Chapter 27: Last Resort
Seconds were trickling into minutes, minutes were tumbling into hours and Kimberly's mind was very quickly falling away. She didn't realize how much time had passed. She hadn't heard Jason's murmurs for her help or the out of place footsteps only a handful of rooms away.
The horrid, messed up existence they'd been handed had been phased out, replaced by her sleeping conscious, her body so far past exhausted that nothing penetrated it. The barrier had been placed. Kimberly had fallen asleep after hours of resistance and for those handful of minutes – maybe hours – nothing else existed to her.
Only a few feet away, Jason was faltering himself between consciousness and something resembling an almost death. His efforts to stir her awake with an extended arm failed time and time again. His lips mouthed the curves of her name as he remained in an almost paralyzed state, watching the clone of his best friend wonder aimlessly around the other side of the room.
"Kim," Jason's voice croaked out. "Kim."
Jason could only stare as the clone of Tommy suddenly dropped to the ground and crawled toward Kimberly's unaware body, before it grabbed the front of her dirty hospital gown and began to shake it roughly
Kimberly let out a hapless moan. Confused for a moment, she kept her eyes closed, only allowing them to open after she felt the touch of another brush her cheek.
"Tommy?" she whispered, her eyes blurry as they focused on the familiar set of dark eyes staring intently at her.
She wriggled her body and tried to straighten up, her heart falling as her surroundings came together and she suddenly remembered where she was.
It was almost enough to make her cry.
"Damn it," she rubbed her face angrily. "I fell asleep."
The clone remained still before her, his head tipping slightly from side to side as though he were intrigued by her. Kimberly pushed on him somewhat, using his body to help her to standing, before her head dropped to her left and her legs almost gave way on her.
"Jason!" she exclaimed as she fell to his side, and grabbed his face in between her hands. She stared at him for a moment, waiting for him to respond and when he didn't, the tears came.
The blood was everywhere and was so biting. It had trickled in numerous streams from his nose, from his ears...and the color of it was so intense, that it looked completely surreal.
"I'm so sorry..." Kimberly sobbed, as she fell toward his body and buried her face in his lap. "I didn't mean to leave you..."
Kimberly shot back up and blinked at him, her body shaking uncontrollably as she noticed his eyes flutter open and rest on her.
"Kim, what's wrong?" he croaked out.
Kimberly exhaled and smiled despite herself, before she moved her hands behind her back and hesitantly undid the ties to her gown. She struggled with the last tie, before she took a deep breath and allowed it slip off her shoulders, holding the bunched material before her in a feeble attempt to shield her now naked torso.
"Jason, say something to me," she breathed out, watching as his eyes stayed closed.
They fluttered open again and to her surprise he looked to smile. "There's no time for that now," he murmured wryly, his eyes gesturing to her. "Put your clothes back on."
Kimberly sighed and managed another smile, before she moved some of her gown to clean the blood that had ravaged his usually peaceful face.
An alarm abruptly blared in the near distance and Kimberly jumped to standing, flinging the hospital robe carelessly on before she headed toward the nearby door. She reached for the handle to open it, but stopped in shock at the view out to the corridor.
"It must be a fire alarm!" Kimberly exclaimed with panic, as she threw a quick glance over at Jason and the clone, before she looked back through the window. "There's smoke everywhere!"
Kimberly stared at the smoldering cloud through the window for another moment, before she flung herself around and stared at Jason with urgency.
"Jason, you have to get up, we have to get out of here now!" she told him.
His eyes were open, but didn't meet hers, and instead wandered down into his lap.
Kimberly sighed and hurried over to him, pulling the sheet off him. She stopped in stunned silence as she noticed the red flush to his exposed limbs, before she shook her head quickly and grabbed his arm.
"Jason, you have to get up," she told him again, trying not to raise her voice. "There must be a fire somewhere in the facility and we need to go- now."
"I can't Kim," he breathed out, his eyes awash in a watery glow. "I can't."
"Don't do this now," Kimberly dismissed him, trying to pull on his arms. He winced roughly and she paused, trying to catch her breath. "Just stand up, and I'll help you the rest of the way like you helped me."
Jason's eyes' squeezed close. "I can't move, Kim...it hurts too much..."
Kimberly inhaled a shaky breath. No. No, this wasn't happening. They were walking out together; she wasn't prepared to consider any other alternative.
"Jason, please," she whimpered helplessly, her hand moving to catch his cheek as his face fell awkwardly. "Come on, please-."
"You have to go without me," he wheezed out. "I want you to go, now, and leave me here-."
