Chapter 12: Shock Horror
From one cell to another, fear gripped her with a strength she was struggling to hold back. How Kimberly hated the darkness that seemed to condemn her; even the shadows and dim lights couldn't hide the horrid reality.
For now she was all alone.
Conversations replayed through stuttering of tears. Hatred refused to let her go no matter how hard she reasoned that she could make the situation better.
After all, how could they lock away a power ranger? She was a god-damned hero after all- her statue stood proudly in two US cities. She was a good guy!
But the secret life that haunted her for longer than her friends realized, had turned around and bit her hard.
Her attorney Simon Conroy just continued with the pitiful eyes during the interview, diverting her with statements that made no sense. She'd expected a change of reaction when she'd breathed the words she'd buried since she was fifteen- but the family friend merely stared at her and sighed:
"I can't help you this way," he had said regretfully and promptly packed his files away.
Fear and frustration had then taken the better of her and she told her secret to the head detective through tears of guilt and betrayal to Zordon. She could tell her announcement shocked the senior officer, but like everything that had gone completely amiss that day, it was as though it only buried her more.
They questioned her sanity- they wanted proof of her claim. Kimberly merely pleaded with them to go to the facility and they would find the others, but response after response knocked her back.
They had been there and found nothing.
They prodded her with demands for her to display her superhuman powers and morph right in front of them, but she sobbed in her defense that she had nothing but the gown she was wearing and the words from her mouth.
Now, as she sat with reflection in her lone cell toward the back of the Angel Grove Police department, Kimberly began to even question her own sanity. She'd always imagined the breathtaking response from citizens if somehow their ranger identities had been exposed. Daydreamed about parades and interviews and receiving the kind of recognition that none of them had ever been able to accept.
But the heroes were all fallen now. Kimberly had done everything in her power to redeem herself and she betrayed her life's promise for nothing. And what would eventuate of her friends? She shuddered; death plagued her as it always did her dreams…
She sighed, and wearily rubbed her eyes with her dirty palms. The smell of sweat and sickness seemed to be expelling from her skin. She felt like an animal; a disgrace. The worst thing was she was too crestfallen to even bother to gather herself together again.
Giving up was her only choice. What could she do from a holding cell in jail?
It had been eerily quiet in the multi-story building, but now that day was falling and the lights in the hallway along her cell lit up like a kaleidoscope, Kimberly was finally starting to realize her true predicament. It sunk in.
What am I going to do?
She glanced out at the lone guard stationed at a desk opposite her cell and reluctantly laid down on the bed.
A loud noise suddenly pulsated into her cell from the darkness and she flinched in response, hopelessly crawling onto her knees on top of the uncomfortable bed. The silence returned almost immediately, but it was quickly re-shattered as another similar noise could be heard in the approaching distance.
Kimberly watched with building anxiousness, as the guard seemed to leap up from his chair and race down the hallway. She grabbed hold of the thick bars keeping her back, and watched as his thickly laden body suddenly catapulted back out of the shadows, running toward the small collection of cells.
He was screaming, but nothing made sense.
"What's going on?" Kimberly gasped as the man awkwardly tripped on himself and went crashing to the tiles floor below.
He immediately flipped over to his back and stared in trepidation as his hand fumbled wildly at his empty hip holster.
Kimberly followed his shuddering gaze and quickly stepped back as she watched a familiar face step out from the shadows.
"Jason…" she breathed. "Jason, what are you doing?" she asked.
His disturbing eyes remained on the trembling guard and he slowly moved his hand, revealing a handgun that was hanging precariously from his fingers.
"Oh my God…" Kimberly grabbed hold of the bars again, unable to contain her horror. "What are you doing?" she raised a hand to her mouth, the realization hitting her. "Oh my God, what did you do? Why do you have a gun-."
She screamed, or at least she thought she did as she watched him pull the trigger. The noise literally shattered in her skull, forcing her back until she looked through blurry eyes, as the police guard lay sprawled on the ground.
"You killed him!" she screamed.
His eyes finally met hers, but his lips remained motionless. Something was wrong; something was very wrong.
