Disclaimer: Same thing said in almost every chapter of this story –I don’t own anything you recognize!
Note: Special thanks to Slshadowfox for beta reading as always!
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone that reviewed ‘Discovering Her’. I was completely blown away by the response to it! A few people suggested that I do Syd’s POV and I’m seriously considering it at the moment –but we'll just see!
I’d also like to thank everyone who’s reviewed this story so far –from all the reviews, it seems like everyone has been enjoying it! Thanks for giving me so much encouragement! (Especially to Jenee who has reviewed every chapter –I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you!)
Warning: Mild swearing... I changed the rating just in case!
Though her shift didn’t start until 8:30am, Kat Manx was seated at the computer by six. She typed furiously, trying search engines, hacking into the city files, looking for anything that would be linked to Jake Hemmington. Next to her, sat a copy of Jake’s files. She abandoned her computer for a moment as it loaded its search and picked up the file, reviewing it once more. The file listed all the basic things: Jake Hemmington’s name, his address, phone number, place of work, etc. Kat had review the whole file before searching and as she’d suspected, there was nothing helpful there about Jake’s background. The cat alien gave a sigh in frustration. She needed something to help get the ball rolling and she wasn’t sure where to begin, since the information on Jake Hemmington was still sketchy.
Something beeped and Kat placed the file back onto the desk and shifted her gaze to the screen. The computer had found a lot of information on his business company, Kat smiled gave a small triumphed smile. It was a start at least.
The computer beeped again and this time Kat fully smiled. She clicked on a link and soon she pulled up information on the house that Jake was currently renting. She pulled out a pad of paper and a pen and quickly wrote down the landlord’s name and number and began the investigation. Calling the landlord, she apologized for calling so early in the morning and asked a few questions about the house.
She learned that the house had been owned by the landlord’s grandparents; the rent was always paid on time through his corporation and Jake Hemmington had put up both a security deposit and the first and last months’ rent in advance. The owner himself had never met Jake; he hadn’t visited the property in years. A local real estate company was in charge of management, and gave her the number to contact them.
So she called the manager and after a bit of persuasion, he had faxed over the rental application that Jake had filled out. The application listed Jake’s social security number and driver’s license and Kat copied all that information down as well. Using the information she’d found, Kat then began searching for anything that might give them an idea of Jake’s background. She spent the next hour searching, and eventually came up with Jake’s record.
Apparently, Jake Hemmington had no criminal record, nor had he ever been arrested.
Letting out another frustrated sigh, Kat decided to check his credit record. Using the rental application as a guide, she typed in the information required and clicked on the ‘submit’ button. Within seconds, Jake’s records were spelled out in plain detail over a number of pages.
The only recent inquiry had been made by the management company for the house rental –that was no surprise- but what struck her was that none of the records seemed to make much sense. Especially for a wealthy employed businessman. There were no credit cards currently registered or in use, no open auto loan, no personal credits lines. Nothing. She had hit a dead end.
Kat slammed a fist onto the desk. What else? Without a doubt, she knew she also had to find out more about Susan Hemmington. But without further information to go on, there was nothing she could do.
Her best bet, she decided, was to wait until Jake’s business company opened so she and Anubis could talk to the people there. Jake was wealthy, and also working on a major deal, so undoubtedly they had other references. Maybe one of them would know something to help her with this case. But that would mean another hour of waiting for them to open.
Not knowing what else to do, Kat reviewed the file again. But this time her eyes focused on his house address and she found herself thinking: Why not? She wasn’t even sure what she was looking for exactly; she just wanted to see where he lived in hope that it might give her more of an impression on the man.
Ten minutes later, she found herself driving a plain black jeep and turning onto the gravel road where Jake Hemmington lived. She was struck by how remote these homes where. Most of these homes were old, but in still good condition and she wondered why a wealthy businessman would choose to live this way. It was convenient to neither town nor to his job, or to anything else. And the road kept getting worse. As she drove farther, the homes grew older and more run-down. A few of the houses even looked abandoned. Another few minutes, the numbers on the mailboxes were getting larger. She was getting close now.
Kat slowed the car. There, she assumed, was his house on the right. Set back from the road, the house was two stories, not as neglected as the others, but the yard was horribly overgrown with weeds.
People who lived in this neighborhood probably did so because it was family property or because they had no other choice. Jake was wealthy and Cadet Drew had said on more than one occasion that he liked to do things in style. Why would he have chosen to live in a place like this?
Was it because he wanted to hide?
