Power Rangers: The Coins Series
All things Power Rangers belong to Saban and Disney. All things Carri belong to KJ, with many thanks. Demonking belongs solely to Daniel White and Teeg and Rexo belong to KS & me.
The Coin Series take place in an alternate dimension
February fourteenth, Kimberly's twenty-ninth official Birthday, dawned cold and windy at the Angel Grove Pines Ski Resort. She was asleep again. At least, Tommy thought she was asleep. She was curled into his lap, head tucked between his shoulder and neck, and hadn't moved in the better part of half an hour. He still fretted over her, he couldn't help it, but life went on.
For the present, he contented himself with the fact that she was with him and he was holding her, but he also couldn't ignore the massive amounts of work that threatened to smother him, so he held her with one hand and arm while sifting through his data with the other. Upon Teeg's departure, the world had enjoyed one unprecedented week of unity and brotherhood, a week where all had come together and united both in celebration and in mourning, a week where all had resolved to come together and build a new world, a new age of humanity, and then all hell had broken loose again.
The Arab nations now claimed the disaster a plot by Israel, many Asian nations and Eastern Europe pointed their fingers at the United States, and most of Europe and South America were pointing their fingers at each other. Within another week, the world was right back where it had been before the appearance of the towers. It seemed the only thing the world leaders could agree upon was a united interest in the Power Rangers and what their Intergalactic Community could do for them.
His laptop carefully balanced on the arm of the large overstuffed chair, he scanned through disk after disk of data, trying to put some order to the chaos. The world was ready for his city now, but he still had to make it happen and that meant an overloaded work schedule in addition to and outside of his duty as official head of the Power Rangers on a nearly destroyed planet…one that owed the Kaoans an astronomical fortune for the colony on KO-35.
The number of dead was staggering; over three-hundred and fifty million worldwide, with an almost equal number still missing. Taking into consideration a global population of just over six and a half billion, those numbers weren't so bad, only about half a percent, but to the Ranger in Tommy, it was devastating. The normal death rate per year was only about fifty-eight million and they had lost six times that; possibly even as much as ten or twelve by the time the data was finalized. It was unacceptable and it made their victory over Teeg and her forces bittersweet for him. A large part of him felt he had failed his world and guilt and frustration plagued him during the rare quiet times he had to think about it.
The only consolation, however slim, came from Billy's pronouncement that of far greater concern to him was the projected baby boom. Birth rates often escalated after times of war or disaster and the data coming in nearly twelve weeks after Teeg's retreat was startling.
The number of worldwide births estimated in the coming month of September alone was calculated at almost ninety-seven million; seventy-five percent of the average yearly planetary birth rate in just one month alone. Billy found this far more devastating than the death rate and warned that the actual world population explosion could more than double his projections as he was only estimating the numbers for the four weeks in September; none of the data had yet been expanded to include the six to nine months following that banner month.
Although he understood his friend's concerns, that such a dramatic jump in the birth rate could have dramatic effects both socioeconomically and environmentally on the planet, he, like Jason, had found the news personally amusing; until Billy soberly warned that all of those mothers to be had been exposed to astronomical amounts of morphanological energies during the last battle; energies that still lingered on weeks after the battle had ended. They wouldn't know for years the effects or mutations the coming generation would endure. The entire dynamic of humans on the planet Earth had suddenly shifted.
Kim changed her position in his lap and his arm reflexively closed around her a little tighter. Closing his laptop, his used a free hand to place it on a side table stacked with reports. As he did so, he noted the contrast between the howling snowstorm outside the large picture window and the cheery fire in the huge fireplace on the other side of his wife. His life seemed to be one continuous contrast these days. Ups and downs, highs and lows, nothing stable for very long.
Under pressure for help by world leaders, he'd grudgingly allowed Hayley's new constant shadow, Clark Fairweather, to keep his new weather stabilizing device in place until things calmed down. The machine, he insisted, would be used to help keep global weather patterns ideal for a few weeks; just until the populations found shelter. During that time. It would also be used to help repair the damage to the Earth's atmosphere by the towers. It wasn't supposed to be a permanent solution, but Tommy still hadn't liked it; the planet had been messed with enough. It had been needed though and even he had to grudgingly admit that it had been a great success.
