The Return of Winifred

By Jareth

Chapter thirty-eight: Escape

Sparky, Tammy, and the Rangers could not believe it. There in front of them, was Foxglove; laying flat on her belly, clutching a small foxglove in her right hand. A single beam of sunlight piercing the clouds, shone on her pink, fallen body

“FOXY!” Dale yelled, running over Foxglove, his friends close behind.

“Dale, Wait” Chip warned as Dale charge on ahead. “I might be a trap!”

But Dale wasn’t listening, “No, Foxy no!” he begged as he bent down and felt her neck for a pulse, tears in his eyes. “Please, please don’t be dead!”

His friends watched in silence, hoping for the best.

“…She’s alive!” Dale proclaimed, raising his arms in triumph. Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. “She’s just knocked out.”

“She looks hurt.” Tammy said with concern, bending down next to Dale. “So this is Foxglove.” She thought to herself. It was the first time she had seen her.

“Come on Foxy,” Dale begged, shaking her by the shoulders “Speak to me!”

“…G…God?” Foxglove mumbled.

“No, Dale.” He corrected, “She’s delirious”

Chip approached Foxglove, bending down to inspect the damage. “She doesn't look too bad, aside from a few bruises.” He said, standing back up, looking back to the others.

Gadget looked around the platform. The floor had been shattered in several places, a small pothole and a large crater among them. “What happened here?” She thought to herself.

“Foxy,” Dale continued, “What happened to Freddy?”

“Dale,” Gadget said gently. “She’s unconscious. She won’t be able to—”

“Sh…She’s… gone…” Foxglove mumbled again

“Gone?” Dale asked. “Gone where?”

“Hey!” Zipper buzzed from the far end of the platform.

Everyone turned to see what he was pointing out. Far at the other side of the platform, The Human Hunter 8000 lie in ruins.

“That’s right; Nimnul! He must be under there!” Chip exclaimed, running over to the wreck; Gadget, Sparky, and Monty close behind.

“Whoa.” Monty said, looking at the wreck. “I haven’t seen a wreak this bad since—”

“Monty,” Chip began, cutting Monty off “Do you think you can lift this?”

“No problem!” Monty said, bending down and preparing to lift the monstrous wreak. He grunted under the machine’s weight, slowly lifting it up and over his head. He then, with a loud “UGH!”, proceed to throw the mass of metal off the side of the tower.

Nimnul lay on the ground, unconscious, his red glasses cracked, his black gloves torn, but strangely enough, not even a scratch on him.

“Good, he’s alive.” Gadget said, feeling his neck for a pulse.

Chip, Monty, and even Sparky, breathed a sigh of relief. “I can’t believe it; zero casualties.” He commented happily. Though he hated Nimnul, If he hadn’t given them his Purple Power Pills, they never would have made it. As much as he hated to admit it, they owed him their lives.

Chip stood up, putting his hands on his hips, thoroughly surveying the area. “I wonder where she went?”

“Winifred?” Asked Sparky

“Yes,” Continued Chip “Don’t you think it’s strange that Winifred just disappeared? She must still be here.”

Small breaks began to appear in the dark clouds overhead.

“But look!” Dale exclaimed, pointing towards the slowly parting clouds. “The dark clouds are parting!”

“…So?” Chip asked, waiting for an answer.

“So,” Dale explained, “In movies, when the bad guy dies, the sky clears up. If the sky is clearing, Winifred must be dead!”

“This isn’t a movie Dale.” Chip said gruffly “…but then again…” Chip said trailing off, looking at the clouds. The breaks in the clouds had light streaming trough them, like a ray of hope from heaven. He wasn’t sure why, but something inside, told him Dale was right.

Apparently, judging from his teammate’s expressions, they all felt the same way.

“But,” Gadget began “If Winifred really is gone… How did it happen?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care.” Dale said, lifting Foxglove into his arms, her foxglove falling from her hand. “Let’s just get outta here.”

“I agree.” Added Sparky. “We should rationalize what happened to Winifred later. Right now, we should just get going.”