"No!" Kimberly cried. "I'm not leaving you, are you crazy?"
He pushed at her hands before he grabbed her head, pulling her toward his face. "Kimberly, listen to me," he breathed. "I-I'm not going to make it..." she pulled sharply away from him in protest, but he grabbed her again. "I'm dying! I'm too far gone, I can't feel..I feel..."
Kimberly fell to her knees and began to sob, the sound of smashing glass echoing in the background.
Katherine's fingers' clawed at the heavy floor beneath her, but she couldn't grip on and slid heavily into Rocky, the force catapulting her hard enough that it hurt.
She winced heavily, feeling sick.
"Kat, I'm-." Rocky grunted and cursed as the zord dipped unexpectedly.
Katherine inhaled, her stomach floating as though she were on the peaking slope of a roller coaster.
This was the absolute chaos that had become of their rush back to the facility from Angel Grove.
They were losing power quickly. Tommy was losing his mind. Katherine was losing her stomach and Billy was losing his composure. Could they actually even make it back to the facility on their struggling vessel?
Katherine lowered the front of her torso to the floor, as though she were praying. Rocky's arm quickly moved to tuck under her and yanked her back up, pulling her easily against him.
"Guess we know now why seatbelts were invented," he mused in her ear.
Katherine wrapped her own arm around him to tighten their grip, resting her mouth near his cheek. "Is Billy saying that we're not going to make it?" she asked him, finding it frustrating trying to decipher Tommy, Billy and Adam's broken up deliberations.
"Honestly, Kat, I think it's a chance, but the fear makes things worse, you know what I mean?"
Katherine swallowed. "I hope the others are okay…"
"Guys, give me an updated status on the facility," Billy asked, practically yelling as the zord's signaling system continued to wail incessantly.
"Billy, it's almost impossible to interpret these figures," Adam promptly replied, "but they're all through the roof – I may be wrong but it looks to have stopped at its highest registering point."
"There seems to be minimal mutants remaining in town," Tommy added swiftly. "Sensors are detecting a minority slightly north of the Astor building on North Street, but it appears that the rest have been taken care of."
It was the constant story of their struggle- save themselves and they would lose the world, but save the world and they would lose themselves. They could never find the balance, there was never that solution.
What if something unthinkable had happened to Kimberly and Jason?
She squeezed her eyes closed and tightened her grip on Rocky. The déjà vu was beginning to become overwhelming. Katherine's faith had been damaged again, just like it had been shattered in Seréshis, and yet somehow rebuilt after they had destroyed Zedd. But yet again, she could no longer trust in the things that Zordon had taught her or believe that no matter how low things got, a solution would always find its way into the palms of their hands.
There was nothing magical in this universe, not like the deadly yet beautiful life that Zordon had preached to them back then. Even with all the power in the world, they were no longer superheroes, or maybe they never were. They were mortals, barely more than children. Billy wasn't the answer to all, but only a bright mind; Tommy was an inspiration, yet he was only forced to make the choices that someone else would have had to make in his absence. And whose fault was it now that they were where they were?
Fighting for a life, that wasn't even theres. That wasn't even real. How had their fates and indeed the providence of the world been altered forever by that unthinkable accident at Seréshis that day?
"Guys, hold on, we're approaching the facility now," Billy swung his head over, his voice catching Katherine during her intense reflections.
Katherine lifted her head from where she had buried it into the curve of Rocky's neck. Smoke distorted the view from the windscreen, much like it had in the city, only this cloud was thicker. Darker.
"Billy, I might be wrong but sensors are picking up on three large targets just ahead," Adam alerted.
Billy shook his head swiftly. "You're not wrong, Adam," he assured him, as he quickly shifted the direction of the zord.
Katherine braced herself for the hundredth time, as the floor beneath her caved forward and sloped toward the ground.
"What are you doing?" Rocky asked demandingly, sharing an incredulous look with Katherine and Aisha.
"We can't destroy them with any more ammunition, it's too risky- I'm landing us now, before it's too late," Billy told everyone, surprising Katherine with the strength of his tone. "Everyone, brace yourself for an unpleasant landing."
"Great," Katherine whispered under her breath miserably.
She closed her eyes, the vertigo stealing a gasp from her mouth as she felt the floor practically fall from beneath her. Her gasp turned into a shriek, into a squeal, a scream and then-.
The landing threw her around so unexpectedly that she didn't have a chance to make a noise. For a very brief moment she wondered if she'd maybe been knocked out or worse; she forgot what she was doing and where she was as she felt two pairs of arms pull on her. Darkness was all she saw.
