Story: Rapture (chapter 5)

Authors: Lowdeen

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Chapter 5

Title: Chapter Five

Chapter 5

Through dark alleys, over rancid piles of garbage, she ran. Her feet thudded against the hard ground, the shocks not abated in the least by shoes made more for walking through elegant hallways than sprinting along narrow passages. The stink of decomposing garbage assaulted the senshi's nostrils, clinging stubbornly onto her clothes and skin as she followed behind the maddening glimpses of color that would disappear around a corner just when she was closing in.

It seemed more and more that this 'thing' was leading her around in circles but she couldn't be sure -- all the buildings looked alike to her. There were no landmarks, nothing familiar. She was tired of running around like a dog chasing its own tail, never getting any closer to its goal. She was getting mad too and it didn't help either that a flash of lightning had just pierced the sky in an ominous foreboding of rain. In a bit of a tangent, she mentally ranted over the unreliable nature of weather forecasters while hurdling over what appeared to be a bunch of rags lying in the middle of the alley.

More used to short bursts of speed as opposed to long distance running, the wind senshi knew she had to end this chase soon. Forcing her legs to pump even faster, she rounded another corner, determined now more than ever, she would catch whatever this was and make it taste sailor senshi justice if for no other reason than for taking her on this wild goose chase. As she turned the sharp corner on a dead run, her feet nearly skidded out from under her and it was only a testament to her quick reflexes that saved Haruka from slamming into an unforgiving brick wall.

As she regained her tenuous balance, the sandy haired racer saw through drops of stinging perspiration as the 'thing' ducked into what looked like a dark maw on the side of the building. It opened to face a far wider and cleaner space than the tight alleys she'd previously raced through. Haruka hurried to catch up, not wanting to lose it after chasing it over what seemed the whole of Tokyo. As she moved closer to the opening, she realized it was nothing more than a large cargo bay door, minus the doors, that led into a large warehouse.

It was absolutely dark inside and Haruka's instincts screamed as she contemplated entering into this dangerous unknown. And yet, she couldn't leave now -- not when she was so close. She could hear the 'thing' moving inside, and for some reason, she knew this was going to be it; there would be no more running. It was waiting for her and all she had to do was take the first step. Almost as if compelled by some outside force, the lanky young woman stepped into the awaiting darkness which swallowed up her form like a grateful lover.

She was immediately surrounded by all encompassing blackness; what feeble light there was from outside the building did nothing to penetrate the unrelenting gloom inside. It seemed strange though that a building like this wouldn't have at least a few windows that would let in some natural light from outside. She doubted she could see her own hand if she held it in front of her face but now was not a time to test the theory. The noise came again from somewhere to her left -- a coarse whispery sound that reminded the wind senshi of shoes shuffling along a sand covered floor. Allowing a tiny grin to cross her face, Haruka crept stealthily towards what she assumed was the source of her quarry only to not so stealthily trip over something before she'd taken four steps.

She landed hard on the palms of her hands and needles of pain immediately shot through her flesh. Letting out a low grunt, Haruka swiftly got back on her feet and into a low crouch as she examined her palms as well as she could by feel alone. Her fingers touched lightly upon tiny little splinters of wood sticking out of her palms. Realizing she couldn't do much about the injury in her present situation, she continued to prowl slowly, albeit more carefully, towards the direction she'd heard the noise from last. She didn't know from where or when an attack might come and not being able to use one of the senses she relied on so heavily in her daily life, was proving a nerve-racking effort that only grew with each step she took.

Moving forward in her slow prowl, it seemed she'd traversed the entire length of a football stadium without bumping into anything more substantial than empty space and she still couldn't be sure if she was even headed in the right direction, having not heard the noise again since initially walking into this building. Her only frame of reference came from the lighter patch of dark against the backdrop of complete black to her left that was the entrance she'd taken into the building. It was times like this she wished she had Rei's power of fire; in her present frame of mind, Haruka would probably light this infernal place up like a roman candle and watch the whole thing burn.