Oh my Gosh…it can't be, how can it be?
A shorter figure stepped up beside Jason and stared back at Kimberly expressionless, neither of them appearing unnerved by the situation.
Back in the labyrinth of the IBI facility, Jason simply stared at the copy of a girl he'd sat next to in grade six English and fought beside as they grew up under the spotlight of world protection. He could have told anyone that it wasn't the real Kimberly, knowing all to well the tone of her voice was nothing like the formally exuberant gymnast, but still he wanted to say so much to her.
He felt deathly alone. Billy wasn't there to share the moment with him; Trini was fighting for life and Zack...
Just being surrounded by the bodies his childhood friends was enough to make him lose his robust exterior. As it was, his balance was still off and his stomach crawled.
All he could think of was what Zordon would think if he saw the sight of his original ranger team dead at their feet. But then again, who knew where the sage was and what was his fate...
Around him, the others were still talking to her. She was like ice, cold and mentally broken, still flicking between responses of clarity and random whimpering.
"I wanted to run, but I don't want to leave anymore...there's no life for us out there, not once we're caught in here," she said, her sentiment catching Jason's attention. "You can't run. They will find you."
Jason felt it was wrong, but he reached out and rested a hand on the girl's shoulder, which was about all the comfort he could offer her at such a strange time. "You said the clones that escaped were after revenge...where are they going to get their revenge?" he asked her gently.
Her head dropped sharply to her shoulder, her eyes fluttering uncontrollably, before Tommy crouched beside Jason and quickly steadied her chin with his hand.
"What's wrong with you?" Tommy asked her loudly. "One of our friends died supposedly from his powers...do you know anything about that?"
Kimberly's clone seemed to relax a little, the corner of her dry lips curling into and almost smug smile. She let out a strange snigger, which fell short as she replied curtly, "There is no power...there never has been...that was the whole idea of the project- to replicate the original prototypes...but they've never been successful- why else do you think they keep trying?"
Jason's eyes' narrowed. "Are you saying they were making these clones to try and make their own rangers?" he asked.
"I don't know the answer to your question," she breathed, as she moved her hand to her bare shoulder and attempted to scratch at it.
Tommy swiped at her hand almost angrily, taking Jason off guard. He snapped his head in his direction, biting down on his tongue until he noticed the pain in his eyes.
"You're the only one here," Tommy said to the clone, speaking each word in a slow, drawn out manner. "You're the only one who can help us. I know you don't understand us and I promise we will get you to safety, but you need to think real hard about what the hell has gone on in this prison- anything."
She turned her head again to look away and Tommy swiftly moved to grab her shoulders, dragging her frail body up as he forcibly held her against the wall. Jason quickly moved to intervene, but Tommy automatically flicked his hands away before he had the chance, clearly angry with himself for acting out.
Katherine flicked a narrowed gaze at her former leader, before she carefully lowered the clone back her seated position, her legs too weak to allow her the chance to remain standing.
"I'm sorry," Tommy mumbled under his breath.
"It's not her fault," Katherine whispered, as though talking to herself. "If we start threatening these poor people with violence, we're no better than the people who created them."
Despite his own disapprovement at Tommy's outburst, Jason patted his friend's shoulder in support. "It's clear she doesn't know much about anything that happens outside this room- Rocky, help me get her up and we'll start looking for Billy and Adam...maybe they've managed to find Trini?"
Rocky didn't argue, instead nodding obediently, as he crouched in front of Kimberly's clone. The girl swiped out at his attempt to each under her arms, and he looked at Jason impatiently.
"Maybe Tommy's way will get it done faster?" he commented sarcastically.
Jason shared a private glance, before he made an attempt himself, only to be swiped at, as the clone began to breath loudly, an almost snarl sounding from her clenched teeth.
"Leave me alone!" she growled, her legs trembling in a nervous tic. "Leave me alone!"
"We want to help you!" Katherine tried to persuade her. "We're the only people who will care for you-."
"Get away from me!" the clone hissed. "Get away! Get away! Get away!" she chanted, her eyes squeezed shut, as if lost in her own delusion.
