The Return of Winifred

By Jareth

Conclusion: One heart, two futures

“What do you mean, there is none?” Foxglove asked, her eyes bursting open. However, she was no longer in the endless field; she was laying flat on her back, on the couch in Rescue Ranger Headquarters. “Huh?” She asked, sitting up. “What happened to…” She examined her body, which had reverted to it’s tiny, pink self. She looked about the room. Everything seemed to be in order. Out the window, the sun shone, and birds could be heard chirping. Had it all been a dream?

The other Rangers seemed to be out at the moment. In front of her, the TV had been left on; the news was currently showing. Still trying to figure out what was real, Foxglove decided to watch, listening for anything unusual.

Stan blathers was on. He sounded like he was wrapping up a story.

“—that everyone is not only helping rebuild the world, but unanimously, at no charge. In other news, the fist arrest in days, was made, when the owner of the city zoo, turned himself in, claiming that he had poached his animals from around the globe, rather than breeding them in captivity. After apologizing profusely and begging for forgiveness, he proceeded to willingly donate all of his fortune, toward retuning the poached animals to their natural habitats. He has been sentenced to a maximum of ten years of jail time, but is currently negotiating for a life sentence.

As of three o’clock pm today, Tobacco industries world wide, will be issuing a recall of their product… tobacco. Though speculation has left many addicts of this product, feeling very unnerved. We have now received word from the president of Big Tobacco himself that; quote:
“We will not only release an Anti-nicotine drug, which we have regrettably had for years, but we will also be setting up cancer treatment centers all over the globe. All treatment facilities and drugs, will be free, and will be paid for using the money we have accumulated over the years.”
A bizarre change of attitude yes, but not nearly as bizarre as many of the other changes that have happened in the last few weeks. After these commercials; not only has the NRA almost completely disbanded, but hunting itself is now being unanimously voted illegal by both congress and the president. Also up next; Israel and Palestine, along with the entire Middle East, have ceased all fighting, and plan to form a single country, which will be called: the united Arab nations. And finally, do you believe in aliens? Well around the world, crop circles have been appearing, bearing the message, ‘We’re sorry’. All this and more, when we return after these messages.

The news studio faded, and commercials began rolling. Foxglove starred at the TV for a moment. She had watched the news before on night, when she was unable to sleep, and it had contained so much bad news, she had become depressed for days. “That was a lot of good news.” She thought to herself. Foxglove was about to get up, and look for her friends outside, when a commercial came on that caught her attention.

The faded to a picture of a kind looking old woman, sitting in a wheelchair; soft, sad piano music playing in the background. However, it was not the picture, nor the music that caught Foxglove’s attention, but the voice of the narrator.

“Paralysis…” Came Professor Nimnul’s voice. “Millions of people, world wide suffer from it.”

The picture faded to a sad child in wheel chair, watching some children play happily. “Confined to wheel chairs, people who suffer from this have been doomed to spend their lives, sitting down and watching… until now.

The music began to pick up, becoming happier, like a light piercing the clouds. The background faded to white; Professor Nimnul standing in the middle of the screen, dressed once again in his white lab coat, and coke bottle glasses. “Hello friends.” He began gently. “My name in Professor Norton Matityahu Nimnul, and I can help.” Professor Nimnul reached into his pocket and produced from it, a Purple Power Pill. “this,” He began, smiling “is Godhelpusol. A single dose, and you will be on your feet within seconds.”

The scene switched back to the old woman. However, instead of sitting in a wheel chair, she was standing, hugging her grand children. The music soared, in triumph. “Godhelpusol is not for everyone, and side effects include dry mouth, fatigue, and diarrhea. Talk to your doctor about Godhelpusol.”

Finally, the screen changed to show the pill up close; the piano music wraping up gracefully. “Godhelpusol. Never has one word, brought so much happiness.”

