Note: Thanks to Slshadow for beta reading!
Disclaimer: I don’t own Power Rangers or anything you recognize!
I’m so excited; we’re nearing the end of this story! There are only a few chapters left, I’m not exactly sure how many though. On another note, after the many requests, I’ve decided to do Syd’s POV for ‘Discovering Her.’ Hopefully, it’ll be written and posted sometime within the next two and a half weeks, depending on the time of my schedule.
Anyway, on with the story!
The Command Center was eerily silent; the only sounds were the beepings coming from the console and Kat’s furious typing across the keyboard. Commander Anubis Cruger paced furiously back and forth as he mulled over the latest events. The big blue dog growled at the thought of someone breaking into SPD Headquarters.
“Are you sure about this Cadet Landors?” Cruger asked.
Jack stood in front of his Commander, a grim expression on his face. “Yes sir.”
“And there was no sign of entry or anything?”
Jack shook his head. “No sir.”
Commander Anubis Cruger growled even louder. This was an unexpected turn of events. Beside him, Kat stood looking worried. “Where is Syd right now?”
“With Sky,” Jack answered. “He’s trying to calm her down.”
The doors to the Command Center slid open, and in walked Bridge and Z, each carrying a small case. “We’re done,” Z announced as she set the overnight bag she was carrying onto a small stool.
“Going somewhere Cadets?” Cruger asked with an eyebrow raised.
“No sir,” Jack spoke up for the yellow ranger, “I figured that since Jake was able to get into the girls’ room, it wasn’t safe for them to sleep there anymore. So I told Z to pack a few things.”
The Commander nodded. “Excellent Jack.”
The doors of the Command Center slid open once more, and this time Sky entered with Syd. Everyone could see that the pink ranger was still shaken up, but was calm for the moment.
“Are you alright Cadet Drew?”
Sydney gave a little sniff and nodded her head.
“Alright, now this is what we’re going to do,” The Commander paused and looked at the pink and blue rangers, “Syd, you’re going to have to leave.”
Syd looked startled.
“It isn’t safe here for you anymore,” Cruger continued. “If Jake is able to get past security, then we’re going to have to take all precautions necessary, starting with keeping you safe.”
“But where should I go?” Syd’s voice shook.
“Anywhere. Just get out of town. Stay out of sight until we catch this guy.”
Cruger shook his head. “No, Cadet. Sky will go with you.”
Sky nodded and grasped Sydney’s hand.
Jack stepped up. “The Commander’s right. I’m betting that Sky’s a target too. You’ve both got to get out of here.”
“But what if you’re wrong?” Syd asked, tearfully. “What if he finds me? Finds us?”
“What if you stay here and he finds you anyway?” Jack challenged. “Syd, he’s already been able to get into the Academy. Who knows what else he can do?”
“Take one of the unmarked SPD vehicles,” Z now spoke up, “get on the main highway and stay on it. You’re either going back or forth so you’ll know if someone is following you. Once you get off the highway, make lots of crazy turns to make sure no one’s behind you. The important thing is that you get away before Jake even realizes you’re gone.”
Bridge moved forward. “I’ll go pack some of your things for you right now Sky, so that way you guys can leave right away.” The green ranger walked off and moments later the doors closed behind him.
Cruger fixed his eyes on both Sky and Syd. “I cannot tell you how serious this situation is, Cadets. I’m sure you both already know just how serious it is. You both are fine rangers and you’ve been trained. Do whatever you have to, to stay safe.”
Sky nodded, casting a glance at the SPD blaster strapped to his leg.
Minutes later, Bridge walked back into the Command Center, carrying a small case. “Here Sky.”
“Thanks Bridge,” Sky smiled gratefully as he reached for the case.
Z stepped forward, giving Syd and Sky each a hug. “You guys be careful.”
“Yeah,” Bridge added, “Stay in one piece.”
“We’ll be keeping in touch,” Jack tapped his morpher, “Don’t worry guys, we’ll do everything we can to get this guy.”
Sky nodded. “Thanks, we’ll call you guys once we reach our destination.” With a small wave, the blue ranger grabbed the overnight bags with one hand and Syd’s hand in the other, and began leading her toward the doors.
