Kahva, Adam and Tanya were up to their elbows in the inventory of the Power Chamber's supplies, kicking up small dust clouds here and there. Billy had left only about twenty minutes earlier, and the Yellow Ranger had come to take his place in the cleaning crew. Behind their older friend's back, Adam and Tanya exchanged conspiratorial glances every now and then, keeping a close watch on the time.
Kahva straightened up suddenly, a distant, but amused, look on her face. "I was wondering when they'd get down to business!" she declared with a small chuckle.
"Billy and Sheena?" Tanya asked, raising an eyebrow. They'd all seen that look before on Kahva's face when the Silver and Sapphire Rangers were 'together'.
Kahva giggled. "Now what ever could have given you that idea - whoa..." she grabbed hold of a counter quickly to steady herself, her eyes flying wide open. "Now that was something else!" she breathed. "Wow," she gasped, shaking her head to get the image she'd received from the two lovebirds out of it. Turn it off! she sent to them, begging, but they didn't hear her. Guess I need to take care of this one, then, she smiled to herself.
"You okay?" Adam moved to her, concerned now. Kahva had never been staggered this much by Sheena and Billy before.
"As soon as I 'block their transmission', I will be, Adam," she assured him. Kahva closed her eyes and breathed deeply for a few moments, then opened them again. "That was even more intense than when they were on their honeymoon! I think it's safe to say they've straightened everything out and calmed their fears!" she laughed a little as she shook her head, still trying to clear it of the vivid images she'd received. Kahva blushed ever so slightly, she had gotten quite a 'mind's eye-full', as Sheena as started to describe the experiences.
"Good!" Tanya smiled. "Sheena was kind of upset earlier, I'm glad she's feeling better."
Kahva cocked an eyebrow at her, her hands on her hips, and her familiar quirky grin plastered on her face. "If she isn't feeling better after that, then there's something wrong with the girl, believe me!!"
"I can only imagine!" Tanya grinned, tossing a glance at Adam. Their relationship had only extended as far as deep, passionate kisses; it was nowhere near as intense as Sheena and Billy's was, though.
Kahva sighed wistfully. "Maybe one day none of us will have to imagine." She grinned suddenly, giggling, "Or get knocked down by it mentally!"
"One day!" Adam laughed as they got back to work. Another half hour quickly passed as they cleaned, organized, and filed everything they possibly could without Billy's supervision. Jokes flew back and forth about how no one was going to recognize the storage areas once they were done, the rooms would be so clean!
Finally Tanya leaned back, stretching. "Whoa, this is hard work!" she declared loudly, trying not to sound forced. "We need a break!"
"You guys go ahead and take off," Kahva told them. "I can handle it from here."
Adam shook his head at that. You're not staying behind this time, not today! "Nope, you've been working longer than we have, you need a break even worse than we do!"
"I'm okay, really, Adam!" Kahva tried to insist as she turned to pull out another box. The dust cloud it stirred up triggered almost five straight sneezes from her.
Her sneezing, her allergies, that's as good an excuse as any to get her to come with us. Never thought I'd be grateful to dust bunnies! Tanya stood up, "Nope, you are getting out of this dusty place before you sneeze your head off, Kahva!"
Kahva sneezed one last time, then looked at them both. "I'm not going to win this one, huh?" she asked, looking from one Ranger to the other. Adam shook his head firmly; they were getting her out of the Power Chamber if it killed them. Or if I have to tie her up and drag her out of here! Adam thought.
"There's a carnival that just hit town, it would be the perfect place to relax for a few hours!" Tanya suggested. Please don't say no! she begged mentally, even as Kahva stifled a shudder at the suggestion.
"I don't know, it's probably going to be crowded on a day like today, isn't it?"
"I don't think so," Tanya shrugged. "It just got here."
Adam laughed, "And even if it is, why let other people get in the way of us having fun? Come on, it'll be a blast!" he urged her, giving Kahva his best 'puppy-eyes, please don't say no' look. She hadn't been able to resist that look in the nearly six months she'd been in this world yet, and Adam used that to his advantage ruthlessly, when needed.
Kahva's eyes flicked from one to the other, They've got to be up to something, but what is it? But the look on Adam's face was impossible to resist or refuse. "Okay, okay, I'll go, I'll go!" she gave in at last. "Just let me change into a shirt that isn't the color of dust and I'll be ready!" She started out of the room, then stopped at the doorway to look back at them. "Will I get an honest answer if I ask just what the two of you are up to?"
"Us?" Tanya looked as innocent as she possibly could. "Up to something?"
"Nope, not us!" Adam looked even more innocent!
Kahva laughed; she couldn't help it. The more innocent they acted, the surer she was of a conspiracy of some sort. But she had to admit in spite of herself, she did want to get away from the inventory for a little while. Even if that meant facing a crowd. "Yeah right, and I'm a Power Ranger!" she countered his proclamation. "Don't worry, I'll still go, you two little imps!" As she headed down the hall, she heard Tanya laughing from behind her.
"We're just going to the carnival to relax and have fun!"
Somehow, Kahva just couldn't believe them. But does it matter?
she asked herself. Nope. Carnivals are fun. as long as they aren't too
"I hope they were able to get Kahva out of the Power Chamber," Billy said aloud, a little breathless from the race he had just barely lost to his wife from the park to the carnival. "I almost didn't start the inventory today, knowing how she is."
"But if you hadn't, she would've most likely gone the TV station, even though they don't have anything they need freelance help on right now, and found some editing or something to get buried in," Sheena reminded him. "And once she starts working on something there, you know she won't stop unless she's carried off by force," she laughed. "You did the right thing, I'd rather try to get her away from cleaning, than video or photo work any day."
"Yeah, but you aren't the one who was picked to drag her away," Tommy's voice floated over to them. He and Kat had come up in time to hear most of the conversation, arms wrapped about each other's waists. Over the past year, their relationship had gotten closer and tighter; getting to the point that most of their friends were predicting that they would be the next to get married. if Tommy's brother David and his girlfriend Stephanie didn't beat them to the altar.
"Now Tommy," Kat laughed, "you know that Adam is the only one in this dimension who could have pulled this off. Don't even try to tell me that you guys are immune to his 'puppy dog eyes', because you know you aren't!"
"Yes we are!" the Red Ranger protested.
"Oh really? Then why did you suddenly decide to cut the workout you two had yesterday so short, when you were determined to go a full hour? Adam played you Tommy, admit it!" Kat teased.
Tommy shook his head finally, laughing. "Okay, he did, I admit it!. But I couldn't argue with him too much, it gave me more time with you yesterday, didn't it?"
"That it did," she agreed readily, kissing Tommy quickly, then planting another longer one, with a little more passion behind it. "Remind me to thank him," she smiled.
"Tommy, if your link with Kahva gets any stronger than what it is right now, you're going to have to learn how to shut certain things off, you know," Sheena informed him with a knowing smile. Suddenly, she blushed. "Oops!! I think we forgot to block our signals to her, Billy!" An embarrassed look passed between the married couple as they realized what Kahva must have seen and felt earlier. But as they both reached out for her, they could feel the block up between them, and they relaxed a bit.
Kat grinned mischievously at the Silver and Sapphire Rangers, talking softly as Rocky and David walked up with their dates so as not to be overheard. "I guess she 'turned off the TV' for you?" Billy merely nodded with a grin as the others joined them.
"Hey bro!" David cheerfully called out. His girlfriend Stephanie beamed at his side, one arm securely wrapped about his waist. "Are we early, or are we late?"
"Sorry if we're a bit late," Stephanie spoke up, "but David was showing me some of the cave drawings they've just found on the reservation's eastern side, they are beautiful!"
Tommy chuckled a bit as he briefly clasped his brother's hand in greeting. "I think you're right on time, Jason and Emily haven't gotten here yet." Tommy kept his smile up, even when both Stephanie and Rocky's date Lisa made slight faces at Emily's name. "Once they get here, I think we will be all set."
"Hope Emily doesn't ruin everything," Lisa muttered under her breath, not intending for anyone to hear her. Rocky hugged her quickly, while Stephanie spoke up to lighten the mood.
"And once we are all assembled," she grinned, "the carnival is ours for the taking! I hear the 'Tunnel of Love' is supposed to be really nice," she hinted, smiling at David, then kissing him full on his lips. As she and Lisa moved to talk with Kat and Sheena, David's eyes followed her, his heart stirred by every move she made, his smile growing bigger with her laughter. He didn't even notice Rocky's snickering at his lovestruck expression, or Tommy's trying to get his attention until his brother covered his eyes with both of his hands.
"Hey!" he exclaimed softly, pulling Tommy's hands from his face, "What's the big idea, you're blocking my view of my woman, bro!"
Billy and Rocky were too busy laughing to give a coherent response, and Tommy wasn't much better. But he merely grinned, then lifted up David's hair and pretended to examine the back of his brother's neck. "Hmm, looks okay. To quote our dear Kahva, I don't see any teethmarks, I think we can still serve you to the public." David slapped Tommy's hands away, blushing furiously, then laughing himself, before sighing a bit as he looked back at Stephanie.
"Don't bother with the public," he declared. "Just serve me up to Stephanie."
Tommy finally couldn't hold his laughter back any longer. "You've got it bad, bro! When's the wedding?"
"I wish it was today." David turned serious for a moment, looking at Tommy. "I'm really in love this time bro. She is the one for me. I know neither one of us is ready to get married right now, but she is the one." Then he grinned, "So when's the date for you and Kat? Or are you like me and haven't found the nerve to propose yet?"
Tommy turned serious then, but his smile never faded. "I wish it was today too, but we're not quite ready for marriage yet either. Wonder which of us will head down the aisle first?"
"Why don't you two Romeos ask Kahva if she's seen either of you getting married? She's the one who told me about Lisa," Rocky suggested, still laughing a bit. "Though she's never said that Lisa is who I'm destined for, she did tell me Lisa had been watching me."
"She saw Lisa staring at you in the Youth Center, it wasn't a vision Rocko," Billy laughed.
"Who's a vision?" came a female voice from behind them. As the guys turned, they saw Emily and Jason getting out of Jason's car. As he looked back to the other young women, Billy could see them all plastering on smiles, determined to be nice and polite to Emily. No matter how she had been behaving as of late, she was still Jason's girlfriend, and deserved at least that much respect. That, and Emily has been at least a little nicer to Kahva, Billy heard his wife's voice in his mind. Though I doubt she's really sincere about it. I'm surprised she came.
Aloud, Billy welcomed the newly arrived couple. "Glad you guys could make it! I think that gets us all together, now we just need our recovery team," he chuckled. Emily smiled, but there was the faintest hint of coldness to it; a coldness that had become all too familiar over the past six months or so.
"It was so nice for you all to plan this for everyone," she purred, both of her arms wrapped tightly around Jason's waist. Billy couldn't help but notice the little differences between her and Stephanie, who had once again wrapped her arms around David's waist. Where Stephanie's gesture was plainly one of pure love, Emily's gave the impression of possession. "Will Daniel be joining us also?"
"I wish he could, but he can't, there's an audition in New York that he can't miss," Sheena answered her. Emily was good though, she kept her smile up, though her voice sent shivers down nearly everyone's spine.
"Kahva is going to be so disappointed, she must feel so lonely with him so far away."
As if you really care. "That is why all of us decided to go out together today, she does miss him a lot. Hopefully a good time at the carnival will make this a happy day for everyone," Sheena calmly said, staring right at Emily. But any further comments were stopped by the arrival of Adam's green Tracker. "Here's the rest of our brood. Over here, guys!" Sheena called out to a very happy and giggling Adam and Tanya, and to a rather hesitant Kahva, who had just caught sight of Emily. Kat and Stephanie immediately ran to her side and ushered her into the center of the group, as if to prevent her from escaping. Which she still might try to do, but I won't let Emily spoil this day for her, or for any of us. Especially not this day. "Glad you guys could make it," Sheena grinned at them.
Kahva cocked an eyebrow at her soul-sister, Sheena had the same conspiratorial air about her that Adam and Tanya had had all the way to the carnival, and Kahva was getting that same feeling from everyone's grins and smiles, with the exception of Emily. "All right, now that Adam and Tanya have duly and truly kidnapped me, what's going on here? They're up to something, and so are you guys."
"We just all decided to go to the carnival today," Sheena innocently replied, but Kahva would have none of that.
"I know you too well, Sheena, something's up? What, has David finally proposed to Stephanie?" she grinned.
Sheena knew Kahva didn't really suspect that, and with a glance at everyone, she smiled. "That would be a cause for a celebration, but we're here to relax, have a good time."
"And Happy Birthday!!" everyone chorused more or less in unison, breaking into the Birthday song. Sheena smiled as Kahva's jaw dropped, then she blushed at all the attention. She nearly frowned as she realized one voice hadn't joined in the song: Emily's. At least she's pretending to sing though. Don't you dare mess this day up girl, or Jason or not, you will finally get a piece of my mind, and you won't like it one bit!
"How did you guys find out? I never told anyone when my birthday was. Sheena!!"
"What?" the accused young woman giggled.
"You told, didn't you?!" When Sheena merely smiled all the more, Kahva started at her, which began a merry chase all through the parking lot as Sheena dodged around cars, Kahva cutting her off here, just missing catching her there. By the time Sheena managed to get back to Billy and hide behind him, they had been running for almost five minutes, and were completely breathless and uncontrollably giddy with laughter. "Coward!" Kahva teased as Sheena hid behind her husband, who along with all their friends was still laughing about the chase. The Rangers had more reason to laugh, they had never seen Sheena have to try so hard to keep from being caught. Pay back! Maybe next time you and Billy will turn off your 'transmission', okay? I'm going to keep the block up today, just in case!! Kahva giggled out loud, and in Billy and Sheena's minds. "That's right, hide behind your husband, I can still get you later, girl!" she laughingly threatened.
I'd forgotten just how dogged she could be! Sheena's voice sounded in Billy's mind. Even mentally, her voice was slightly winded.
I don't know, I have to say I enjoyed seeing her chase you so bad. She made you work at keeping away from her. and I think she's just paid you back for springing a surprise party on her. Billy smiled as he sent to his wife, hugging her tightly. "Okay, okay, before my wife becomes an endangered species," he joked, "I vote we swarm the carnival!" No one seemed to object to that idea, and the high-spirited young people ran into the carnival eagerly. blissfully unaware of fiery ice-blue eyes that had just appeared in the shadows.
Eyes that desired only one being: Sheena.
"Rocky, that's your fifth foot-long hot dog!" Kahva and Lisa exclaimed almost in unison. The girls looked from the Blue Ranger to each other, then cracked up giggling.
"What can I say," Rocky countered after taking a huge bite, "I'm a growing boy!"
"You're gonna grow out, not up, if you keep that up," Tanya warned, giggling herself.
"Nah, I'm too active for that. see?" he called out, starting to jog away. "Catch me if you can!" he challenged Lisa, who immediately tackled him, jumping on his back. Rocky laughed and quickly downed the rest of the hot dog so he could keep a good grip on Lisa with both hands.
"Giddyap!" she giggled, tapping her heels on the sides of his thighs. Rocky promptly started to trot around the entire group, making noises that were supposed to sound like a horse, but sounded more like strange sneezes instead. "We're off to the Scrambler!' Rocky cried, jogging off from the group with Lisa hanging on to his back for dear life.
"Good thing he has an iron-clad stomach," Stephanie declared, 'or he might just lose all five of those foot-longs."
"Not to mention everything else he's eaten here already," David chuckled. "I don't know where he puts it all!"
"Hollow leg," Kahva quietly answered, drawing giggles of agreement from everyone. Stephanie whispered something into David's ear, causing the young man to slap his forehead with a grimace. "Forget something?" she asked.
