Chapter 17: Shared Vision
Billy slowly opened his eyes, knowing that there was no anticipation behind his speed. After all, he didn't have to have them open to know that it didn't work.
They were still unmorphed.
"Just as I thought," he murmured, turning the morpher slowly in his hand to look at it. "They look the part, but Zordon's technology was still too great for them to capture."
"Guess it was worth a try," Jason offered him, as he handed back his morpher.
Billy avoided his almost sympathetic glance and turned around, kneeling onto the ground to carefully inspect the manufactured morphers. He sighed. It was pointless and a waste of his malnourished energy to stare at them any longer as though a solution would magically present itself to him.
He needed the tools of the trade. He needed access to a Command Center that no longer existed; access to Alpha's intricate knowledge of technology and the machinery to support it and he needed access to Zordon and all that he knew.
Billy feebly moved his attention to the steel cabinets before him and half-heartedly began to sort through them, his ears paying only slight attention to the conversation brewing behind him.
"...if you guys are saying that they murdered Zack for whatever reason they may have believed they had, then why is Trini so sick now? Why were Kimberly and I glowing?" Jason pointed out.
Billy frowned privately at the way Jason's voice seemed to barely scratch by, as though their original leader was struggling just to speak.
"Maybe the glowing had something to do with them trying to recreate your power coins?" Rocky suggested. "Maybe that's why none of us were glowing."
"Yeah, but that still doesn't explain why Jason and I became stronger and Trini became weaker after they tried to kill us," Kimberly pointed out.
Billy turned his attention away from the deliberation and focused on the cabinet's contents, his heart skipping a little as he recognized an uneven stack of familiar testing devices. He let out a breath and reached in, his hand securing around a scanning device he had used during countless of dilemmas in his ranger days.
"What have you found?" Katherine asked with soft hope, as her slender form crouched down beside him.
Billy showed her the hand-held gadget and smiled tightly. "I might have just recovered something to assist me with troubleshooting the manufactured power coins," he shared.
"Is there anything I can do to help you with that?"
Billy nodded and stood up, waiting for her to follow before passing her the scanner. "Run this scanner over Kim and Jason, one at a time," he instructed her.
His words caught Tommy's attention. "What is that for?" he asked him.
"It will double check if Kim and Jason's bodies are still physically strong enough to accept the power coins," Billy explained, raising his voice enough to catch everyone's attention. "There's always been an undeniable balance between our own, human bodies and Zordon's superhuman powers- we saw that countless of times, such as when Tommy lost his green ranger powers and when Kimberly's power coin fell into evil hands," he paused. "Unless our bodies are strong enough to contain such power, then they will not exist to their potential. One or the other has to give."
He watched as Katherine walked over towards Kimberly, before he turned back around and returned his attention back to the cabinet. Even though he was certain that whoever at the IBI had tried to tamper with much of the machinery in the cupboard, Billy guessed they probably had no idea what to do with them. He just hoped that at least some of it was still working, as it was probably their only chance at this stage at trying to unravel Agent Johns' twisted little project.
Billy glanced over his shoulder as he heard a tiny beep emit from the scanner and he walked over to where Katherine glanced at the machine perplexed. She handed it over to him and Billy glanced at the screen himself, poking a few known button combinations to no avail.
It didn't make sense.
"What is it?" Kimberly asked him confused.
Billy turned the scanner around and checked it for signs of external damage. "The device mustn't be operational...it's saying it doesn't recognize you..."
He moved the scanner's laser toward his own torso and ran it over his body, waiting for it to once again emit the same short beep and display the same error message.
This time the device let off a succinct chime, the display panel flashing with success.
Why would it work on me and not on Kimberly? It doesn't appear to be broken-.
"Is it working, Billy?" Katherine asked him gently.
Billy couldn't hide his frown and he slowly glanced up at Kimberly's waiting eyes.
His childhood friend wrapped her arms around her almost protectively, her own eyes slanted. "Why are you looking at me like that?" she asked him annoyed.
Billy sighed, lowering the scanner so it was dangling from his hand by his side.
"Kim...the scanner is saying that it doesn't know you...that you're not Kimberly Hart-."
Aisha stepped toward them, her hand gesturing quickly, before slapping back against her leg. "Billy, who knows that these monsters have done to the machinery here?" she cut him off. "It's probably saying it doesn't recognize Kim because they've broken it."
Billy sighed again. "It says it recognizes me," he countered weakly, glancing around at each of his friends as though lost for words.
He held his gaze momentarily on Tommy, inwardly taken aback by the strange glint in his leader's dark eyes. Tommy's lips were tightly pursed, his whole body stiff until he gently stepped toward Kimberly and awkwardly stopped beside her, drawing her nervous eyes his way.
"What?" she asked him.
"I noticed the scar on your back is gone..." he almost whispered, his eyes down on the ground below.
Billy frowned a little as Kimberly let out a small laugh. "What scar?"
"The one on your back," Tommy replied, his voice raising slightly. "The one you got during battle."