That was it, the next commercial was an ad featuring a talking toucan and some cereal.
Foxglove couldn’t believe her ears. Unless she was mistaken, Professor Nimnul had not only discovered the cure for muscular paralysis, but was actually selling it. To the public! “I thought they said he was evil.” She thought to herself. “Maybe the fight with Winifred really changed him… If it really happened.” Getting up off of the couched, she turned and headed for the door. She had barely gotten close to it, when the door burst open.

Zipper flew in, followed by Monty. “Bonza day!” Monty bellowed, stepping inside.

“You said it Monterey.” Came Dale’s voice, as he followed. “The only thing that could make this day any better is if Foxy…” He trailed off, when he saw Foxglove standing up, in front of him. “FOXY!” He yelled with joy, rushing over t her and throwing his arms around her. “Foxy.” He repeated once again.

For once, it was Foxglove’s turn to be freaked out, but she hugged him back just the same, enjoying his rare moment of expressed affection. “What’s wrong Dale? She asked him, still hugging. “Your acting like I’m back from the dead.”

“Foxy.” Dale said, releasing her. “Don’t you know?”

“Know what?” Asked Foxglove.

“Foxglove, you’ve been in a coma for three weeks.” Said Gadget.

“We’ve all been worried sick about you.” Added Chip.

“COMA?!” Foxglove yelled, frightened. “When did I—”

“We found you like that on top of Freddie’s tower!” Dale interrupted “…Don’t you remember?”

“Winifred!” Foxglove exclaimed. “You mean… That was real?!”

“Was it real?!” Monty bellowed, rolling up one of his sleeves, revealing several long gashes. “Do these scars lie?”

“Ah!” Foxglove yelled in surprise, stumbling backwards over the back of the couch. She quickly stood back up and made her way back around it.

“It’s not that gruesome, is it?” Monty asked, half jokingly.

“No,” Foxglove began. “It just startled… Wait.” She said, suddenly realizing something. “If the battle with Winifred was real, than—” Foxglove didn’t finish her sentence. She rushed to the door, and flung it open.
Half the city lay in ruins, a great pile of onyx in its heart. The land close by, had been blown away, the ocean now filling it’s place. Her mouth hung open in horror. It was true; hundreds of thousands of people had actually died. “No.” She said aloud.

The Rangers quickly made their way outside, gathering around Foxglove to comfort her.

“They really died.” She said quietly. “All of those people really died.”

“Foxy.” Dale began, putting his hand on her shoulder. “They did die. But ya gotta remember, everyone else lived.”

Foxglove looked up at Dale, surprised by his motivational logic.

“ You can’t change what has happened; no one can. But you can help change what will happen. There’s no sense in needless mourning; those who have died, are dead. But those who are alive, live; and we must keep on living, in memory of those who perished.”

“…Dale.” Foxglove said, aw struck. “That was beautiful.”

“Thanks Foxy.” Dale said casually. “I’m glad it made you feel better.”

Monty, Chip, Gadget, And Zipper snickered under their breath. They didn’t have the heart to tell Foxglove that Dale had stolen his “speech” from the president’s, which had been given nearly a week before.

“So,” Foxglove began, now feeling a great deal better. “How did you guys escape? It looks like the towers collapsed.”

“Well,” Answered Gadget “We used Nimnul’s gigantico ray to make ourselves smaller, and rode on Darien’s back as the tower collapsed around us, jumping from fragment to fragment. We ended up just barely escaping.”

“Barely?” Foxglove asked.

“Well,” Explained Gadget. “After jumping around on the onyx fragments for a little while, we ended up sliding down a long stretch of it, heading towards the ground at dangerous speeds. We were about to crash, but at the last second, Jamba lifted his wings, and we ended up gliding to safety some fifty feet away. Then, we just ran for it.” From Gadget’s tone of voice, it sounded almost as if she had enjoyed that.

“What happened to Nimnul… and Sparky, and that squirrel?” Foxglove asked, looking around for them.