"Yeah. Man, sometimes I think I'm getting more forgetful than Tommy!" he joked, earning a light punch on the arm from his brother. "We promised to take Stephanie's little brother out to the zoo after his soccer practice, and it should be ending in about thirty minutes or so. I hate to run, but we need to go, I'm sorry Kahva -"
"Don't worry about it, this has been a great birthday!" she assured him with a quick hug. "You guys go on and have fun at the zoo, okay?" The couple finally left after another assurance from the older young woman that she really didn't mind their having to leave early. "Now as for the rest of you hoodlums," she teased, turning back to the rest of the group. "We've all spent nearly an hour or more together, why don't you couples go and do some exploring on your own? You're all old enough that Sheena and I don't need to chaperone any of you, scoot!" It took a few minutes of gentle prodding, but finally all of the couples splintered off in various directions, with a promise to meet up later at the carnival entrance in an hour, they still had plans for Kahva's birthday.
"Are you sure you won't come with us?" Jason asked as Emily tried to lead him away. "You shouldn't be alone on your birthday, Kahva, come along with us." Kahva deliberately avoided looking into Emily's eyes at that point, the possessive girl was smiling frostily at her, practically shooting daggers into her heart with her veiled glare.
"Yes, are you sure Kahva? You're right, we," she stressed, "don't need a chaperone, but you really shouldn't have to be alone on your birthday. It's such a shame that Daniel couldn't be here with you."
If there weren't so many people around right now, I'd strangle you for that, Emily! Sheena furiously thought. That was meant to hurt, and you know you meant it that way! Get it through your thick skull, Kahva isn't after Jason!! "Yes it is, but we hope to see him very soon," Sheena intervened. "And don't worry, I'm not going to let my soul-sister here be alone on her birthday, you two go head and have fun!' she smiled at them, determined to be nice to Jason's girlfriend, in spite of her attempts to hurt Kahva.
Kahva smiled wearily as the Gold Ranger was reluctantly led off by his date. "Thanks, Sheena. Now you and Billy go ahead and go on, I don't need a chaperone anymore than you two do." Billy arms around her waist stopped Kahva from escaping as he picked her up and whirled her around until she started giggling hysterically.
"Nothing doing!! This is your birthday, and by God you are going to have fun!" he declared, playfully kissing her on her neck to tickle her. "How about we find the Funhouse, then hit the Hall Of Mirrors?" he suggested, setting Kahva down so that he was between her and Sheena.
"Sounds like a plan to me!!" Sheena laughed as the three linked arms and headed of, breaking into an impromptu chorus of 'We're off to see the Wizard' as they skipped down the midway, laughing at their own silliness.
"Thanks for everything, this has been a great birthday, Sheena," Kahva hugged her sister as Billy walked to a booth to purchase their tickets. "This is so much like the old times, I -" Kahva suddenly stopped and shuddered, rubbing her arms. "That was too weird."
"What? What's wrong?" Sheena asked with a quick glance around, scanning the carnival immediately for any signs of their enemies.
"I - I'm not sure. It's like I could feel something cold brushing past me from behind us, heading for you, I think." Kahva concentrated a moment, then turned to look at a candy apple stand directly behind them. "It came from there, it was a thread of coldness, it felt like it was searching for something to wrap around - no, it knew what it wanted to wrap around, and I happened to be in its path. But it's gone now," she sighed. "That was just too weird, I haven't felt anything like that since your wedding reception." Kahva closed her eyes to try and feel for the source again, but failed. "Whatever it is, it's not there anymore. I'm probably just imagining things anyway, we've all been way too jumpy since everything happened with your sleepwalking. At least I know I have, I'm sorry, Sheena. Forget I said anything, I'm just getting paranoid."
Sheena started to protest, but found herself agreeing with Kahva quickly. "That's okay, you're allowed to be paranoid around us, we're all Power Rangers, after all." Why did I agree so quickly? I should be arguing that we need to scan. Sheena couldn't remember her train of thought all of a sudden. What was I thinking about? Oh yes, the Tunnel of Love, Billy and I need to go in there after the Hall Of Mirrors, that's what I was thinking!! Silly me, I'm getting forgetful in my early twenties! she laughed to herself. Billy walked over at that point and nothing was said about Kahva's odd feeling as the three young people quickly made their way to the Funhouse. Cold, fiery ice-blue eyes watched their retreating backs, an even colder heart fixing itself lustily on the form of Sheena.
Blast that child! Who is she?! I still haven't gotten a good look
at her face, or heard her name, but she sensed me! She sensed my magic;
I nearly destroyed a year's worth of magic in one second of over-eagerness!
If she figures anything out and tells Sheena, or that irritating husband
of hers. A cruel smile twisted across his thin lips as he teleported
himself to the Hall Of Mirrors to set his trap. But Sheena won't listen
to someone who is hurting her, now will she? Oh, child. so today is your
birthday, is it? Whoever you are, I am about to give you a gift. and Sheena's
soon to be ex-husband will deliver it for me. and deliver your precious
'soul-sister' to me in the process. Enjoy these next few minutes with Sheena,
they will be the last any of you have with her!
"Whoa!!" Sheena squealed with delight as she slid down the wavy slide, exiting the Funhouse. "Bonsai!!!!" Laughing, she landed on the large cushion at the end of the slide, then rolled to her left as a giggling Kahva sped towards her, landing right beside her. "That was fun!!"
"Yeah!! Hey, where's Billy?"
"Incoming!!" was the only warning Kahva got as Billy landed right on top of her. "Hello, birthday girl!" he laughed, planting a quick kiss on her forehead before managing to stand up, then pulling the two girls up and escorting them off of the cushion. "And heelllloooo, gorgeous wife," he said, before pulling Sheena into a quick, but passionate kiss on the lips. "I could fall for you anytime," he purred into her ear.
"All right, that settles it, the block is going back up!" Kahva declared. "Whatever you two end up doing, I don't wanna see it! I'm not a voyeur, nor do I need the 'education' I might get from you two!" she teased. "I hope to find out all about that stuff on my own with my husband one day, whenever that happens."
"You and Daniel are going to be wonderful together, I just know it," Sheena assured her soul-sister.
"If he's the one I marry," Kahva countered, a slightly sad smile crossing her face. "We're in two different dimensions, that doesn't give much time or opportunity for romance. Talk about your long distance relationships." Kahva shook her head and smiled. "No, no sad thoughts today, whoever I end up with, I end up with, and whether he's Daniel or not, he'll be wonderful. But I really hope it is Daniel. In the meantime, I'm blocking you two, I don't want to see what you guys might do in the Tunnel of Love!" she teased.
"Who, us?" Sheena grinned right back, planting a passionate kiss on Billy's lips as the trio made their way to the Hall Of Mirrors. Sheena had always wondered what it would be like to see herself twisted and deformed in those reflections!
"Who else?" Kahva grinned as she blocked their thoughts and emotions from her mind again. "Do you know any other couple 'disgustingly in love'?"
Billy grinned. "Don't make me answer that!" he teased right back.
"What on Earth could we possibly do in there?" Sheena joked, trying to look innocent, but failing cheerfully. Kahva chuckled a little bit, then glanced into the shadowy Hall just ahead of them, a light shiver passing through her as she did so.
Weird. Another one of those 'threads'... But Sheena's not worried
about it, so maybe I shouldn't be. As they entered the Hall, Kahva
forced all of her worries to fall away. She was with her friends, the day
was gloriously beautiful, and the carnival still had delights left to show
them. This was her birthday, and she was going to have fun!
Cold eyes watched the trio as they laughed and ran into the Hall Of
Mirrors. "Yes, Sheena, what on Earth could you and Billy possibly
do in the Tunnel of Love... especially when the two of you will never
get the chance to enter it!" The figure laughed and with the faintest
trace of acrid smoke, teleported himself inside the Hall. It is time.
Come into my parlor, William Cranston... It is time for you to give me
"I'm not to far from you, I don't think - whoops! That's not you, that a reflection!" came his startled laugh.
"I wonder if they ever have to send search parties out in here," came Kahva's delighted giggle from somewhere between Sheena, and where she thought she could hear Billy's voice.
"Hmm... lost in a mysterious place with my husband... now that has all sorts of lovely possibilities!!' she teased back.
"Hey, I'm blocking you two, so go right ahead!" Kahva countered. "Just make sure you've got the right Billy with you, I'm seeing about fifteen of them right now myself!" There was a muffled thump, and then a giggle. "And that one was a mirror! I love this place!" Sheena could hear another giggle moving away from her, then, "One down, fourteen more Billys to go!! Make sure you get the right one, Sheena!"
"As if I wouldn't know my own husband!" Sheena laughed with
mock indignation, hands on hips. She turned to her left, and instead of
seeing a reflection of Billy, she saw a different figure, one that shouldn't
have been there. He's here? But how, why? Whirling around, she started
to call out his name, but then forgot what she was doing. I turned for
a reason... Oh yes, I'm trying to find my true love, that's what I'm doing!
With an impish giggle, she continued to skip along the mirror hallways,
her heart searching for Billy... and for a set of mysterious, fiery ice-blue
Billy smiled at his wife's laughter. I love you, Sheena. A fuzzy warmth was the reply, instead of the normal clear endearment he had always received from her before. "That's strange," he muttered. "I wonder if Kahva has her blocks set up so strongly that it's blocking Sheena and myself? But it's never happened before..." Billy turned at a sound to his right and trotted down the long hallway, the longest straight path he'd found in the Hall so far. "Sheena?" he called.
"Billy? Where are you?" came back Kahva's voice instead. She sounded like she was only a few feet away, but suddenly Billy couldn't see any reflections clearly in the mirrors that surrounded him.
"Down here," he answered back, turning to go back the way he'd come... only to find a solid wall of mirrors blocking his path. Moving walls? This can't be right! "I'm in a dead end!"
"What?" Kahva's voice seemed to be miles away as the mirrors closed in on him, herding him towards the wall behind him.
"I'm trapped! Sheena, K - hey!!" Billy yelled as powerful arms surged from behind him, wrapping him in a crushing embrace. "Help!!" he screamed as his communicator was ripped off of his wrist, a tiny clink of thin metal against floor barely audible. "Somebody help m-!!"
Kahva ran down the hallway she thought she had heard Billy's voice coming
from, but it was only a dead end. "I thought I heard him say he was
down here somewhere," she muttered in confusion to herself. For a
moment, she thought she could hear a thumping sound behind her, but the
only thing there was another mirror. "That's weird, he must have gotten
out of here before I was close enough to see him - brrrrr!" she shivered
uncontrollably. Why am I feeling these threads of coldness, but nobody
else can? What is going on, am I just being way too paranoid today or what?
"I've got to find Billy, maybe there's a draft here or something,
or maybe I'm getting sick," she told herself, then left the way she'd
come... not seeing a tiny piece of metallic mesh screen laying on the floor...
with traces of sapphire blue enamel on it.
"No!! Don't go, I'm right here, behind the mirror, don't go!! Help me!!" Billy pounded on the clear barrier between him and Kahva. He could see her, why couldn't she see him? "Turn around and look!! Don't leave, please, I'm right here!! No!!!" he screamed, then everything turned black all around him as the arms wrapped themselves about him again, ice cold hands dragging him away from the barrier with a soft, sinister-sounding chuckle. A few seconds later, he was shoved into what felt like a cage of some sort.
"Where am I? What's going on?!" Billy looked around, his heart pounding with fear. The arms that had dragged him away had vanished after thrusting him into this tiny cell, and he still hadn't gotten a good look at whoever it was. There's at least one good thing, it's not Mondo. That was a human, or humanoid who grabbed me, so unless he's hired outside help, we're not dealing with the Machine Empire on this. But if not Mondo, who then? Why couldn't Kahva see or hear me, where am I?!
As hidden lights slowly came up and illuminated the area, Billy's eyes darted all over his cell. It was small, there was barely enough room in it for him to stand up straight. There was not enough room for him to stretch his arms out from side to side, and hardly enough room for him to take a single step forward. The barred wall looked out onto a room set up almost as a laboratory of some type, but none like he'd ever seen before, if that was what it was. The entire place, room and cell, were knee-deep in a thick, pale grey fog. This looks and feels all too familiar... but too strange at the same time. It's like I'm in one of Rita or Zedd's old dark dimensions, but this is worse than any of those... I can feel evil here - get a grip, Cranston! "Feel evil?" You're starting to sound like Kahva... but then again, she's always been right so far with her feelings, so maybe, just maybe, there's a chance you could be not so far off with yours? Billy shuddered and rubbed his arms. I wish she was here so that she could tell me if I'm really feeling something, or just going crazy. No, I don't wish she was here, she'd be in too much danger! I'm in danger, I want out of here!
Billy forced back the wave of panic, realizing that whoever his captor was, they wanted him to do exactly that: panic. Everything was set up to intimidate a prisoner, and in this case, that was Billy. I won't let you see me panic, I won't give that to you! But I am getting out of here somehow! "Sheena! Sheena, can you hear me?" he called out with voice and mind, hoping to get through to her. He shivered a little when he realized that he couldn't completely sense either Sheena or Kahva.
A soft, low chuckle sounded from a few feet away, and he looked up to see someone fade into existence just outside the cell bars. "Sheena can't hear you, Cranston. But I can."
A tall, thin man with fiery, ice-cold blue eyes stepped into the light so the Sapphire Ranger could see him clearly. Pale-skinned, with pale blonde hair, all he needed was a set of fangs to play the part of a vampire, Billy absently noted. Then he froze as he recognized the man he hadn't seen in six months. "You?!" Billy growled. "What's going on here, what are you doing?!"
"Taking what is rightfully mine!" was the low, cold response. He must have seen the horror and shock in Billy's eyes, for his captor shook his head. "No, not you, stupid little boy. You're not the one I desire. But you are going to help me get who I want."
No, he can't mean... Billy's heart seized up first with fear, then anger as he grabbed the bars and spat out, "What are you talking about?! Let me out of here, or I'll..."
"What?" the odd man sneered at him. "You'll do what, locked up so helplessly in your little cage? You will do nothing!!" the enemy laughed harshly, slapping Billy's hands from the bars. "Nothing except sit there, and watch me claim the woman who belongs to me!"
The young Ranger's response was only three words: "Sapphire Ranger Power!"
There was an almost audible fizzle as instead of morphing, he simply stood there. Billy's jail keeper laughed, sneering at the captive Ranger. "I'm sorry, but I am so terribly afraid that your puny little morphing powers won't work here! This pocket dimension runs by my laws, boy, not the rules of Earth. Now you just stand there quietly like a good little prisoner, and watch me handle things!"
"Stand here quietly, eh? I don't think so!" Billy threw his head back and howled as loudly as he could, perfectly willing to do anything to annoy his captor. The wizard growled a little, then waved an irritated hand at Billy. Silence suddenly engulfed the room.
"I really don't like noise," Billy's enemy hissed. "So you will be silent!" Then with another wave of his hand, a column of smoke appeared between them. The thin man slowly began to shape and form the column, causing it to thicken and gradually change in appearance.
Billy stared in shock as the smoke was carefully formed into a near-identical copy of himself. Oh man, this is WAY too much like when Rita and Zedd made that clone of me! he shivered, remembering. That was one of the worst things I've ever gone through, I came so close to falling into an eternal sleep, and the Rangers nearly lost their powers at the same time! He tried to ask what was going on, but couldn't. What has he done to me?! I can't morph, I can't talk, my communicator's gone, I'm locked in a cell only God knows where, what is going on here?!
"I know you want to know what I'm doing," the thin, sinister man chuckled softly at the look in Billy's eyes. It was plainly obvious he was thoroughly enjoying the mental torment he was putting Billy through. "Too bad, I'm not telling you!"
The Sapphire Ranger silently growled deep in his throat. I don't believe this, I just don't believe this!! HIM? Of all people, him?! Sheena's always thought he was a friend... I guess we know now he's not... At least, I know now... and I can't warn Sheena or the others!
The magical clone of him took on more and more color and life as the next few minutes slowly tracked by. By the end of half an hour, the smoke-clone was fully alive, dressed in clothing identical to Billy's, and wore the same tense expression Billy himself wore, then abruptly smiled Billy's familiar smile, only his was ever so slightly sinister.
The wizard who made the clone nodded slowly in approval. "Excellent, my creation! Tell me, what is your name, and your mission?"
