Chapter 11: In The Closet
"What is this place?"
Katherine blinked, her blue gaze widening while she felt her insides buckle. The shock wasn't so much the devastation that lay sprawled in front of them, but the horrible realization that was as choking as the smell.
Is seeing really believing?
Then how could Katherine muster the words to reply to Aisha's question, or to answer the hundreds that thundered in her skull all at once?
Because she didn't believe; she couldn't believe it.
She inhaled sharply as her foot stopped at the first one.
"Anyone feel like we've stepped into a really bad movie?" Rocky asked numbly.
Katherine shared a glance with him, before they all watched in silence as Tommy knelt at the ground before them. He reached a tentative hand to its sprawled hair and as he swept it away to expose her face, he looked up with glistening eyes.
"That's not Kim," Jason's throaty voice announced. He motioned to that ground at his feet.
"Oh my goodness," Katherine gasped, raising her hands to her mouth.
There's two of them- but that's impossible!
"Jesus…How could this be?" Tommy asked in disbelief.
Jason glanced down. "It's a clone…they're all clones!"
Katherine rested a shaking hand on Tommy's forearm as they slowly began forward, slain bodies littering the pathway between two rows of steel beds. Limbs were sprawled; their bodies didn't look right, but every face was hauntingly recognizable.
Kimberly. Jason. Trini. Jason. Zack. Kimberly.
It went on and on. There were maybe twelve of them.
Katherine stopped and knelt down, running her fingertips over the near-naked body of her predecessor. Her skin was cold, but she could feel it. It was real.
They were real clones. No illusions, no magic clouds.
Katherine was certain that on future reflection they would look back the discovery and realize it was on par with the bizarre experiences they'd been through together as teenagers. Hell, Katherine still couldn't escape the memories of her experience as a secret spy for the alien empire. Yet despite all the spells, the battles in giant robots and teleportation into space, this was different.
This evil was human.
"Why are they all dead?" she wondered out loud.
She glanced up at Rocky and noticed his extended hand, but she felt as though she couldn't move.
Tommy turned to face them all. "Why would they make these clones, and then shoot them all dead?"
"I wanna know how they created them in the first place," Rocky stated. "How in the hell did they make human copies of our friends, and why?"
Katherine slowly stood up, gently brushing her thighs as she did so. "Billy was right – they were doing an experiment on the power rangers, only not in a way we could have imagined."
She glanced down at her hand and noticed the smudge of fresh blood. She raised it for all her teammates to see.
"They were killed just recently," she noted almost sadly.
Aisha mirrored her expression, but slowly turned to Jason who was standing away from them. "Are you okay?" she asked him with clear concern.
He pursed his lips and nodded desolately.
"Guys, look," Tommy suddenly voiced, causing them all to turn around.
Katherine frowned as he walked beside the bed on the very end where a mass seemed hidden beneath a cloth. The outline was distinctly female, and all Katherine could think about was that nothing good was ever kept under a sheet in a morgue.
"Tommy…" she cautioned gently as he slowly pulled the sheet away, exposing another body beneath it.
On noticing the clone's body was naked, Tommy immediately shoveled the blanket back over her torso, but stopped suddenly.
"What is it?" Katherine asked.
His eyes widened, but remained focused. "She blinked…her eyes-she-."
And without any warning, a hand shot from beneath the sheet and clamped around Tommy's neck.
Angel Grove Police Station
Kimberly blinked. She felt the stray tears escape, and she swiftly brushed them away as the door opened once more. God, why wouldn't somebody tell her what the hell was going on?
She wrapped her arms over her chest and her chin began out of control as she noticed her new visitor.
"Please," she whimpered helplessly, her hands clawing at the table. "I don't understand…"
"I don't want you to say another word." Simon Conroy sat opposite her, dropping his leather briefcase loudly on the table separating them.
He flicked the lid open, and began sifting through pages. The way he was ignoring her obvious distress only maddened her, and she unthoughtfully kicked the leg of the table.
"You're supposed to be helping me!" she snapped, glaring at him.
He looked up her with distant eyes. "Kimberly, I don't know where to start."
"You can start by telling me why the police-." She inhaled, before releasing a shaky breath. "Why my parents think I shot someone."
"They have concrete evidence of your direct participation," he sighed. He folded his arms on top of the table, his eyes full of regret. "Kimberly, tell me you had a reason to be shooting these men down."