Two seconds later, they were gone.
Z let out a sigh. “I hope Jake doesn’t follow them.”
“Sky can handle it,” Jack said confidently. The red ranger turned to Cruger, “What do we do now Commander?”
The big blue dog’s eyes narrowed. “Now we find out everything we can about Jake,” he turned to Kat. “Miss Manx?”
It took about ten minutes for Kat to explain everything she knew about Jake Hemmington to the remaining rangers. Jack, Bridge and Z listened with rapt attention, as she described Jake’s strange credit history, his seeming desire to keep a low profile, Michael Harris’s comments about Jake being dangerous, and the fact that he no longer had a job.
Jack had a thoughtful look on his face as he drummed his fingers against the main console. “Guys,” he announced, “I think it’s time we pay Jake Hemmington a little visit.”
Twenty minutes later, Bridge and Z were pulling into the driveway of the rented Victorian house, and Jack parked his motorcycle in front of the lawn. Once out of their vehicles, each ranger unsnapped their blasters from their legs, holding them tightly in their hands and surveyed the area.
Up close, Z thought the house looked even older than it had from the road. Light blue curtains were drawn in the front windows. There was no sign of Jake’s car, though Z suspected that it could’ve been parked behind the house.
The engine of their squad car ticked as it cooled down. A flock of banded dotterels broke, chirping and squawking as they left the trees in flocks, flying away as fast they could. A squirrel raced past, seeking safety in the upper branches of a tree. Nothing else, there were no other sounds. No sign of movement through the windows. Nothing. It was deadly silent.
“Looks like he may have run,” Jack whispered, observing the area.
‘No,’ Z thought with sudden certainty, ‘he’s still here.’
Jake watched them from behind the trees. He’d been out back, thinking that a little fresh air would do him some good, when he heard their cars pull up. The businessman grinned a malicious smile. So the rangers had figured out that he’d been inside the Academy and were now investigating him, were they?
He had expected them, of course, just not so soon.
Jack, Bridge and Z made their way carefully to the front door, the porch creaking beneath them. Standing before the moldy peeling door, they glanced at each other before Bridge raised a gloved hand and knocked. Z stood off to the side, a hand gripping her blaster. Her eyes flashed to the window, watching and waiting.
Then, instinctively, she held the blaster in front of her.
Jake watched the rangers.
Taking a long, deep breath, he quietly backed further into the trees. He’d already known his time as Jake Hemmington had come to an end. It was too bad; he wished he could’ve had at least enough time to pack his things. His cameras and lenses were inside the house, and he regretted having to part with them. And all his photographs too, especially the ones of Susan in his briefcase. He knew that it was unlikely the rangers would be able to use those photos to find out more about Susan –he’d been extremely careful to destroy any photograph that even hinted of where they’d lived- but he wouldn’t be able to replace them. He’d miss the ones of Sydney as well, but he wasn’t as concerned about those. They would have the rest of their lives to make up for the ones he’d left behind.
He wondered if Sydney still had the locket with her. ‘Probably not,’ he thought. More than likely Sky had told her to throw it away. Jake shook his head. Sky was a bad influence on her. So what would she do? ‘She’d run,’ he immediately thought. Yeah, she’d throw away the locket and then probably try to hide, bringing along that idiot with her. In fact, she was probably gone already.
Another reason to get away from here.
He considered his options. If they went around checking the back of the house…
It was a gamble, but what other choice did he have? Quietly, he began moving towards the SPD squad car.
“Let’s head around the back,” Z said quietly. Her blaster felt strangely light in her hand. “I’ve got a funny feeling that he’s still here.”
Both Bridge and Jack nodded, and the three of them left the porch. Jack headed toward the gravel drive on the left side of the house, while Bridge and Z headed the other way. Jack slowly walked up the path leading toward the backyard, his blaster held out in front of him. On the other side, Bridge and Z had to navigate between the trees, twigs napping beneath their feet. Tall grasses and weeds brushed their uniforms, making a small rustling sound. Near the rear of the house, they paused. Bridge was in front and flattening himself against the house, he peeked around the corner.
Jake’s car was parked there, the door on the driver’s side open.