"William Cranston," the clone spoke, in Billy's own voice, without the slightest hint of any difference from the original. Billy shivered at that, This is not good, this is not good at all! "And my mission is to break the heart of Sheena Devereaux Cranston; to drive her away from all she believes she loves, and that loves her, and straight into your arms, my master Delnas."
Billy's eyes widened at the naming of his captor, then narrowed. So that's his real name, then. When Sheena finds out the truth, she's going to want to kill him, and I won't blame her one bit! She won't fall for this idiot's trickery, he can't possibly fool her!
Delnas nodded, smiling wickedly. "Indeed." Then he strapped something to the clone's wrist. "This is his," he motioned to the imprisoned and muted Billy, "communicator. The spell I've placed on it will allow you access to his memories, though only for the past two years or so. But that will be enough for our purposes. Tap into them, find the ones that relate to this mysterious soul-sister of Sheena's. I don't know her name, I've not gotten close enough to her or the others to find it out, or to even find out what she looks like, but all that information is waiting for you in his mind. As long as you have his communicator, you can access his mind at any time. I will not be able to guide you when you are near her, you will be on your own. You will have to use her at your own discretion. I can't get close to the girl myself, she seems to be able to sense the threads I'm casting if I get too close -" Delnas stopped at that, as if he had said too much in front of the real Billy.
"Then how will I be able to use her, if you can't be there to help me?" the clone asked worriedly. Billy could already feel his copy delving into his mind, finding out as much as he could about Kahva, and Billy's relationship with her.
Delnas smiled and chuckled evilly. "The powers I've given you will make it all the easier for you to do it. You will be able to cast a bit of magic of your own, create your own illusions while I am still on this planet. Use them wisely, and remember this: if you value your short existence, you will not physically harm my Sheena. I don't care what you do to that other girl, or to the Rangers, but you will not harm my Sheena. Is that understood?" The clone pulled out of Billy's mind and nodded with an evil smile. Delnas briefly turned back to the captive Billy and in a falsely kind voice assured him "You won't be left completely in the dark, Cranston. You will be able to see and hear everything my clone does, through his own senses. I envy you, in a way... I cannot enjoy what he does on such a first-hand basis. I cannot take the chance -" Again he stopped himself, as if he was saying too much.
He's afraid Kahva will sense his magic and stop him somehow! Billy realized suddenly. He's afraid she will spoil his plans!! Please Kahva, figure this out, and warn Sheena, please!!
Delnas smiled even more evilly, regaining his composure quickly. "I cannot enjoy his actions by staying connected to him at all times, because I will be too busy claiming my Sheena. By the way, I do hope you two enjoyed your little soiree in the park, it was the last one you will ever have with her, boy," he hissed at Billy, enjoying the shock, then rage that revelation sparked.
Delnas turned back to the clone, well pleased with himself, and his
creation. "Now, on with your mission, my slave... and send into my
arms the woman I love!"
Sheena stumbled out of the Hall of Mirrors, wincing at the brightness of the sun briefly. The Hall had been dark, and it took her eyes a moment to adjust to the sudden daylight. I never did find Billy in there, I wonder if Kahva did? Where is she anyway?
"Sheena?" She turned around to see her soul-sister coming out, covering her eyes briefly as she too, was shocked by the brilliance of the sunlight. "Is that you?"
"Yeah, it's me," the Silver Ranger nodded. "Is Billy still in there?"
Kahva shook her head, glancing around quickly. "I don't know, I didn't see him. I think I heard something though in one of the hallways though, I thought it was Billy calling me. Maybe he made it out before we did?"
A light frown creased Sheena's features as she reached out to Billy mentally. Billy? Billy? She almost shivered as she got nothing but fuzziness in return. This is strange. Maybe... oh, I'm sure he's fine, I don't need to worry about him. She blinked a little, then turned to Kahva. "Maybe we should go looking for him," she suggested. "He probably snuck out when we weren't looking and is planning something sweet to surprise me with," Sheena smiled. "I think he is blocking me just a little, so he must be planning something!" she giggled. "But I think I might want to spoil this one, since he didn't let me find him in the Hall of Mirrors. A perfectly good romantic opportunity, wasted!"
Kahva smiled, and nodded. "Sounds like a good idea to me. You take that way," she gestured up to one side of the carnival, then down the other, "and I'll take that one. If I find him first, I'll let you know."
"And if I find him first," a glint lit the young woman's eyes, "I think you'll know!"
Laughing a little, the two friends set off in search of Billy, neither of them seeing the two sets of eyes that watched them with evil lust and hate. "Go after that child," Delnas commanded. "If the other Rangers see you, pretend to be normal, at least for now, I want her feeling unsure of herself, and isolated. If she doesn't voice her suspicions to anyone, or if they feel she's not seeing things clearly, then your job will be easier, my clone."
Delnas smiled as his perfect evil creation trotted off after the mysterious
young woman. I'd like to know who you are, what you look like, little
one, and why I feel such old power around you... but after today, it doesn't
matter who you are. I do so hope you enjoy this birthday of yours. Too
bad I'm getting the best present... Sheena Devereaux, all mine, for all
Kahva wandered down the packed dirt paths, shivering every now and then. Those weird threads, I kept feeling them everywhere in the Hall of Mirrors, but now they're gone. I must be getting sick. It's either that, or I'm just way too paranoid. Mondo's not going to bother us today, and if he does try anything, I'm sticking in the Power Chamber like I was glued there!
She glanced casually back and forth, waving when she saw Jason and Emily walking back from the Tunnel of Love. The Gold Ranger appeared mostly happy, his eyes taking on a slightly lighter shade when he saw her. She would've stopped and spoken if she hadn't been looking for Billy... and if she hadn't seen the venomous look directed at her by the other young woman. Kahva gritted her teeth and kept walking. "Won't she ever learn?" Kahva muttered to herself, keeping a false smile on her face while she was still in Jason and Emily's field of view, then dropping it the instant they couldn't see her anymore. Hel-loooo, Earth to Emily!! Get a clue and a heart, I'm not after Jason! I would NEVER try to break you two up, why can't you understand that? Shaking her head, she continued on with her search.
"Where are you, Billy?" Kahva murmured, trying to find him with eyes and mind both. She lowered her mental block slightly, 'glancing' at Sheena to see if she'd found Billy yet. The Silver Ranger was still searching it seemed, things were a trifle fuzzy where she was concerned. She shouldn't be fuzzy to me, this is just too weird! Something rather odd is going on here...
"Kahva?" The young woman jumped slightly at the sudden sound of her own name. She looked up to see Billy gazing at her, a quirky little smile on his lips. "Are you looking for someone?"
Where the heck did he come from? Man, I really must be out of it, I didn't hear or sense him at all! She smiled in relief at the sight of him. "Yeah I am, for you! Where have you been, Sheena and I have been looking everywhere for you! Did you sneak out of the Hall of Mirrors on us?" she teasingly accused.
He nodded a little. "Yeah, I did. I wanted to get these," he explained, holding out the most beautiful bouquet of silvery-white roses Kahva had ever seen in her life.
They have roses here? This day is just full of surprises! "Oh, Sheena's going to love these!" she smiled. Her eyes widened with surprise as Billy stepped forward and unexpectedly pressed them into her hand. What is he doing? And why do I feel so cold all of a sudden around him? Good grief, he's even physically cold, his hands are like ice!
"They're not for her, my dear Kahva." In the few months she had been here, she had never heard such hate and disgust in Billy's voice, not even for Mondo or Master Vile. "They're for you."
Kahva couldn't, and didn't, believe her eyes or her ears. The beautiful flowers dropped unnoticed to the ground at her feet as she shook her head in confusion. "Billy," she murmured. "What are you doing?" Kahva tried to sense him, to feel his emotions, but he was fuzzier than ever to her. It's almost like he's not even right here in front of me, but very far away... and our link is... fading?? What is going on here?!
The Sapphire Ranger leaned forward, pressing a light, almost fairy-like kiss to her hand before she nervously snatched it away. "Only a gift for the fairest of the fair," he said with a smile she didn't really trust on his face. "Happy Birthday, beautiful."
"Billy," Kahva began as she started to back away from. "Billy, Sheena's been looking for you, she's going to want to know that you're okay, she's a little worried, I think, why don't we -"
The young man shrugged unconcernedly, then abruptly scowled ever so slightly. "I've got better things to do with my time than to waste it on that neurotic bubble-brain!" he growled. "She really gets on my nerves with this constant worrying about, 'Where's Billy, where's this person, that person, what to do, where to go... yada, yada, yada... She needs to chill out sometimes, you know?" Kahva shivered at the tone in his voice, he'd never talked like that about anyone before. "I'm sorry," he sighed, "I didn't intend to be mean, but it is something that has been bothering me for quite some time. It would be nice if she were more like you, Kahva. I just wish I could talk to her as easily as I can talk to you." Billy's smile and outstretched hand seemed friendly and benign enough, but Kahva couldn't bring herself to take his hand, there was something not right in his eyes, something that chilled her to the bone.
Run! her instincts yelled at her. Or is that somebody else's voice... What is going on here?! Kahva shook her head to try and clear her mind, moving away from the young man. This isn't right, he's not acting right... I've got to tell the others, something's happened to Billy! She turned around and started running, quickly leaving Billy behind. Sheena! Sheena, can you hear me!? Something's wrong with Billy! Sheena?! Talk to me, please!!
But there was no answer from her soul-sister, only the very palest feel
of Sheena's mind. As Kahva ran, her heart dropped. She didn't know what
was going on, but deep down she knew it was wrong.
"Well now, little Ranger," Delnas chuckled. "What do you think of my clone? Not very handsome of course, since he is a clone of you, after all. But he will do the job he is meant to do, and do it quite nicely, I believe." The wizard stood smugly, arms folded, waiting to see his young captive's reaction.
He didn't have to wait long. Billy growled, the only sound he was able to make, and spat at the wizard. Delnas, too far away to be affected by the defiance, only laughed. "Oh my, I don't think you like me anymore! I'm so hurt," he sneered. "You idiots all fell for my act so easily! I really didn't think you would, but each and everyone of you has thought I was your friend for almost a full year! You are all a bunch of fools, I can't believe how stupid you all are! Your idiocy is incredible!" he exclaimed with a evil laugh, thoroughly amused with Billy's helpless frustration.
He's not the only one who doesn't believe this, Billy sighed, trying fruitlessly again and again to reach his beloved Sheena. I have to warn her something's going on, that this guy is after her. I can't let him do this! Failing to contact the Silver Ranger, he tried again to contact Kahva. I think I almost got through to her just then, when my clone was with her... Oh man, I know what he's going to do, I've got to keep her away from him somehow! He really does feel things, he really does have emotions. Dark emotions, but emotions nonetheless. Kahva, Sheena, one of you, please hear me!! A fuzzy silence was his only reply, it seemed neither woman could hear him anymore. Somebody hear me, please!! You guys have to stay away from my clone! Sheena! Kahva! Somebody please hear me!!
Delnas snorted at his captive's misery, then turned back to his scrying crystal. After so long, he thought, bringing up an image of Sheena in it, she will finally be mine. The living image of her ancestor, my own true love. Before this day ends, she will belong to me, forever!
He watched as Sheena wandered through the carnival, casting a few more
of his spell-threads as he gazed at her. "So beautiful," he whispered
softly. "And soon to be all mine. All my waiting and planning shall
not be in vain, my dearest. Soon you shall be taken away from all this...
mundaneness, and our life together will be perfect... and eternal."
Kahva kept running, she wasn't even sure where she was going... and didn't really care right then. All she wanted right at that moment was to be closer to Sheena, and far away from Billy. Maybe he hit his head or something, or maybe he's sick? she tried to convince herself, wanting so badly to find some reason for his strange behavior. Or maybe I'm sick and imagined it, imagined the whole thing, took what he said the wrong way, I don't know... but it COULDN'T have been what I thought it was! It just couldn't! Could it? "I have to find Sheena," she muttered to herself, stopping for a moment and looking around. She couldn't see her best friend anywhere, and it was beginning to worry her a bit. Get a hold of yourself, you won't find any answers if you're running around like the idiot you are! Settle down and see if you can't be the calm, smart girl that everyone seems to think you are for some reason!
"Kahva?" She turned to see Jason looking back at her. Emily was thankfully nowhere in sight, and she could see the other Rangers, minus Sheena and Billy, coming up. "Kahva, are you all right?"
Thank you Lord for that small blessing, Emily is the last person I want to see right now. She'll only find some way to turn this into an argument with Jason, tell him I'm only acting worried to get his attention. I really shouldn't worry so much probably... But where IS Sheena though? Come on girl, answer me, please! But the pale feel of Sheena's mind was only paler. For whatever reason, her sister either couldn't, or didn't want to hear her right then. What is going on? Catching Jason's concerned gaze, she shrugged her shoulders, answering his question as best she could. "As far as I know I think I am, but I'm not so sure about Billy."
"Billy?" the six of them chorused softly. Moving to one side of the carnival to escape the traffic, Rocky asked, "What's wrong with Billy? Did Mon...?" He left the name unfinished, just raising his eyebrows in query.
"I don't think so," she replied. "I... I'm not sure just what is going on here."
Kat took a deep breath. "Start from the beginning," she advised her friend. "That's usually the best method."
Kahva nodded, and invoked one of the calming exercises Master Madas had taught her, trying to get her mind to settle down. "It sounds a little silly, really," she said, "now that I think about it. Billy snuck out of the Hall of Mirrors ahead of me and Sheena, then when we split up to go look for him, I ran into him back down that way," she gestured behind her. "He had this beautiful bouquet of flowers, and he was saying..." Kahva blushed then, partly in shame, partly in flattered remembrance, and partly in she knew not what. Please just let me be overreacting... But if that's all it is, why does everything feel so wrong? Billy has never talked about anyone like he did Sheena, could they be having problems none of us knew about?
"What was he saying?" Tanya asked, glancing over at the others. Kahva seemed slightly hysterical to her, or either was coming down from being a bit hysterical in the past few minutes. Whatever she was saying or doing, it wasn't going to be at her mental peak. All the Rangers had near identical looks on their faces: Kahva wasn't making much sense to any of them.
"That... I... was beautiful." She blushed a deep, rosy red at that. "Then... he kissed me," her fingers brushed her cheek. "And he was saying things... mean things about Sheena."
The Rangers exchanged unbelieving glances, then Tommy touched Kahva's shoulder gently. "Are you absolutely sure?" he asked. "I mean, that doesn't sound like Billy at all, you know." Tommy wanted to believe Kahva, something had very obviously upset her... but Billy of all people saying mean things about Sheena? To Tommy and the others, that was an event that could never happen, at least not in their universe.
"I know it doesn't," Kahva nodded, shivering a bit at the memory of the vileness in Billy's voice, the almost slimy-feel to his lips on her cheek. "But..." she started again, her voice pleading for them to understand.
"I'm sure it was nothing, they've both been under a lot of stress the past few weeks with her sleepwalking episodes and all," Adam suggested. "It's either that, or more likely Billy probably was just teasing you. He'd never do anything to hurt Sheena, we all know that, right?"
"It is your birthday, after all," Tommy reminded her unnecessarily. "The flowers for your birthday, I'm sure, and like Adam just said, Billy and Sheena have been under a lot of stress. If he said something that sounded mean, he probably didn't mean it. I mean, do you know a couple more sickeningly in love than Billy and Sheena? I'm sure things are just fine between them, if they weren't, we would all know, right?" Tommy gave Kahva a light hug then to reassure her. "I'm sure Billy didn't mean to upset you, Kahva."
Kahva closed her eyes, fighting back the tears that threatened to well up at their disbelief. Why won't they at least consider the chance something is wrong?! Why won't they believe me? After six months here, I'm still the new kid, a stranger?! After everything we've all been through, do they not trust me yet? Kahva shoved and locked away everything deep inside, getting hysterical wasn't going to help matters any. I can tell it just by looking at them, they already think I'm hysterical or something. Sheena, where are you?! She knew Sheena would believe her... if she could ever find her. Part of her wanted to demand that the Rangers seriously think over what she'd just reported to them, but a quiet, "Umm...yeah," was all she said out loud. They weren't there, they didn't see him or hear him, they can't understand something they didn't witness, she rationalized. It was much easier to explain away their disbelief than to deal with it.