Kimberly cleared her throat. She wanted to heave, to throw herself to her knees and slam her fists against the ground, but she stopped herself.
"I didn't shoot anyone…I tried to tell them, some government group- freaks- kidnapped me and my friends…" her pitch rose, emotions taking over. "My friends are still locked up and we need to get a police car to go and help them."
Her attorney remained quiet, torn between loyalties toward her, but at the same time clearly not believing a word she spoke.
She released a sharp breath. "You have to help me," the words barely sounded from her lips.
"You will be charged with murder, Kimberly, do you understand what-."
"I don't believe this!" she exclaimed, standing up. She grabbed the table quickly, her head spinning at the sudden movement.
Then, it started again. She began to cry, and the world around her became a blurry, washed out mess.
What the hell is happening, why are they saying all these things? I never killed anyone!
"They have video footage of your friend, as well," Mr. Conroy continued softly. "I've known you since you were a kid, Kim- your parents are out there with not a hope in this world of seeing you again. This isn't just murder; the gunning down of respected government officials will be harshly penalized by any court."
Kimberly didn't really listen. She was starting to lose the plot.
Then she focused. His words replayed in her head as she slowly straightened her tired body.
They have footage of me…of Jason?
"Kimberly…I can't even begin to help you, if you don't tell me what happened today…why you flew five hours in the early hours of the morning with Jason Scott, only to wind up in the middle of nowhere, trying to break into a government facility."
She blinked. "W-what did you say?"
He looked down at the papers in his hand. "It says here you were both caught attempting to jump the perimeter fence of the IBI headquarters, north-east of Angel Grove."
How did they know?
Kimberly stared at the table. This was all wrong- she had climbed over that fence, but she was on her own and there was the other major difference:
She had been trying to escape.
He pushed a glass of water toward her. "This seems to sound familiar to you," he guessed, as though reading her thoughts.
Kimberly ignored the glass. "I was trying to get out of there," she elaborated. "I was trying to escape…like I told you, like I told those detectives. I was running for my life."
His eyes were now bleeding with pity, but he played along. "Okay. Let's say that was true, and you were in fact trying to flee the high-security facility…why were you there in the first place?"
And there it was; the big question. The answer to that question Kimberly had promised to take to her grave, but in a matter of insanity- in utter desperation- she breathed its tangled web without a moment's consideration.
"I'm a power ranger." She looked up. "My friends are all power rangers."
The grip was tight, familiar fingers digging into the grooves of his neck, but he'd fended off stronger in the past. Despite the rush to his aid and the feeble attempt to pry her away, all he could think of was the fact that it was Kimberly.
She was alive!
"Tommy, move your hands!" Rocky ordered, as he shoveled his arms into the mix of limbs and pulled the human clamps from Tommy's neck.
Tommy instantly began to cough, choking on his own surprise. He hunched over and tried to stall the feeling in his head, but silently trying to stall looking in her direction.
"Will you cover her with something?" Aisha demanded, tossing the sheet at the former red ranger.
Tommy looked up, staring at the shivering and messed up image of Kimberly Hart. Her eyes were almost black, rolling around in their sockets while she whispered soundless words.
"Jesus Christ," Jason practically spat, rushing over and dropping before the mystery copy of Kimberly. "What is this place?" he asked her, placing two hands on her bare shoulders.
Her eyes suddenly stopped moving around. "They will kill us," she whispered.
Tommy's face softened, and the fear in her eyes automatically made him want to console her. She wasn't 'their' Kimberly, but beneath the long mess of dark hair and malnourished limbs, he felt ripped back five years earlier to a time where he couldn't bare to just let her cry.
"Do you know who you are?" Katherine asked the clone gently.
She didn't reply.
"Do you recognize us?" Jason asked.
"You don't have any identification," she murmured, raising her arm to expose what looked to be a marker.
Jason glanced up at Tommy. "They've tagged them," he pointed out.
Tommy nodded, finding the courage to finally speak. "How many of you exist?" he asked her gently. "And why are they trying to kill you?"
"I am a version three prototype, a physical replica but developed mentally independent from the primary subject," she recited. "I only know of ten versions after mine...but they keep us all apart, so I do not know a number."
She centered her gaze on Tommy. "Do you know why they make us?" she asked.
The five former rangers all exchanged a quick glance.
"We're not like you," he admitted carefully. "We uh, we're not clones."
She narrowed her eyes to the point where there was barely any white showing. "What are you then?"