Or was he hiding something?
Kat didn’t stop the car; instead she drove past and made a U-turn. The same questions running through her mind as she passed the house again and made her way back to the Academy.
Jake Hemmington drew back from the curtains, frowning slightly.
He had a visitor, but he didn’t recognize the car. It wasn’t Sky or Sydney, he knew. Sydney didn’t own a black jeep and always used the SPD jeep the Academy had provided and Sky always used his motorcycle, and he was pretty certain that they wouldn’t have come to look for him here. And no one else who lived out here would have searched for him. The road ended a couple of miles up, and none of his neighbors owned a Honda.
But someone had come. He’d watch them creep up the road, driving way too slowly, knowing they were looking for something. The U-turn had confirmed his suspicions. If it had been a wrong turn or someone lost, they wouldn’t have slowed in front of his house –and only his house- then sped up again.
It wasn’t any of the other rangers either, he knew. The other two, Bridge and… Jack, was it? They owned motorbikes like Sky did. And the other female ranger used the same SPD jeep that Sydney did.
Jake’s eyes narrowed.
Someone had come to see where he lived
Kat made it back to the Academy with a few minutes to spare before her shift officially started. She jotted the number of Jake’s business company on a scrap piece of paper, and then put Jake’s files back in their proper spot. She dialed the number, and a secretary answered; after explaining who she was, Kat asked if she could speak to one of the members working on the business project with Jake Hemmington.
As she was waiting, Kat reminded herself to tread carefully; the last thing she wanted was for Jake to find out what she was doing.
After a few moments, a man by the name of Michael Harris answered the phone. She identified herself and pretended that she was a student in college, doing a business report. After asking a few unimportant questions regarding to the business project, she finally asked what she had wanted to know all along.
“Mr. Harris, if you don’t mind me asking, you worked with Jake Hemmington, didn’t you? What’s he like?” There was a long pause and Kat thought she had lost the connection. “Hello? Mr. Harris, are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m here,” Michael Harris sounded unsure whether or not to go on. “What do you want with him?”
“Oh nothing, I was just wondering if I could set up an interview with him,” Kat pressed, taking out a pad of paper, ready to take notes on anything that might be important, “I heard he was very successful and I was wondering if I could get some tips for my class.” She crossed her fingers, hoping that the man on the other line would buy her story.
Michael Harris took a deep breath. “I don’t think you should meet with him. He’s dangerous.”
Kat’s eyes widened, but kept her cool. Gripping the phone tightly, she kept her voice at an even tone. “Oh? Why’s that?”
“The company hired him because he keeps costs down, but he does it by scrimping on safety. I’ve had men hurt out there because of him.”
“He puts off maintenance, things break and people get hurt. One week, it was the boiler. Another week, it was one of the cranes. I’ve reported him to the corporate, and they promised to look into it. But I guess he found out and he came after me.”
Forgetting all about her cover story, Kat sat up straighter, more alert than ever. “He attacked you?”
“No… but he threatened me. He started off like we were friends, you know? Asking about my wife and the kids, things like that. And then he told me disappointed he was that I didn’t trust him, and that if I wasn’t more careful, he’d have to let me go. Like everything was my fault, and he was doing me a favor by trying to protect me. And he puts his arm around my shoulders and sort of mumbles that it would be a shame if there were anymore accidents… The way he said it gave me a feeling that he was talking about me and my family specifically. He gave me the creeps, and to be honest, I was thrilled when he quit. I danced for the rest of the day. So did everyone else on the project.”
Kat raised an eyebrow. “Wait… he quit?”
“Yeah. He left about a month ago, haven’t seen him since.”
A few minutes later, Kat hung up the phone, staring intently at the notes she had made while she was talking to Michael Harris.
Jake was dangerous, Michael had said. Alright, Kat already knew that. What else? Jake had also quit his job a month ago. It wasn’t something that would normally matter, but the timing didn’t escape her.
Jake Hemmington had quit around the same time Sydney had told him he didn’t want to see him anymore.
Was there a connection?
Commander Cruger walked in and the first thing he noticed, was the cat alien frowning at a piece of paper. The big blue dog raised an eyebrow and headed over to where Kat sat. “What do you have there, Miss Manx?”
Kat looked up, startled, but relaxed when she saw him. “Doggie, I’ve been working for the last two hours, trying to find some information on Jake Hemmington. I think you’ll find this very interesting…” And she proceeded to tell the Commander all she had learned so far.
Syd would always remember it as the last normal day she would know.