Jason was the only one who didn't say anything, mainly because he saw Emily heading towards him again. Great timing, Em! he groaned inwardly. Biting back the comforting words he wanted to say to Kahva, Jason merely sighed, and a simple, "Let's go find him and ask him," was all that came out.
"And Sheena," Kahva added dully, not looking a single one
of them in the eye. I have to find my sister, she has to know what's
happened. I'm NOT wrong about this... Am I?
"Where are you, gorgeous?" Sheena muttered, glancing between the hot dog stands and the popcorn vendors. "Am I going to have to hunt throughout this entire place for you, Billy?" She suddenly shivered for a moment, wondering if she felt eyes on her. A quick glance around proved no one was there out of the ordinary, however. Must be Mondo again. Sheesh... I hope he at least waits until tomorrow to do anything, I don't want Kahva's birthday screwed up!
Sheena closed her eyes for a moment, breathing slowly and deeply, reaching out mentally for Billy. She only encountered fuzziness though, instead of the clear awareness that had always been there before. "Billy?" she murmured his name without opening her eyes, frowning. This is strange... I wonder if he's feeling okay?
"Sheena." Her eyes flew open and sparked with joy to see Billy standing in front of her. Sheena completely missed the coldness in his eyes, all that mattered to her was that she had found her husband.
"Billy!" she smiled, reaching out happily to hug him. "I've already got two tickets for us to go in to the Tunnel of Love, let's go!" she laughed merrily. Her jaw dropped a little as instead of embracing her, he stepped away from her, shaking his head. "Billy, is something wrong?"
Billy shook his head again, frowning at her. "Sheena, you know perfectly well what's going on. This marriage simply isn't working out, and obviously was never meant to be. I would think the events of the past few months should have proven that to you a long time ago. I know they have proven it to me."
Billy could have physically driven a knife into her heart, and it would have hurt Sheena less than those words. "Billy..." she whispered, not wanting to believe what she was hearing. "No... you can't mean it."
"Yes, I can, and I do." His normally warm blue eyes were a pure steel-blue right now, and colder than ice. "I finally realized today that you're not the one I'm meant for, and that you're not meant for me."
"Billy," she stared, eyes going wide and skin paling with fright. "Billy, we've dreamed about each other, we've got the bond-link, we are meant for each other! And even if we aren't, I still love you anyway! You are my soul, my life -"
"I'm trying to let you down easy, but it's obvious you are too
dense to comprehend what has been going on here," Billy sighed, then
stared at her coldly. His next words were spoken softly, but filled completely
with menace, and dripping with absolute hatred.. "All right, do you
want the brutal truth? I don't love you. I never have, and never will.
It was all a lie, and you are nothing but a convenience that I can finally
dispose of. Get out of my way," he growled as he pushed past her,
snatching the Tunnel of Love tickets out of her hand. "We'll
use these, thank you very much," he sneered at Sheena. "My real
beloved and myself, that is; I'm off to find her now. She and I have been
making plans for several weeks now, and it's finally time for those to
be realized. See you around... loser!"
Billy would have liked to be pacing back and forth in his small cell, but there was barely enough room in there for him to change his mind, much less walk any. Sheena needs me, and she doesn't even know it! This idiot can't be allowed to win! Come on, Cranston, put those brains to work! You can get out of here! He glanced through the bars; his captor Delnas was nowhere to be seen. Okay, let's take this one thing at a time. I can't morph, because I can't talk. Which means all I DO have is my brains. That's okay though, I can live with that.
Billy took a long look at the bars of the cell, trying to find anything he could use to get out of there. The lock... Maybe I can pick the lock. He glanced down, running his hands down both sides of the cell, trying to locate it. Okay, it would help if there WAS a lock. How does he expect to let me...? Oh, boy... He had BETTER be planning to let me out of here!!
Long moments passed, as Billy searched both his brain and the room. Delnas had done his work far too well, however. The area around the cell had been swept clean of anything that might be useful in escaping, and there was no one he could talk to, even if he had been able to talk, to try and bribe them. Even assuming I had anything to bribe them with, and even if I could bring myself to do that! Billy exhaled in frustration. Who am I kidding? In this situation, I'd try to bribe the Devil himself to let me out of here to save Sheena from -
"Having fun, little man?" Billy looked up as Delnas lounged
his way into the room, taking up a seat on a golden throne in the center
of it. He pulled out a small crystal and gazed into it, his fingers weaving
over it in strange patterns. "Because I know I am! In a very short
amount of time, my beloved will be in my arms forever... and you're the
one who's going to send her there!"
"Having a good time, Em?" Jason smiled at his girlfriend and relaxed finally. He'd been very afraid of Emily spoiling the entire day for everyone, especially Kahva, but for the most part Emily had behaved herself. Wish she hadn't made some of those little comments of hers earlier, but she has been worse in the past. Emily has been practically angelic with her behavior today. Giving the young woman he loved a quick hug, he mentally sighed, She's nowhere near ready for sainthood, though.
"Yes I am... especially now since we're alone. We don't really need to keep looking for Sheena and Billy now, do we? I'm sure that whatever happened after they left the Hall of Mirrors, Kahva just overreacted to it," Emily purred, leaning her head on Jason's shoulder. "She really shouldn't worry so much on her birthday."
As if you really mean that! Here we go again! "Emily, don't even start - Tommy, Kat!" Jason called out, as he spotted the couple a few yards ahead of them. Oh no, Kahva's with them! Emily, you had better behave yourself! "Kahva, hi! Any sign or Sheena or Billy, you guys?"
"Not yet," Kahva sighed, carefully avoiding all eye contact with Emily. "Now that you and Emily are here, I've found everybody again at least twice more, except for Sheena or Billy.
"I'm sure they're just off somewhere having fun all alone like any couple should," Emily piped up, placing a falsely comforting arm about Kahva's shoulders. "And Billy -"
"Somebody call my name? Hello, beautiful birthday girl." Billy came up from behind Kahva from out of nowhere, wrapping his arms loosely about her waist, while not so subtlely pulling her away from Emily. Jason's girlfriend didn't seem to notice the silent warning to leave Kahva alone that Billy's posture gave, or either didn't care. "Anyone seen Sheena? I've not seen her since after the Hall of Mirrors."
"Umm, no Billy," Kat replied with a frown. "In fact, we've been looking for you and for Sheena for almost a half hour now. Is something wrong, you got Kahva really worried." He's being mighty protective of her, Kat thought, watching how closely Billy was keeping Kahva to him. Emily had best behave herself!
"I'm sorry sweetie, I didn't mean to alarm you earlier," Billy said to Kahva, giving her a gentle hug, but not letting go of her. "Sheena and I still need to talk a few things out, but if I gave you any wrong impressions, I'm sorry. I shouldn't worry you on your birthday." Billy ended his apology with a quick peck on Kahva's cheek. "Forgive me?" he asked, still hugging Kahva close.
"Umm, sure..." Kahva answered, suddenly not sure how to act around Billy. His hugging her was normal for him, though his hugs for her were usually about her shoulders, not her waist. Did I overreact a while ago? I don't think I did, but now... I must be losing my mind, I'm actually a little scared of Billy right now! But still, the way he acted earlier... Billy took the hint from her slight pushing against his arms and moved them to her shoulders, but still he never once let her go. "So you haven't seen Sheena since the Hall of Mirrors?"
"No," Billy sighed, resting his chin on Kahva's shoulders. "But I'm sure I'll find her soon enough, and we'll get things settled. It's not that big a deal, really, but if you guys see her, could you tell her that I'm looking for her?"
"Sure thing," Tommy answered, barely suppressing an involuntary shiver. Am I the one nervous around him, or am I feeling Kahva's nervousness? I wish I was better at this link stuff we have, because right now I can't look Billy straight in the eye without feeling something's wrong... But he's acting so normal, it doesn't make sense! "Kat and I were about to take Kahva on the Scrambler, want to join us?" Tommy extended the invitation to Jason and Emily as well.
"No, Jason and I have plans for the rest of the afternoon, plans for just the two of us, so we'll see you later. Hope you find Sheena soon, Billy!" Emily nearly dragged Jason away from the others in her eagerness to get away from Jason's friends.
"So..." Tommy uneasily started again, as Jason and Emily disappeared into the crowd, "shall we hit the Scrambler now?" Emily sure can put a damper on things. What is up with Billy though? Maybe Kahva has made me paranoid with what she said earlier, but Billy's behavior seems... off, somehow. But he's acting normally, isn't he? Make up your mind Thomas Oliver!! This is one of your oldest friends we're talking about here, he's either fine or something's wrong! But Tommy couldn't shake the chill that seeing the Sapphire Ranger with his arms draped around Kahva's shoulders gave him. He became afraid that Billy might pick up on his doubts and started to say something else, only to have a muttered outburst directed at Emily from Billy stop him cold. "Billy?!"
"Sorry," Billy gritted out, then sighed a few moments later. "I really hate how she treats Kahva, but I know I shouldn't talk about her like that, she is Jason's girlfriend after all. Wish he'd get her straightened out or find a new one, though. Kahva, why do you take her abuse? You certainly don't deserve it."
"It's okay you guys, really," Kahva replied, trying to step away from Billy, only to find his arms unmoving from her shoulders. Instead of letting her go, he seemed to be subtlely trying to draw her even closer to him. "I don't pay attention to Emily's little comments, and you shouldn't either."
"You are too nice when it comes to her," Billy declared. "But I shouldn't have said what I did about her just then, or let her get to me, you're right." Billy finally released Kahva at that point. "Sure, I'll go with you guys on the Scrambler, it'll clear my mind maybe. And then maybe you can help me find Sheena, Kahva?" He didn't seem to notice the slight hesitance to her nod as he quickly purchased a ticket and joined his friends on the Scrambler. Immediately after they exited the ride, he again put an arm about Kahva's shoulders and led her off into the crowd to search for Sheena. Tommy shivered as he watched them disappear.
"Tommy?" Kat asked. "Are you okay?"
Staring into the crowd until he could no longer pick up any trace of his friends, Tommy could only shake his head in reply at first. "I don't know," he finally responded. "Has Kahva made me paranoid, or did Billy seem to be acting weird just then?"
"He did apologize to her for scaring her earlier. Calling Emily what he did is out of character though; whatever is going on between him and Sheena must really have him rattled." Kat smiled a little, wrapping a comforting arm about Tommy's waist. "As soon as he and Sheena can have a private little talk, I'm sure they'll both be fine."
Tommy shook his head again. "It's something else, Billy was too... possessive of Kahva, he wanted to leave with her so fast after the ride. If he was really that anxious about Sheena, all he had to do was say so and we could've skipped the ride, just like Kahva wanted to do originally. Kat -" he sighed.
"I know, I know, you're worried about Billy and Sheena. So am I. But until we have some proof that Billy is acting a little off for some reason other than whatever is going on between him and Sheena, we can't go around accusing him, can we?" Kat kissed Tommy lovingly, then hugged him tight. "Come on, let's check down the midway again, maybe this time we'll find Sheena and get this all straightened out." Kat sighed and looked back where they had last seen Billy and Kahva. "Billy did seem a bit possessive of Kahva, didn't he? I wonder if he's doing that because he feels better with her around, maybe? Could there be something serious going on between him and Sheena that they haven't told us?"
Tommy shook his head, waving to Rocky in the distance. A shake of the
Blue Ranger's head told him that Rocky hadn't found Sheena yet either.
"I hope not. Man, I think I'd rather face Mondo's Cogs right now than
whatever is going on here. At least I know how to handle Cogs. If Billy
and Sheena really are having serious problems... I honestly don't have
a clue as to how we're going to help them solve them."
Deep within the Tunnel of Love ride, Emily snuggled against a fidgeting Jason. She had insisted they go on the ride again, while Jason had wanted to look for Sheena some more. He'd finally given in to Emily's unmoving demands, not wanting a scene with her in front of so many people. "Thank goodness we're alone," Emily purred into Jason's ear. "We definitely had four too many people around us back there." Before Jason could respond to that disparaging remark, Emily shocked him with her next words. "Billy and Sheena will be fine if Kahva keeps her mitts off of Billy."
"If Kahva does what?! Emily, what in the world are you talking about?!" Jason broke from Emily's tight hug and turned to face his girlfriend. Daylight was starting to stream into the tunnel, they would soon reach the end of the ride. "Kahva is -"
"A fake!! Oh come on, you can't be that blind and stupid, Jason!! She latches on to you every chance she gets, and I've always suspected that she really wants Billy. I mean, why else would she claim to be so interested in Daniel, who just so happens to look exactly like Billy? She's not happy with her own man, she has to go after everybody else's, so she's been trying to take you from me, and now she's going after Billy too. Didn't you see the way she was standing with him? He practically had his whole body wrapped around her, he's fallen for her faster than you have! Stay away from that Jezebel, Jason. That little tramp is nothing but trouble."
Jason held his temper in check until they exited the ride, then he quickly led Emily behind the ride. "Emily, you have been out of line before, but this is it, I've had it with you! Kahva is not a tramp like you are trying to claim she is, and she has never been, nor is she now after me or Billy! Kahva is a decent and honest young woman, and she doesn't go after another woman's man! And as for this 'attraction' you think there is between her and me, get a clue! Yes, she is attractive, and yes, if I didn't love you, if I wasn't involved with someone and she wasn't involved with someone, there might be a chance for something between us. But I love you, I have always loved you! Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if you even know the meaning of the word!" Jason started to stalk away from his girlfriend, but whirled back around to face her again. "Get this straight, Emily. Yes, I love you, but I also love my friends. Love isn't something to be hoarded, or reserved for just one person. If you can't handle the fact that I love all my friends, but that you are the only one I'm in love with, then it's over between us, because I'm not going to sacrifice my friends for anyone... not even the woman I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. And just in case you hadn't realized how much I love you, I'll spell it out: the woman I thought I would spend my life with was you. You screamed at me three days ago for going to the jewelry store with Kahva. Well, for your information, she was helping me pick out that ring you're wearing right now, she was helping me find something you would like! And don't try to say you never liked it, because you gushed all over it when I gave it to you last night! That's a promise ring, Emily!! Don't you know what that means?"
Jason waited for a response, but for once, Emily either couldn't, or wouldn't defend her actions. "I guess I shouldn't expect you to know what it means, when you can't even figure out what love is. Love grows with the giving, and everyone is capable of loving several people, and being in love with just one special person, all at the same time. Even you. But since you can't accept that, then it's over Emily, we're through." Jason tossed his car keys to her, "Take yourself home whenever you're ready, I'll get a ride home with Tommy. I'll call before I come over to get my car, Tommy will drive me over I'm sure. It's something that friends do for friends, after all."
As he turned to walk away he heard a metallic jangling, the only warning he would get before his keys slammed into his back. Picking them up, Jason also found the promise ring he'd given Emily resting in the grass a few feet away, laying where she'd yanked it off and thrown it down. He called out to her, trying to get her to take his car to drive herself home, but she was now standing at a ticket booth within a tight knot of young people. She'd found a group of her old friends, and was coldly ignoring him. Fine! Have it your way then, Emily... But I still love you, you were always the only one I was in love with, why can't you understand that? Jason sadly gazed down at the ring in his shaking hand; now that his anger was spent, it was all he could do not to cry. Why did she have to be like that, why?! Emily, I love you! Why can't you accept I love my friends too, and that if you had only given them a chance, you could have loved them too? Why? Jason closed his hand around the gold ring with the tiny sparkling diamond and fought back his tears. It's over, I can't believe it... Can we get back together? Maybe she'll think things over and we can patch things up? Yeah, maybe we can... I hope we can. In spite of everything she's said, I love Emily. I'll call her tomorrow, or the day after, give her some time to think things over, and me too.
Jason sighed, took a deep breath, and headed in the opposite direction
of Emily and her old friends. "Enough feeling sorry for myself,"
he muttered determinedly. "Time to start looking for Sheena again.
Maybe my love life is shot all to pieces, but Sheena and Billy's isn't,
and I won't let it get all shot up either. They're my friends, after all."