“Well,” Responded Chip. “We left Nimnul back at his backup laboratory, after retuning him to normal size. Then we left Sparky off with Tammy at her house. After Sparky explained what had happened and stayed there a few days, he stayed with us for about two weeks, before finally going on his original trip to Japan.”

“Ol’ Sparky got a lot more than he bargained for when he stopped here to say hello.” Monty joked.

“Still, we couldn’t have won without him.” Gadget added. “I just hope loosing his electrical charge doesn’t upset his life in someway.”

“Trust me.” Chip reassured. “I think it’ll make his life A LOT easier.”

“Was professor Nimnul alright?” Asked Foxglove.

“Well…” Chip began.

“He seems a lot nicer.” Interrupted Gadget. “He actually re-built the Ranger wing AND the ranger plane for me.” Gadget said, motioning to the runway, where both crafts now sat, as if nothing had happened. “The only problem, is *someone*,” She motioned towards Chip “won’t let us use them.”

“Gadget,” Chip protested. “PROFESSOR NIMNUL fixed them. We’d have to be nuts to fly them without inspecting them first.”

“Well I’m almost done with the inspections on both of them, and so far, nothing seems of place.” Gadget responded.

“Hey, did you see Nimnul’s commercial yet?” Asked Dale.

“You block head!” Chip fumed, slapping his hand over his own face. “Of course we did. That’s why we were staked out at the drug plant today!”

“That was a drug plant?” responded Dale. “I thought it was a candy factory. No wonder I felt sick afterwards!”

Chip was about to bonk Dale for his stupidity, but was interrupted by Foxglove, who had suddenly realized something.

“What happened to Jamba and Darien?”

“Um…” Dale began, not quite sure how do put it. “I’m not really sure how to put this but um… Look up.”

Slowly Foxglove turned her head upwards, only to see the enormous flying fox, hanging from the branch above, apparently asleep. “Ah!” Foxglove yelled, falling onto her back in surprise.

“It’s alright.” Dale reassured her “He helped us escape, remember?”

“Why is he still here?” Foxglove asked as Dale helped her back up. “Didn’t he have a family to go to?”

“The fight with Sparky really whomped him out.” Explained Monty. “Him an’ Darien have been restin’ ere’. Regaining their strength an all.”

“But that’s not the only reason.” Added Gadget. “They also wanted to be able to thank you.”

“Thank me?” Foxglove asked, puzzled. “But I killed Winifred.”

“And you saved the world.” Added Chip. “By the way, how exactly did you—”

“Finally,” Came a voice from above. “You’ve decided to rejoin the world of the living.” Jamba had woken up. Gracefully, he let go of his branch and fluttered to the ground. The Rangers ran (and flew) down the tree, after him.

“Darien should be here in a second.” Jamba explained as the Rangers reached the ground. “He’s just out— Oh, here he is now.”

Over a nearby hill, Darien came into view, carrying something in his mouth. As he drew closer, the white, furry object in his mouth became apparent. It was a recently killed rabbit.

Upon arriving, Darien dropped the large rabbit, with a thud, at the Ranger’s feet. They said nothing of course, in fear of offending him. It was a gruesome sight to behold, but they kept their opinions to themselves.

“The rabbits around here have really smart mouths, but even stupider minds. I— Oh, hello.” Darien said, now noticing Foxglove. “I glad to see you’ve finally awoken. I was beginning to think I’d have to eat you.”

“Heh heh.” Foxglove laughed weakly. “It must be some kind of predator humor.” She thought to herself.

“Just like you’ve eaten every other inhabitant of this park.” Jamba muttered under his breath.

“Or like those two police officers turned pomegranates you ate nearly three weeks ago.” Darien retorted.

“I never ate them!” Jamba protested. “In fact, I saw them just yesterday, assisting with the cleanup.”

“*Ahem” Monty grunted.

“Ah yes.” Darien said, regaining his train of thought. “Jamba and I would like a few words with Foxglove… Alone.”