Bridge held the blaster to his chest, turning to Z; he nodded in the direction of the car. The green ranger took another peek, scanning the yard for a glimpse of Jake, and then nodded for Z to follow. The green and yellow rangers crept around the back, trying to be as silent as possible.
They passed the corner windows.
The birds had gone silent, Z noticed.
Past the porch. They saw that the rear door to the house stood open. Bridge motioned in that direction and Z nodded. In front of them, they saw Jack coming from the other side of the house. Bridge waved to get the red ranger’s attention and pointed toward the opened door. Jack nodded to show that he understood, and began moving toward the house with them.
The car was closer now.
Z paused, looking from side to side. ‘He’s out here,’ she thought. ‘And he’s watching us right now.’
‘He’s stalking us the exact same way he stalked Syd.’
A flash of Syd’s frightened face crossed the yellow ranger’s mind. Z gripped her blaster tighter, the perspiration from her hand growing slick. She took a deep breath as Bridge started approaching the open door.
It was then that they heard the siren.
It was a piercing wail, agonizing and shrill, and Z nearly pulled the trigger of her blaster. She hesitated only momentarily before locking gazes with Bridge and Jack.
It was coming from the front of the house. Jack scrambled down from the back porch and began running back the way he came, Bridge and Z following him. They rounded the corner and pushed through the branches, leaves and twigs slapping against them as they made their way to the front.
But when they reached the front, they saw nothing.
Everything was exactly as it had been before.
The only difference was that the alarm on their squad car was blaring. The lights flashing red and blue.
They spilt up again, Jack approaching the front of the house, Z moving forward into the yard and Bridge heading toward the squad car to turn off the siren.
The yellow ranger’s mouth was dry and she was breathing hard, trying to stay calm. A short distance away, she eyed a group of low-growing trees surrounded by bushes. ‘That’s where he is,’ she thought. ‘He’s hiding, and he wants me to come get him.’ Behind her, she could hear Bridge moving across the gravel, back toward her.
Z held out the blaster in front of her and pointed at the bushes. “Mr. Hemmington, this is Cadet Elizabeth Delgado, and my blaster is drawn,” she called out slowly. “Come out slowly and you will not be hurt.”
Jack turned at the sound of her voice and, seeing what she was doing, started toward her, crossing the driveway. Like her, Jack held out his blaster.
From the back of the house came the sound of a car engine turning on. The engine gave a loud roar as the accelerator was slammed to the ground, rocks spitting out from behind the tires. It was racing toward them from the side of the house.
Jack stood stunned in the middle of the drive; he saw the car a moment before Bridge and Z did.
The car wasn’t slowing down.
For a moment, Jack was stunned. He pointed his blaster at the car but hesitated in firing, and by then Z could see what was going to happen. “JACK! LOOK OUT!”
Z’s voice shook Jack out of his frozen state and at the last possible second, the red ranger dove out of the way as the car whipped past him. Jack landed on his chest, and his blaster flew from his grasp. Jake’s car roared down the road, veered around the curve, and vanished from sight, the tires screeching, leaving a trail of small rocks in its wake.
Both Z and Bridge ran towards Jack. The red ranger was already getting up and had begun searching for his blaster by the time they reached him.
Seconds passed before they found it. Jack ran toward his motorbike, while Bridge and Z ran toward their jeep. Bridge opened the door to the driver’s seat, and Z reached the passenger side and jumped in; their doors slammed shut simultaneously. Instinctively, Bridge reached for the ignition keys.
The keys were gone.
It was then that Bridge realized that the wires connecting to the radio had been torn from the dash.
“Damn!” Bridge shouted, slamming a fist on the steering wheel.
Z didn’t have time to react to the fact that Bridge had just cursed. The yellow ranger grabbed her morpher and contacted Cruger, though she didn’t hold much hope that the big blue dog would be able to catch Jake in time. Jack raced toward their squad car.
“That stupid son of a gun stole my keys!” The red ranger hollered.
Bridge looked every bit as angry as Jack did. When Z hung up her morpher, the yellow ranger looked at her teammates. “Now what?”
Jack stepped back as Bridge opened the car door and stepped out. “Let’s go inside.”