Slowly, the temperatures around the globe began to rebound and, with a little help from a team led by Billy and a whole lot of Aquitian technology, the polar caps had begun to regenerate at an accelerated speed and the holes in the ozone repaired. If they left the planet in a little better condition than before, Billy theorized, it was to the Earth's benefit and Tommy had been too tired to argue.
It had been a difficult and unpopular decision to give the order to turn the drones off. As long as they'd been in use, those in the tent cities awaiting the rebuilding of the infrastructure enjoyed mild and easy weather, but the time for the Rangers to interfere in Earth's climate was at an end. It was time to stop artificially controlling things and allow nature to take its course. At Angel Grove Pines, that meant that the temperatures had plummeted overnight from a spring like warmth to a frigid gale, but all welcomed it; even if it meant layering clothes and huddling together under blankets for warmth.
They had moved to the lodge itself shortly after the new year, when Carri's dad had taken it upon himself to move as many of his own relations and a few of the other families out of the NASADA compound and into a less packed environment. The lodge itself was damaged, but not uninhabitable and the owners were desperate to accommodate wealthy guests desiring more in their refuge than the public shelters could provide. Food and water were still rationed, cooling and heating limited, but it was relatively private and the communications links were working.
At first, Tommy had resisted. He had wanted to be close to the Command Center as the world began to put itself back together again, but under the overwhelming stress as the head of the Rangers on Earth and the demands of caring for a very ill spouse, he had caved. At least Kim's mother could help more easily with her care, which had been difficult at best while they were quartered in back of the Command Center, and those few precious free hours a day to get work done had been priceless.
Tommy closed his eyes firmly at the memory of his wife's recovery, leaning his head down so that his cheek rested against her soft, sweet smelling hair. The ordeal had aged him tremendously.
He and Jason had brought her to the Command Center where they'd received the devastating news of her condition. Thomas was right, because of her Muirantian powers, she would live, but they had no idea if she'd ever recover. Her injuries were massive and there wasn't a single system in her body that didn't show the strain of trauma. It was unfathomable what they'd done to her; inhuman. Billy's hands had shaken as he did scan after scan, only to meet his eyes mournfully and tell him there simply wasn't enough of her poorly functioning brain left for her to ever recover; there was no way she'd ever wake up again.
She was alive, but completely vegetative. The news had crushed him. He had been handed back the love of his life, but only her body, nothing more. Devastated, he'd slowly gone through the motions of deciding what had to be done next; whether to let the computer take control or to let her go. In the end, he simply couldn't let her die and gave Billy the order to allow the computer to take care of her. All that day and night, he'd kept a numb vigil by her side; simply staring at her for nearly twenty-four hours straight and refusing anyone's attempts to let him leave and rest.
But then something strange happened. On a simple, routine scan the next day, Billy noticed her body had accelerated its repair of itself. Kim was growing stronger and as she grew stronger, her cells increased their renewal. Not only was her body repairing itself, her brain, unlike a human brain, was also slowly regenerating. He was still not overly optimistic and had warned him not to be too encouraged, but it was enough for Tommy; it was hope.
It was only then that he could face her mother. Molly understood as well as he did what her daughter's condition meant, but didn't have the knowledge he did about her Muirantian cells. Furious, she had demanded to know his connections to the Power Rangers and if he was the one who had put her daughter in the situation where her type of injuries could have occurred. At that point in time, he had still been numb, still been grieving, he had been awake for more than twenty-four hours and, he regretted later, had confirmed to her his status as a senior Red.
Molly had been livid, blaming him for putting her daughter in unnecessary danger, but, to her credit, had held silent about his occupation when they had gone to tell the rest of her family of Kim's injuries and, more importantly, had continued to keep his secrets from that time onward.
Oddly enough, over the next few weeks his mother in law had proved invaluable, not only with caring for her daughter, but in dealing with the world leaders who were desperate for the Rangers to help them. It seemed that Kim's created persona had worked a little too well. The leaders of the world didn't want to work with Tommy, they wanted Kaycea. It was beyond frustrating and Molly had a genuine knack for soothing ruffled feathers; both with the world leaders and the leader of the Power Rangers. Although he had been hesitant and done a lot of second guessing over her prescience by Kim's medical bed in the Command Center; he was soon very grateful for it as fatigue set in, his patience waned, and his temper grew shorter.