“There’s just one problem mates.” Monty said, peering over the edge of the platform, his hands n his hips. “HOW do we get outta here?”

“Easy,” answered Dale “We just go back down the stairs, and…” It was then that it occurred to him that they had traveled from room to room via Winifred’s magic. Even if Winifred was still alive, they were going to have a serious problem leaving.

“Wait,” Gadget said, having a sudden idea. “If I use the pieces from Nimnul’s machine, I can… Monty, why are you looking at me like that?”

“Eh, sorry Gadget-luv.” Monty said awkwardly, nervously tapping his index fingers together. “After I lifted the wreak up, I kinda… threw it off… the towah.”

“…Well that’s not good.” Gadget said, a look of surprise overtaking her face. “We may have won, but now we can’t leave.

“You mean were stuck up here?!” Tammy exclaimed, her eyes widening

“No,” Chip answered quickly, “There’s got to be someway off—” Chip stopped in mid-sentence, turning towards the stairwell, an expression of sheer terror forming on his face.

“Golly, what is it Chip?” Asked Gadget. She didn’t even have to wait for him to answer, as she soon heard it for herself. Though it was faint, a low groaning was coming from the stairwell.

The Rangers all stared, as a black paw emerged from the stairwell.

“There’s no way…” Monty said, under his breath. “It isn’t possible”

The rangers watched as Darien slowly dragged himself from the stairwell, and began to move towards them. Even worse though, was that, holing onto his tail, was none other than Jamba. Now past the stairs, Jamba let go, and the two slowly began to make their way towards them.

“My god…” Sparky thought to himself. “They just keep coming!”

Monty rolled up his torn sleeves, and stepped in front of his friends. “You blokes just neva learn, do you.” He began to walk towards the two, only to feel a sharp tug on his sleeve. It was Gadget

“Monty, don’t.” Gadget said, pulling him back.

“Don’t you worry ‘bout me.” Mont said, pulling the edge of his shirt from her hands, “I can take ‘em.”

“That’s not what I mean.” Gadget said, pointing to Jamba and Darien. “Look at their eyes.”

“Whatdaya mean?” Monty asked, peering into their eyes. It was strange; before, both Jamba and Darien had had an unusually aggressive look in their eyes. Now however, they seemed different; almost docile. “Crikey.” Monty said under his breath.

Darien and Jamba stopped about two meters from the rangers. Darien looked from Sparky, to Nimnul, to Tammy, and to the Rangers; a look of uncertainty forming on his face. “…What happened to… Did you actually manage to…” He wasn’t sure where to begin.

“Freddy’s gone.” Dale said firmly. “We beat her.”

“But we didn’t—” Tammy began, but noticed Chip signaling her to be quiet, and immediately silenced herself.

“My god, you have no idea what you’ve done.” Jamba said with unblinking eyes.

“I don’t know how you managed to defeat her,” added Darien “but she would have eliminated the human infestation for us all. Now, thanks to you, we will all eventually go extinct.”

“*Oh, for the love of…* Look over the side of the tower!” Sparky yelled, starteling his friends.

Hesitantly, Darien made his way to the edge, peered over, and gasped.

“Notice anything missing?” Asked Sparky.

“…The forests that were bordering the city are gone.” He said blankly, slowly moving away from the edge in horror. Jamba’s expression became equally as horrified.

Darien looked from the edge, to the Rangers, a horrified expression residing on his face. “You… You really were telling us the truth. She really was going to destroy everything” He shut his eyes tightly, turning his head off to the side; a tear forming in one of his eyes.

“…And we were helping her do it.” Jamba added, a tear in his tightly shut eyes as well.

Suddenly, Gadget began to walk toward them.
“It’s not you fault.” Gadget said, bending down next to the solemn bat and fox. “You had no way of knowing.” Gently, she began to pet them.

“Aw, now aren’t that sweet?” Monty said, as Gadget pet the two. “Gadget’s got a heart of gold she does.”

“…By the way,” Gadget added, standing back up. “Do you guys happen to know the way out of here?”