Jason slowly stood up, pulling on Rocky's jacket as he looked at Tommy. He felt terrible for saying it, but he knew inside they had no time to argue with her- she was clearly mentally fractured and was nothing short of a break in their chain that they didn't need.
"Let's just go," Jason said quietly, his eyes looking at the floor.
Aisha shot him an accusing look. "We can't just leave her here."
"Jason's right, Aisha," Rocky swiftly added forcibly. "Do you really think we should all wait here to die because of her? She's a damn clone and she doesn't have people waiting for her in the outside world- we do."
Katherine shook her head, her arms crossed over her chest. "She's an innocent victim in this-."
"And we will come back for her," Jason promised the blond, his eyes softening to add to the sincerity behind his words. "Let's get out of here and stop these people- who knows, there may be more clones in this building who are waiting for us to free them."
Katherine sighed, before the five former rangers slowly walked back out of the room of death. Jason allowed Tommy to lead them this time, sensing his friend was struggling to feel he was coping with the events that were unraveling- his biggest falling had always been his emotions, but Jason also knew that Zordon chose Tommy to be their leader because his falling was also his greatest asset- perhaps if they allowed Tommy the chance now to lead them all, he would step up to the challenge and recapture that steadfast way he's always displayed.
God knows, they needed him to lead now, more than ever. Jason needed him; he was trying so hard to ignore the burning that had settled in his gut, but the truth was that Jason knew something was wrong with him. He didn't want to plant any more seeds of fears in his friends' minds', but at least if Tommy took charge, Jason could try and blend into the background where they wouldn't notice his deteriorating state.
Tommy stopped as they reached yet another door, and he pointed to a piece of blue fabric that was tied loosely around the handle.
"Looks like Billy left us a cookie trail to follow," Tommy shared, his eyes warming for the first time in hours.
Good work, Billy, Jason thought to himself with gratefulness, as they all walked in a single file, carefully scouring every newly entered room for signs of more navy, polyester fabric guiders.
The five friends stopped, almost colliding into each other as they heard Adam's faint voice in the distance.
"Adam, we're coming!" Katherine called back, surprising Jason with the strength of her reply.
They all broke into a sprint, pushing through two more marked doors, until they arrived in a room more than familiar to Jason. So many things caught his attention- Trini's lifeless body still draped on one of the so-called 'death beds'- Adam and Billy in the corner...
"Alpha!" Tommy gasped out, as they all ran over to where Adam and Billy were hovered around their former robot assistant.
Jason looked at the robot up and down, quickly realizing that Alpha 5 wasn't the same robot they had all grown to respect and love. The metallic of his limbs was dulled- the shell of his body dinted and plagued by countless holes. The lights that used to blink with his every display of emotion were gone and Jason had a sickening feeling that the wires that were sprouting from his narrow neck were damaged beyond repair.
"What happened to him?" Aisha asked, her mouth open in disbelief.
Billy glanced up, his hand clasped around what looked to be a computer disk of some kind. "Adam found Alpha in the closet...from what I can tell so far, his entire circuit board has been damaged beyond restoration..."
Shit, I knew it.
"Was he able to say anything at all? Anything about Zordon?" Tommy asked hopefully.
Adam's lips' stiffened. "We tried talking to him, but all he managed to say was "rangers" before he switched off...Billy's been trying to reboot his internal system, but we haven't had any luck."
"How did he get here?" Katherine asked, as Jason turned away and slowly walked toward Trini. "Why would they store him in a broom closet in such a highly technologically advanced facility?"
"I doubt they stored him here," Billy responded confidently. "He seemed to be hiding- Perhaps he was trying to escape from wherever they were holding him."
"What's happening with Trini?" Jason spoke up loudly, using enough force in his voice, so that they all turned to look at him. "Surely there are supplies in here that can help her."
Adam seemed to roll his shoulders a little. "I can't give her anything when I don't know what they gave her in the first place- and I can't begin to understand her deteriorating condition when both you, and Kimberly by your account, were not affected by the drug in the same way."