Having a catatonic spouse was not easy. At first, he was willing to do anything, everything, to somehow bring her back, but as the days passed and merged into weeks, it became harder and harder to stay positive. When Kim was removed from the medical bed and placed in their quarters, the reality of his situation began to hit home. Although she had regular sleeping and waking periods, he was caring for an adult who couldn't function by herself and needed constant assistance twenty-four-seven.
She had to be clothed and bathed, repositioned and exercised. Her hair had to be brushed, and her nails clipped. All the while, she was completely unresponsive; staring expressionlessly ahead of her as if nothing existed.
He missed her terribly and the loneliness of it all had been a different form of grieving. He had developed the habit of talking to her nonstop, the way a parent talks to an infant; knowing she didn't understand, but speaking the words anyway. Unable to leave her for long periods of time when no one was around to watch her, he'd begun holding meetings in their small quarters. Hayley had set up several computers for him and people simply never questioned seeking him out there; at least not directly.
It was well into the fourth week of this kind of care that he snapped. It had been an excruciatingly long day; full of too many monumental, all encompassing, major and minor problems and setbacks to count. He was bone tired and returned back to their small quarters only to face another endless round of chores related to her care.
Grief had given way to anger and he found himself resenting the tasks required, resenting the vacant, hollow stare emitted from the beautiful large eyes that had always held so much vivacity, mischief, and passion for life. He gently brushed her hair, tucked her in, and kissed her forehead, then sat down heavily next to her. Raising her hand, holding it so that her palm covered his face, he broke down and sobbed; pleading with her to wake up and come back to him, grateful that no one was around to see him beg.
He didn't remember going to sleep that night, only waking the next morning to find her in the same position he'd left her in the previous evening and sighing heavily to himself with the realization that the day would be exactly the same as all the others since Thomas had brought her back.
He'd risen and dressed, only to realize that it was far too early for anyone else to be up and around. Grateful for the quiet, he'd sat down to get an jump start on the day's workload, talking to her nonstop as he sorted through papers and computer disks; commenting on this or that, simply voicing the thoughts in his head as he organized his day. He'd ask her questions, then answer them himself; occasionally amending his answer if he thought it wasn't something she'd have actually said to him.
It was after one such comment that he stopped, chuckling to himself that his words weren't anywhere close to what she would have actually told him, and turned around to tell her so. To his astonishment, her head had turned. She was no longer staring sightlessly straight upward toward the ceiling, but directly at him. Her eyes were still unfocused, but more confused than vacant. Heart leaping into his chest and trying not to get too excited in case the pillow had simply shifted, he jumped across the small distance between his desk and the bed and half sobbed, half laughed as her eyes followed his movement.
He leaped up and flew from the room, dragging a protesting and sleep deprived Billy back with him. To his dismay, the blank look in her eyes had returned and his friend gave him the same half sympathetic, half pathetic look everyone seemed to send his way. Fortunately, in his frustration, he dug his fingers through his hair and moved away in a jerky movement; which Kim's eyes tracked. Billy had seen it though and it was enough for him to begin a whole new battery of tests on her which showed that she was, indeed, improving. Returning her to the small bedroom, he had cleared his schedule and spent the entire day simply moving back and forth, just to watch her eyes move, but she did no more than that and for no-one else but him.
After twenty-four hours of this, Carri had had enough. She and Karone barged in just before his mother-in-law was due to watch her for a few hours and kidnapped her. They never said where they were taking her, but Tommy had a good idea it was back to Primus's subdimension on Triforia. They were gone less than half an hour, returning her just as her mother walked in, but girls sought their beds afterward and both slept the day away; indicating to the others that they'd somehow borrowed time and were paying a heavy price for it.
It was another full day after that, as Tommy was brushing her hair and tucking her in for the night, that the world changed. He'd laid the brush on the table, kissed her forehead and murmured how much he loved her, then moved his way through the crammed and overstuffed room to his side of the bed and begun to undress. His back was to her, but he knew she was watching, just a she watched everything he did. It was the twenty-fourth of December, Christmas Eve, when he heard her.
It was soft, barely above a whisper, but when he turned and asked her what she'd said, she repeated, "Are you real?"
He wept again. He couldn't help it, tears of joy as he kissed her face over and over, affirming that he was, indeed, very real. Backing away slightly, he scanned her face hopefully, watching as her eyes focused and her forehead creased in confusion. It wasn't much, but it was movement and that was all he needed. He would never again doubt the Great Power or sniff at the idea of Christmas miracles.