Jamba looked up at her. “No.” He said, brushing the single tear from his eye. “Winifred designed the tower to be completely inescapable.

“She went out of her way to do it too.” Darien added. “She had to change the laws of physics around it just to keep from crumbling.”

“…Wait.” Gadget said having a sudden revelation. “If Winifred’s magic was holing this tower up, and now the magic is gone, then why hasn’t the tower collapsed?
No sooner had Gadget said this, than suddenly, a small tremor began, becoming progressively stronger.

“Why did you have to say that?” Monty moaned as the tower began to shake violently.

“It’s going to collapse!” Chip exclaimed. “We’ve got to get out of here!”

“But how?!” Dale yelled over the rumbling. “Jamba and Darien both said that there’s no way out!”

Suddenly, Gadget’s face lit up. “I’ve got it!” She proclaimed.

“You know how to get us out of here?” Tammy asked eagerly.

“Yes,” answered Gadget, but in order for this to work, I need everyone’s cooperation! Especially yours! She added, pointing to Darien.”

“You have it.” He said sharply. “What do you want me to do?”

“First,” Gadget began turning her attention to Tammy. “Tammy squirrels are natural acrobats, right?”

“…Yes.” Tammy answered, unsure where Gadget was going with this.

“Could you instruct someone where and how to jump, while they were jumping?”

“I suppose—” Tammy began, but Gadget turned her attention elsewhere.

“Good, now, first, I need Nimnul’s gigantico ray. I think it was in the glove compartment on Nimnul’s…” She stopped, trailing off. “Oh no.”

“Why did I throw that bloomin contraption off the edge?!” Monty yelled.

“Relax guys,” Came dale’s reassuring voice. “I’ve got it right here.” Everyone turned, to see Dale, holding the gigantico gun triumphantly over his head.

“Huh?” Gadget exclaimed. “But when did you…”

I grabbed it from ‘ol Normie when he wasn’t looking. I never trusted that guy.”

“But—” Gadget began to interject, but stopped. “That’s right, Super speed!”

“He didn’t even see me do it.” Dale said proudly.

Gadget would have congratulated him, but their time was severely limited. “Quick, give it to me!” She instructed. Obediently, Dale tossed the gigantico gun to her.

“Mind tell’n us what you have in mind luv?” Monty asked, a nervous expression on his face.

“Oh, of course.” Gadget said, as if she had forgotten to. She turned to face her friends. “Based on the structural integrity of onyx, the tower will probably break apart into large fragments, rather than just topple over. Now,” She turned her attention to Tammy “squirrels are natural acrobats,” She then turned her attention to Darien “and you seemed to be really agile.”

“Not to interrupt Gadget-luv, but could you just get to the point?” Monty said nervously, as the rumbling began to increase.

“If we shrink ourselves back to normal size and climb on Darien’s back, he can leap from fragment to fragment as the towers break apart! Tammy is a squirrel, so she’ll know where to jump; she can instruct Darien on where to jump! Also, because there are two towers, the fragments will bump into each other and fall much slower, giving us a good chance of survival!”

“I’m agile, I’ll give you that,” Interrupted Darien, “but there’s no way I could leap from rock to rock like that, even with instruction.”

“Don’t worry,” Gadget said, approaching Jamba. “I’ve got that figured out.” Quickly, she bent down and offered Jamba the gigantico gun. “You have opposable thumbs; can you fire this at us?”

“Of course.” Jamba responded, taking the gun.

“But what about Nimnul?” Asked Dale. “We can’t just leave him here!”

“Were going to shrink him too!” Gadget added, running over and grabbing Nimnul by the lab coat.

“It’s going to take a miracle for this to work.” Chip thought nervously to himself. It wasn’t that he had lost faith in Gadget, but as smart as Gadget was, this was not exactly a typical situation. It had many more random factors in it. How would the tower break? How would the rocks fall? How quickly? There was no way to predict these factors, and the odds were definitely stacked against them.

“Now!” Gadget shouted.

Obediently, Jamba pulled the trigger to the gun. A bright light flashed before everyones eyes, and instantly, they had been reduced to their previous sizes (excapt Professor Nimnul, who was now only two inches tall.

