at his left arm, “What’s going—AH!” Suddenly Sparky’s other arm became more massive. The Rangers watched as Sparky’s entire body, with the exception of his head, followed the same pattern.

“Wait!” Gadget said in sudden realization, “His muscles aren’t swelling, they’re developing!”

“What?!” Chip, Monty, and Zipper both asked in unison.

Sparky slowly stood up, panting. “Golly.” Gadget thought out loud, eyeing Sparky’s new physique. Sparky, once a scrawny lab rat, had now become… a buff lab rat, complete with fully developed biceps, triceps… everything. He hadn’t exactly become Shakabaka (see: Gadget goes Hawaiian), but if the Rangers hadn’t known any better, they would have thought him to be either a model, or a dedicated body builder.

“My god.” Sparky said, rubbing his new muscles. “I feel… INCREDIBLE!!!” Everyone jumped, at Sparky’s quick change in demeanor. “This is great!” Sparky continued. “I fell like… Like… Superman! With this kind of strength, I might not even have to execute my original plan!” Sparky thought to himself happily.

“Was that supposed to happen?” Chip asked, turning towards Professor Nimnul.

“Oh yes,” He answered casually. “But usually, the rats died of pain. Their muscle mass unessesarily expands as well. That’s why I switched to monkeys. So like us.”

“I’ve already won.” Sparky said, overconfidently. “There’s no point in even starting this fight.”

“Well well well,” Jamba said slyly “aren’t we cocky? You may have gotten bulkier, but you’re still no match for me.”

“How do you figure that?” Sparky asked, flexing a muscle and admiring it.

“Because,” Jamba said, grinning “Not only am I stronger and able to fly, I’m also already aware of your… shall we say, electric personality.”

“What?!” Shouted Dale. “How could you know about that? You weren’t even there!”

“Let’s just say, a little fox told me.” Jamba said mockingly. “Darien and I are on the same side, you do realize that?”

“Oh, yeah…” Dale said sheepishly.

“So you know?” Sparky asked, as if he had anticipated this.

“Not only do I know about it,” Responded Jamba, “but I’m protected against it.”

“What?!” Everybody shouted, with the exception of Sparky.

“Upon hearing of Darien’s… Shocking loss,” Jamba explained, making a clever play on words, “Master Winifred preformed a spell on the both of us, called, The Raigeki Spell. It made our skin completely shock-proof.”

“That could be a bit of a problem…” Commented Monty.

“Not necessarily.” Sparky said slyly, socking a fist into his right hand. “I could always just beat him up.”

“Ha ha haaa!” Jamba laughed, closing his eyes and throwing his head back in laughter. “Your overconfidence is quite amusing.” Jamba slowly settled back down. “I’ll prove it to you; here,” He continued, extending his arms outward, leaving himself completely open, “I’ll give you a free shot.”

“…Really?” Sparky asked, raising a suspicious eyebrow.

Jamba grinned “Really. If that is what it takes to prove how weak you really are.”

“Don’t do it Sparky!” Warned Gadget, “It’s a trick!”

“Then again…” Sparky thought uneasily “if he’s that confident… Yes. My original plan is the only fool proof option.” Sparky began to walk towards Jamba, completely ignoring Gadget’s warning. He stopped right in front of Jamba, and moved his fist back, ready to punch.

Suddenly, Jamba began to grin. “Fool.” With that, Jamba smashed his knee right into Sparky’s ribs, sending him flying backwards into the barrier.

“Sparky!” Everybody except Professor Nimnul shouted in horror as Sparky bounced off the barrier, rolled over once, and landed face down on the floor.

Jamba approached Sparky and positioned his foot over Sparky’s head. “Only a true fool would have fallen for that.” Jamba said disdainfully. “You’ve disgraced yourself enough for today. Die.” Jamba said heartlessly as he sent his clawed foot down upon Sparky’s head, creating an enormous explosion of dust once again.

“Sparky!!!” Gadget cried.

“Not ta worry luv.” Monty said reassuringly. “I’m sure ol’ Dale got ‘im”

Jamba watched as the dust cleared, revealing noting but the pothole that he had just created. “Why am I not surprised.” Jamba said wryly, looking up, only to see Dale, kneeling next to Sparky on the far side of the area. “Running away like a scarred little child.”