She hadn’t slept well the night before. The minute her head hit the pillow, she had been restless. Finally, she tossed back the covers and climbed out of bed, once again heading toward Sky’s room. Lying in Sky’s arms did little to help her insomnia, but she did manage to get in a few hours of sleep.
She spent the better part of her morning in a daze; it had been her worst training session yet. Finally she decided to give up and headed towards her room to take a shower, eat lunch and call it a day. She sincerely hoped that Grumm wouldn’t be starting any battles today; she just wasn’t up for it.
Stepping inside the room, she saw that Z was staring at her. The yellow ranger had a look of concern on her face as Syd came further into the room.
“I look that bad, huh?”
“You look like you could use a break,” Z observed. “Were you able to sleep at all last night?”
“Only for a couple of hours,” Syd sighed, “I kept waking up in the middle of the night.”
Z looked sympathetic. “Don’t worry Syd. We’ll make sure Jake stays away from you.”
“Thanks Z,” Syd headed towards the bathroom. “I’m going to take a quick shower okay?”
The pink ranger stepped into the shower and immediately let her worries wash away with the hot water. She relished in the feeling, even if it was only short lived. Once she’d finished, she stepped out and dried herself before getting dressed. Stepping back into the room, she noticed that it was empty and assumed that Z had gone to get some lunch. She proceeded to dry her hair and it was when she was putting away her hair dryer that she froze.
Sitting innocently on her night table, right below her calendar, partially hidden by a stack of catalogs, was the locket Jake had given her ages ago. Seeing the expensive piece of jewelry suddenly made her feel ill, she didn’t want the thing in the Academy, let alone in her room. But as she reached for the locket, a frown suddenly appeared on her face, and she stopped.
Hadn’t the locket been inside her drawer? Hadn’t she put it in there?
She hadn’t touched it since Jake had given it to her.
What was it doing on her nightstand? And how did it get there?
Slowly, she reached for it. Picking up the locket with trembling hands, she brought it closer to her face, inspecting it carefully. ‘Calm down,’ she told herself, ‘it’s just a locket.’ For a moment, she considered throwing it in the garbage, but then decided not too. Instead, she’d sell it. Granted, it wouldn’t be worth much since her initials were engraved on them, but she’d get something, and the money could go to charity. It was like killing two birds with one stone. She’d get rid of the locket and the money would go to a good cause.
Looking at the locket once more, she frowned. She blinked, trying to figure out what was bothering her. The locket itself was the same, but something was different. Something…
Syd bit at the corner of her lip. Something was different about the locket, but what?
‘Stay calm,’ she told herself once more. But no matter how much she said the words, she couldn’t stop her fingers from trembling. She took a step, and her fingers fumbled with the locket. The locket slipped from her hands and tumbled down the front of her uniform before bouncing against the tile floor with a metallic ping.
Her breath caught as she bent over and she stared at the locket in shock. Her legs seemed to lose feeling and she collapsed onto the ground, still staring at the jewelry in disbelief.
The locket had popped open in the fall when she had dropped it.
And from both sides, in pictures he’d chosen especially for her, Jake was smiling back at her.
Syd did the only thing that came to her mind. She screamed.
The pink ranger’s cries brought Z running into the room. The yellow ranger took one look at her roommate before rushing to her side. “Syd? Syd! What’s wrong Syd?”
It seemed as though Syd didn’t hear her words. The pink ranger’s face was white as she stared blankly at the locket in front of her. Tears were welled up in her eyes and Z could see that Sydney was beyond frightened. The yellow ranger brought her morpher to her lips, pressing the blue button that would enable her to contact the blue ranger, she barked, “Sky! Are you there?”
Seconds passed, and then she heard, “Yeah? What’s up Z?”
“Get up to my room quick! Something’s wrong with Syd!”
Moments later, Sky came barreling into the room, with Jack and Bridge following. “What is it? What happened? What’s wrong?” he demanded.
Z looked up and shook her head. “I don’t know. I heard her scream and I found her like this.”
Sky squatted down next to Syd and wrapped an arm around her. “Syd? Honey? Tell me what’s wrong, please?”
His voice seemed to bring the pink ranger back. Syd turned toward him, tears spilling down her cheeks. “Sky… he… I…I just want it to stop! Why? Why me?” She choked out, “he was here!” The pink ranger threw herself into Sky’s arms sobbing hysterically.
Sky held her close, rubbing her back, trying to calm her down. The blue ranger looked at Z questioningly. “What’s going on? Who was here?”