Darien bent down, as everybody “boarded” him. Jamba was the fist to get on, tightly clutching the gigantico gun with his feet, he layed himself along Darien’s back, wraping his wings around him; Darien shuddered. Tammy then hoped on, moving between Darien’s ears, and griping them for support.

“You will NOT touch the ears, squirrel.” Darien spat, startling Tammy.

Monty and Dale were the last to board; Dale carrying Foxglove in his arms, and Monty carrying Professor Nimnul.

Chip took a quick head count. “Everyone’s here.” He said, notifying Gadget.

“I can’t just leap around like that, especially with this kind of weight!” Darien repeated. On the opposite tower, large, jagged cracks began to appear. “…Not to mention my being weakened from earlier injuries.” He added grudgingly.

“Quick, swallow this!” Gadget ordered, reaching into her pocket, and producing a Purple Power Pill.

“That’s right!” Chip suddenly remembered. “Gadget never took hers!”

“What is—” Darien began, but was interrupted as the opposite of the platform broke off, falling out of sight.

With no time to explain, Gadget proceeded to execute one the boldest things she had ever done. She ran forward, onto Darien’s head, and using his whiskers like a swinging rope, swung in front of his mouth and back onto his head, shoving the pill in-between his lips as she did so. Experiencing an adrenaline rush, she had inserted it with such force; Darien had no choice but to swallow it.

“*ack!” Darien gagged as he swallowed the pill. What did you—” He stopped, mid-sentence, as an incredible sensation overtook him. It felt as if his body were made of energy, becoming extremely light. “Power restored.” He said with a smirk.

“Alright, Tammy, Darien, it’s all up to you now!” Gadget called.

“Don’t worry Gadget!” Tammy said, determination filling her voice. You can count on me!” She looked at opposite tower, waiting for it to collapse. Though it was only five seconds, to everyone, it seemed like an eternity. Suddenly, the platform they were standing on, shattered, catching them all by surprise.

“AAH!” Everyone yelled, as they began to free-fall.

“I need a direction!” Came Darien’s frantic voice.

“Jump forwards!!” Yelled Tammy.

Without hesitation, Darien proceeded to jump forwards. As he did so, a slab of the platform that was flying by, crashed into another fragment, stopping it and allowing for a safe (so to speak) landing.

Suddenly, the second tower exploded into fragments, quickly followed by the first. The situation had now become a thousand times more treacherous.

“Jump off the slab in front of us, and then jump off the one that falls behind it.”

As soon as Tammy said this, a large, flat slab arose in front of them. Quickly Darien jumped from the fragment they were on, to the adjacent one. No soon had he done this, when the fragment he had previously been standing on was crushed between three others. Darien did as Tammy had instructed, and landed on them.

Zipper made a “Yikes!” Noise, grabbing onto Monty for dear life.

“Don’t worry pally, we’ll make it.” He said, not really believing it himself.

“If we live through this, I’ll never avoid you again!” Dale mentally promised, holding Foxglove tighter.

“Jump onto that spinning piece!” Tammy shouted, pointing to a large fragment ahead.

Darien did as he was told, and landed as the fragment was hit by another, stopping it’s rotation.

“Go—” Before Tammy could issue an order, their fragment gave a large lurched, almost throwing them off. It had landed on a long, smooth fragment, which led to the ground, like some kind of onyx slide. Immediately, their fragment began to slide along it, towards the ground “Never mind!” Tammy shouted over the friction. “It we stay on this slab, it’ll coast us to the ground!”

However, as the slab slid, it began to move closer and closer to the left. “Oh no!” Gadget cried. “At this rate, it’ll fall off before it reaches the ground!”

“Oh no it won’t!” Jamba yelled, holding his right wing up in the air. Acting as a rudder, the slab began to move back towards the center of the slide.

There was nothing else that could be done. It was all up to luck now. Tammy, Sparky, Jamba, Darien, and the Rangers screamed in unison, as their slab hurtled towards the ground.

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