A moment later, the three rangers blasted the house door open and headed inside.
Z was struck by how normal the house looked once she entered.
‘Anyone could have lived here,’ she noted, looking around.
The kitchen was sparkling clean, the kitchen sink gleaming in the sunlight, a washrag folding neatly to the side. There wasn’t a single speck on the stove or a used dish on the counter. The refrigerator –obviously old- looked like it was in good condition. There was no dishwasher or a microwave oven –the kitchen seemed almost cozy, the kind of kitchen that grandparents of children might have.
The three of them moved onto the living room, and again nothing was out of the ordinary. The furniture was plain, and nothing was out of place. Yet… something was missing.
It took a moment before Z realized what was wrong. ‘There’s nothing personal here,’ the yellow ranger thought. ‘Nothing at all. No pictures or paintings on the walls, no newspapers, no magazines, no plants. No television, no stereo system. Nothing!’
Just a couch, a table, and lamps.
Z looked up at the stairs. Behind her, Bridge and Jack came in, their blasters held to their chests.
“It’s kind of empty, huh?” Bridge offered.
“I’m going up,” she said.
The red and green rangers followed her as she headed up the stairs. At the top, they peeked down the hallway before starting toward the right. Opening the door, they found the darkroom and flicked the switch. Bathed by the reddish glow, Z suddenly felt her knees weaken as she realized what Jake had been doing with his time since he’d quit his job.
“Oh my god,” was all she could say.
Not wanting to draw attention to himself, Jake slowed the car once he reached the main roads. His heart was pounding from the rush of adrenaline. He was free! He had escaped when escape seemed impossible, and he laughed loudly to himself. He could still see the shocked looks on the rangers’ faces when he sped down the driveway.
Too bad that Jack Landors had jumped out of the way in time. He would’ve loved to have felt that delightful thud as the car crushed him, but oh well; Jack would live to see another day.
Jake laughed again, and began to focus on his plan.
He had to get rid of this car, but he wanted to put as much distance as possible between New Tech City and himself as he could. He turned the car onto the highway that led out of New Tech City. Driving along for a few minutes, he found a small rest stop and pulled over. There, he’d park the car where it wouldn’t be spotted right away, and began planning his search for Sydney.
Susan had tried to run once, too, he remembered, and she thought that she had been careful. She took a train halfway across the country and hoped that he would just simply let her go. But he had tracked her down, and when he opened the door to the run-down inn where she was staying and found her sitting on the bed, she hadn’t even been surprised to see him. Susan had been expecting him, and by the end, the waiting had worn her down. She didn’t even have the energy to cry or scream. When he handed her the locket, she slipped it around her neck, as if knowing she had no choice. He helped her up from the bed, ignoring the lack of energy of her movements, and put his arms around her. He buried his face in her hair, breathing in her scent, as Susan’s arms hung by her side.
“You didn’t think I’d let you go that easily, did you?” he had whispered.
Susan’s words came out shaky. “No, you couldn’t let me go.”
“You were wrong to run, weren’t you?”
Susan began to cry. “Please… don’t hurt me…not again… please…”
“But you tried to run away,” he had said, “That hurt me, Susan.”
“No… please… no…”
Jake shook his head of the memory.
It was time to find Sydney. And dispose of Sky.
Standing in the doorway of the darkroom, Bridge and Jack both blinked a few times, their heads turning from side to side as they tried to take it all in.
“I think I’m going to be sick!” Bridge announced. And indeed, he did look a little green.
Taped to the walls were hundreds of photographs of the pink ranger.
Syd leaving the Academy. Syd on the training field. Syd taking RIC for walk. Syd at dinner. Syd at the supermarket. Syd sitting on her bed. Syd on the beach. Syd on the street. Syd in the park. Syd patrolling the city.
Syd everywhere she’d been over the past month.
Z felt something collapse inside her. She wanted to stay longer, but she knew it was important to check the rest of the house. Jack and Bridge were still frozen in place.
“I can’t believe this guy,” Jack announced as Z brushed past him. In the second room, Z found Jake’s workout equipment. He had hung a mirror in there, surrounding it, were more pictures of Sydney. The yellow ranger moved to the final door, which she assumed was Jake’s bedroom. Turning the doorknob, Z decided to poke around, while they waited for Cruger to arrive.