Katherine kneeled down. "We are humans, but we used to be power rangers...it's been five years since then and we were all brought to this facility days ago and told we were dying. But it seemed they've been doing experiments-."
"You can't be the originals, it's not possible," the clone cut her off. "I don't know what version you are, but none of us have been on the outside long enough to live it."
Tommy frowned. "We're not any version, we've not clones. We didn't even know this was going on."
Her eyes dropped, her head rolling awkwardly against the wall.
"Kim-." Tommy stopped her name halfway.
Jason gently touched her arm, his tap enough to stir her from her listlessness.
"They will kill us," she murmured barely incoherently.
"No one will kill you now," Jason assured her. "The men are all gone- you're safe now."
"They must have gone after the others. And when they find them, they will kill them and come back for us."
"Who are the others?" Aisha asked.
"The breakout caused this," the clone stated. "Some of the others got through the door and escaped. The last time that happened, they shot her before she reached the exit. The ones that escaped today broke through the perimeter and fearing we would follow, they executed us."
Clones escaped...of us?
"Where would they be running to?" Tommy questioned.
"They're the ones before me," she revealed. "They want revenge."
Adam released a breath, as his hand remained pressed against the door.
"Billy! She's in here!" he rushed out, as he hurried over to the furthest bed of three that lined badly damaged room.
He instantly lowered his ear to Trini's mouth, feeling her weak breath tickle the side of his cheek. He ran his hand over her face, throwing a glance over his shoulder as he felt Billy rush up behind him.
"Is she alive?" Billy asked.
Adam nodded, suddenly realizing for the first time since he'd met the studious former ranger that he wasn't the one with all the answers. Years later and so many different experiences, the tables had turned and Adam knew he didn't have a choice but step up and take control.
"We have to determine what she was administered," Adam thought out loud, as he glanced around the room.
He was looking for a needle. Maybe on the ground near the make-shift infirmary bed...maybe on one of the benches nearby. But everywhere he looked, there was nothing but medical supplies strewn around the floor. Jason and Kimberly had clearly put up quite a struggle, but in the process their escape would only make Adam's efforts to stabilize Trini so much more difficult.
Adam carefully stepped over a pile of unused needles, as he reached for a cupboard on the bench. He pulled sharply on the reluctant hinges, until it swung open. It's empty interior stared back at him and Adam sighed, before he practically slammed it closed and moved to the next one.
Then the next one and the next.
"Nothing," he announced as he dully closed the last cupboard door and turned to face his friend. "Something tells me they never really used this room as an infirmary. Look at these...these are all dangerous components of deadly cocktails."
Billy remained motionless above Trini's body, his hands resting helplessly on her shoulders.
Adam swallowed his hesitation. "Billy, I know this is hard, but we can't just stand here and no nothing. Trini will be okay, but we need to get her help."
"I know," Billy said evenly. "But I look at her and all I can see is my father...he knew about all of this and he paid the price. Now, so are we-."
Adam shook his head forcibly. "Your dad was an honorable man- you saw and heard what I did. He didn't betray you, Billy."
He glanced away and slowly walked over to where the original yellow ranger was barely clinging to life. Adam slowly moved the blanket higher on her body, but he knew we was failing this battle.
It was his job for God's sake! He'd resurrected countless victims, saved lives and healed, yet he couldn't stop Trini's developing shock. He was trying his best to remain calm, but it was becoming unbearable. Being a ranger and a paramedic didn't make the notion of death any easier.
"Did you hear that?" Billy suddenly spoke up, his face suddenly alert.
Adam squinted his eyes, surprised at how frazzled he'd allowed his nerves and senses to become. He shook his head. "What did you hear?"
Billy pursed his lips. "I'm not certain...I'm sure it was nothing."
A dull noise suddenly dropped from behind them a second time, and Adam instantly swung around, dropping automatically into a defensive stance, as he carefully glanced around. His eyes narrowed in on a tall closet in the furthest corner, and he slowly stalked toward it, his fists clenched and ready to strike.
"Adam!" Billy hissed and the paramedic quickly looked over his shoulder in time to catch what appeared to be a broken rod of steel.
"Thanks," Adam allowed, before he raised the rod in front of him, and reached for the closet's handle.
I swear that better be a mop that fell over in there, Adam thought to himself, before he quickly swung the door open, hoping his sudden movement would take whatever was inside off guard.
He swung the rod down without thinking, but swiftly dropped it as a disc of blinking lights wheezed up at him in the sickliest of manners.