“Sparky, what were you thinking?!” Dale asked quizzically. “Even I wouldn’t have fallen for that!”

“*cough Dale.” Sparky wheezed, standing back up. “Whatever happens, don’t interfere.”

“What?!” protested Dale. “But if I hadn’t just—”

“Please,” Sparky pleaded. “I’ve got a plan.”

“I dunno…” Dale said, trailing off.

“Trust *cough me” Sparky coughed, winking.

“Well… okay…” Dale agreed, trailing off. “But I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

“Thank you.” With that, Sparky slowly limped back over to Jamba, stopping right in front of him. “I’m going to *cough Smash you like an atom!” Sparky wheezed, almost falling over as he did so.

“Ha ha ha ha haaaaa!” Jamba laughed, closing his eyes and throwing his head back in laughter once more. “What is wrong with you?!”

“I’m a masochist.” Sparky said sarcastically.

“Really?” Jamba asked, as he began to flap his wings, raising hiself off the ground. Jamba continued to flap until he had reached the ceiling. “In that case, you’ll love this.” With that, Jamba went into a dive, smashing his head directly into Sparky’s chest, knocking him into the barrier once again.

“Arrgh.” Sparky yelled in agony as his face met the floor.

“Sparky, stop!” Chip shouted from outside the barrier. “You can’t win this!”

“Had enough?” Jamba asked as he landed gracefully in front of Sparky.

Sparky looked up and grinned forcefully. “Heh, you wish.” Sparky said so weakly, it was almost inaudible.

Jamba frowned. “Maybe this will help you reconsider.” Jamba bent down, grabbed Sparky by the neck, and lifted him off the floor, eye level with himself. “What is wrong with you?!” He asked, beginning to sound a bit annoyed. “Don’t you get it? You can’t win!”

“On the contrary.” Sparky wheezed. “I’ve already won.”

“Ha ha haaaa! You do keep me entertained Sparky!” Jamba laughed. “And what pray tell, do you intend to do?”

“Well,” Sparky began weakly. “First I’m going to grow wings, and fly up to the ceiling.”

“Really?” Jamba asked sarcastically.

“Yes.” Sparky answered seriously. “Then I’m going to sprinkle you with pixy dust, putting you to sleep.”

“I think you’ve had a bit too much pixy dust!” Jamba laughed, struggling to keep hold of Sparky in his laughter.

“He’s lost it.” Professor Nimnul mumbled to himself as Jamba continued to laugh. “He’s completely lost it.”

“Poor Sparky.” Dale said in despair. “He’s become a fruit —err, vegetable.”

“Then,” Sparky continued “after I put you to sleep, I going to land over there.” Sparky pointed to his right.

“Why?” Jamba asked, stifling his laughter.

“So I can do the Macarena.” Sparky replied as if it were the most obvious thin in the world.

That had done it. With that, Jamba closed his eyes and threw his head back in the loudest laughter anyone had ever heard. “AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAA!!!!!” Jamba laughed uncontrollably. “TH-THE MACAR- AHHA HA HA HA— akk!” Jamba’s laughter came to an abrupt halt as he felt something muscular and furry shoot into his mouth. Jamba opened his eyes and turned his focas downward, only to see Sparky’s right arm lodged in his mouth.

“Your skin is shock resistant on the outside.” Sparky began, as Jamba’s eyes widened, in realization of what Sparky was planning to do. “Is it shock resistant on the inside?” Before Jamba even had a chance to react, Sparky reached back into Jamba’s throat and grabbed his uvula (dangly thing in the back of your throat).

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Jamba screamed as his entire body erupted in a blast of white lightning.

“Ah! The rangers all yelled in unison, shielding their eyes from the blinding light.

“Of course!” Thought Professor Nimnul. “When Sparky’s body size increased, his voltage increased along with it!”