“What?” Foxglove asked in protest, her eyes moving from Jamba to Darien. “With… them?” She hadn’t exactly forgotten the fight with Jamba, and while she hadn’t seen the fight with Darien, Monty’s scars spoke for themselves.

“It’s okay.” Gadget said reassuringly. “They’re actually really nice guys… Once you get to know them.”

“They sure weren’t nice to that rabbit.” Foxglove said, turning towards the dead rabbit, whose blood was now beginning to stain the grass.

“Don’t worry Foxy.” Dale said, putting his hand on her shoulder. “They really are nice. Yesterday, Jamba let me ride on his back while he flew. It was awesome!”

“Well… Foxglove said slowly. If you say so.” Foxglove trusted Dale’s judgment. Perhaps a little too well.

“Well be back in a bit!” Monty called, as he and the others began to walk away, around the tree.

“Wait!” Foxglove called. “I…” But they kept walking. It seemed that much had transpired in the weeks following Winifred’s defeat. Everyone had settled down and relaxed, except for her. To everyone else, talking with Darien and Jamba was probably like talking to a friend. For her, it was still like talking to the enemy. It made her feel incredibly awkward. Reluctantly, she turned her attention to Jamba and Darien. Without her friends by her side, she felt completely at their mercy.

“So,” Jamba began, a touch of anger in his voice. “You did it. You actually defeated Winifred.”

“Uh oh.” Thought Foxglove. Maybe if she flew now, Darien wouldn’t be able to pounce her… But then Jamba could still easily bring her down…

“Defeating Winifred was a stunt that few could pull off.” Darien added, a hint of anger in his voice as well. “Frankly, I’m impressed.”

“This is it.” Foxglove thought nervously to herself. “They’re going to get their revenge by doing me in, I know it!”

“Unfortunately, your victory will be cut short, as now we are obligated too…”

Foxglove cringed.

“…Thank you!” They both said at once, smiling; their entire demeanor changing.

“What?” Foxglove asked, both confused and relieved. “Aren’t you mad that I—”

“We realized that Winifred was manipulating us through our emotions.” Said Darien. “She most likely would have destroyed all life on earth if she had been allowed to continue.”

“You have no idea.” Foxglove thought to herself.

“We just wanted to be able to thank you in person, that’s all.” Jamba explained. “After all, you not only saved the world, but our families as well.”

“But, why did you need to be alone to say that?” Foxglove asked curiously.

Darien grunted nervously, glancing off to the side. “I… Don’t really like thanking… lesser creatures.” He finished.

“It’s a pride thing.” Jamba said, in a pitch that only Foxglove could hear. “He doesn't want anyone to hear him do it.” She giggled at the thought.

“She’s laughing; what did you say to her?” Darien snapped.

“It’s okay!” Jamba called to the Rangers, ignoring Darien, “You can come back over now!”

“What did he say?” Darien demanded to Foxglove, as the Rangers came back around the tree.

“He said…” Foxglove began, trying to think something up. “He said you had nice fur.”

“Hmm, I always knew he was a fruit bat [bah boom, crash!]” Darien said jokingly, though he obviously knew Foxglove was fibbing.

“Well,” Gadget asked, as they returned. “How did it go?”

“He said it.” Jamba answered. “All is done.”

“So,” Chip asked, looking at Jamba, “Would you like to join us?”

“We could always use a living airplane.” Gadget added.

“Sadly, I must decline.” Jamba answered calmly. “My wife is waiting for me back in Madagascar, and personally, your climate is a bit chilly for my taste.”

“That’s too bad.” Chip said understandingly. “I really would have loved to see the look on Fat Cat’s face when you came crashing through the skylight!” Everyone (except Jamba and Darien, who had no idea who Fat Cat was) shared a good laugh at this thought.

Dale began to do an impression of him. “Once I control the fish supply of the world,” He said in a goofy voice, “The world will be miIiIIIIIIEEEE WHAT *IS* THAT THING!!!” This time, everyone laughed.