The Gold Ranger smiled to himself, scanning the crowd for his married friends.
"Emily will come around, I love her, and she loves me," he told
himself, tucking the ring into his jeans pocket for safekeeping. She
will come around, won't she?
"Billy, shouldn't we be looking for Sheena, not riding rides?" Kahva asked, trying to slide away from Billy. After only a few minutes of looking for Sheena, during which time Billy hadn't seemed to be looking for his wife all that hard, he'd presented Kahva with a ticket for the Tunnel of Love. Not giving her time to protest, he'd ushered her into the line for the ride, which hadn't been very long at all, and within a couple of minutes they were gliding along the waterway inside the ride. Billy had put his arms tightly around Kahva's waist the moment they had disappeared from the view of anyone outside and hadn't eased up on his grip one bit. "Billy, we have to find Sheena!"
"We'll find her, don't worry about it, sweetheart," Billy spoke softly into her ear. "Daniel doesn't know what he's missing, he would have loved being here with you today. I know I'm enjoying myself. I guess his loss is my gain." Billy placed a gentle hand under Kahva's chin and tilted her face to his. "You are beautiful, I meant what I said earlier."
"Billy, I - Billy, could you ease up a little please? You're holding me too tight. Oh look, the ride is almost over!!" she exclaimed far too eagerly, hoping Billy would take the hint. Why is he acting like this, he's driving me nuts here!
Kahva sighed inwardly with relief as Billy did take the hint and scooted away from her a little bit, only keeping one arm draped casually over the back of the seat of the little boat, just like he had been sitting when they had entered the ride. Her relief didn't last long though, as Billy firmly led her behind the ride after they had gotten out of the boat. "Kahva, you are more beautiful than Sheena, did you know that? And you aren't as rough around the edges, I really love that about you. Sheena should take some lessons from you." Billy placed his hands on Kahva's hips; it seemed like he was trying to back her against the rear wall of the ride.
"Billy, Sheena is just fine the way she is, and you know it! She is your wife and the woman you love; you guys dreamed of each other long before you ever met!" Kahva protested, managing to slip a few feet away from the Sapphire Ranger.
"But if I had met you before I met Sheena, things could have been very different, Kahva. You two look so much alike, and are so much alike... but different in all the right ways. Come on, admit it, you find me just as attractive as I find you, let's be honest here." Billy started to advance on Kahva then, slowly sauntering towards her. "And just because I'm married to Sheena, that doesn't mean that things are perfect between us."
Who's he trying to sway and convince, himself, or me? Why is he acting
like this, I don't like it!! "Billy, we need to find Sheena so
you two can talk out whatever is going on between the two of you, and I
think we'll do better if we split up. I'll call you on the communicator
if I find her, okay?" Not wanting to stay close to him any longer
than she had to, Kahva took off in search of Sheena, not bothering to wait
for Billy's answer. Sheena, I need you, something is going on here and
you and Billy need to talk badly! Sheena answer me! For a moment, Kahva
thought she could feel the presence of Sheena's mind, but a wave of coldness
brushed by her then, severing whatever possible connection she had briefly
made. "I've got to find her," Kahva breathed softly. "I've
just got to!"
Billy watched helplessly through his clone's senses as his double continued to make moves on Kahva. "Stop this, stop going after her! Don't you dare touch her!" he yelled at the images that flashed before his eyes.
Not on your life! the clone's voice sounded in his mind. I like your little friend, I like her a lot... And before my existence fades, I'm going to have fun scaring her. Maybe I can even talk my master into making me real for good, I'd love to have her with me forever. Now shut up, my original, I have plans to carry out! The clone's voice fell silent in Billy's mind, and the images ceased yet again, just as they had earlier. Billy knew they would be back though... when the clone wanted him to watch what he was doing again. Dejected and frustrated, Billy slumped against the bars of his cramped cell, beginning to fear that he may never see his beloved wife or his friends ever again. "Sheena... Sheena please, don't believe whatever he tells you, I love you! Sheena, hear me, please!" he called aloud and mentally.
The cold silence deafened him.
"Billy, where are you? We need to talk..." Sheena muttered to herself, searching the crowds for her husband. She'd spotted the others several times already, but had kept herself hidden from them. Right now I'm just not up to talking to them, and as soon as they saw me, that is what they would want to do. Wish I could find Kahva though, she's as fuzzy to me as Billy is right now. Even Tommy isn't as clear as usual. Sheena thought back to where she had spotted Jason and Emily behind the Tunnel of Love; the reason she hadn't approached him then was more because it looked like they were having an argument, than her wanting to hide from him. Maybe I should go back and see if I can find him, they were probably arguing about Kahva again, he could use someone to talk to... and I think I could too. I've been hiding from everyone, I'm still not up to talking to everybody just yet, but I think I'm up to talking to Jason, though. Sheena quickly trotted back to the ride, heading for the area behind it to see if she could pick up Jason's trail. Jason could help me find Kahva, I really need to talk to her most of all - Kahva? BILLY?!
Sheena's eyes widened as she saw her husband and her soul-sister leaning against the rear wall of the ride, deep in conversation... and Billy's hands were on Kahva's hips. What is he doing, he shouldn't have his hands on her like that - why isn't she stopping him though? Billy gave Kahva a tender kiss full on the lips before they parted, Kahva merrily skipping off in one direction, with Billy watching her depart, a longing in his eyes that before had only been directed at Sheena herself.
Sheena, I need you, something is going on here, and you and Billy need to talk badly! Sheena answer me! Kahva's voice rang faintly in her mind. Sheena started to answer, but shivered suddenly as a thread of coldness brushed past her.
"Who - what?" Did someone call my name? Sheena shook her head, trying to clear it. Billy... Yes, Billy just called to me! Smiling, Sheena called out Billy's name, hoping he would hear her above the crowd. To her eyes, he seemed to stop, as if hearing his name from somewhere. It's me, Sheena! Billy, we need to talk! Billy? What's wrong? Whatever it is, we can talk it out, stay there, I'm coming! Sheena hurried to try and make her way to him through the crowd as she watched her husband stiffen, as if bracing himself for confrontation.
Then Billy turned to look directly at Sheena and scowled at her, his face twisted into a visage of disgust, all of it directed at his wife. Before Sheena could move towards him, he slipped around the ride, disappearing from her sight. "Billy! Billy!!!" Billy no! Don't leave me!! But it was too late, her husband was gone.
Sheena stood unmoving until a cold hand laid itself upon her shoulder. "My lady Ranger?" came a voice she hadn't heard in months.
Turning in shock, Sheena could barely speak his name at first. "Z-Zimmer? Zimmer, what are you doing here?"
The tall, thin, odd man smiled and chuckled softly, a sudden breeze lifting stray strands of pale-blonde hair and floating them about his face. "Well, that's not exactly the welcome I had hoped for, but I will take that as a greeting. Hello yourself, my lady Ranger," he inclined his head to her slightly, so as to show respect to her position without drawing unwanted attention to either of them. Turning around in a full circle, he asked, "Do I look like an Earth human? It was much easier to copy the fancier dress style that everyone wore at your wedding than this... casual wear, I'm afraid," he stated apologetically, tugging uncomfortably at the slacks he wore.
"You look just fine," Sheena giggled, unable to hide her amusement at his slight fidgeting. "You look like you just stepped off of a catalog page, you look fine. It's good to see you, but what are you doing here?"
"I thought I would come to Earth to see you, my lady Ranger. This... carnival," he gestured to the rides and booths around them, "is very interesting. One thing concerns me though."
"What's that, Zimmer? And please, call me Sheena."
"My lady - I mean, Sheena... Why are you here alone, why are you not with your husband?" At her sad face, Zimmer placed a concerned hand upon her shoulder. "Have I said something wrong, Sheena?"
"No... It's just that..." Sheena sighed, trying to keep her composure. She didn't really want to talk about it, but she couldn't hold back for some reason around Zimmer. He was her friend, You have to talk to him, something kept telling her. "Billy and I had an argument, and he's been avoiding me ever since. Things were wonderful before we came here, I don't understand what has happened to change everything! Zimmer, I don't know what to do, I want my husband, but he doesn't seem to want me around! What should I do?"
"What has he said to you?" Zimmer gently inquired. He took her into a supportive embrace, leading her behind the Tunnel of Love ride so that she could talk out everything out of sight of the crowds, and it only took a few seconds for what had happened with Billy to come pouring out of the Silver Ranger.
"Now I don't know what to think, I just saw him with - a friend of ours, I don't know what they were talking about though. What should I do, Zimmer?" Sheena pleaded with him. "Please, I can use all of the advice I can get right now."
Zimmer nodded thoughtfully, "Find your husband and talk to him, really talk to him," he advised quietly. "Until you talk to him, you'll never have your answers." Sheena reluctantly nodded, and started to move away, but Zimmer pulled her back into a soft embrace. "He should never have said what he said to you, in my opinion. I'm going to be here all day, my dear Sheena, if you need me, I will find you, and be there for you, please know that. I care about you a great deal. That's the other reason I came here to Earth today, I've been afraid of something happening to you, my magic has shown me that something might disturb you, and it unfortunately looks like I was right."
Sheena brightened up a little bit at those words. "Do you think Billy is under a spell?" Her hopes were dashed though as Zimmer sadly shook his head.
"My magic showed me that a time of difficult change was upon you,
that is all I've seen. But it showed me that I needed to be here with you,
and here I am. Know that no matter what happens from this point on, I will
be here for you. Now, go find that ungrateful husband of yours who said
those horrid things. He has hurt you badly, and he owes you an explanation
at the very least." Zimmer watched the Silver Ranger walk off, her
heart heavy with Billy's earlier cold words. "I am here for you, my
lady Ranger. I will always be here for you."
Delnas smiled, watching Sheena sadly make her way through the crowds, still avoiding her friends whenever she spotted them. "Yes, my Sheena, it is nearly time..."
"I take it you're happy?" the clone walked up to him suddenly, chuckling with satisfaction. "I know I am."
"Yes, my servant, you have pleased me greatly. Sheena will be mine in a matter of a few hours, if even that long... and your service to me will be over. You have done well."
"Umm, I want to talk to you about that, Master Delnas," the Billy clone started carefully. "Do I have to cease to exist once you have that Silver Ranger? I've gotten used to living, after all, and this soul-sister of hers is quite a looker, and great fun to terrorize. Can't I stay real and have her as a reward?" the clone looked at his master hopefully.
"No. It is taking too much of my magic to keep you in existence and to continue my own work to get the Silver Ranger as it is. Once I have Sheena for my own and leave this planet, you will cease to exist. The pocket prison dimension I have your original locked up in won't even exist once I leave here. As for your original himself, I don't know what will happen to him once it collapses, and I don't care in the least." Delnas looked at his clone, his expression seeming to soften slightly, then he waved his hand off towards a section of the carnival that they hadn't gone to yet. "There. I've created a pocket of magic behind a closed ride they call the "Haunted House". You will be able to make sure that Sheena will only see and hear what you want her to see and hear behind that ride, and no one else will be able to see or hear anything that happens inside of it at all, for as long as you are there. Get that child in there and have fun with her, I don't care what you do to or with her, just make sure it drives my Sheena away from her and the Rangers, and makes her feel all alone." Delnas smiled evilly, placing a frigid hand on his creation's shoulder. "But don't get so carried away that you can't hear my summons, I will need you to strike the final blow to Sheena's heart, driving her away from the Rangers and this world forever. Perhaps once she relinquishes her Silver Crystal, you can use its powers to stay in existence," he lied to his evil clone.
"She's going to give up her Silver Crystal? How can you be so sure?"
"Trust me, if you do your job well enough, she'll give up everything that reminds her of her friends. I can't make any promises about whether the Crystal will keep you alive, though." Delnas watched as his clone thought over the lie for a few minutes, and decided to believe it. "Now go, and take care of that little friend of hers. Let Cranston watch every single moment of what you do to her, but don't you dare hesitate to answer me when I call you, understood?"
The clone of Billy Cranston nodded with an evil smile and took off for the Haunted House, eager to launch the final phase of his master's plan. Yes, things are almost ready, Sheena has only one friend left on this planet, or so she thinks. Oh Sheena, your time here is so short now, and your time to spend eternity with me is so near... I wonder what WILL happen to Cranston once the pocket dimension collapses... Bah, it doesn't matter. He'll either exist trapped outside of space and time for all eternity and beyond, or he'll die here a bitter and broken man, knowing that he'll never taste the sweetness of Sheena's lips ever again, never hear her loving voice float softly to his ear... Delnas smiled to himself and laughed coldly, slowly vanishing in a dark grey fog of magical teleportation.
Either way, that stupid Ranger is condemned to die of a crushed heart...
and I will finally have my love, just as I should have had her fifteen
thousand years ago. Do you hear me, Kahva Kilanye?! I have your descendant,
I have won!!!
"Sheena!" Kahva had decided to stay separated from the Rangers and to look for Sheena on her own. They don't seem to really believe me anyway, I'm not sure I believe myself anymore, but I can't shake the feeling that something is wrong here! As her wanderings brought her to a quieter part of the carnival, she glanced up briefly. Kahva was behind the closed-up Haunted House; it wouldn't be opening until later that day. "Sheena, where are you?" she vainly called out again. And why can't I sense her right? She's so fuzzy to me now, I can barely sense her at all!
She glanced all around. "Sheena! Sheena, where are you, answer me! Everyone's worried about you and Billy!" At least I am, everyone else thinks I've gone totally starkers, most likely. She shivered a moment, suddenly realizing she was completely alone behind the haunted house, there wasn't a single soul in sight anywhere. "Man, it's too quiet back here. Where is Sheena?" She felt a cold chill run down her back, and had the terrible feeling someone was behind her. "Who's there?" she asked harshly, beginning to turn around. Automatically her hands flew to her communicator, ready to call for help no matter who might see her do so.
Strong arms quickly wrapped themselves around her, pulling her into a close, tight embrace. Kahva just managed to see who it was holding her. "What? Billy? What are you doing, you scared me half to death!"
"Hi there, gorgeous," Billy chuckled. "Just wanted to say hi."
"For Pete's sake, Billy," Kahva relaxed just a little, despite the fact his arms were still around her. "Just say hello next time, then!" Sneaking up on me to surprise me is normal for him... Have I been overreacting? Good Lord, I don't know what to think or how to act around him anymore! She tried to move away, only to find Billy's arms were too tightly wrapped around her. "Umm, Billy, you can let me go now, we still need to find Sheena."
He shook his head. "No, we don't."
Oh, man... I don't like being this close to him! Something's wrong with him! Okay, okay, stay calm, act normal, don't get all hysterical here. Everyone else already knows you've been an idiot about all of this today, so don't act like even more of one! "What, have you found her already? Then let's go!" Kahva tried to move away again, only to find she still couldn't, his grip was too tight on her. "Billy? Billy, what's going on?" Kahva tried to fight down the wave of panic that was clawing at her mind. After all, this was Billy, her friend! Adam had said, and everyone had agreed that she'd just gotten the wrong impression about his behavior earlier, and Billy himself had apologized for worrying her earlier. So why do I want to run for the hills right now? Heaven help me, I'm scared to death of my soul-sister's husband right now!
She stiffened, her blood turning ice cold, as Billy's hands began to try to get under her shirt. "Don't worry about her," he hissed. "Sheena doesn't matter. She was only a convenience, Kahva dearest."
"Convenience?" Kahva had no idea what he was talking about, but was increasingly afraid she was about to find out. I'm NOT imagining this, I'm NOT!! "What the heck are you talking about? Sheena does matter, and stop doing that!" She shoved his hands away from her as much as she could. Sheena, where are you?! Tommy!! One of you, please hear me!!
"A convenience," Billy's voice was liquid. "To get to you."
"Get to me?" Kahva swore to herself at the quaver in her voice. Don't be stupid and weak, don't let him know he's scaring you - TOMMY!! Get over here, now!! PLEASE!! "Billy, are you feeling all right? You're not acting right, stop that!" She finally managed to get a couple of steps away from the Sapphire Ranger and stared at him. "Billy, if this is a joke, it isn't funny! You've gone too far this time!" Kahva tightly clenched her hands, fingernails digging into her palms, fighting against the fear and panic that threatened to paralyze her.