Unable to see where she was going, ignorant of what she was chasing, unaware of the ultimate purpose in this cat and mouse game, the senshi of the wind was close to blasting a hole into the wall if only to determine where the walls might be. Stifling the impulse, at least for the moment, Haruka inched forward a little faster or as fast as a low crawl-walk-crouch allowed. In a matter of moments, her hand, held slightly in front of her to ward off surprise attacks by stationary objects, brushed across something solid and cold.

The relieved senshi immediately latched on to it as if it were a lifeline and as she felt the object with her hands, she discovered that she was holding onto a metal railing. And right next to the metal railing, she soon realized, was a set of concrete steps, leading up to she knew not what. The other side of the stairs boasted nothing but a rough wall so going further in that direction was not an option. Haruka hesitated, allowing the uneasiness she'd been feeling since the start of her chase to settle like a nauseous stone in the pit of her stomach. She had a choice here: she could either climb up the stairs, not knowing if the creature she was chasing was even up there or not, or she could head back to the entrance of the warehouse and forget this foolish venture. Even as the thought formed in her mind, she knew there was no way she could just drop this. She would finish it and she would finish it now.

Breathing in a fortifying breath that tasted of stale air on the back of her throat, she moved up the stairs in the same deliberate manner employed while traipsing across the building. As she moved steadily up, she couldn't shake the feeling that whatever she had gotten herself into was only going to get worse -- much worse than wandering around aimless in the dark.

Haruka thanked god for small favors, however, that the climb took much less time than the previous walk. Her climb was stopped abruptly at some type of obstruction right above her head. As before, the green-eyed beauty used her hands to try and figure out what was blocking her path, ignoring the small painful hurts that still throbbed on her hands. Five minutes later of careful exploration later, she was fairly certain that the barrier she'd run into was the ceiling. Assuming that no sane person would build stairs, leading directly into the ceiling, Haruka reasoned that there had to be some kind of door above her to justify the stairs, and if that weren't the case, then there would be one very pissed off senshi in the building.

The senshi of the wind crouched low, bracing her feet two steps below the ceiling and gripping the metal railing tightly with both hands. With one hard shove, she rammed her shoulder as hard as she could against the ceiling, her legs extending as fully as possible, hoping that the secret door, if indeed there was one, would give way under her one woman assault. She bit back a groan of pain as soft flesh impacted with unyielding surface, creating an immediate shooting pain across her whole left side.

In a show of sheer obstinacy, she used herself as a battering ram again and again without pausing to register the pain until finally, with a loud pop and clang, a section of the ceiling popped outwards. Haruka barely had time to feel triumphant at her small victory before being deluged by a cold shower falling from above her. The thunderstorm she'd been dreading before had evidently broken, though how she could have missed the pounding rain from inside a building that should have amplified sound like a giant drum, she still wasn't sure.

Shaking her head to rid herself of some of the water running into her eyes, she grasped onto the edges of the opening and, the nearly soaked sailor senshi, hauled herself up. It was readily apparent after she stood there for a few moments, trying to get her bearings, that her new surroundings were fairly well lit as opposed to the complete darkness she'd just emerged from. It was also fairly apparent that she had ended up on the roof of the building. High wattage lights placed in the four corners of the large roof shakily shone through the sheets of rain.

Haruka was completely drenched in no time, her hair plastered against her skin, her clothes grown soggy and uncomfortable. She was just deciding on how to best proceed in this mess when a skittering sound that had nothing to do with water falling from the sky suddenly came from behind her. Before she could fully turn her head around, something barreled into her back, sending her sprawling several feet away. As much as the surprise attack hurt, she was thankful she wasn't standing in front of the hole she'd just crawled out from, otherwise, she would probably have taken a head first dive down a long flight of concrete steps.

Allowing her instincts to take over, Haruka quickly tucked her body, rolling with the hit and hopefully, getting a few feet between her and her attacker as she came up in a defensive crouch. She blinked, trying to see through the heavy rain. All she caught was flashes of colored cloth coming straight at her at incredible speeds. Jumping to her left, just barely evading the cloth, the sandy haired senshi landed on her already bruised side. Barely slowing down even though her body was screaming for a reprieve, Haruka jumped back to her feet and ran towards the edge of the roof. If this 'thing' thought it could take her down so easily, it obviously had no idea who it was dealing with.