“So are you going to take a plane or a boat back?” Asked Gadget. “Because we can easily find out the scheduling of—”

“No thanks.” Jamba said politely. “I’ll fly.”

Gadget laughed. “Over a thousand miles?” She asked jokingly.

“Of course.” Jamba said, turning around; lifting his wings for takeoff. Quickly, He took one final glance at the Rangers. “Goodbye. I’ll be sure to mention you back in the rainforest.” With an enormous flap (which blew the Rangers backwards a few steps), Jamba took off, heading out for the ocean.

“I think he’s really going to do it.” Dale commented

“No he’s not.” Chip said, watching Jamba fly away. “He’s probably going to hitch a ride on a boat that already left.

The Rangers now turned their attention to Darien, who was ravenously devouring the remains of his rabbit; bones and all. They stared at him for a moment, before Darien broke the silence. “What? …I like the bones.”

“SO!” Monty shouted, changing the subject. “I take it your not gonna stick around either?”

Darien smiled. “Well, I’ve got my clan to watch over. And no offense,” He added with a smile “but I’d rather use my tail as the community toilet paper for a den of bears, than work with my own food.”

“Um… okay.” Chip said, not really sure how to take this.

“So, I’m off.” He said, turning his gaze towards the horizon.

“That must really stink.” Dale added.

“Bears?” Darien asked, turning his head over his back.

“No,” Explained Dale. “I mean, losing your powers.”

“Beg pardon?” Darien asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Turning into that giant silver thingy.” Dale explained. “Now that Winifred’s gone, you can’t do that any more… right?”

A sly smile spread across Darien’s muzzle. “Who says I can’t?” Suddenly, in a flash of white light, Darien’s form disappeared, only to be replaced by his seven tailed, giant, silver self. “Hunters will never see *this* one coming.”

Before anyone could argue, Darin took off at blinding speed, towards to horizon, the trees swaying behind him. Within seconds, he disappeared from view.

“Uh… guys?” Gadget began, a look of uncertainty on her face.

“Let it go Gadget-luv,” Monty said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Let it go.”

“Well now we know how Jamba’s getting home.” said Dale.

The Rangers stared at the empty Horizon for a few moments, before Chip finally broke the silence. “Well.” He said as casually as possible, motioning for the others to follow. “I’m back inside going to look over the information we found out from the drug plant!”

“But we already…” Monty began, but stopped when he noticed Foxglove and Dale, sitting side by side, looking out over the water. “Oh, roight.” He said with a grin, as he made his way back to the tree with the others.

“You look so naked without you flight gear.” Came Gadget’s voice as they grew further and further away.

“Yeah, well At least I still got me head…” His voice disappeared as He, Zipper, Chip, and Gadget, disappeared into the tree house.

Now it was only Foxglove and Dale. Foxglove leaned her head onto Dale’s shoulder as they watched the boats go by. Surprisingly, Dale didn’t pull away.

Dale waited a moment before speaking, not really sure how to phrase what he was about to say. “…I thought I was going to loose you.” Dale said, his eyes focused on the horizon. “You know, when you ran off to fight Winifred.”

Foxglove smiled. “You know, that’s the first time you called Winifred by her real name.”

“You mean ‘Satin’?” Dale joked.

Foxglove began to giggle, but stopped when she remembered the talk of Chaos the destroyer, and her eventual return. Foxglove turned her head upwards and looked into Dale’s eyes. He seemed so calm, so relaxed. She put her wing around his shoulder, pulling him closer, and sighed.

“What is it Foxy?” Dale asked, turning towards her.

“Oh, it’s… nothing.” Foxglove couldn’t bring herself to tell him the truth. She couldn’t bare the thought that while their time together on Earth would be limited, she would go on living, long after her bat body had died. But… That was all in the future. Now, she had all the time in the world with him, and had no regrets about that whatsoever. Slowly, the pair drifted closer together, into a soft, passionate kiss.


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