Jason squeezed Trini's limp hand. "I don't know what happened," he admitted. "They said they were going to kill us- but I didn't feel sick afterwards. I felt stronger. Kimberly said she felt the same way."
"And how would you describe your wellbeing now?" Adam asked, as though Jason were a patient of his.
Jason courageously held onto his blank look. "I feel fine as can be," he lied.
Tommy arrowed her gaze in on him. "Don't bullshit us, Jason- I can see you're in pain-."
"Yeah, well I'm not the biggest consideration right now," Jason brushed him off. "Remember Zack? He's dead. See Trini here- she's about to die, and only God knows where Kimberly is-."
"Just sit down and take it easy," Adam walked up beside Jason, motioning to him to lower himself on the bed he'd been tied to only hours earlier. "You're not going to make it out of here either if you don't take your condition seriously."
Aisha stepped forward. "Have you been able to work out why only Jason and Kimberly have been glowing since we arrived here?" she asked, her glance shared between Billy and Adam.
Adam shrugged. "Perhaps they gave you some kind of drug, maybe masked in a glass of water, that somehow affected the power structure still etched in your bodies...it's quite plausible, considering how much they clearly know about us and Zordon."
Jason shook his head. "Both Kim and I were glowing before they had the opportunity to pull anything on us- and besides, it makes no sense that we are affected, when we have both passed our powers onto other people."
A sound from Billy's direction broke the conversation, and Jason watched as his childhood friend seemed to throw the disk in his hand to the floor in defeat and grab his face in his tense hands.
"Billy, what is it?" Katherine asked with sad eyes, as she moved to touch him tenderly on the shoulder.
Billy rubbed at his eyes, a smudge of tears smearing over his cheeks.
"Billy- it's okay," Tommy offered him with genuine care. "Just take your time."
"Time ran out for Alpha long before we found him here," Billy replied glumly. "He's gone. I can't fix him...they've pulled at him and experimented on him beyond repair and we all know what that means..."
Zordon's gone too...
Jason looked away as he felt his insides twist again, his thoughts drifting immediately to Kimberly. He just had to hope that she was okay.
Kimberly was a good driver. She had never been particularly careful, but didn't deliberately go out of her way to break the nation's road laws.
Now, she didn't even want to think about how many rules she was breaking, or just how much she was risking her life and every car she passed. She'd hit at least half a dozen road signs, and even over the loud humming of the stolen car's engine, she could hear the screeching of metal dragging from beneath it.
"Shit!" she screamed out, as she shoved the wheel sharply to the left, just in time to dodge a car on the other side of the road.
The tires of the police car she had stolen rattled loudly over the gravel that lined the quiet road through Angel Grove's outskirts, and she must have prayed in her mind a thousand times over, before she managed to steady it back on the right side of the road.
Her heart was in her throat.
She looked in the rear view mirror and could only look at the faces sitting in the backseat for a moment, before she had to look away. Looking at Jason- a clone of him- should have been some form of comfort, had she not watched him blast away some poor security guard like a detached maniac.
And looking at a clone of herself? She didn't even have a moment to really consider that what she was seeing was real. The only thing she did know, was that the two clones that had seemingly rescued her from her imprisonment at the Angel Grove Police Station, were definitely connected to the conspiracy that was unfolding at the IBI facility.
Please just let the others be okay, she thought, no more tears left to shed, as she watched the passing green scenery with growing anticipation. They were getting closer to the facility with each passing minute- she could just feel it.
Kimberly steadied her eyes on the road, doing her best to calm her emotions. She heard movement from the back seat and did her best to ignore it, before she suddenly heard one of the windows begin to unwind.
Kimberly threw her head over her shoulder. "What are you doing?" she asked the clone of Jason, quickly glancing back at the road ahead.
The clone didn't respond, and instead turned around in his seat, Kimberly watching the rear view mirror with growing unease, as he seemed to move the deadly gun in his lap to poke out of the window.
"What are you doing?" Kimberly repeated with growing distress, as she felt the car wobble a little. She moved her foot to slow the car down a little. "Just sit back in the seat-."