Feeling around for them momentarily, Gadget reached up over her head and lowered her goggles. As soon as her welding goggles had been lowered, she opened her eyes and looked into the light. Jamba appeared to be trying to let go of Sparky, but with electricity pulsing through his body, he found himself completely paralyzed, practically frozen in place.

Suddenly, Sparky’s foot came forward, smashing into Jamba’s chest. The sparks imidatly ceased, as Jamba lost hold of Sparky’s neck, and was sent hurling backwards into the barrier that he had created. Jamba hit the barrier with a painful “*oof”, sliding down the invisible wall onto his feet. He looked at Sparky angrily, who had now collapsed onto the glowing floor. “…Y-you…” Jamba said weakly, collapsing onto his knees. He looked down at the floor, a sad expression forming on his face. “…C-Chespi… my love… I’m… sorry… I’ve… Ffff-failed… Y-you…” With tears in his eyes, Jamba collapsed onto the floor, defeated. A soft crackling noise ensued, as he slowly reverted back to his original flying fox form.

There was a deafening silence. After hearing Jamba’s heartbreaking final words, no one was really sure exactly how to feel about the outcome of the battle. Gadget raised her goggles back to their usual place, as she and the other Rangers looked from Sparky to Jamba, trying to comprehend what had just taken place.

“YES!” Professor Nimnul shouted, snapping the Rangers out of their trance.

Immediately, everyone (including Professor Nimnul) ran over to Sparky. Dale and Foxglove were the first to arrive. “Sparky!” Dale called, shaking Sparky. “Are you alright?! Speak to me! Speak to— Hey, I didn’t get shocked… Oh no!”

“Please wake up!” Begged Foxglove, shaking Sparky’s shoulders.

“Sparky!” Gadget cried as she, Chip, Monty, Zipper, and Professor Nimnul made their way over to their fallen comrade. “Oh no, no…” Gadget moaned.

“Wow,” Professor Nimnul said, impressed. “He actually took himself out to defeat his opponent…”

“He gave his own life to save us.” Chip said as he removed his hat in respect.

“Poor Sparky.” Zipper buzzed sadly.

Suddenly, Sparky’s eyes jerked open, causing everyone to jump back in surprise. Sparky sat up and looked at everyone surrounding him. “What’s wrong,” he asked, “You all look as if you’ve just seen a ghost.”

“Sparky!” Gadget cried happily. “You’re all right!”

Chip, Monty, Dale, and to a certain extent, Zipper, wasted no time in helping Sparky back onto his feet. “That was quite a fight!” Complemented Monty. “Never seen anything like it me life!”

“But how are you still conscious?” Inquired Professor Nimnul.

“Yeah,” added Dale “you looked like you were about to die!”

“Oh that?” Sparky asked innocently. “I faked it.”

“You what?!” Everyone shouted in unison, sounding almost angry and happy at the same time (except for Professor Nimnul, who just sounded surprised).

“I faked it.” Repeated Sparky, brushing some of the phosphorescent dust off of his lab coat. “I had noticed that when Jamba laughed, he closed his eyes and opened his mouth, allowing for me to shock him from within, without being caught. Jamba may hit fast, but his attacks didn’t really hurt all that much, which was good, because that way, I could just fake being hurt, instead of…” Sparky trailed off.

“You were going to sacrifice yourself, weren’t you?” Asked Gadget

Sparky paused before answering. “Lab rats are expendable.” He said, his voice now filled with shame.

“But you’re not.” Corrected Gadget, putting a hand on his arm. “You can’t think so lowly of yourself; everyone matters, lab rat or no lab rat.”

Sparky was just about to reply, when Chip stepped in. “I just realized,” he said, pointing the spot where Gadget’s hand met Sparky’s arm. “Sparky’s not shocking you.”

“Hey, you’re right!” Gadget said, taking her hand off Sparky’s arm, “I didn’t get electrocuted.”

“Maybe he used it all up.” Suggested Foxglove

“It’s possible.” Replied Sparky.

“I guess you’ll have to change your name to Arky” Dale added, causing Foxglove (and only Foxglove) to giggle.

“Hey look!” Came Professor Nimnul’s voice.

Sparky and the Rangers whirled around, to see Professor Nimnul’s mech, it’s foot poised over Jamba’s small unconscious body.

