Kimberly shifted in the driver’s seat for the seventeenth time since leaving Rocky and Adam’s Academy. Yet no matter what she did, she could not ease the knots in her stomach nor vanquish the restlessness surging throughout her body. She darted her eyes back at the rearview mirror just like she had every half a moment during the drive back to her house in order to check on Trini.
The newly christened yellow Ninjetti Ranger slumped in the backseat, held upright only by her seatbelt—a tangle of black hair veiling her face from view.
Kimberly’s heartbeat echoed distantly in her ear. She glanced at Trini again in the rearview mirror. No change, she thought. Then she stole a glance at Zack who was sitting in the passenger seat. His eyes were frozen onto the road. How could he be so calm? Kimberly thought.
Zack had remained silent for the past eight and half minute drive. Refusing to shift his gaze from the road, his face was frozen in concern, frustration, and agony. If Jason had been under a spell, Zack could have forgiven him for the evening’s events. But after hearing Sean and Billy’s story, and seeing Jason in action, Zack was replacing his compassion with anger. Tommy had been forgiven immediately for almost killing Billy because he had been under some sort of mind control—perhaps a spell. Jason was a different story. In Zack’s mind, no human capable of being a power ranger would ever consent to becoming the next monarch of evil. And yet Sean had told them that Jason was destined to become evil. Playing Devil’s Advocate, Zack found that a little too convenient. However, he did not disregard it either. To be honest, he did not know what to think. There were too many unanswered questions for him to make an opinion.
Although he was angry at Jason, he was more worried about Trini and the rest of his friends— especially Sean. Being a personal athletic/weight trainer, Zack had worked with a variety of people with different breaking points. And after seeing Sean go one-on-one with Jason, Zack knew that Sean was out of his and the other rangers’ league when it came to endurance and skill. Not to mention the fact that he took out all of those Gargoyles with one attack. So why on earth was he so weak after that battle? Zack thought to himself. Surely Jason didn’t tire him out that much. Maybe his powers are temporary like Tommy’s had been after the Green Candle. Various suggestions such as these filtered in and out of his thoughts.
Meanwhile Kimberly struggled with her own thoughts. Before today, Kimberly would have said that competing in the Global Pan games was the most nerve-racking experience of her life. She was wrong.
In fact, if she had had the choice, Kimberly would have preferred being in the spotlight in front of the judges and an audience of over a hundred people than be in the position she was in now. At least she had known what she was doing when she was at the Global Pan games.
Life was simpler then. Kimberly was a full time gymnast, which she had devoted all of her life to. She looked back on those days as the happiest of her life. All of her friends had seen her, whether coming to the events or watching them on television.
And now she was a power ranger once more—yet she had been thrown into the fire before she had become one again. As soon as the rangers had discovered that Jason was evil, the damage had begun. Barely an hour ago she had been fighting minions that Jason had summoned with his own hands, seen Trini collapse with horror blazing from her face, and seen Tommy’s composure shatter. The rangers were not battling just Lord Zedd and Rita. Neither of them had caused this degree of emotional carnage in the four years they had fought against the power rangers. Well, except for when they made Tommy a power ranger, and when they stole my power coin, she thought with a mental shudder. Of her memories as a power ranger, those were her worst.
She shook them from her mind.
The rangers’ true enemy now was Jason: a human and an ex-ranger—not to mention Kimberly’s best friend and “big brother”—who had turned his back on every principle that he used to stand for. Rita and Zedd were nothing but puppets, just like they had been when Dark Specter had been alive. Though Sean had been adamant that he was not asking them to fight Jason, it was clear nevertheless that a fight with Jason was inevitable. And Kimberly was not sure if she could handle that confrontation when it happened.
“Kim?” Zack asked softy.
“Hmm?” Kimberly said, surfacing from her thoughts as she met Zack’s gaze for a moment.
He hesitated at first, but was determined to break the agonizing silence.
“How are you?” he asked, struggling to the find a balance between concern and support for Kimberly. Only one of them needed to break down at a time. Of the original five Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Zack and Kim were the ones closest to Jason.
“In pieces,” she sighed. “You?”
“Hangin’ in there,” Zack replied, craning his neck around to look at Trini. “I hate seeing her like this.”
“I do too,” Kimberly added under her breath, pulling into the light beige driveway of her double story Mexican stucco style house as the last beams of the sun from their left slipped down the walls and roof.
“Trini, we’re here,” Kimberly said, turning her head to Trini after the she had parked and shut off the car.
Trini refused to respond, absorbed by her thoughts. Her black, almost elbow length haired veiled most of her face in a tangle of cobwebs. Though she was staring at the carpeted floor, she saw nothing. A fog obscured her vision—blending colors and shapes into a swirling puddle of images of exuberant joy and also of terror, pain, worry, and grief.
“Trini?” Zack asked, stretching his hand to part her bangs. Behind them was a corpse of the woman with more inner courage, strength, and self-discipline than anyone else he knew. A shudder leaped into his face before he could control himself. Her complexion shook him to the core. In the many years Zack had known Trini, he had never seen her like this. What did Jason do to you? he thought, brushing her cheek with his fingers. Again, she made no reaction.
Kimberly and Zack exchanged worried looks.
“Let’s get her inside,” Zack said, getting out of the car. A thunder cloud loomed over the fields in the distance behind Kimberly’s house. Living in Southern California, Zack and Kimberly rarely had thunderstorms. It swelled as it inched towards them. “That storm will be here soon.”
“I’m not worried about a storm,” Kimberly said, shifting her glance to Trini.
Zack pinned his eyes on her, his broad and toned body no longer feeling strong, as he guessed what else she was thinking.