Kim's recovery from that point on was painfully slow, but steady. She rarely spoke and, if she did, it was simple words and phrases and very rarely to anyone but him. The only person that this frustrated more than Carri was her mother, but both tried hard to be patient with her. She never spoke of her ordeal and, when the few times Tommy had pressed her for details resulted in her slipping quickly back into a semi catatonic state again, he'd simply stopped asking her about it.
Moving her limbs had come as slowly as speaking. It was as if the muscles in her body had forgotten how to coordinate with each other and Tommy worked with her until he was past exhaustion helping her synchronize her movements and become mobile again.
It was about this time that Cole found his way back to Angel Grove, bringing the wolf pup, Aku, with him. Although barely a month old, it weighed almost ten pounds and was pronounced by Aisha to have the biggest paws and ears she'd ever seen. Tommy could have cared less, until Kim showed interest in it. Up to that point, she'd shown very little interest in anything besides his activities, but actually giggled as the pup rummaged around on her bed and tried to nurse her fingers.
She had looked so sad and downcast when the visit came to an end that Tommy surprised himself by offering to keep it with them. Cole had hesitated, but it was as if he somehow knew the two were good for one another and abruptly agreed. For days afterward Tommy rued his decision. The pup not only smelled, he added to his already overloaded schedule, but as Kim gained enough coordination to feed it and it kept her happy and entertained during the day, he couldn't really regret it.
After the new year, she'd begun physical therapy sessions the same time Adam was working on his. By then, they had moved to the Angel Grove Pines Lodge and Carri had found a physical therapist more than willing to work with both of them in exchange for food and a place to stay at the former resort.
Though she never spoke about it either before or after, it was clear she hated the painful sessions. When she suddenly threw an uncharacteristic tantrum one day and quit for no other reason than her own frustration, Adam had begun to goad her; often challenging her or bragging that he was getting ahead where learning to walk again was concerned. The teasing worked and drew out her competitive nature, but progress came in spurts and was slow… until Karone and Carri gave her back her Triad crystal. Tommy had been furious but, overnight, the progress was phenomenal and he and her mother had had to scramble to come up with explanations for it when the family inquired; finally mumbling vague references to experimental Ranger technology.
After that, everything became immediately easier for her and he suspected, but never asked, that the girls had been taking off and using borrowed time to help her improve. It scared him to death that she was traveling off world or inter-dimensionally with them, but he couldn't complain with the results. By the end of January, she was physically completely self sufficient, but still frighteningly quiet and reserved. Although she eagerly returned his affections when they were alone at night, she seldom spoke to anyone other than him and the vacant, distant look would occasionally cross her eyes for no apparent reason and completely terrify him.
By the first week of February, she stopped trying to hide from him that she was once again traveling to Triforia, but kept mute about her activities there. Her only mention of it was a slip of the tongue that she had so much more energy when morphed that she almost hated powering down. She had frozen, as if startled the words had crossed her lips, but he hadn't called her on it; simply nodded as if he really wasn't listening and continued his work. He hated the idea, hated he wasn't part of it and that she had been away without telling him, but he held his tongue. She was getting better, that was all that mattered to him.
But in contrast to the energy he knew her clandestine activities had to require, when she was with him, she remained clingy and quiet; sleeping almost constantly. He couldn't complain. He needed to hold her as much as she needed to be held. He was still terrified that he'd wake up and she'd be gone or the catatonic state would have returned. He hated feeling the way he did, but he couldn't help it; he needed her. The relief of having her back with him was unfathomable.
The rowdy noise of excited teens brought him back from his pondering to the present and stirred his sleeping wife; who blinked a bit at the ruckus, then frowned and closed her eyes again. The wolf pup Aku, now all of twelve weeks old, raised his head and growled a puppy-like growl at the wave of intruders, but at Tommy's frown, he lowered his head back down with a whine and waited once again for Kim to sit up so he could go back out and play in the snow again. To the delight of many, it was finally snowing for real and, despite the cold of the unheated lodge, Tommy loved it. It was a chance to forget the chaos of the world and simply play for a while.