“Flat bat!”

“Don’t hurt him!” Cried Foxglove

Completely ignoring Foxglove’s pleas, Professor Nimnul brought the foot down onto Jamba with a loud BOOM!

“Nooo!” Foxglove cried in horror. “You didn’t have to kill him!”

“Don’t worry Foxy,” Came Dale’s voice “he didn’t.”

Foxglove spun around to see Dale standing behind her, holding Jamba in his arms as if he were a sleeping baby. “You saved him!” She cried happily, hugging Dale and causing him to blush.

“You’ve gotta be kidding!!!” Professor Nimnul thundered, banging his fists on the control panel in front of him. “The squirrel I can understand, you know her. But that thing?!” He pointed an accusing finger at Jamba.

“Nobody deserves to die.” Foxglove said firmly.

“Besides,” Added Gadget “he was only trying to protect his family- or thought he was anyway.”

“And what if he wakes up and tries to “protect his family” again?” Professor Nimnul asked, crossing his arms.

“He won’t wake up anytime soon.” Sparky said, approaching Dale. “He’s been electrocuted. He’ll be out for a good day or two.” Sparky looked upon Jamba’s sleeping body. “It’s hard to believe that this is the same bat.” he thought, touching a wing.

“You rodents, I swear.” Professor Nimnul said disdainfully, shaking his head in disapproval.

In the center of the room, a glowing sapphire platform rose from the floor; the gateway to the next level… and to their next opponent.

Monty walked over to the wall where he had so hastily laid Tammy, and with an “upsidaisy”. Slung her over his shoulder and carried her back over to the group.

“Well?” asked Professor Nimnul. “Shall we?” With that, Professor Nimnul hopped his mech onto the platform and disappeared.

“Is it just me, or is he acting suspiciously enthusiastic?” Commented Sparky.

“He is.” Responded Chip. “He must really be anxious to take on his sister.”

“I guess so.” Mumbled Dale.

The Rangers quickly lined up to step onto the platform. Monty, Tammy over one shoulder, Zipper standing on the other, stepped onto the platform, vanishing instantaneously.

Sparky followed; Gadget and Chip following him.

Now only Foxglove and Dale remained. Foxglove looked down at Jamba in Dale’s arms. “He looks so helpless.” She thought.

“Do you want to get on at the same time again?” asked Dale pointing to the platform.

“Yes,” Began Foxglove “but first I need you to promise me something.”

“Sure.” Responded Dale “what?”

“Promise me that you’ll stay away from Winifred.”

“But…” Began Dale

“Promise me.” Foxglove said emotionally.

“Okay.” Agreed Dale.

With that, Jamba in his arms, Dale and Foxglove stepped onto the sapphire platform and, with a flash of blue light, vanished.

Winifred sat, eyes closed, observing the events that had just occurred. “All is going as I have foreseen it.” She thought “Jamba has been defeated by the rat… but for some reason, I can’t seem to see the outcome the next battle… how odd.”

“Master.” Came Darien’s voice.

“Yes Darien?” Winifred replied, opening her eyes.

“What was the outcome?”

“Jamba was beaten by that electrostatic rat.” responded Winifred.

“I’m not surprised.” Darien said, smirking. “Jamba may’ve had strength, I’ll give him that; but being a herbivore, he lacked the killer instinct necessary to fight.”

“Do you think you can win?” asked Winifred. “Those pills my brother invented are pretty potent.”

“Please.” Darien laughed. “I’ve been hunting mice for years. There’s not one move a mouse can make that I cannot predict, and being the subspecies that I am…” Darien trailed off. “I’ll win.”

“Let’s hope so.” Winifred said slyly. “Now go, they’ll be waiting.”

“Yes master.” Winifred watched as Darien slowly walked out of sight.

Winifred closed her eyes once more, watching, as the Rangers appeared one by one. “It’s true,” she thought “Darien is an expert hunter and strategist, but that fat mouse sounds like he’s seen quite a few fights in his time, and he is older; possibly more experienced…” An evil smile began to form across Winifred’s face. “This should prove to be very entertaining.”

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