"This is no joke, beautiful," Billy purred, a lustful smile crossing his features. "No joke at all, sweetie."
Kahva backed away from him, eyes widening as her mind whirled wildly, trying to figure out why Billy of all people was behaving this way, and not liking any of the possibilities that were coming up in it. "Billy, whatever this is, stop it! I don't like it at all, and neither will Sheena!" she warned him.
"I really don't care what she likes!" Billy shrugged casually as he slowly advanced on the frightened young woman, leering at her.
She stared at him in disbelief. I can't be imagining this, I'm NOT imagining this! she told herself again. Sheena, Tommy, one of you hear me and get to the Haunted House ride, please!! "You don't mean that! Billy - !" Kahva backed up, shivering as she realized she was right up against the Haunted House, and had nowhere to run. Run?! This is Billy, I shouldn't have to run from him, he's my friend! Billy was beside her in an instant, half-pinning her to the wall. This is wrong, all wrong! I've got to get out of here, I've got to get away from Billy! The others are going to have to believe me now, I've got to make them believe me somehow! Kahva's blood froze as Billy captured her with cold, desiring eyes.
"Oh, but I do," he smiled harshly, his arms on either side of her as he leaned against the back wall of the vacant ride. "I mean every word of it, beautiful."
"Leave me alone, Billy!" Kahva protested. "Sheena! Somebody!" Kahva tried to squirm away, only to have Billy suddenly run his tongue along her neck. This can't be happening, this can't be happening!! "Get away from me!" she shouted, trying her best to push him away. "Somebody help!"
As his hands caressed her neck, forcing her to look at him, she almost growled, "Let go of me! Billy, don't make me doing something you'll regret, please!" I don't want to do this, please let him stop right now!!
"You won't regret this," he shook his head, his cold lips brushing hers. "And I know I won't either!"
Kahva steeled herself, then slammed Billy as hard as she could below the belt with her knee. "Snap out of it!" she shouted at the top of her lungs, hoping to make Billy stop by sheer force of will. Kahva tried to move away, only to have him grab her tightly, pulling her into a kiss that nearly made her lose everything she'd eaten for the last few days. This is NOT Billy! I don't know what's going on, but this is all wrong! She kept her lips pressed together as long as she could before snarling out a fierce, "Stop!"
NO! her mind screamed, as she realized her mistake all too late. Opening her mouth to shout didn't stop Billy, it instead allowed him to shove his tongue in between her lips, forcing a fierce, harsh, french kiss on her. Kahva continued to struggle, beating on him with her fists, trying to get the leverage for a kick at her attacker, but to no avail as Billy seemed not to even notice her attacks. Got to get away!! Trying to level a harder kick she slipped, then lost her balance as Billy tripped her up quickly. Not giving her a second to recover, Billy slammed her into the ground, never once letting up on his unwanted kiss.
"Please... no..." Kahva whispered as much as she could after Billy finally moved back to laugh at his victim softly, running cold fingers through her hair. Kahva's thoughts were too jumbled up now for her to be able to do much of anything but lay there; her continuing wild, frantic attempts to escape were borne purely out of a sheer, automatic instinct for survival.
"Yes!" Billy laughed harshly, gloating down at her as he knelt beside her, keeping a firm grasp on her arms. He had no intentions of letting his prisoner escape his attentions. Billy swiftly forced another harsh, deep kiss on her that kept up for longer than Kahva wanted to think about.
After what seemed like an eternity, Billy stopped and stared down at her with glittering blue eyes. Nooooooo... With tears welling up in her eyes she whispered, "Why?", all the time terrified of what he would do to her next.
"You know you want to be with me," Billy purred sinisterly, a lustful smile curving his lips, his expression becoming all dark and twisted.
"No!" she shook her head vehemently. "No I don't! You're married to Sheena, Billy, and even if you weren't, she loves you! I would never interfere with that, and I never will!"
Billy looked down at her, sending chills flying up and down her spine, wracking her body with uncontrollable shivers. "I love you, Kahva," he told her in a desiring, husky voice. "I have loved you since as far back as I can think."
"No, you don't love me, not like that!" Vainly Kahva tried to shove Billy away from her, struggling against his grip, wanting nothing more than to be universes away from him at that very moment.. "You're married to Sheena!"
"Not for long, I'm not!"
"You don't mean that!" I don't believe that, I won't believe that! He's lying, he does love Sheena, he does! The trapped young woman's stomach turned nervously at the grin Billy directed towards her. He has to love Sheena, he can't mean any of this... Why is he looking at me that way? Oh God, please make him stop, please!!
Billy chuckled cruelly at Kahva's obvious discomfort, caressing her arms all the while, but never once letting go of her enough for her to try and get away from him. "Why would I want to stay with her when I can have you?"
No, he didn't say that, no... The helpless girl shook her head in fearful disbelief. "Y-You don't mean that, Billy! You don't really want me, and you know I don't want you!" Trembling, and in shock, Kahva couldn't resist her captor as he pulled her closer to him, and into another violating kiss.
"Oh, but I do want you," he murmured into her lips, kissing her so fiercely that it seemed to Kahva he was trying to suck her entire face off with the kiss. "And in due time, you'll want me just as badly."
Somehow Kahva managed to pull herself away from him slightly, fighting valiantly to get his hands off her. "I don't want you Billy, stop this right now!"
"You do want me, and you do want this!" Billy hissed angrily. "And even if you don't want it, I do, and that is all the reason I'll ever need!!"
"No!" Kahva yelled, shaking her head, trying desperately to shove him away from her. Why can't he just leave me alone?! I don't want him, what part of no doesn't he understand?! "Stop this Billy, right now!" I need help, now!! Left with no other choice, Kahva did something she had never thought she would ever have to do to a friend: she slapped Billy, hard enough to leave the print of her hand on his face, hoping that would stop his advances long enough for her to call for help on her communicator. Her entire body froze, paralyzed as time seemed to hold its breath, waiting for Billy's reaction.
A light, almost caressing growl issued from him as he grabbed her wrists savagely and held them tightly over her head, swiftly pinning her tightly back onto the ground. His eyes seemed to glow with a desire she had never had turned on her by any man, and most especially not by Billy. No matter how hard she tried, Kahva could not move her hands or wrists, much less activate her communicator. Shift... I've got to shift us to the Power Chamber, Zordon and Alpha can help me, gotta shift!! But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't shift, she couldn't feel Billy's Sapphire Power and tap into it. No... he's blocking me?! Or my abilities are gone... Oh please no, I've got to get out of here, don't let it be that, I've got to get away from him!! I've got to get us to the Power Chamber, I've got to get help!! Before she could make another attempt to shift however, Billy's next actions shattered any and all slivers of concentration she had left.
Slowly leaning down, Billy licked his victim's neck almost as a cat would lick at a most delicious bowl of cream. "Mmmm... you taste good!" he laughed a little, avoiding her attempts at kicking him away quite deftly.
"Stop this, leave me alone! Someone help me!" Kahva screamed at the top of her lungs. Sheena, help me, please!!! Tommy!! Anybody!!
He shook his head. "No one's going to come to your rescue, little one. No one can hear you," he told her as he licked again and again on her neck and lips. "No one except for me: the only man who will ever truly love you, Kahva Briton."
"Get off me!" she snarled, kicking as hard as she could. There could be no holding back in her fighting now; friend or no, Billy had to be stopped. "I said NO!!!" Kahva trembled terribly as he rammed her legs flat to the ground, brutally forcing her entire body completely prone, then laid on top of her to keep her that way. Her heart was beating so fast, she feared it might explode right out of her chest in pure fright.
"Now," he breathed into her ear, nuzzling against her neck, "isn't this cozy, my love?" He smiled at her with a sickening leer. "Just think, once I drop that bad habit I married by mistake, we can do this and more every night!" Billy laughed as his captive's terrified body trembled beneath his own. "And we will," he promised, squeezing her wrists together until she screamed in pain.
Kahva shivered, trying desperately to figure out some way to escape from her captor. He was too heavy for her to try and kick off of her now, even if she could move her legs from their constrainment between his strong legs. Anything else Billy had in mind for her, she could do nothing to stop she realized, as her heart sank in despair. "No!" she wept, unable to hide the tiniest shred of her helpless fear from him anymore. "Billy, stop this!! I don't love you, get off me, please!!" As he purred an evil 'no', she cried out, "Somebody help me!!! "
The Sapphire Ranger leaned over, forcing another deep and hideously long kiss onto her, then traced his tongue across her cheek and neck. Securing her wrists cruelly in one hand, he ran the other down the buttoned front of her shirt, pulling it out of her jeans before her terrorized mind could register what was happening. "We're going to have a very long life together," his whispered in her ear, his voice full of hideous promise. "And it starts once I get rid of my soon to be extremely ex-wife."
"P-please," she whispered over and over, quivering in fear as he unbuttoned first one, then another button at the bottom of her shirt, then rested a cold hand on her trembling stomach, caressing her in a way that only a husband should caress his wife. "St-st-stop..." she wailed softly, keeping her eyes clenched tightly shut, unable to bear seeing where his hand might travel next. I can't, I can't... But I can't stop him either!! Somebody please stop him!!!
All at once, Billy's weight left her body, and her wrists were abruptly released. A few seconds later, they began to throb as the circulation returned to them. Wh-What?? By some miracle, Billy had gotten up and released her. Has he come to his senses? I - I can't look at him, I can't!! As if also released from their own imprisonment, all of her fear and terror flooded suddenly throughout Kahva's body, wracking her with involuntary cold, hard shivers.
Her captor looked down at her as she curled up into a tight, trembling little ball. "I've got things to take care of lover, but I'll see you again, my dear!" Kahva barely noticed as Billy, whom she had always thought of as a friend and brother, walked off, chuckling softly to himself.
Kahva turned away from the sound of his footfalls, covering her face
with her hands, her tears mixing with the dirt on her face. "Why?"
she cried to herself. "Why is he doing this? Why?!" Kahva's heart
sank as another horrible thought assailed her suddenly. Oh God, Sheena's
going to kill me when she finds out about this, she is going to hate me!!
I'm so worthless, they're all going to hate me for this... Oh God, why
me, what did I do wrong, why me?!
Sheena wandered through the carnival with her head down and her heart breaking. How could Billy have said those things to me? What is going on? It's got to be some trick, it has to be, Billy's not like that! Yeah, that's it, Mondo or Master Vile is up to something, I know it! Maybe I can burn it out of him... I don't know though, I've never used the Silver Flame on another living person before.
Her head came up as suddenly she heard Kahva's voice floating from behind the closed Haunted House ride. I really need to talk to her, Kahva will know what to do, she always knows how to help everyone. She was about to call out for her friend, when she heard Billy's voice as well. Something stirred her to simply listen and watch, as her feet drew her behind the Haunted House to see them both standing there, locked in a passionate embrace. Billy... Kahva?! No!!
"Oh Billy," Kahva whispered breathlessly as she gazed up into his dark blue eyes. "I'm so glad we don't have to hide this any longer. I just couldn't take not being with you any longer! Having to pretend to care about Daniel, having to pretend to think of you as just a friend..." Kahva shivered slightly, pulling Billy even closer to her for comfort.
He kissed her tenderly, gently brushing the hair back from her forehead. "We don't have to pretend any more," he assured her, his voice full of precious love for the woman in his arms. "I'm going to divorce Sheena, and then we can be married, my dearest. We'll be together forever."
"Forever together," she whispered, her dark eyes shining with unbridled love and passion for the man holding her in a tight lover's embrace. "Always and eternity."
NO!! NOOOO!!! Sheena could bear it no longer. Eyes welling up with tears, she turned and ran, heart shattered beyond repair, her mind whirling with images of what she had seen, and what she knew they were going to be doing next.
They... all this time... ever since Kahva got here... they... why... WHY... have to think... have to think!!! Her feet swiftly carried her out of the carnival and into the woods surrounding it. Only her instincts, wild and primeval, guided her now. She needed peace, and there was only one place where she could find it now: a witch's contemplation circle, sealed off from all that could or would harm her, safe forever.
As she ran, a shadow detached itself from the walls and followed her. And what are you feeling now, my dear? Delnas thought softly. Betrayal? Loss? Pain? That's just what you SHOULD be feeling! My clone has done his job very well, very well indeed, he gloated, already sending the mental summons to his servant, commanding him to prepare for the final blows to the Silver Ranger's shattered heart. Your soon to be ex-husband will never be trusted by the other Rangers ever again, his heart will be broken for all eternity when he finds out you are gone... and your little 'sister' will never trust him or the others ever again. The Rangers will never find you and they will suffer terribly, not ever knowing what happened to you. You will be mine forever, my dear.
He laughed softly as he followed her. It was time for the next, and
almost final, stage in his plan. Things were proceeding perfectly. Nothing
was going to go wrong.
Kahva lay on the ground, curled into a tight ball, sobbing helplessly. She couldn't believe what had happened. How can this have happened, why?! Billy doesn't do things like this... but he just did!! He was her friend, her brother, the husband of her soul-sister, but with the way he'd been acting, she would rather have been near Mondo than him! At least the Machine King's motives were clear and simple: world domination. But Billy's... Billy... "Nooo," she whispered hoarsely. "Nooo..."
"Kahva!" She heard a voice calling her name, and jerked away from it instinctively, unable to stop crying. "Kahva! It's me, Jason!"
She leapt back instantly into a sitting position as a hand touched her shoulder, stopping only because the wall of the building behind her blocked her escape. "Don't touch me, Billy!" she shrieked, not seeing Jason standing there in front of her for a moment.
What the - ? the Gold Ranger wondered, staring at the terrified young woman. What on Earth is going on here?! His concern and confusion only grew deeper as her expression changed from one of absolute fear, to one of complete disbelief.
"Jason?" she whispered, casting a quick, frightened look around. "Where's Billy?" she asked in the next breath, her voice quavering badly.
"I don't know," Jason said as the others came up. To Jason, she seemed not to be able to trust her own senses. "I haven't seen him for over half an hour now, maybe a little more... What happened here?" he inquired cautiously. He couldn't shake the feeling that she still didn't believe it was really him talking to her, as he slowly knelt down in front of her. What do I do now? Can I even touch her? What has happened here?! "Kahva?" he coaxed her again carefully.
"Billy," she whispered, trying her best to stop the tears that etched their way down her cheeks, cutting ragged paths through the dirt on her face. "Billy..."
"Did he... do something?" Jason asked, only to have Kahva bury her head in her arms and cry all the more. Something's happened to upset her, I don't know what it is, but still... What do I do? Somebody tell me what to do here, please!
He looked up as the others joined them. "Jason!" Adam called out. "Any luck? Hey... what's going on?" Adam and the other Rangers slowed to a careful halt, caught totally off-guard by the sight of Kahva sitting in a tight ball, huddled against the Haunted House ride. "Jason?" he asked hesitantly.
"I'm not sure," the Gold Ranger shook his head, doing his best to comfort the distraught woman sitting before him.
"I'll be okay," Kahva stated in a wavering voice, forcing her tears to stop. I'm not going to be weak in front them, I'm not!! They've got more important things to worry about than me right now. I can't talk to them about it anyway, they won't understand, no one will! God, I feel so dirty right now, I can still feel his hands on me... Shivering, she merely said, "Just give me a minute, please."
Jason nodded, then looked back to the other Rangers. "No sign of either of them?"
"We haven't been able to find them anywhere," Tommy frowned. None of them, except maybe Sheena, had ever seen Kahva cry before, except shortly after her arrival in their world, when she had told Sheena about Mr. Devereaux's death. "What's going on here? What's wrong?"
"I'm not sure," Jason shook his head as Kahva's tear-streaked face looked up.
"It's Billy," she whispered hoarsely. "He's..." How can I say anything without them wanting to know more than I can deal with right now, or tell them? This is Billy we're talking about here; if they didn't believe me before, they'll certainly think I'm lying now!
"He's what?" came the Pink Ranger's quiet inquiry.