The gunshot was loud enough to make Kimberly lose any small amount of control she had remaining. The nose of the car instantly began to swerve and she let out an uncontrollable scream as the tires began to hop up the slope beside the road, her foot managing to slam onto the breaks, but not quick enough to save the car from a slow, but damaging collision with a road side tree.
Her body rested heavily against the steering wheel, her hands still rapped around it as she stared numbly at the crumpled bonnet in front of her. She was alive; uninjured. But there was no way in the world she'd be getting any closer to the facility on anything other than foot.
"What the hell were you doing?" Kimberly demanded, as she managed to turn in her seat and glare at the two clones.
They seemingly ignored her and exited out the back door, Kimberly struggling with her own door for a moment, before she angrily shoved it open and followed them.
"What were you shooting at?" she screamed, her fists slapping her thighs. "You nearly killed us-."
Her clone stared eerily at her for a moment, before she stretched out her arm, pointing back at the road that they had strayed from.
Kimberly frowned in confusion, catching her breath for a moment, before the sound in the distance suddenly aroused her realization.
A car...Oh God, we have to get out of here-.
A familiar car suddenly appeared from around the bend in the distance, its clearly labeled exterior suddenly breaking as it recognized the crash scene up ahead. Kimberly stepped back, her feet moving faster and faster as she realized she had maybe a minute to escape before the police had her again.
"Run!" she cried out at the clones, in a last moment effort to save them all. "Run away!"
They didn't respond, and as she watched the squad car approach them closer, she lowered her body behind the shelter of the crashed vehicle and swiftly spun around, running blindly into the dense forest she had been so desperately trying to escape in the first place.
And she ran. Her foot was literally hanging by a thread, and yet she didn't stop. She could hear the very distant sound of the confrontation she had fled behind her, but never looked back. Her criminal reputation was no longer any sort of priority to her- in fact, she hoped the police believed the clone was her long enough to stall the police from following her trail.
Tears stung her eyes once more as the shrubbery she raced through began to overwhelm her. She knew the facility was on this side of the road, but then again she didn't know what to think anymore.
Ten, twenty minutes passed. Maybe more. She couldn't tell and she didn't stop to even consider if she truly was running in the right direction.
The perimeter fence of the IBI facility was enough to almost make Kimberly cry in dread, yet at happiness at the same time. She grasped onto it with so much determination, yet only a tenth of the way up the high boundary, she felt her stamina waver once more. The wire seemed to dig into her skin. As she reached the top of it, she almost lost her balance, but held on enough to spare the long drop in exchange for tearing at her fingernails.
The inside of the boundary was as deserted as she had left it. There were plenty of trample marks on the red dirt, tire tracks from jeeps, but not a single soul in sight. She could tell instantly that she had arrived at a different end of the building, but quickly spotted a door and raced toward it with everything she had left.
She tugged at the handle so unexpectedly, but kicked it angrily as it didn't move.
It was locked.
She slammed her fist angrily against it, letting out a high-pitched grunt, before she stumbled away and followed the outside wall with expectant eyes.
As she walked around a slight bend, Kimberly slowed as she noticed a hatch door of some sort beside the wall. She slowly crouched above it, her finger pulling at the latch with surprising ease. She raised the heavy door slowly, feeling her arms struggle under the weight, before she carefully leveraged all her weight behind it, and it fell open.
She'd found a way in!
Kimberly moved her legs over the wide hole and carefully flexed her arms, hoping to all God that the drop wasn't far. She was entering into nothing but darkness, and at the rate of her physical well being, she knew she'd probably end up snapping both her legs if the drop was far.
She licked her lips and lowered her body through the hole to the point where her arms could no longer hold her weight, and she let go, crying out uncontrollably as she dropped into the darkness.
The fall wasn't far, but her landing was anything but graceful. It was like a thud. Her arms crumpled under her body, her knees slamming on what felt like wet concrete.
"Ow..." she whined to herself, as she dragged herself onto all fours, her eyes adjusting slowly to the swamp of shadow she'd fallen into.
And as her eyes finally found a dim line of sight, all thanks to the opening above her, she realized with every horror she'd ever known that she wasn't alone.