Kimberly's eyes darkened as his accusation trailed off and her lips twisted slightly, her feet stepping backwards.
"Just what are you guys trying to say? That you don't believe I'm me?"
Jason moved toward her, throwing an almost dirty look toward both Billy and Tommy. "Kim, calm down," he began.
"Calm down?" she practically sputtered, her eyes flaring between Jason, Tommy and Billy. "Why are you guys doing this? I'm me!" she pleaded dramatically, throwing a hand up to point at herself.
Tommy moved for her, grabbing her hands. "Then prove it," he told her.
Her eyes gazed up at him so coolly, that Tommy almost wished he could look away and put the words he'd spoken back down his throat.
Tommy gulped, releasing a quick breath as he felt Kimberly pull her hands sharply from his and throw him an accusing look.
"So," she said. "What do you want me to do?"
Tommy blinked, and slowly walked away, motioning for her to follow him. He didn't want the other's overhearing their discussion and he was fearful at what would happen if he somehow ascertained that the betrayed eyes that followed him didn't belong to their Kimberly.
He turned around "Kim-."
"How could you do this to me?" she asked, her voice surprisingly soft. "Why single me out?"
"Because I know you Kim," he explained, leaning toward her face. "You are not the person I remember. I thought I was imagining it, but seeing you now confirms it for me. And the scar- how do you explain that?"
Kimberly merely stared at him for a moment, before her eyes lowered to the ground and he could barely see them behind her eyelashes.
"Things have changed," she admitted quietly. She finally looked back at him. "I'm not the person I used to be. Here I was thinking that you guys would have changed too, but now you're accusing me of being a clone because I'm not the fifteen year old girl that you remember?"
"That's not what I'm saying-."
"I don't care," she cut him off simply. "I don't know what scar you're talking about, but I never had any scar on my back. I mean God, Tommy, you never had the best memory in the world-."
He shook his head almost angrily and stepped away. "This has got nothing to do with my memory, Kim, this is about you and the fact that there are clones of us running around this place that could easily fool us into believing they're the real deal."
"Oh so fine, Tommy, what do you want me say, huh? That I'm a clone? Will that somehow make this whole horrible experience go away? I never wanted to come back to Angel Grove like this and truth be told I didn't want to see you, but I know this is not the time for that crap to get in the way." She ran her hands over her face. "I shouldn't have come…I should never have come back."
Tommy didn't respond, but merely stared through her, feeling himself swayed by her words and becoming gradually angrier with himself for accusing her in such a way. Sure, it was true that he had considered the possibility that Kimberly was a clone, but a bigger part of him had lost control of his composure because of his personal feelings toward her. He didn't want to hurt her- Hell, he wasn't mad at her for things that happened in the past.
But the past was too overbearing like the guilt that he felt, that somehow he'd caused her to become such a bitter and cold person. Seeing everything; standing in the presence of their ripped apart pasts was tugging on Tommy incessantly. Kimberly had changed. Everything had, and he hated it.
She sighed loudly and caught his attention, before she spun around on her bare feet and walked back to their former teammates. Tommy reluctantly followed, sharing a glance with Jason, as everyone stared at the two former lovers.
"Don't worry, you guys, I convinced our former leader that I am me," Kimberly declared bitingly. "After all, who else would know he forgot to bring condoms with him the first night we were going to sleep together?"
Tommy felt his throat tighten as everyone stared at each other uncomfortably.
"What? What is it now?"
"It's not just you, Kim…the machine didn't know me either and then it somehow worked," Jason finally spoke up quietly.
Kimberly frowned, as Rocky swiftly took the scanner out of Billy's hand. "Billy, for God's sake bin this piece of junk and stop trying to plant seeds of doubt in everyone's mind," he stated annoyed. "This shit means nothing now…let's get it together. We've gotta go out there and beat Zedd, or whatever horrors they've got locked down in this basement."
Kimberly shot a look at him, stepping forward. "Those mutants almost tore me to sheds, Rocky- you can't just expect us to go out there and destroy them like we used to."
"Well we can't just sit around and wait here, either," he countered. "We need food- water…not to mention we saw how strong those mutants are. They'll corner us eventually."
"Look, we need to forget about the coins," Tommy said. "What we need now is a plan that we can use, remembering we don't have powers to back us up. It's our duty now to handle this, to get vengeance for Zack's murder and to make sure we get out of here so that people know what the IBI has been up to all of this time."
Katherine glanced at him, flashing him her honest eyes as she added "Tommy's right...we need to take control of this situation."
Aisha raised her hand warily. "I don't know about you guys, but I am really getting beyond tired...I can barely see anything clearly and unless I get some rest I may as well surrender to the IBI and their mob of mutants now."
Tommy nodded. "I think getting some rest is a good idea," he agreed. "We can take it in turns; I'll stay on guard and keep an eye out for any trouble and the rest of you should try and get as much rest in as possible."
Jason patted him on the shoulder. "If I actually manage to fall asleep, wake me up in two and I'll take over for you," he told him.
"Thanks man," Tommy said, as they all awkwardly glanced around and positioned themselves on the cold, hard ground beneath them wondering how on earth they could possibly find rest at such a time.