He sighed heavily as those thoughts led him to ones of the real world. Billy had paged them early that morning to inform them that, after nearly three months of inactivity, signs of habitation were once again evident in the Lunar Palace. Gone were the hopes that Rita and Zedd had left with Teeg and her armada, but even that couldn't really dampen his spirits. Theirs was the only group of Rangers who had ever defeated Teeg's armies… and they had all survived it. None of them were anxious to get back to action, but he had accepted that the Triads had been called back to work and was almost grateful to know he might be going back himself.
For the meantime, the Rangers in question were content to vegetate on the over-sized furniture before the large fireplace, one of the few sources of heat, in one of the lodge's many gathering rooms and grumble as the teenagers shattered the blissful quiet they'd enjoyed just a few minutes before.
As the group of boisterous teens scrambled past them, dropping their stuff, tossing it around, teasing one another, and in general causing more of a disruption than they really needed to in their excitement over the snow storm outside, Kim stretched and snuggled closer into her husband's shoulder. His feet were propped up on an ottoman and he shifted slightly as she intertwined her legs around his. Dropping the paper he'd picked up off to the side of the chair, he hugged her tightly.
She was being overly needy, she thought to herself, and knew she'd have to stop it sooner or later, but for now she was enjoying the extra attention and he seemed more than willing to coddle her a little. She was feeling more back to normal than she had in a very long time, but the memories of the tribunal and her suspension cell still haunted her dreams each night and she felt the weight of the moderator's verdict more heavily than she'd ever admit to; even to Thomas or Jason or even her husband.
She'd been allowed back, that was all that mattered. She hadn't expected to be allowed back. Even when she'd left Tommy that fateful morning, she'd been positive in her heart that she'd never see him again; but she'd been wrong.
It had taken them more than a decade in Earth's years to reach a verdict; a decade spent between time and dimensions in a semi-suspended state while they debated her fate…conscious, yet paralyzed..paralyzed and tortured. She understood the decision to return her to her world had very little to do with any innocence on her part. If anything, she was guilty as sin of more than one serious crime against the continuum… and all involved knew it. However, she was of value to them. Her return to her own world had come at a huge price, but it was one she'd willingly pay; for now.
She'd have to obey them now; obey them in everything. But it was a restriction she was more than willing to accept if it meant she would be allowed to live with her family and Tommy again. It would only be for a few short decades; a mere drop in the bucket of her expected lifespan. She was determined to make the most of every moment though, to gather a lifetime of memories to keep her warm through the cold years that would come when those she loved grew old and left her behind them… when she'd be alone again, like the suspension cell; but she wouldn't think about that now. She'd been given a second chance and she wouldn't let that chance go to waste. She'd tow the line, she'd birth the children they demanded, raise a family with Tommy, and search for Zordon like Primus wanted.
She wasn't entirely sure it was Zordon himself that they'd find; Primus wasn't even sure of that. However, one thing was certain, someone was manipulating the timelines from within and manipulating them in a way that was distinctly characteristic of her old teacher. She knew enough about timelines and dimensional travel to know that her Zordon, the one she loved so dearly, was gone, but Zordon had been an interdimensional being; capable of existing simultaneously in different dimensions. Perhaps it was a transplant manipulating the timeline, perhaps a student no one knew of, or perhaps, just perhaps, part of his spirit had survived somehow. She simply didn't know; even Primus couldn't say for certain. The evidence the Triads were ferreting out was baffling. Something about Zordon's spirit was returning to the continuum; that was good enough for her.
Carri huffed and rolled her eyes as the teens passed, then rolled her eyes again and gave Rocky a tolerant look as Kim rolled over with a muffled sigh into Tommy. He grinned at her in response and pulled her closer to him on the couch, silently suggesting they cuddle under their blanket as well. She allowed herself to be pulled in, enjoying the relative peace of the moment and absently fingered the small engagement ring he'd given her that morning in honor of Valentine's Day. The large fire was pouring out its heat, the wind and snow howling outside the window, and all seemed relatively back to normal; the quiet life, as Tommy called it.
Adam and Tonya had retreated upstairs to their room after breakfast, away from the growing noise of the common area, and Jason and Emily had also disappeared somewhere into the depths of the lodge. Karone was playing some sort of dice game at a nearby table with her ever present shadow, Zane, and the others who had followed them up the mountain were also milling around at different locations. It was almost as if they hadn't a care in the world; as if Teeg had never come to Earth and they had never had the school reunion interrupted on that hot August evening.