Kat's voice was so gentle, so caring, it was all Kahva could do not to cry again. She took several deep breaths, trying to focus her thoughts. I can't tell them, I can't, they won't understand, or they won't believe me... "He's not acting right..."
Her vague answer drew a shake of the head and a puzzled frown from the Red Ranger. "Something really odd is going on, why can't we find either of them?" Tommy mused. "Sheena's missing, Billy's acting weird... things just aren't right!"
Kahva glared at them all suddenly, swiftly focusing in on Tommy. "I told you all he was flirting with me before, now you finally believe me that something's wrong with him?!" As she realized what she'd said, Kahva buried her face in her hands, on the verge of crying again. "Oh God, I'm sorry Tommy, I didn't mean that, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!!"
"No, I'm sorry, Kahva," Tommy gently told her, coming over to kneel beside her. "We should've believed you from the start - it just didn't sound like Billy at all, what you were saying earlier. Right now... it just doesn't seem like Billy's acting like Billy all of a sudden. Kahva, I'm the one who should be sorry, I should've listened to you." And because you didn't listen to her, something awful must have happened, for her to be acting this way! Great second-in-command of the Rangers you are, Thomas Oliver! he berated himself.
Kahva nodded slowly, her voice still a little shaky, but mostly firm now, and a bit stronger. "Trust me, he's not acting right at all!" She unsteadily got to her feet, doing what she could to settle herself. "He's even found a way to block my shifting, I couldn't tap into his power to get us to the Power Chamber for help. I would've teleported, but - " Kahva stopped herself right there before she said too much. I can't tell them what he did, almost did, I just can't! "I never got the chance to teleport us," she finished quietly. It was the truth, after all... just not the whole truth. "If I could've shifted us... Either he's blocking me somehow, or I've lost the ability to shift, I don't know which it is. All I know for sure is that Billy isn't acting right, not by any stretch of the imagination," she asserted again.
What isn't she telling us? the Yellow Ranger wondered, studying the young woman's tear and dirt streaked face. Jason had already borrowed some tissues from Kat and was wiping the dirt gently off of Kahva's face. "Then we've got to find out why he's not acting right," Tanya murmured, and not a single soul could disagree with her.
Nodding, Kahva stated, "It's got to have something to do with Sheena's disappearance, it has to." To everyone there, Kahva sounded like she was trying to convince herself that was the reason, more than trying to convince anyone else. "Everything was perfectly normal today and going just great until we all got separated in the Hall of Mirrors."
"And after that, things just started being weird?" Adam asked gently.
Kahva nodded in reply to Adam's question. "Things have just gotten weirder from then on. I haven't seen Sheena since we split up to look for Billy, either." She looked at the Red Ranger hopefully, "Tommy? Could somebody be doing something here, somebody like Mondo or Master Vile? Something has to be causing all this strangeness."
"Could be," Tommy nodded thoughtfully, running what they knew of what had happened so far in his head. It's not quite like anything either of those villains have tried before, but that didn't mean it couldn't be one of them.
Kahva took a deep breath. "Look, you guys keep trying to find Sheena, find out what's going on with her, please? As for Billy... Somehow, I don't think it will be a problem finding him. With the way he's been acting today, he'll show up right when you don't want him to. I'm going to go back to the Hall of Mirrors; if something has happened to either or both of them to start this weirdness, then maybe I'll find some clues there."
As she started off, Rocky called after her, "Okay, but maybe one of us should go with you... you know, just in case?" He sounded concerned, and was frowning slightly.
Kahva pretended not to notice his tone or frown. "No, you guys need to find Sheena and Billy, I'll be fine on my own," she reassured him. "Thanks for offering though, Rocky." She smiled a little, then was gone before anyone could stop her.
Tommy nodded in agreement with the older girl's statement. "She's right, we've got to find them. If Mondo or Vile's involved in this, they could both be in a lot of danger."
Everyone agreed with that, but as the others started voicing suggestions as to where to look next for Sheena, Kat noticed Rocky was still staring in the direction Kahva had taken off in. "Rocky?" Kat looked at the Blue Ranger concernedly. "Rocky, what's wrong?"
He shook his head a little. "I'm not sure... but... I think..."
"Think what?" Jason wondered, glancing briefly to where Kahva had walked off. I'm really worried about her, I should have gone with her... Please don't let her run up with Emily anytime soon!
Rocky sighed, shaking his head. "I think I saw some bruises on Kahva, most definitely on her wrists. I'm almost afraid to guess what it is Billy did that she's not telling us."
"I don't know what he did," Jason frowned, remembering Kahva's initial reaction to his presence. "But she was lying on the ground all balled up and crying when I found her. She really freaked, and nearly jumped out of her skin when I touched her. She yelled, "Don't touch me, Billy!" and tried to get away from me until she realized I wasn't Billy." Jason's expression hardened slightly as he looked at the Blue Ranger. "Are you sure you saw bruises, Rocky?"
At Rocky's affirmation, Tommy glanced around. "One thing is certain: we won't know what happened until either she tells us, or we get an answer out of Billy. Guys, I've got a really bad feeling that his 'flirting' with her has gone up a few levels."
"So do I," Tanya nodded. "And that is definitely not like Billy to scare someone like that. Heck, it's not even like him to flirt!"
"He's got some major explaining to do, that's for certain," Jason snarled softly. He didn't want to believe Billy had done anything bad to Kahva, at least not of his own free will. But the Gold Ranger wanted, and was determined to get some serious answers. And if he did do something bad to Kahva... Oldest friend of mine or no, he'd better be under a spell or something, because otherwise, I'll tear him apart!
"The sooner we find him and Sheena, the sooner we can all get to some answers," Tommy declared, clapping a reassuring hand on Jason's shoulder.
Adam nodded, then frowned, his dark eyes troubled. "Guys, what are we going to do if Mondo or Vile has done something to Billy or Sheena... or both of them?"
Tommy's voice was resolute as he softly replied, "Find a way to
reverse it." Before it's too late...
Sheena leaned against a tree, wiping away her tears. She couldn't get the image out of her head of Billy and Kahva kissing, of him beginning to caress her in the gentle, loving way he had only done with her before... "I... have to think," she murmured under her breath. "Have to concentrate..." She reached absently for her jeans pocket, pulling out the four candles she carried there, no matter what. With shaking hands and aching heart, she marked off the four cardinal points of north, south, east and west with the candles.
"Maybe I can think straight in here," she sighed hopefully. "Cut off from all evil and distractions... just perfect peace... to think..." She glanced up to the sun, basking in the power and heat emanating from it. "Lady Isis," she whispered skyward, "I need Your guidance in this. I need the Lady's peace..."
As she began to light the candles, she focused her mind, imagining the circle coming into being around her as she did so. Tears fell down her cheeks, blinding her for a few moments as she paused in the casting.
"Sheena?" she heard soft footsteps running up to her. "Sheena, what's wrong?"
Quickly wiping away her tears, Sheena looked up to see Zimmer standing a few feet away. "Zimmer?" What is he doing here?
"Sheena, what's wrong?" he asked, accidentally stepping on a candle as he walked closer to her. "You seem upset, my Lady. Is there something you want to talk about? Is there anything I can help you with? Anything at all?"
Sheena almost said something to him about the candle he had just stepped on, then forgot what she was going to say. It doesn't matter anyway, Zimmer's here, that's all that matters. A candle is a candle, after all, isn't it? "What are you doing here?" she finally asked. He smiled as he sat down, pulling her gently down next to him.
"I've been looking for you," he told her, patting her hand with great concern. "What is wrong? Has something upset you? Talk to me, please, Sheena!"
She closed her eyes for a moment, thinking. Can I trust him? Well that's a silly question, I know the answer to that already! Still, she couldn't stop the involuntary hesitance in her response. "Well... yes.... Something has upset me."
"You know you can talk to me, Sheena," he touched her hand tenderly. "Just tell me all about it, my Lady Ranger - I mean, my dear Sheena. Please... tell me."
Sighing, she began, "Well, it started earlier today... in the carnival..."
"Tell me all about it," he gently hugged her, as one friend would another. "You'll feel better, trust me. Sheena, why don't you blow out those candles and break them, you know don't need them with me here."
She almost shook her head, then nodded suddenly. "But I do need them... well.... okay." Almost blank-minded, she did as he had suggested, then sat back down next to him, letting her mind relax from the calling up of the energies she'd been using, releasing the last of them.
"Now, tell me who has hurt you, tell me who has betrayed you so badly," he suggested, smiling in that strange way of his.
"B... Billy... and my best friend... almost my sister!" I can't even bring myself to say her name around him now! Kahva, why did you do this to me, I trusted you! The image of the two people she loved the most in this world came unbidden, and unwanted to her mind, causing the pain to surge up in her heart anew.
"They hurt you, didn't they?" Zimmer more stated, than asked.
Sheena nodded quickly, fighting back the tears that wanted to fall again. "They were... k... kissing..."
"They were very intimate, weren't they?" Zimmer told her softly. "And they knew you were watching and they did it just to hurt you, didn't they?"
He is such a tender, understanding person, Sheena thought, leaning against her Eltarian friend for support. He's always been there when I've really needed him, and is always so careful about not hurting me... Were Billy and Kahva intimate? I can't remember... Shaking her head a little, she replied, "I don't know... they were... I don't know..."
"Maybe they were going to be," he suggested. "You didn't stay to see, after all. But even if they didn't go that far, they betrayed you, Sheena. That so-called sister of yours has stolen your husband, your husband doesn't love you anymore."
Tears sprang up in her green eyes, and this time Sheena didn't try to stop them. He's right, Billy has proven over and over again today that he doesn't care about me anymore! But maybe, just maybe... Sheena abruptly smiled, gazing hopefully up into Zimmer's strange blue eyes. "But the others..."
"Yes, the others," Zimmer nodded sagely. "Now what will they think? How do they feel about them now, how do they feel about you? They only took you in because of your husband, you know that now, don't you?"
She shook her head again, not wanting to believe Zimmer's words. "Tommy trusts me," she whispered, her heart clinging to this last, desperate hope. "They all care..."
Zimmer stood up, holding out his hand out to her. She gladly took it, letting him help her to her feet. "Perhaps we should go find them and ask?" he suggested gently.
"Yes," she smiled as they started through the woods. It was a peaceful, warm day, with only the sound of birds coming through the trees. We'll ask, and I know they will say they trust me, they still love me. I just know it! Suddenly, out of absolutely nowhere, a phalanx of Cogs burst into existence.
Zimmer simply stared at them, obviously scared of the metal men, as Sheena growled menacingly at them. "What are they?" he asked, backing up. "What do they want, Sheena?!"
Sheena started towards the Cogs, fists clenched in anger and pure rage. "They're scrap metal, that's what they are!" she spat out. Finally! Something I can take out my aggressions on! But there is a lot of them! Maybe I should call the others for help...
"Be careful, my love!" Zimmer called after her, then pressed his fingers to his lips as if he had said more than he had desired to.
Why did he do that? Sheena made a mental note to speak with him about it later, then in the next second she was too involved in fighting to care about it. Long moments passed in the fierce battle, with Sheena using every single trick she knew of in karate and ki-see to keep herself in one piece. I've got to contact the others, I need help!! Lifting her communicator to her lips, she started to call for the other Rangers when she spotted them walking up to her through the trees. Billy was with them as well, hanging to the back of the group, not caring to look at Sheena at all.
"Guys!" she smiled a little, her heart surging with renewed hope and confidence. Billy and I might be having problems, but the others will come through for me! We're Power Rangers, after all, that's what we do! "I need some help here!" she shouted to them over the din of the attacking Cogs, who oddly enough, seemed to be ignoring the newly arrived Rangers.
Tommy merely shrugged at her in cold indifference. "Why should we bother to help you? You're the great Silver Ranger, surely you can handle a few measly Cogs all by yourself!"
"Tommy!" she stared at her cousin in shock. He's never spoken like that to me or anyone else before! What's going on here?!
Tanya laughed derisively at the Silver Ranger. "Oh come on, like we really need to bother with you. Handle them yourself, we've got a party to plan!"
"Yes, Billy and your soul-sister are engaged, haven't you heard?" Jason called out to her.
Sheena stopped fighting, ignoring the Cogs that surged around her. "W... what?"
Billy nodded, a lustful grin spreading across his face. "Yeah, I'm going to marry the woman I really love, ex-wife!" He ripped his wedding ring off his hand and threw it down in front of her in disgust. "Consider that your divorce, Sheena Devereaux! Come on guys, we've got plans to make for my wedding! My real wedding, to the woman I've really loved all this time!"
Sheena stared at the ring, shocked and disbelieving, then looked straight at Billy. "No," she whispered, hoping that somehow she hadn't heard any of that right, hadn't seen what she had just seen.
He nodded harshly at her in reply. "Yes!" he shouted joyfully, then looked to the others. "Come on guys, let's go plan my wedding! Sheena can handle this, she is the Silver Ranger, after all!"
She watched in complete shock as they walked off, leaving her still surrounded by the rapidly advancing Cogs. Billy, no!!! Nothing else seemed to register in her mind, except for Billy's cold betrayal and rejection. He doesn't love me, he loves Kahva, not me...
The Silver Ranger was brought back to reality by Zimmer's terrified scream. "Sheena! Help me!" Turning around quickly, she saw him held tightly in the grip of several Cogs.
"No!" she growled. "I'm not going to lose this friend! I won't!!"
She quickly knocked the Cogs out of the way, and took up a stand beside Zimmer. "Thank you!" he smiled gratefully. "Look out!" he shouted, leveling a punch at a Cog trying to sneak up behind Sheena. "You will not hurt the woman I love!" he growled. "I will not allow it!!" Sheena's eyes widened in shock as he blasted all of the Cogs with a wave of powerful magic. "Leave my love alone!"
The metal monstrosities abruptly vanished into thin air, as if they had never been there to begin with. Sheena turned to Zimmer in surprise, but couldn't ask him how he had just managed his magically miracle for some reason. All she could ask, all that was on her mind was what he'd said in the heat of battle. "Zimmer? L-Love? You called me..."
"They're gone now, my dear," he took her hand with daring passion. Sheena felt flattered that he cared so deeply about her, even if she didn't really want him to care about her in that way. "Are you all right, my lady?" At her nod, he smiled with great relief and pleasure. "I will never let anyone hurt you, my love. You are all that matters to me in this lifetime, and beyond."
"You... love me?" she whispered, glancing where the other Rangers had stood only moments earlier. Zimmer loves me?! All of her emotions jumbled up together then, and she sagged into his arms for comfort and security. They don't love me, never did... But Zimmer loves me! How could this have all happened, how could I have been so blind to the truth? Her eyes spilled over with the tears she couldn't hold back any longer, nor did she want to hold them back anymore. "They... they abandoned me... They all did..."
Zimmer nodded, rubbing her arms comfortingly. "Yes, they did. You should leave them Sheena. They don't love you, they never have loved you. All this time, you've been living a lie."
"They don't love me..." He's right!! I can't believe I've been living a lie ever since I escaped from Mondo, but I have!
"Come with me, live with me Sheena," Zimmer implored softly. "I love you. I'm the only one who truly does, or ever has loved you. Please, come with me, Sheena, I beg you. Be my wife, live with me forever." He tenderly kissed her lips, a sweet, wonderful kiss as light as a feather.
"I... don't know," she murmured, stepping away a little. I'm so confused, what do I do? But Zimmer is telling me the truth, he wouldn't lie to me... Would he?
Zimmer nodded, he of course understood these things took time, Sheena knew. She knew that just as surely as she knew she could believe Zimmer implicitly in everything. "You want to tell your former friends before you go?" he asked her. "They'll deny everything, I guarantee it. They'll deny anything is wrong, they won't even see your pain. Except for Billy, though. He'll tell you he doesn't love you anymore, he'll admit it. He simply doesn't care anymore if he hurts you, you'll see that, I'm afraid."
Sheena nodded, Zimmer was right of course. Zimmer is right about everything, he always has been, and always will be. "Yes, I have to tell them. Maybe they... maybe they didn't mean it, maybe it was a joke?" Sheena didn't believe that for an instant, but part of her wanted to believe it. Even after everything they had done, she still loved the Rangers for some inexplicable reason.
