A slow clapping alerted her to the presence of someone else in the room, something she seldom let happen anymore. Ever since she had sent the letter to Tommy, all the life had gone out of her. She hadn't wanted anyone to see it, so she had stopped practicing where anyone else could see her. There were rumors that she wasn't going to make the Pan-Globals...that she wouldn't even be at the compound that much longer. And quite frankly, she didn't care.
It wasn't that breaking up with Tommy was the wrong thing to do. Indeed, she was more certain with every day that it was the right thing. It was how she had done it that had drawn all the sparkle out of her. That, and what had happened with her 'boyfriend'. The one she had spoken of to Tommy in the letter. Damien had seemed like a nice guy, until she had told him that the letter was sent and she was officially able to date him without feeling too guilty. After that, he had changed. She couldn't go anywhere without him in tow. He had to dictate her diet, her mode of dress, who she could hang out with while in Florida, who she could write to back home, how long she was on the phone..he wanted to control every aspect of her life.
Kimberly Ann Hart, former Pink Ranger, took that from no one. When Damien had tried the final straw, attempting to declare how long she practiced and just what routines she used, she had told him to take his 'romance' and shove it straight up the rear end sideways. She had broken all ties with him, and compound security was told if he came anywhere near her to arrest him.
Ever since then, she had remained alone when she practiced. But now, someone was with her. She turned, trying to find the source of the noise. From the shadows there stepped a familiar figure, one that caused the ex-Ranger to fall quickly into a battle pose. "Oh, don't be so dramatic," Scorpina said quietly, her voice sounding softer and more...human...than Kim had ever heard it. "I'm not here to fight you."
Kim frowned. "Keep away from me, Scorpina!" she didn't want anything to do with this creature! But what was she doing here?
"Mind if I sit down?" Without waiting for an answer, Scorpina did so, leaning back to watch the person she had fought so many times before. "You're very good at what you do. But you don't seem to have the heart for it anymore."
"What do you care?" Kim snapped. The armor-clad woman sighed deeply, almost seeming truly upset.
"I care because...well, because that's what people do. They care about each other. It's something I've had a hard time understanding, but I think I'm finally getting a grip on it." Scorpina didn't seem to be quite the same as she had been the last time Kim had seen her. If the former Ranger recalled, that had been right around the time Adam, Rocky, and Aisha had joined the team. After that, there had been no sign of her. Kim had always wondered what had happened to her. She wondered if she could possibly be getting some answers here.
Scorpina glanced over at her, and smiled quietly. It was a real smile, not the fake ones she had always had before. This touched her eyes, and her heart. "I'm not quite the same person I used to be," she said quietly. Kim could feel no threat coming off her. "I wasn't always the person you knew, either. I was human, once. I loved someone so much I let them do something to me that I shouldn't have...and the Scorpina you knew was the result of it." Her eyes flashed for a moment, and a trickle of wetness filled them.
"Who was it?" Kim couldn't help herself from asking.
Her one-time enemy smiled quietly. "Lord Zedd. But what I thought was love on his part, and was love on mine...vanished. It was replaced by thrill in my skill in battle and wanting to please him. I won fight after fight, but it was never enough. I changed. If making him happy required serving him, then that's what I would do. I tried my hardest, but I was just never good enough." Her voice trembled a trifle. "He promised me that we would be married as soon as I won a title. And I killed thousands who had titles, but there were always those who could claim it before I did. Zedd said I wasn't good enough to be his consort in the end. I was told I would just be a warrior, forever. His warrior, though. Second to Goldar, because...because a woman couldn't be his chief warrior, of course."
She clenched a fist, and Kim found her heart reaching out to Scorpina. "That's ...that's just wrong."
"It's the way he thinks." She sighed. "The way I thought for a long time. I made him mad. I don't remember what it was, but he demoted me to Rita's service. Not exactly the best thing, even back then. Then I made her mad at me and she put me to sleep, sealed me in a cave. I slept....for centuries it was. Thousands of years. Until she woke me back up to serve her again while she had Tommy under her control." Scorpina sighed, and Kim was starting to wonder where this was leading. She wasn't used to sitting here with her enemy, just...talking. Scorpina spoke again.
"I just fought then. I never let her know what I was thinking. I couldn't let anyone know. I just did as I was told. It was safer than letting her know I was thinking about quitting."
Kim's eyes widened and she frowned. "You were thinking about quitting?"
"Yes." Scorpina sighed slowly, again. "I was just so tired of being evil, of the backbiting, never being able to trust anyone, always having to be on the alert no matter what the situation. I started...well, I started to watch people. Humans. To see what they would do when no one was looking. To see...what made them special.
"It took me months to pin it down...but then it just sort of all came together for me. People are different because they care. Because they do trust, and love, and feel. And it wasn't...weak. It made them stronger because of it."
Kim felt a sudden upwelling of empathy and sympathy for the ex-villainess. Things that she herself had taken for granted all her life, Scorpina had had to learn, and she had obviously learned them despite whatever sort of twisted life she'd led. "What did you do then?"
Scorpina sighed. "I came to Earth. I left behind everything I'd thought was worth anything at the time and decided to be human for a while. That was about..." she appeared to be considering. "Three months after I tried to capture Adam for Zedd. I'd been in hiding, more or less, in the palace, and watching you Rangers whenever I could. I concealed myself among humanity, in New York City, and just generally tried to forget that I was Scorpina. I call myself "Sabrina Wood", and I've been happy."
"So what brought you here?" Kim hoped she could get down to what had been on her mind since Scorpina had arrived. "And if you're being 'human', why are you still wearing that?" she indicated the golden armor that encased her companion.
Scorpina smiled. "I wanted to be sure you'd recognize me without a lot of problems. And I honestly am the most comfortable in this outfit. You don't soon loose touch with something you wear for ten thousand plus years."
Kim couldn't help herself; her own smile, something she hadn't worn in far too long, answered the other female. "You still haven't said why you're here." Against all common sense, she was starting to feel comfortable with Scorpina.
She took a seat next to Scorpina and looked at her. The other closed her eyes for a moment and took a long breath. All amusement seemed to drop from her. "I'm feeling...well, lonely is the only word I can really think of that describes it. Trapped...like I gave up something that was vitally important to making me, me..." she glanced over at the gymnast with a strange sort of hope in her eyes. "I was....hoping you'd know what it felt like..."
Kim caught her breath briefly. She knew quite well what Scorpina was talking about, knew it in every beat of her heart and movement of her soul. "I do."
The other woman smiled just the tiniest bit. "I'm going back to the stars...back to traveling. Not being a mercenary though. Just...traveling. Maybe helping some people out here and there when I have to. If I have to." There was a question, a request, in that somewhere, Kim could feel it. And she could feel a part of herself responding in a way she'd never dreamed possible.
It was always Billy's wish to go to the stars. But maybe he's already fulfilled his. She had heard from the others about how Billy had moved to Aquitar. Unexpected, yes, but somehow she felt he'd be happy there, at least for a while. Maybe there he'd come to terms at last with some of the things that he needed to.
She turned her mind back to Scorpina. Kim smiled. And chose. "Would there be room for someone else with you, you think? Maybe...a friend?"
Scorpina's sun-bright smile was all the answer that she needed. Somehow, Kim realized in the course of the last half hour...she'd found the light within herself again. And it was beckoning her on to the adventure she had sought since her Ranger days...
Something seemed to be telling her that when she went to the stars....she'd be going home.