"What do you think would have happened if the reunion hadn't been torn up by Zedd and Rita?" Carri asked lazily, leaning her head back against Rocky's shoulder and intertwining her fingers with his. She couldn't see his face, but she saw Tommy raise a curious eyebrow and lean down to kiss Kim's forehead.
"What'd you mean?" Rocky asked, squeezing her hand and wrapping his arm more tightly around her. The lodge was freezing and she was warm; it was an intoxicating contrast.
"Do you think we'd be together? You and me…Kim and Tommy? All of us?" She asked wistfully. "Do you think we'd just've enjoyed a quick weekend and then gone our separate ways or would we have all managed to come together like we are now?"
"I don't even want to think about it." Kim mumbled, head still buried in Tommy's shoulder.
"She speaks!" Tommy teased and she slapped his chest playfully. "And I thought I was in for another day of grunts and mutterings." He grinned.
"I mean it." Carri said again. "Do you think we'd all be together?"
"I doubt it." Rocky said truthfully, cheek nuzzling the top of her head. "I think we were all going in opposite directions. Leading separate lives." He answered, squeezing her a little tighter in an attempt to block out memories of that weekend. He'd been firmly entrenched in his relationship with Marie and, although both still adamantly denied it was anything but a show, she'd technically been dating Jason; which still drove him crazy sometimes. "That one little event changed everything." He mused.
He didn't want to think about his life without Carri. She was a royal pain in the ass, with a temper to match, but she was his pain in the ass…and he dearly loved her. The thought of losing her was devastating…as was the thought of her running off on Primus's errands… but he held those thoughts silent. If it was him running off to play Ranger and her left behind, he'd want her support; so he tried his best to give her his.
"That's depressing." Carri pouted. "That means I owe Teeg."
"Not necessarily." Kim added, rolling over and facing her. "It means the Great Power directly intervened and readjusted the timeline back. We're where we're supposed to be now."
"And how do you figure that?" Tommy asked, a slightly amused tone finding its way into his voice. She was actively engaging in the conversation and that one little act thrilled him beyond words.
"The Power allowed the timeline to be dramatically shifted. None of us are going in the direction we were before." She explained as if it was so obvious she needn't point it out. "There's no other explanation for it. The timeline shifted and the moderators tried to re-adjust it… twice…both with disastrous results… so in the end they had to allow the shift." She paused a few seconds as if remembering something. "We were all meant to be where we are now, to go back to the point where we could all go forward together."
"If you say so." Rocky added, not really understanding what she was talking about.
"I kinda like that idea." Carri mused, frowning as Karone cursed loudly and Zane laughed outright at her. She was so distracted at the way the two managed to lovingly bicker, even over a silly dice game, that she didn't see the two men approach them from the side, but Rocky had, and he sat them both up a little straighter when he realized the two were going to interrupt them. Kovu had also seen the men and, hackles raising, stood up, but when Tommy's hand came down over his nose he sat down abruptly; still aware, but willing to be quite as long as no one approached Kim.
"Carri Lauren Hillard?" The older of the two asked; eyeing the giant wolf that was still too fluffy with baby fur and blue eyes to be threatening. They were both well past middle aged, both balding, and both dressed in business suits that had no place in a ski lodge turned refuge. Behind them was a third, younger man, holding three, snow covered coats. The six Rangers close by turned as one and sat a little straighter, and Carri noticed Jason re-appear off to the side as well; merging closer to the group.
"You three aren't exactly dressed for a ski lodge." Carri noted waspishly and Kovu yipped as if agreeing with her. She turned and regarded the pup, deciding the look on its oversized head was way too appraising to be canine instead of human.
"Ms. Carri Lauren Hillard?" The man asked patiently.
"Who wants to know?" She responded in a hard tone, turning back around, but the man simply took another step forward and handed her a manila envelope as if he knew full well who she was.
"My name is Milan Stone," He explained. "I represent the law firm of Shistick, Crandall, and…"
"Jesus H. Christ…" Carri spat, jumping up and giving them Rocky's favorite swear phrase. "Are you freakin kidding me? You're a god damn lawyer and you track me down here?" She all but threw the envelope back at him. He at least had the good sense to grab it and take a step back from her temper.
