Disclaimer: I still don't own Power Rangers
A/N: I think there's going to be two more chapters of this, and then we'll be back on plot.
Xander took a deep breath and cast the spell to levitate Chip's body. He wasn't about to let Nick put Chip in the hospital; he intended to do it by himself. Although he would be morphed, Xander knew there was a risk of his accent being noticed, Xander was not about to let his friend go through it alone. "I'll be back in an hour," he promised the anxiously watching Claire and Udonna. Madison glanced up from her book, but quickly turned back, she wasn't happy with the decision to send Chip to the ER, even though she had agreed.
"Be careful," Udonna said. She was standing strong, but had a brittle look on her face. Xander thought she was fighting not to remember what had happened to the other Mystics or the victims of the NyghtMares in the past.
"I certainly will," Xander agreed, wishing he could find the words to remind Udonna that she was dealing with a new Mystic Force, a team that had yet to give up.
He left Rootcore with Chip close beside him. He reached out and slid on hand around his chest before pressing his other hand against the tree. His arrival on the other side was unnoticed by anyone, so he hurried down the sidewalk to the hospital's emergency room. It was quiet when he stepped inside, and he was quickly surrounded by nurses. "This young man," he said, "was the victim of a monster attack. We have tried to free him of the spell, but have not yet succeeded. The Rangers are not equipped to care for a person in a long term coma, and we know he must have a worried family in Briarwood."
A stretcher was brought and he levitated Chip onto it neatly. "We will continue to study the spell," he told them, "and if we find a solution, we will inform you immediately."
"We'll take care of him," a nurse said as a doctor appeared.
"What's going on?" The doctor demanded.
"A monster attack victim," the nurse said.
"He is under a spell," Xander added, "the Rangers are working to deal with that aspect. He has woken up briefly to speak, but he has not shown true signs of awareness." He bowed to the doctor, "I leave him in your care." He pulled out his wand and cast the spell seal that would take him back to Rootcore.
"Is it done?" Udonna asked quietly as soon as the magic released him.
"It's done," Xander replied and powered down, "may Chip forgive me."
"I'm sure he wills," Madison said, "he's not unreasonable." She hadn't moved from her spot at the table, but Nick had joined her with even more books. Xander quietly wondered if either of them actually realized just how strong the bond between them was. He made a quiet promise to drag Vida and Chip into helping him make them realize it.
"Found something," Vida announced as she raced down the stairs from the library. She slapped a book on the table as everyone gathered around her. "One way to save a victim of the NyghtMare is for people who are emotionally close to the victim to enter into the spell with the victim and convince him that the choice being forced on him doesn't have to be made."
"Another is to destroy the NyghtMare," Madison added, "but we don't know how to find the NyghtMare."
"But this has the spell with it," Vida replied, tapping her book. "We can go down there, magic our way in and cast the spell. Chip will be himself before midnight."
"How do we explain that?" Nick asked, "We need valid people to go in. What about Chip's family?"
"But," Vida began.
"V," Madison said, "we have to do this right, or else, we'll compromise everything."
Vida stared at each of her teammates for a long moment, clearly fighting with her instincts, and then sighed, "All right," she said. "I think Nick should go out to Winterlight to explain this. That way, if they can't break him out, Maddie, Xander and I can be available to try."
"Always have a backup plan," Xander said, hiding his own relief. Vida could get violent very easily, especially when it came to Chip or Madison. Xander slung his arm over Vida's shoulder and leaned against her a little, "Don't worry, V, I know Chip will be fine."
Vida smiled at him looking just a little lost, "I know," she said. She leaned against him just a little even as her expression smoothed out, hiding her vulnerability from the others.
"Let's get this plan worked out," Nick said, "because I want to make sure I don't make too many mistakes."
"You don't know the Winters," Madison said, "that's your greatest cover."
Chip clutched his head, not wanting to watch another scenario where he was ordered to choose. He couldn't choose. How could he be expected to choose a best friend? Why did they demand he choose between Vida and Xander? What about Maddie, she was his best friend too.
"You know it's not about friendship," someone said behind him.
Chip turned to find Madison standing there, "What do you mean?" He asked.
"Chip," Madison replied, "you already know what I'm talking about."
"Then you know I won't chose," Chip replied.
"You have to," Madison said.
Chip frowned, staring at Madison, "You aren't Madison," he announced, reaching for his morpher.
"Of course I am," Madison said.
Chip pulled his morpher from his pocket, "You don't know Madison; she would never try to force me to do something like this." He snapped the morpher open, took quick aim and unleashed a lightning bolt.
Madison shielded herself from the lightning, but when the light show cleared, it wasn't Madison standing there. The creature had a waterfall of black hair, pale white skin, and eyes that were pure black, with no whites or irises. She raised hands that ended in claws as she hissed, "You will have to choose, Yellow Mystic," the creature declared, "or you will never escape."
"That's what you think," Chip replied and lashed her with lightning again.