"Kat, wholly fuck; Billy- she's unconscious!" Rocky harped out.
There were other voices, too, but Katherine lost her hold on the building conversation as she fluttered her eyes open and grabbed hold of her head.
"She's not unconscious," Adam assured them as he knelt down before her, removing the helmet from his head. "Are you okay?"
Katherine had to think about it for a moment. "I think so…" she blinked. "I'm fine," she decided.
Rocky still looked pissed, as Billy moved from his chair and attended to Aisha who was ungracefully re-gathering herself after the heavy landing.
Katherine looked out to the windscreen, realizing they must have landed somewhere in the deep bush lands that encircled the IBI facility. The air looked dirty outside, but the smoke sat out of reach, giving a clear view of their dimly-lit surroundings.
The alarms no longer blared, the lights on the console no longer blinked and everything was suddenly so unnervingly silent inside the zord's cabin.
"Didn't you say you saw mutants near here?" Rocky reminded Adam.
Adam licked his lips and nodded. "I thought so…my sensors have stopped working now."
Tommy brushed past them and side-stepped Katherine, moving for the exit of the cockpit.
"Where are you going?" Rocky asked him.
Tommy looked briefly over his shoulder. "I'm going back to the facility," he replied matter-of-factory. "Can't you hear the fire and see all the smoke outside?"
Billy straightened up from Aisha. "Tommy, we can't just walk back to the facility- those targets Adam saw were large in comparison to the putties- we could be looking at three or so clones of Zedd," he pointed out.
Tommy pushed his helmet back on his head. "I'm covered, I'll be fine- stay here and I'll come back once I get Jason, Kim and Trini," he told them.
Rocky shook his head. "Don't even think about it, Tommy-."
Tommy dismissed him and Katherine quickly scampered to her feet, jumping to place a hand on his shoulder.
"Tommy, don't go," she asked him.
"I have to Kat," he whispered back to her. "You know why."
"But-." Katherine's hand slipped from his shoulder as he slid open the heavy door and leaped out into the foliage, pushing through despite their loud protests.
Katherine lowered her head, the uneasy breeze from outside blowing a strange heat against her cheeks as she stared out the open doorway as though being too afraid to move.
"He's gonna fucking kill himself," Rocky was muttering about loudly. "Jesus Christ, now what are we gonna do?"
Adam swallowed heavily. "Kat, you should close the door," he told her. "We don't know what's out there."
Katherine didn't move, she couldn't. It was wrong of Tommy to leave them, yes, but would she be any better if she didn't follow? At least try to salvage something?
She no longer had anything, except for them. If she didn't fight for that, then what was the point in everything they'd barely lived for this past week?
"Katherine?" Billy asked, his voice void of any force.
Katherine could barely swallow, before she bit her lip and jumped out through the door. She winced as her feet slammed into the dirt, the shock jarring through her legs as she heard four other voices call out after her.
"I'm going after Tommy," Katherine revealed rather dramatically, spinning around to face them all. "I can't let him go through this alone again!"
"Katherine, don't- it's too dangerous!" Billy argued.
Katherine shook her head and whispered a goodbye, before she turned and pushed her body through the relentless foliage. She could clearly see the path that Tommy had trampled and quickened her pace, pushing her legs and arms to such a pace where they stung almost unbearably.
"Tommy!" she called out, her eyes widening as the canopying trees began to disperse, piecing together a horrifying view of the facility ahead.
An absolute fire storm.
She stopped momentarily and turned around, contemplating going back for the others, when she heard Tommy call out from the distance. Katherine headed toward his voice, scurrying through a break in the boundary fence as she noticed her brooding leader ahead.
"Tommy!" Katherine cried out, her eyes instantly watering as heat from the flames began to overwhelm her.
Tommy turned toward her, removing his helmet. "Kat- you shouldn't have followed me!"
She looked at the facility, her heart pounding. "Kimberly! Trini!" she called out, ignoring Tommy's words.
"Jason!" Tommy quickly joined her verbal desperation. "Where are you?"
And then through the devouring cloud, a dark figure suddenly appeared in the distance, pacing toward them at a leisurely pace; with a look of composed madness on his features.
Agent Johns. One of them, anyway.
The showdown had begun.
Jason could feel his eyes roll into his head and he moaned out painfully, trying his best to see Kimberly. So many thoughts ravaged his mind; memories and all those sentimental things flashing before him, reminding him of his promise to always protect Them before himself.
He didn't want to be there anymore. How long would it take before his body finally had enough and would just give up? He was crying now, too. Watching her cry, thinking of his family and everything else in the world that meant something in his fake, but peaceful existence was pushing him closer and closer to the edge.