"Ahhh...Kim-mee'...tell me this- how come you spent so long trying to get back that precious coin of yours, only to turn around and hand it over to Katherine?..." A snicker. "Has the Kat got your tongue? Sounds to me like you've spent too many years being brainwashed by Zordon's pathetic ideology that there is good in everyone...let me tell you this, my precious- there isn't good in everyone, but there is bad in each and every one of us-."
"You think you can talk me to death, Zedd? Spit on Zordon as much as you like, but face the facts- you're just binding time until they come and get us out of here and you're left whining like the bitch you married..."
A chuckle, but it was strained somewhat. "Yes...that's the inner evil I'm talking about. Jason was right to cry for you...he knows how much pleasure I'll have once Tommy decides you're not worth more than the pathetic planet he claims as his own trophy."
Kimberly tried to slide her feet toward her body, but the shackles pulled too tightly. "Tommy will save us...he always will..."
"Oh, so sentimental, but where is he my dear? How long has it been since you've eaten and how long does Jason have to bleed before your white knight is good enough to show up?"
"They will come..."
"Love is a waste, Kimberly...your teammates don't care about the rejects anymore...you're disposable to them, just like you are to him."
"I hate you. I HATE YOU!"
"Love them, wait for them and believe in your little world...that's why you forgave that lying hoar so quickly and that's why you'll die waiting for him to come-."
Kimberly gasped and shot up, squeezing the hell out of her thighs, before the pain registered and she stopped.
A dream. It was just a dream.
She bunched her legs to her chest and rested her cheek on her knees, feeling monetarily lost and disorientated until she remembered where she was. It was really cold. Not cold like the countless mornings she practiced on the skate rink before even the sun woke up- she could actually see the cold in the broken down basement laboratory and for a moment she wondered if she could feel her body at all.
A tear trickled down her cheek.
It was just a nightmare. Just a stupid, stupid nightmare.
She needed to sleep, she really did. Everyone else was lying so still nearby, but even amidst their own dreams or nightmares, she could tell they too felt the cold as every single one of them found the most comfort rolled into the fetal position.
Her hands were numb, but she couldn't feel her feet. Her stomach hurt.
She was falling back to sleep sitting up.
And then she saw his crimson gaze looking back at her.
"No!" she gasped in a soundless breath, her body convulsing and then freezing.
"Are you okay?"
Kimberly lowered her head to her knees and looked at him. "It was just a dream," she shared in a quiet voice.
His expression touched her with softness. "Jason told me that you've been having a lot of sleeping problems," he admitted, sounding slightly cautious.
Kimberly silently gulped, suddenly feeling so vulnerable. She bit her lip and glanced away.
"It's not a big deal," she said.
God, she was lying to herself.
She sighed. "They don't know why, but for so long now I've had trouble sleeping…At first it was crazy dreams, but then it turned into insomnia." She released a wry breath. "I'm used to it now."
Tommy shuffled a little and stared at her evenly, coaxing her attention with his attentive glance.
"How long has it been going on for? You said you, uh have been feeling this way for a long time…"
She nodded gently, wishing she could just be honest, yet she felt so held back. After all, telling Tommy the truth behind her mental anguish wouldn't make it go away. He would more likely read too much into it, and that was the last thing she wanted at such a moment.
Besides, he'd paid a heavy enough penalty with a lifetime's worth of guilt that she could never dissipate. If she told him she was too afraid to sleep in fear of seeing their old nemesis in her dreams, then he would probably kick himself in the stomach knowing things may not have been so bad had he made better choices all those years ago.
Maybe if he'd decided her life was worth enough back then, she wouldn't have been so messed up now. Perhaps if he'd bothered to realize she wasn't as strong as he thought, then she wouldn't have felt so betrayed by him even after they were reunited following that fateful final battle.
It was never the right time for them. It never would be.
"What do you dream about?" he changed his question.
Kimberly moved a nervous hand over her hair. "Seréshis…"
Tommy's face drew slightly contorted. "The place?"
"The final battle," she confirmed. "I dream about it all the time."
Silence. Only for a moment, but long enough for Kimberly to realize that Tommy was suddenly sitting so much closer to her.
"I think it's only natural that you think about it a lot. I know we've spoken about it enough times already, but it's okay for you to feel that burden...I know that you and Jason went through too much. But, it was also the best thing that ever could have happened. We got rid of Zedd; we freed ourselves from that life."
But that's not what haunts me...
"That's the thing," she reflected. "In my dreams, it never turns out that way. You guys were winning at the start, yes; Jason and I were afraid for our lives, but we never once doubted in you guys. We never lost. But all I see behind my eyes is everything going wrong…the impossible actually happening."
Tommy eyelids flicked a little to the ground. "You dream that we died there…that we didn't make it?" he guessed almost nervously.
Kimberly stared at him in stunned silence, before he finally looked back at her. "How did you know that?" she asked him.
"Because I have the same dream," he told her. "I've been having that dream since the very first day…"