Pushing the door wide open, she saw old dresser drawers that looked as if it might have been left behind by whoever had lived here before. In the closet, she found several of Jake’s business suits, hanging neatly. To the right side of the room, there was a dart board. Pinned to the dart board was a photo of Sky and Syd. Bunches of darts were stuck to Sky’s side of the photo. Z snorted. ‘Even if he is an insane psycho path, he’s still a typical male. Jealous to the boot.’ Against the wall, was a night stand with the phone sitting on top.
But it was the framed photo on the night stand that caught her attention.
At first, Z thought it was Sydney. The hair was the same, and her eyes were a similar shade of blue; but yet it wasn’t Syd. The yellow ranger realized after a moment, that it was someone who closely resembled her. Holding a daisy to her cheek, the woman in the photograph was younger than Syd by a year or two, her smile almost childlike.
Picking up the frame, Z’s eyes observed the photo carefully and noticed the locket around the woman’s neck. The same locket that Syd had received from Jake.
The same locket…
She took a step and her foot hit something; whatever it was, it felt heavy, though it shifted slightly. Looking down, Z saw the corner of a briefcase poking out from beneath the bed.
The yellow ranger pulled it out and set it on the bed.
Inside were dozens more photographs of the woman in the frame, and she started looking through them.
Bridge came in with Jack following. “What do you have there?” the green ranger asked.
Z turned. “More pictures.”
“No,” Z shook her head at her teammates. “I don’t know for sure, but I think this woman is probably Susan.”
Ten minutes later, Anubis Cruger, Kat Manx and Boom arrived at Jake’s home, where Bridge, Jack and Z were waiting outside on the front porch, several of Jake’s items at their feet.
“What happened?” Kat asked, hurrying up to the three waiting rangers.
“Jake tried to run me over, that’s what happened,” Jack said sourly.
Three pairs of startled eyes were looking at the red ranger. “WHAT?”
“We were going to the backyard to inspect the house,” Bridge started off explaining, “Jake somehow managed to get to the front of the house and over to our squad car. He triggered the alarm, grabbed our keys and when we were running back into the front yard to see what happened, he somehow got into the backyard and got into his car.”
“He came at Jack with full speed,” Z added.
“Are you alright?” Cruger spoke to Jack.
“Yeah, I’m okay. Pissed off, but I made it out in one piece.”
The big blue dog’s eyes narrowed. “Good. He tried to kill one of my rangers and that doesn’t happen on my watch. Let’s get back to the base and you can tell me everything you’ve found.”
Victoria Beach was about forty minutes from New Tech City. Covered by soft white sand, the beach was very crowded with tourists during the summer, though few people lived there year round. During the spring, visitors seemed to have the beach all to themselves.
Like all houses there, the main floor of the house had been built above the garage and storage areas. Steps led from the back porch to the beach, and the windows along the back of the house gave a wonderful view of the waves as they rolled in.
Syd stood at the window, staring at the sparkling water and the beautiful sunset.
Even here, it was hard her for to relax. Or feel completely safe.
She and Sky had stopped at the supermarket along the way, buying enough food to last them a week. Neither of them had any idea how long they would be here, and she didn’t want to go out in public unless she absolutely had too.
The curtains were drawn on every window except for the one she was looking out of; Sky had parked their vehicle in the garage so it couldn’t be seen from the road. As they were driving, Sky had taken Z’s advice and exited the highway four times, taking crazy turns and twists through neighborhood roads, constantly checking the rearview mirror. No one had followed them; they were sure of that. Still, Syd couldn’t shake the feeling that Jake would somehow find her.
Sky came up behind her and enveloped her into his arms. “Maybe they’ve already caught him,” he offered, not knowing what else to say.
Syd tore her gaze from the window and made the effort to shrug. “Maybe.”
“We’re safe here,” he rubbed her arms, “you know that, right? There was no one following us.”
She was doubtful, but kept her opinion to herself.
“Victoria Beach is beautiful isn’t it?”