Zimmer smiled harshly, though Sheena only saw his unwavering love for
her. "If they deny anything at all happened, then you will know beyond
the shadow of a doubt that they meant every word they said to you. Trust
me, they don't care about you anymore, and you will find that out soon.
Now, let's go find the ingrates."
"Tommy, can you sense Sheena or Billy any at all?" Kat asked. She hadn't really wanted to let Kahva off on her own anymore than Rocky had. Now, with every passing moment, she wanted to find the Silver and Sapphire Rangers more and more, so they could go back to their older friend. This has to get settled once and for all. We've got two people who may be drifting apart on us, and a third who is closing herself off from us, I'm sure of it. We've got to get this resolved before it's too late! Kat bit her lip and expectantly waited for an answer from the Red Ranger.
Her boyfriend shook his head no after a few moments of trying, though. "It's weird, Kat. I can't sense Billy at all, not even a light touch like I can get every now and then. And with Sheena... it's... well... fuzzy. Unclear. Major interference. I don't like this, guys. I don't like it one bit."
"I don't know much about your links," Adam admitted. "But it doesn't sound too good to me either." Adam thought for a second, then asked, "Maybe they're blocking you really hard?"
"I don't know," Tommy shrugged his shoulders in defeat. "I don't know nearly as much about this as I'd like to." When this is all over with, we are going to work on these links more and that's all there is to it! Sheena, where are you? he called out mentally one last time, hoping for some kind of response. There was none.
The six Rangers kept walking through the carnival, continuing their search, until Tanya pointed ahead of them suddenly. "Billy!" She smiled briefly to see their friend lounging against the wall of a ticket-taker's booth near the edge of the carnival grounds, picking his teeth casually. "Billy, where have you been? We've been looking all over the carnival for you!"
"I've been busy," Billy spat the words out. "Have any of you seen that loser I'm married to?"
The Rangers stared at each other in pure shock. Never had they heard Billy refer to anyone like that before, much less Sheena. "Umm, no," Rocky shook his head. "Actually, we've been looking for both of you. By the way, Billy... What happened between you and Kahva today? She was really scared when we found her."
Billy only shrugged, not seeming to care about the older girl's reported upset. "How should I know what wrong with her? I've been busy, like I said." Then he stiffened slightly, tilting his head as if he was hearing something in his mind. It was a behavior the Rangers were quite used to, Billy nearly always acted like this when Sheena was contacting him mentally. But this time, something in his manner seemed off, somehow. "She's nearly at the edge of the woods over there, come on." When the other Rangers didn't immediately follow him, he turned back with an exaggerated, seemingly exasperated sigh and challenged, "You've been looking for her too, right? Well come on, if you really want to find her and talk to her!"
That was a logic that couldn't be denied, though if not for Adam and Rocky's calming hands firmly grasping his shoulders, Jason would have tackled Billy right then and there, demanding an explanation from him. "Let me go, I'm not going to kill him," Jason growled under his breath. "I'm just going to throttle some answers out of, and some common sense in to him!"
"We just want him in one piece so we can all get some answers, Jase," Adam reassured the Gold Ranger as they left the carnival grounds and entered the woods, following Billy's strangely unhurried path.
Whatever other discussion might have happened was broken off as a harsh voice called out an angry, "Hey!" from beside them. One and all they turned to see Sheena and Zimmer standing side by side a few feet away. Jason absently noted an odd, mocking smile on the strange man's face, and he seemed to be absently reaching for Sheena's hand almost constantly, but then pulling himself back. Almost like how Emily does with me... possessive...
"Sheena!" Tommy smiled to see his cousin, but wondered at the storm raging in those green eyes. This just keeps getting weirder and weirder! Why do I get the feeling that the world is about to end? "Hey, what's up? We've been hunting all over for you, girl!"
"Yeah, I just bet you have," she snarled, marching closer to them and not even looking at Billy. "I want to know just one little thing, people: what in the world did you think you were doing, leaving me and Zimmer to face all those Cogs? We could've been killed!! I'm good, yes, but I'm not that good! If Zimmer hadn't used his magic, the Lady only knows what would've happened to us!"
"Cogs?" the Rangers chorused more or less in unison. "There was a Cog attack and you didn't call us?" Tommy asked her incredulously.
She snorted at him in return, "You were there! You left me! You left both of us!"
Adam quickly shook his head. "Whoa, wait a minute here, that's not true! Sheena, we've been running all over this carnival trying to find you! Something really weird is going on around here, we've been worried about you!"
Billy stood up straighter, finally seeming to take interest in the proceedings, and walked a few feet over to his wife. The Rangers were surprised to see fear, hate, rage, and tender love all twitching their way across Sheena's face simultaneously, and all those emotions directed right at Billy. "What's the matter?" his voice dripped dark evil. "Couldn't handle some measly Cogs without a little help, oh Great Master of ki-see?!" he sneered derisively.
Her eyes sparked with fiery silver highlights as her lips curled back from her teeth, baring them in a sinister snarl. "Oh that does it," she whispered harshly. "That does it!! I've had it up to here with all of you treating me the way you have today, and most especially you!" she spat at Billy. She concentrated briefly, and a moment later, her Crystal lay in her right hand, gleaming a brilliant silver. With a powerful throw, she launched it straight at them, as if trying to hit one of the Rangers with it. "Find some other idiot to use that!" she growled, whirling on Zimmer. "Take me away from here," she ordered him abruptly. "Take me anywhere, I don't care where! I want to get as far away from these liars as I possibly can!"
As she turned back around to glare at them, only the Rangers saw the look of cold triumph that lit Zimmer's face as he reached out to take Sheena gently by one hand. "Farewell, Power Rangers. Your former friend is now the permanent love of me... Zimmer Delnas," were his only words to them before he and Sheena teleported away. Billy shrugged indifferently at their departure, then eagerly bent down and reached out for the Silver Crystal, source of the Silver Ranger's powers, as it lay unclaimed at their feet.
"Now to stay here with your little friend forever!" he gleefully chuckled. But as they reached the Silver Crystal's surface, his fingers passed right through it. Billy shook his head, frowning, then suddenly smiling rather oddly. "Oh well, it was a thought while it lasted. Guess that's the end of that," he laughed, collapsing into a mere whiff of smoke, his communicator falling to the ground next to the Crystal.
"What in the world?!" Tommy shouted, breaking free of the temporary paralyzing shock they had all fallen into. "What just happened here?!"
Tanya shook her head, unable to find an answer any more than the others could. "I don't know..." She ran over to the Crystal, picking it and Billy's communicator up. "But I do know this: that wasn't the real Billy, it couldn't have been! Remember, our Power Crystals can only be touched by a Power Ranger, and we all just saw that faker pass through this," she held up the Silver Crystal to them, "like it wasn't even there!"
"Tanya's right," Jason nodded. "We need answers here, guys. Let's go find Kahva and the real Billy, if we can find the real Billy, and then get back to the Power Chamber."
"Then what?" Adam asked. Silence reigned in the space left after that simple question.
No one had an answer for the Green Ranger.
"Let me out of here!!" Billy shouted, rattling the bars on his cage. If I ever get my hands on that clone, I'll rip him apart with my bare hands for what he's done!! Billy had been forced to watch helplessly as his clone had attacked Kahva, able to do nothing but rail futilely at the impostor from his prison, while the overpowered young woman had been subjected to the evil clone's dark desires. Kahva please, don't think that was me, please don't believe that was me!! I would never hurt you, ever! I would die before ever hurting you! he tried to send to her, but received no reply in return, unable to sense her at all. Billy sighed in defeat; if he didn't know the truth, he would've thought the clone was him as well, and would hate him forever. Please don't believe that was me, please don't hate me, Kahva... Though if she does, and never wants me to even look at her ever again, I won't blame her in the least. I can't blame her... This is all Delnas' fault!! "Let me out of here now, Delnas!!" But Billy's only answer was more images in his mind from his clone, but this time, the clone didn't let him hear anything that was being said.
He didn't have to. Sheena's hurt was so palpable, Billy wanted to hold her so badly and tell her the truth... Sheena, I love you!! That's not me out there, I'm trapped in a pocket dimension, that isn't me!! Sheena hear me, please!! But he couldn't touch his wife's mind at all anymore. All Billy could do was watch helplessly as Sheena turned to a figure standing behind her, the image wasn't clear anymore, however. Who is that with her? Could it be Delnas? It has to be him!! Get away from my wife, you monster!! Then Billy clearly saw Sheena toss something at the Rangers angrily, then teleport away with the person standing behind her. "Sheena, don't go!! Don't leave me, please!! I love you!!" Billy screamed. Sheena has always belonged to me, and now I have her Cranston, came Delnas' cold voice in his mind. If you survive the collapse of my little dimension... have a nicely miserable life, stupid Ranger!
Several things happened all at once then. Billy's cage dissolved into mist, and he could feel the dimension itself falling apart. He rushed about the rapidly shrinking space, but could find nothing to teleport himself out with. Got to find a way out of here, think Billy, think!!
There was only one thing left to do. Hoping against hope, Billy rushed to where he thought the mirror that led to his dimension had been. There it is!! Got to break through it! Billy pounded on the glass with all his might, but to no avail. Sheena, Tommy... Kahva!! One of you, please hear me! Help me, please!! Billy whirled about to face the collapse of the dimension, its borders rapidly closing in on him. He thought he felt a faint familiar brush of a presence at the edge of his mind, and reached out for it desperately... Help me!!
Then he was falling into nothingness...
Kahva shivered as she walked back inside the Hall of Mirrors, unconsciously rubbing her arms. I didn't want to come back here, but it's the only place I'll get any answers, starting the search here is the only thing that makes any kind of sense right now.. Something's wrong with Billy, and no matter what it takes, I want to find out what it is, I have to find out what it is. Even if... Even if it means he still wants to try and force me to... Kahva shook her head violently, not wanting to think at all about what Billy had tried to do to her, and what he still might do, if given the opportunity.
Forcing herself to concentrate on the task at hand, Kahva tried to remember the route she'd taken the first time through, running it through her mind over and over again. I walked down this hall, turned here... and I heard Billy calling out something...
She paused, thinking. It was right here, I'm sure of it! This is where I last heard Billy, last felt something from him... She looked around, trying to find any possible clues, the tiniest shred of evidence that could solve their mystery. A slight glint of metal on the floor caught her eye then. "Hey," she murmured. "What's this?" She bent down and picked up a tiny scrap of metal screen. "This has to have come from Billy's communicator," she realized. Looking at the deep blue enamel on it sent shivers up and down her spine. She was getting a very bad feeling about this... and possibly worse yet, she wasn't feeling any more of those weird threads. Why have they stopped, why now? What's going on here?! Wait... What's that? A familiar fuzziness had just brushed her mind, or so she thought. It couldn't be... could it? "Only one way to find out," she muttered to herself. "Billy?" she called out hesitantly. She was very glad no one else was in the Hall right then; she felt a little silly doing this, calling out to nothing but thin air. "Billy?" she tried again, but received no answer.
Guess I just imagined it. She started to walk away when a strange 'whooshing' sound caught her attention. Turning around to the mirror wall where she thought the sound was emanating from, a startled, "What the -" was all she managed to get out before a long, muscular form fell from out of nowhere, landing directly on top of her. A sharp elbow in her abdomen forced some of the wind out of her, before it slowly removed itself from her body, the form rolling halfway off of her. An elbow?? What?! Wait a minute... Kahva caught her breath in shock as she realized what, or rather who, had just fallen on her. "Billy?" she whispered the name for the third time, her heart pounding with fear. Not again, not again, please don't let him attack me again!
Kahva?? For the first time since all this had begun in their first trip to the Hall of Mirrors, she heard Billy's mind clearly in her own, and could sense him almost every bit as fully as she ever had before. "Kahva, is that you?" the Sapphire Ranger blinked at her, then pulled back from her in personal shock. "Hey, I can talk again!"
"Yes it's me... 'Talk again'? What do you mean, what's going on here?!" she asked, all at once glad to feel him in her mind again, but still very afraid to be this close to him. With quick words he told her about his abduction, who had held him, and the clone he'd seen made and put into action. She paled visibly at the mention of the clone, barely suppressing the cold shudders that threatened to run through her once again. "Oh, man... it must have been your clone that... that..."
"That what?" Billy somehow got them both unsteadily to their feet, then they both headed out of the Hall of Mirrors in search of the others. "What's happened?" Then everything he'd witnessed through his clone's senses rushed through his mind all over again, reminding harshly of the attack his evil clone had perpetrated, and he cursed himself. After what he did, you have to ask, Cranston?! Did you leave yours brains back in that prison, other dimension, whatever it was?! "I'm sorry, Kahva, I remember now, he sent the images to me... Kahva, I'm so sorry for what he did, I wanted to stop him so badly... Did he injure you, are you all right -"
Not able to look at him, she shook her head, stopping his questions. "That's not important, Billy. Sheena is all that matters, we need to find her before your clone leaves with her!"
"I'm afraid that's too late," Jason's voice announced before Billy could tell Kahva what the clone had forced him to see. Billy and Kahva looked up to see the other Rangers, minus Sheena, coming towards them.
"Then what I saw was real, it wasn't a trick?" Billy asked, hoping vainly for some good news, but knowing there wasn't any to be had.
Jason's eyes were troubled, and clouded even more at Billy's statement. "How did you..." Is this a trick, is he another clone? If he hurts Kahva... But Kahva was supporting this Billy, and seemed to trust him, so Jason forced himself to relax slightly. "It doesn't matter how you know, does it? Zimmer Delnas has already left with Sheena."
Realization dawned on Billy's face as some of the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place at last. "Zimmer Delnas," Billy repeated the words. "I don't believe this. All this time, he's planned this all this time, ever since he first saw her... Guys, I've got a lot to tell you, and we've got to get to the Power Chamber. Sheena's in a lot of danger, and I'm afraid it's more than you might realize."
Tommy looked at both of his friends carefully. Kahva seemed more comfortable
with Billy than she would be if he wasn't the real one, and he himself
could sense Billy's mind almost exactly as he had been able to before.
How do we know this is the real one though? After everything that's happened
today, we have to be sure! Perhaps Kahva could sense Tommy's doubts,
or maybe it was to reassure herself, for at that very moment while no one
was around to see them, Kahva clutched Billy's hand tightly and swiftly
shifted all of them to the Power Chamber. He's real, this one's real,
we've got our Billy back now, thank goodness! Now we just have to find
Sheena... "Let's get to work, guys," he nodded briefly, glancing
down to the Silver Crystal in his hands. Tanya had given it to him for
safekeeping, and he couldn't miss the pain in both Billy and Kahva's eyes
at the sight of it in the Red Ranger's possession. "We have a friend
Sheena and Zimmer materialized in a richly appointed room, and he smiled as he hugged her close to him, wiping away the tears that had marred her cheeks. "Are you all right, my Sheena?"
Sheena stepped away from him slightly with a pained frown, putting her hand to her forehead. "I - I... can't think very well right now Zimmer. My mind's all jumbled up." And my heart... How could they have done that to me, all of them? Billy, Kahva... I thought you two loved me. If you really wanted to be together, why couldn't you talk to me about it, why did you have to do this to me? Talking to me still would have hurt, but not as badly as this! How could you do this??
Zimmer moved closer to her and lovingly put his arms around her, leaning his head gently on her shoulder. Feather-soft, he whispered into her ear, "Let me think for you then, my love. Give everything, all of yourself to me, and let me carry the burden of thought, let me take control."
Sheena looked at him for a second, the struggle of heart, mind and soul all playing across her face. After a few heart-wrenching seconds where he simply held her, she finally leaned against him, her body sinking into his support. "Yes... you can... Please take control, please... Make the pain go away, please, Zimmer."
Caressing her arms as only a true love would, Zimmer looked down at his long-anticipated prize with victorious desire. "Welcome home, my beloved," he whispered, planting a light, lover's kiss upon her lips. "Welcome home, at long last."
To be continued in In Quest For Truth