The faint smell of smoke tickled his blocked senses, stirring his urgency for her once more.
"Please, go!" Jason practically howled out at her.
Kimberly remained hunched before him, looking up at him with bloodshot eyes.
Something wasn't right- he could see it straight away. The small veins that flooded her usually bright eyes were pumping with a magenta glow, the faintest smudge of blood resting just beneath her nostrils.
She saw the expression in his eyes and reached for her face, crying out as the pinkish liquid smeared on her hand.
"Oh God," she blubbered. "What's happening to us?"
Jason rubbed the tears from his cheeks. "I think you were right, Kim," he told her. "I think Billy was right all along. I don't know how, I don't know why, but our powers are killing us..."
Kimberly's eyes narrowed slightly, as realization dawned on her. "But how can that be? If we're clones..." she threw a look over her shoulder as Tommy's clone began banging on the door as though possessed. She looked back at Jason. "Zack and Trini were both dying from their powers, just like you and I are...but they weren't at Seréshis, they weren't clones...Tommy and Billy were both rangers at the start like we were, and yet they're fine...but..."
Jason couldn't help but let his head fall forward slightly, the remainder of Kimberly's sentence blurring past him. Even though he was so tired and the pain was so intense, he found Kimberly's words once again, thumping in his brain, repeating over and over and over.
Then, it hit him.
He lifted his gaze, his head still heavy. "You and I, we never...we never died..."
Kimberly suddenly began to cough, falling into Jason as her body heaved and spasmed. She whimpered out painfully and Jason reached around her back, offering her the support he knew she'd always longed for. He had made his mind up and it was for her- for them- he had promised himself and Zordon all those years ago that he would protect his teammates without compromise. They were his soul mates; the ones who 'got him' and the ones who didn't deserve any of this.
He wrapped his second arm around her and buried his face in her hair, letting his hand slide as inconspicuously as possible down the side of her slender back. He could feel the bulk of it sticking out from her underwear and he wrapped his hand tightly around it before yanking it out.
Kimberly straightened herself up immediately and Jason fumbled slightly before he brought the gun close to his side.
"What are you doing?" she asked him softly; with confusion.
Jason felt sickened beyond comparison. He whispered prayers under his breath, before he slowly moved the gun and pointed it toward her.
"Kim, get off...go," he motioned with a movement of the gun. "Get up."
Kimberly stared at him for a moment, before her hands slowly slid off his chest. "Why are you pointing that at me?"
"Get up," he forced out as heavy as he could. "Now!"
Kimberly slowly slithered her straddling legs from his lap and awkwardly tried to stand up, her face twisting painfully as her hands clung to her stomach. Jason could feel the metal in his hand shake, his arm barely able to hold such a small weight with any accuracy.
Jason swallowed. "Now take some steps backward, go-."
"What? Are you going to shoot me?" she asked him in bewilderment. She eyes welled with tears. "We are so close, Jason, so close..." she pleaded in a shaky voice. "Just out those doors is freedom- they can help us..."
Jason let his thumb cock the gun's hammer. He could feel himself losing his battle with his emotions and conscious. "Kimberly, I don't want to hurt you-."
"Why are you doing this?" she pleaded in a pitchy voice. "I know you, Jason; you would never hurt me."
You're right, Kim...you are so right...
He suddenly turned the barrel of the gun to himself, and rested it on the shelf of his forehead, inhaling sharply when Kimberly started for him and then stopped.
"Please, Kim..." Jason begged her, not even knowing if the sound was coming out of his lips anymore. "I don't want you to die in this shit hole like the rest of us! I want you to get out of here and find Tommy and he will work out how to make you better..."
Kimberly lowered her head and continued to cry, her own sobbing muted in Jason's ears by his own outpouring of emotion and passion.
"I don't care, I'm not going without you- we promised each other Jason, and I've already failed Trini and Zack, I'm not going to fail with you- You can shoot me, I don't care anymore..."
Jason's heart sank and he almost felt the pistol slip from his hand. He pushed it harder against his flesh and shook his head sadly. "I would never hurt you Kim...I'm just really sorry for everything...I'm sorry for how I failed in protecting you from Zedd and Goldar in Seréshis and I'm sorry...and I'm sorry about..." he swallowed.
Kimberly's eyes softened. "Please, Jason...I don't want you to do anything crazy..."
He moved his finger to the lever. "This isn't a life, this isn't an existence..." he whispered, before his eyes squeezed her away and he pulled the trigger.