The yellow ranger’s attention was directed at the piece of jewelry sitting on the floor. Her eyes widened in horror. “Oh my god,” she gasped.
“What is it Z?” Bridge asked. Beside the green ranger, Jack stood looking alarmed.
Z picked up the locket and turned to face them. The yellow ranger was feeling a little scared herself as she showed them the locket. “Do you guys remember the day Syd told Jake that she didn’t want to see him anymore?”
Sky frowned. “What does that have to do with anything?”
Z ignored Sky’s words. “And do you guys remember Jake giving Syd something as he was leaving?”
Bridge nodded. “I vaguely remember that day.”
“Me too,” Jack added.
She held out the locket. “Jake gave this to her, but his pictures weren’t in there at the time and now they are!”
There was a pause and everyone fell silent as realization sunk in. The only sound was Sydney’s muffled sobs into Sky’s uniform.
“That bastard!” Sky suddenly snarled, “How did he get into the Academy? Cruger doubled security!”
Bridge took off a glove and waved his hand around the room, hoping to use his psychic abilities to see if he could answer Sky’s question in any way. There was nothing. The psychic residue from Jake had probably long since disappeared by now. The green ranger frowned. “Hey Z,” he held out his hand. “Let me see that for a minute.”
Wordlessly, Z handed him the locket.
As soon as the small metallic object touched his hand, Bridge saw a flash of images.
Flash! Jake lifting the locket from the dresser drawer. Flash!
Flash! Jake placing the pictures into the locket. Flash!
Flash! Jake placing the locket onto the dresser. Flash!
The green ranger shook his head. “Nothing. All I see is Jake taking out the locket and putting in the pictures.”
“Nothing on how he got in?” Z asked.
“No,” Bridge shook his head once more. “He would’ve had to touch something else. Jake’s residue is long gone from the room by now.”
“All right,” Jack tried to take control of the situation. “Z, pack some of your things and Syd’s things into a small case or something. It’s obvious that it isn’t safe for you guys to sleep in here anymore, I think it’s safe to assume that Jake is psychotic and smart if he was able to get past security, so now we have to take extra precaution. Bridge, stay here and help Z.” Jack then turned to the blue ranger. “Sky, go get Syd some water or something to calm her down, then bring her to Cruger. I’ll meet you there.”
Sky nodded and lifted Sydney into his arms, carrying her into the Recreation Room. Z went to the pink ranger’s side of the room and reached into the dresser and began pulling out various items of clothing for Syd, while Bridge headed towards the closet and pulled out Syd’s overnight pack. Jack picked up the locket and headed towards the Command Centre, determined to bring Jake in once and for all. His mouth was set in a firm straight line, his lips pressed together.
Jack was an extremely loyal person. Syd was his friend, and no one messed with his friends. He was going to do everything he could to put an end to Jake Hemmington.
Sky was looking at the pink ranger cautiously. Sydney had finally stopped crying, but now she was just staring blankly at nothing in front of her and Sky wasn’t sure what to make of it. He placed a glass of water onto the table and sat beside her. “Come on Syd, look at me.”
Finally, the pink ranger turned her head and faced him. Sky looked a little surprised at seeing her blue eyes so lifeless, but given the situation, it was understandable.
“I’m so scared Sky.”
“I know,” Sky wrapped her in his arms once more. The blue ranger closed his eyes, feeling her helplessness; and his feelings of anger were coming back full force. There was nothing worse. Most people lived under the illusion that they were in control of their own lives, but that wasn’t completely true. Yeah, you could decide what to have for breakfast, or pick out what to wear, or how to do your hair, but as soon as you stepped out into the world, you were pretty much at the mercy of everyone else around you.
Sky kissed the top of her forehead. It wouldn’t be that easy. Jake was smart, Sky knew that. And also, part of the problem was that Sky was feeling kind of helpless himself. He was an SPD cadet, and he had special powers, and he couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. But they didn’t know a thing about this guy. Clearly, the man was dangerous, and until they found out more about him, all of them couldn’t do anything.
He wanted to personally rearrange Jake’s face.
the camera. Equipped with a telephoto lens, the camera served as a makeshift
set of binoculars, and he’d been watching Bridge and Z packing. Jake smiled as
he watched the yellow ranger pack a fluffy pink towel. Today was the day she’d
find it, he knew. From his position in the tree, hidden by branches and leaves,
he had watched delightedly when
She mesmerized him.
It was nasty
business he knew, but there was no other way. It was time to end
You know what to do :)