Syd raised her eyes to the window once more. To be honest, she hadn’t really noticed. The pink ranger frowned. “Victoria Beach? Why does that name sound so familiar?”
Sky smiled slightly as she turned to face him. “Don’t you remember?”
Syd shook her head.
“This is where we were supposed to take our 5 day vacation after winning that dance competition.”
Now she remembered. She and Sky had won that dance competition a little more than a month ago. God, had it really only been a month? Her life had changed so drastically since then. The pink ranger buried her face into Sky’s chest. God, she just wished this nightmare would end.
Sky held onto Syd with one arm and with his right hand, reached for his morpher. “I’m going to contact Jack to let him know we made it.”
Syd never looked up as she nodded.
Like Sky and Syd, Jake also stopped at the supermarket. After pulling his car into the rear corner of the parking lot, where it wouldn’t draw attention by remaining parked in the same spot for a few days- he grabbed the bags from the store before heading into the bathroom of a nearby gas station. Staring into the dirty mirror above the sink, he came up with a plan.
In the bags were the items necessary for the change he had gone through once before: scissors, hair dye, tanning cream and a pair of reading glasses. It wasn’t much, but just enough to alter his appearance from a distance. It was enough to hide for a short time.
It was enough to find her.
Still, there was the problem of where she had gone. And she was gone, he was sure of that. Sky was also probably with her.
So, she did run as he had predicted. But where? Jake smiled, knowing that he would have the answer soon enough. Even when people tried to be careful, they still made mistakes. And Sydney’s mistake came down to this: someone knew exactly where she was.
Bridge, Jack, and Z probably knew where she was. That Commander and his cat assistant also probably knew as well. They would want to talk to her, to tell her what they had learned, to keep an eye on her.
One of these people would lead him to her.
Jake hummed happily as he began his transformation. Twenty minutes later, he left the gas station, wearing glasses, tanner and his hair shorter and darker. A new person, a new man.
‘Now all I need is another car,’ he thought as he headed back toward the parking lot of the supermarket.
Back at the Academy, Bridge shouted in triumph as he managed to find out Jake’s original birth place. “He used to live in Lorraine City,” the green ranger informed Kat, while pulling on his glove from where he had been inspecting the briefcase. “He’s had that briefcase for awhile. From the images I saw, it seems like he’s been on the run for awhile too.”
Kat nodded and made a few more notes on her pad of paper, then set to work. Her first call was to Lorraine City’s Police Department, where she was passed from person to person until she was able to reach Detective Noah Anderson. She told him who she was and about the investigation. As she spoke, she heard the detective whistle.
“Yeah, I’ll see what I can do,” he said. “I’m not at my desk right now, so I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”
Kat hung up the phone, and glanced around the Command Centre. Jack sat at a table near by, studying the files that they had found at Jake’s house. From the looks of things, they were mostly business files from the project the businessman had been working on. On the other side of the room, Z was sitting, all the photos of Susan in front of her and the locket sitting next to the photos. Bridge was trying to see if he could sense anymore hints on Jake’s past, and Cruger had gone out to patrol the City, leaving Kat in charge.
When Detective Anderson called back, the alien cat picked up on the first ring.
“We’ve got information on a few Jake Hemmingtons,” he said, “It’s not that much of an unusual name, so more than one popped up in the system. Tell me about him.”
Kat gave a brief description – height, weight, hair color, eyes, age and race. Over the phone, she could hear Anderson typing the information into the computer.
“Hmm,” he said, sounding puzzled.
“What is it?” Kat asked.
“I don’t think we have any information on him.”
Kat listened with disbelief. “Nothing?”
“Not based on what you told me. We have records of five individuals with the name Jake Hemmington. Three are deceased, one is African American, and the other is in his late sixties.”
Kat cursed under her breath. Jake was in his late twenties.
“I’m sorry there isn’t anything else,” Noah Anderson paused, “If there’s anything else you need, just call. This man sounds like a pretty bad guy, not the kind of person we want walking around in public.”
Kat thanked the man and hung up.
“Any luck?” Jack looked up from his files.