Kovu chose that moment to start yapping and even Tommy's firm hand signal to quiet down couldn't stop him. If Carri was angry, he knew from experience, something was happening that would also possibly distress Kim; and if momma was upset, he was upset. But this time, Kim sat up and hushed him herself, picking him up when he gave her his best contrite look, and settling him on her lap; despite Tommy's groan of protest. Although huge, he was still mostly a baby, all head and oversized paws, and threw his head back with uncontained excitement, play-biting her chin and giving her a few puppy kisses as if grateful for the better view of the action.
"Carri, calm down…" Rocky tried unsuccessfully to soothe her. Attacking the messenger wasn't going to go over well if this was something serious.
"Who the hell wants a piece of me now?" Carri fumed. "So help me Rocky, if this has anything to do with either Jessica or Marie I'm gonna…."
"Ms. Hillard…." The other man present said firmly over Carri's ranting. "We're here to notify you of your inheritance."
"Huh?" Carri managed, honestly dumbstruck. An uneasy silence fell over the little group and even a few people who had looked up at her ranting began to look away or return to what they'd been doing. "Nobody I know died." She said hesitantly. It was true. She felt a bit guilty about that actually. Everybody knew somebody who had died, there were millions and millions who hadn't made it, but not her. Her whole family had survived.
"Is there somewhere we might speak in private?" The man asked.
"I'm good right here." Carri said a bit warily. "These are my family." She said, indicating the others.
"Ms. Hillard, I'm afraid this is a matter of some delicacy. We've been trying to reach you for several weeks, but given the…difficulties… of the past few months and the recovery efforts currently going on…Perhaps we could secure a conference room downstairs?" The second man hedged.
"I'm good right here." Carri said firmly, not budging.
"Very well." The first man said hesitantly, handing her the envelope again. "As I said, my name is Milan Stone and I represent the law firm of Shistick, Crandall, and Billarche. I represent the New York firm, my colleague Mr. Crane, represents the London office," The second man dipped his head in acknowledgement. "And Mr. James Billarche Jr represents the LA, office." The young man behind them with the coats stepped forward and nodded to Carri as well.
"Alright." Carri spat caustically. "Get to the point."
"Very well." Stone said. "Are you familiar with Mr. William Horton Craw?"
"My mother's crazy Uncle Willaby." Carri responded, closing her eyes and then opening them to glare at the man in front of her. "The one that inherited everything from his bastard of a father and then turned his back on the entire family; basically disinheriting everyone and leaving my grandmother and my mother penniless. So what finally did the old bastard in? The alien monoliths or gonorrhea?"
"Carri!" Rocky chided, not liking the idea of talking badly of the dead.
"Oh shush, the guy was a total slut." She drolled. "It's rumored he had harems of women, not to mention drug induced orgies well into his eighties…"
"Yes, well… Mr. Craw's health had been deteriorating for the past two decades…"
"I'll bet it had…" Carri cut in. "The seventies and eighties had to catch up with him sometime."
"Before his death," The lawyer continued firmly, "Mr. Craw did extensive research as to which of his great nieces and nephews were fully deserving of his inheritance; if any."
"And he deemed me worthy of something after cutting off my grandmother and basically watching my mom get trapped into a joke of a marriage with my dad? Good god, what the hell was he thinking?"
"Mr. Craw left a sizable inheritance to each of his grand nieces and nephews, but he believed you stood out among all the others as the most like himself." Mr. Crandall noted.
If he thought he was complimenting Carri, he was wrong. Her eyes narrowed, her jaw set, and her foot tapped rhythmically; a forewarning to those who knew her that she was seriously ready to destroy something.
Crandall, oblivious to the signs, continued in an amiable voice. "He had been watching you for many, many months. He was quite taken with you actually. He was genuinely impressed by the way you rebounded after being disinherited by your father and how you created your own fortune for yourself despite his obvious interferences and attempts to keep you in a position of dependency."
"I wasn't disinherited." Carri growled. "I worked for my dad's production company as an actress."
"And then began your own production company and amassed your own fortune through wise investments." Mr. Stone said. "Mr. Craw was most impressed. As my colleague mentioned, he was quite taken with you and had his people watching you up until his death in late November."
"The pair that was tailing me in Angel Grove and New York." Carri noted bitterly.
"Perhaps." Stone seemed to agree. "Mr. Craw was not known for his subtlety."
"So what did the old bastard leave me?" She asked, arms folded across her chest, her stance defiant. "The mortgage on an old, falling down house….or maybe his mangy old dog?" She sneered.