She shook her head. “None,” Kat threw her hands up in the air in frustration, “This doesn’t make any sense. A guy like this doesn’t just appear out of thin air! I know Jake’s done this sort of thing before, there’s just got to be some record around somewhere.” Kat glanced at Z. “Any luck on getting any information on Susan?”
The yellow ranger shook her head. “Nope.”
Kat only sighed. It seemed like they reached a dead end on every aspect.
Pushing her hair behind her ear, Z studied the photographs of Susan. Unlike Syd, Susan appeared to have posed happily for most of them. The yellow ranger noted that in some photos, there was an engagement ring –which later turned into a wedding band. Z was sure that Susan had been indeed, Jake’s wife. She searched the computer for any files mentioning Susan Hemmington, looking for the obvious. The computer listed several individuals, and after checking them all out, she found that none of those people matched the woman in the photograph.
Hesitating only a moment, the yellow ranger asked Kat for the number to Detective Noah Anderson in Lorraine City and dialed it.
“Sure, no problem,” Detective Anderson said in response to her request. “Ever since you guys called earlier, I’ve been thinking about that guy. For some reason, his name sounded familiar. Let me check the computer for a Susan Hemmington.”
Z held her breath while she waited.
“No,” the response came after a minute. “No murder victims or missing persons listed under the name of Susan Hemmington.”
Z clenched her teeth and thanked the man before hanging up.
In Lorraine City, Detective Noah Anderson thought about the phone calls he had received from SPD. Kat Manx had wanted information on Jake Hemmington and even though he had searched without success, he knew he had heard the name before. As he’d told Cadet Elizabeth Delgado, the name was familiar. He was sure he’d heard it before.
Rising from his desk, he decided to ask around. Maybe someone else in the department would know and be able to clear it up for him.
Kat leaned back in her chair and picked up Jake’s file once more. Her eyes went over Jake’s home address, phone number and place of work. Listed under place of work, was information on people whom he had worked for in the past, association lists, previous experience, and education background.
People who he had worked for in the past?
“Gotcha,” Kat whispered. Picking up the phone, she called information and dialed Oxford Construction Company in Mount Royal City, the last company Jake had worked for, before forming his own business.
After identifying herself, Kat was soon on the phone with Jeffery Hayer, the vice president –who had been with the company for more than ten years.
“Jake Hemmington? Sure, I remember him!” Jeffery’s voice lit up with recognition. “He was an awesome manager. I wasn’t surprised when he formed his own business!”
“When was the last time you talked to him?” Kat asked.
“Hmm, let’s see… it must’ve been about four years ago,” Jeffery replied cheerfully.
“Mr. Hayer, do you know if he was married?”
It took a moment for Jeffery to answer. And when he did, his voice sounded amused. “Married?”
“Yes, was he married?”
Jeffery laughed. “Nope. We were all pretty sure he was gay.”
Kat gripped the phone tighter, wondering if she heard him right. “He’s gay? Are you sure?”
“Well, not a hundred percent sure, but we’ve always suspected.”
Kat frowned. Jake, gay? How was that possible? “Did he get along with everyone?” she suddenly asked, remembering what Michael Harris had said about Jake being dangerous.
“Absolutely. He was a nice guy, really knew his stuff. Everyone around here respected him. Like I said, he was an awesome manager.”
When Kat said nothing, Jeffery Hayer felt the need to fill the silence. “Is Jake in some sort of trouble?”
Kat found her gaze drifting toward Z, where the yellow ranger was still staring at the photographs. “Mr. Hayer, do you know if Mr. Hemmington was ever into photography?”
“Jake? Well, he might’ve been, but if he was, he never mentioned it to me. Why?”
“No reason,” Kat suddenly ran out of questions. “Thank you for your help Mr. Hayer.” The alien cat hung up the phone, shaking her head in puzzlement and wondering why none of what she’d just heard seemed to make any sense.
It took longer than he imagined finding a car, but Jake exited the parking lot in a gold colored Toyota. Heading into traffic, Jake checked the rearview mirror to see if anyone was following him. As far as he could tell, no one had been watching him.
Teenagers were stupid these days. It was hard to believe that some kids were ignorant enough to leave their keys in the ignition. Didn’t they realize that someone would take advantage of their stupidity? He would’ve never been so careless, but he wasn’t complaining. He needed a car, and this one would serve his purpose.
Detective Noah Anderson sat at his desk in Lorraine City, still pondering about the mystery at hand. He had discussed the situation with a few people in the department.
Like him, they recognized the name, but didn’t know where they had heard it. One person had even gone so far as to look up the same information that Anderson had, convinced that Jake must have had a criminal record, only to get the exact same results.
Frowning, Anderson leaned back in his chair. Why was the name so familiar? Familiar not only to him, but to everyone in the department?
He bolted upright as the answer suddenly came to him. After tapping the keyboard of his computer, he scanned the main information that came up on the screen. His hunch confirmed, he stood up from his seat in search of the detective he had to talk to.
The day went on.
Kat had come across one dead end after another in the course of her calls. In the last few hours, she had talked to three people, all who had known Jake Hemmington at one point in time. Two were former coworkers, and the last one had been a manger who vaguely remembered Jake. All three people had said the same things about Jake Hemmington.
He was a nice guy who got along with everyone.
If his hobby was photography, they didn’t know about it.
Kat slammed a pen down onto the table. Who was this guy? She wondered. And why did it feel as if everyone had been describing someone else entirely?
The phone rang and she reached for it. “Kat Manx speaking, SPD.”
“This is Detective Noah Anderson from Lorraine City.”
Kat sat up straight. “Hey, did you find anything?”
“Sort of. After your call, I kept thinking about how familiar the name Jake Hemmington sounded, so I asked around the department. It finally hit me where I heard the name before,” the detective paused. “One of the other detectives here told me something interesting. It concerned a case he investigated three years ago about a missing person.”
Kat reached for her pen. “Susan Hemmington?”
“No, not Susan.”
“Then who’s the missing person?”
“Jake Hemmington. The guy you called about.”
Kat paused. “Huh?”
“Jake Hemmington,” Detective Anderson said once more. “He’s the missing person.”
Kat Manx stared at the paper in front of her with disbelief. “But he’s here!”
“I understand that. But three years ago, he vanished. He didn’t show up for work one day, and after a few days, his secretary finally contacted us. I talked to the detective in charge of the investigation and he said that it looked like Jake just packed up and took off. Clothes were on the bed, a suitcase was missing, and his car was gone. He made cash withdrawals from the bank and that was the last anyone saw of him.”
“That’s what it seemed like.”
“No clue. There wasn’t any legal trouble. From the looks of things, it seemed like he wanted to start over. He just vanished,” Detective Anderson said.
“Why didn’t his family report him missing?”
“That’s the thing; there was no family. All his relatives were deceased and he had no siblings.”
“Can you send me the file?” Kat asked.
“Sure. I’ve already sent it to you. Hope it helps.”
“Thank you Detective.”
Kat hung up the phone just as Commander Cruger walked into the Command Centre.
“Well, it looks like Grumm has decided to take a break for the moment,” Doggie Cruger announced, setting his Shadow Saber down, “let’s hope it stays this way until we arrest Jake Hemmington.”
Kat stared at the file that Detective Anderson had sent over, the pages of the file printing off one by one. “He’s not Jake Hemmington,” she said quietly.
Cruger, Jack, Bridge and Z stared at her.
“What do you mean?” Bridge asked. “What are you talking about?”
The three rangers abandon whatever they were doing and headed over to where Kat sat. They looked at her expectantly.
Kat picked up
the first page of the file that was printing off. “His name isn’t Jake
Hemmington. The real Jake Hemmington has been missing for three years,” she
handed the page to Jack. It was a picture of the missing person, a man with
grey hair, and heavy features. It was clear that it wasn’t the man they were
looking for. “This is the real Jake Hemmington. Detective Noah Anderson just
sent this to me from
They all looked at the picture.
Jack blinked in confusion. “This is Jake Hemmington?”
“But how can this be?” Z asked.
“Are you saying that this guy took over this man’s identity?” Bridge pointed at the picture Jack was holding.
Kat nodded once more.
Cruger growled. “Then who in the world are we looking for?”
Kat shook her head, shrugging her shoulders in defeat. “I have no idea.”