Rocky didn't know the man she was talking about, she'd never mentioned him, but there was obviously bad blood between them. Carri looked like she was about to rip the men in front of her to shreds.
"I mean," Carri continued snidely, "The last time my mom dragged me over to see the old goat he threatened to have us both arrested if we came within a hundred yards of him."
"As I mentioned." Crandall continued, ignoring her last statement. "Mr. Craw left each of his grand nieces and nephews, nine in total, very sizable fortunes, however the bulk of the estate is to be handed over directly to you."
"And that means?" Carri asked, her voice nearly a snarl.
"That means you are a very wealthy young woman." Stone said. "After taking into consideration the nearly ten million dollars he left to the other heirs, taxes, lawyer fees etcetera…"
"Lawyer fees being a rather large etcetera..I imagine…." Carri snarled.
"After taking everything else into consideration…" Stone continued as if she hadn't interrupted, "You are to inherit approximately nine billion US dollars in accounts, property, stocks, bonds, investments and other holdings….of course those estimates were pre world disaster, but most, if not all, should remain intact and eventually rebound in value."
"Excuse me?" Carri asked, swaying a little. She'd known the old coot was worth a rumored fortune, but nothing along those lines.
"You are to inherit approximately nine billion US dollars in accounts, property, stocks, bonds, investments and other holdings."
"Just nine? Not ten?" She asked giddily, her voice rising a few octaves.
"Holy shit…" Rocky muttered, stunned and wondering if he was hearing the man correctly.
"God damn Rocky…." Jason commented from where he'd slipped up behind the couch. "You just hit the fucking mother load." He laughed, slapping Rocky on the shoulder. "And Tommy just figured out where he's gonna find the rest of the funding to build that city of his." He laughed.
"If you will just sign here." Crandall said politely, handing the manila envelope over to her again.
"What's this?" Carri asked in an unusually soft and quiet voice, as if dazed.
"This is your acknowledgement that you've received your copy of Mr. Craw's last will and testament as well as acknowledgement that we have informed you verbally of your impending inheritance. Eventually, you'll need to fly to Boston for Mr. Craw's internment, which is on hold given the circumstances, and of course to sign the legal documents accepting your inheritance."
"Do I need a lawyer?" Carri asked, numbly signing the receipt for the envelope and handing it back to them.
"We are Mr. Craw's personal attorneys." Stone said. "Our entire firm was founded to care for Mr. Craw's wide ranging interests. We now work for you."
"Oh." Carri said numbly. "Ok."
"Congratulations Ms. Hillard." Stone said. "May we assume that we will see you in Boston at your soonest possible convenience?"
"Yeah, sure…" Carri responded.
"Very good then." Crandall added, bowing slightly, which caused Karone to snicker. "We'll take our leave of you and allow you to continue with your holiday."
"Yeah, sure…" Carri said again as the three men turned as one and left down the hall. "Is that what this is?" She added, sounding more like herself.
"So…" Karone said impertinently, breaking the absolute silence that had formed around the small group. "You and Rocky still getting married?"
Carri whirled around on her, sharp come-back on her lips, but it died unspoken as the triangular charms on their wristbands began to glow and softly chime like a mantel clock; indicating another lead had been found that needed investigating.
Kovu yipped and jumped to the floor, eagerly watching Kim for some sign that she would possibly take him with her this time as the three of them began to move away to a safe place to transport. When it became clear that he'd once again be left behind, he sat down next to Tommy with what could only be described as a canine pout; large head flopping down on equally oversized paws.
Tommy completely commiserated with the smelly beast as he reluctantly let go of his wife. It was the first time the three had openly, if silently, admitted they'd been called back to action by Primus and it was all he could do to keep from refusing to let her go. In his opinion, she was still far too weak to be charging off at some alien dinosaur's beck and call, but his opinion mattered little when Ranger duty called.
"Just…be careful." Rocky said as they left, grabbing for Carri's hand and giving it a quick squeeze. Carri turned and smiled at him, adrenaline pumping away the last of the numbness she felt.
"Yeah, that's an understatement…" Jason quipped. "He means try and stay alive long enough to make him a kept man."
The girls didn't look back, the chiming had become more insistent and they quickened their step toward the stairway. They'd be back within moments of their departure, an odd perk to their current line of work, but for now, it was time to continue the hunt for Zordon's missing shard coins…