Retrieving her henshin pen from her space pocket, she shouted the magic words.

"Uranus Crystal Power Make-Up!"

In a burst of light, a white cylinder of energy engulfed her body; it was a peculiar feeling, not unlike placing ones hand on the third rail, only instead of immediate crispy death, it felt more like a pleasant buzz. As the transformation ended, the famous racecar driver, Haruka Tenoh, was no more. In her place stood one of the outer sailor senshi. Uranus skidded to a stop and spun around, her eyes quickly roaming around the dimly lit roof for any sign of her attacker.

She didn't have to wait long -- two long pieces of cloth flew towards her from out of the wet gloom and it registered in her mind a split second after she leaped to the side that the color of the cloth was an off-white, devoid of all color until it caught the light in just the right way, in which case, it became iridescent, nearly vibrant. It was no wonder she couldn't pin down the exact color before. Flipping back onto her feet, she realized that the cloth had retracted back from whence it had come. She raised her arm, about to deliver an attack of her own when the strips of cloth returned, flying even faster than before, straight at her.

Sailor Uranus attempted to jump backwards but got caught in midair as the cloth wrapped around her torso, somehow holding her up in the air. She gasped, feeling the constricting binds starting to squeeze. It felt like an elephant was sitting right on her chest, refusing to let her take another life giving breath. Black dots soon began swimming in front of her eyes and she could swear she could even hear some of her ribs creaking. A figure emerged slowly from out of the darkness, swathed in the same iridescent material as the cloth currently incapacitating her. The long sleeves of its dress reached nearly down to the knees and, from within those sleeves, the other ends of the cloth disappeared. It came to stand within a foot of the suspended senshi, its blood red lips twisting up into a smile.

A vague memory floated past Uranus' oxygen starved brain as she saw the figure's face. She knew this 'thing' and although the red hair was now straight instead of curly, the eyes were the same -- still the same eerie shade of silver. This was the same annoying woman she'd met at Michiru's party last night, she was sure of it.

"Remember me, Miss Tenoh?" The creature asked, confirming her suspicions with a malicious smile. "I see I'm not the only one keeping secrets. I must say you were handsome before but now you're absolutely divine. I've wanted you for so long, my dear Haruka and now here you are, just dangling there like a ripe little treat for me to pluck … I bet you taste sweet. You aren't going to be difficult and fight me, are you darling?"

Not bothering to answer the rhetorical question, the senshi blocked out her captor's words, and concentrated until she felt the familiar reassuring weight in her hand. With the appearance of her jewel-encrusted sword, Uranus didn't waste any time as she deftly cut off the cloth binding her body, the restraints shredding easily against her sharp blade.

The creature she formerly knew as Chisuko Yamamoto, screeched in agony almost as if its own limbs had been lopped off instead of lifeless pieces of cloth. Now that she had nothing holding her up, Uranus dropped to the ground with a jarring jolt, splashing onto the roof and into a newly formed puddle, her lungs immediately expanding, sucking in each precious breath of air.

She knew there was little time to rest with her enemy so close. Marshalling her reserves, the sandy haired senshi leapt to her feet, simultaneously slashing up diagonally with her sword. With superhuman reflexes, the creature leaned back just far enough that the blade barely skimmed the front of its dress. Before Uranus could bring the sword back down, the tattered remains of the cloth that still trailed from her enemy's sleeves shot out again, this time wrapping tightly around the senshi's face.

The senshi's head was thrown back with enough force to snap the neck of any ordinary human. Instinctively, she clawed at the cloth covering her face. It felt like her head was being held in a vice while some sadistic operator at the controls continued to turn the crank. Dropping to her knees, the oxygen deprived senshi slashed out again with her sword to the accompaniment of another unholy scream of agony. The rent pieces of fabric dropped away from her face, amazingly dry even though the rain continued falling from the sky in heavy fat drops.

Her legs tensed, readying for a mad charge at the murderous creature only to find it gone when the cloth slid from her eyes. Nothing but dark gloom and distant lights met her searching gaze. Uranus stood up, her eyes continually sweeping from one shadowy spot to the next, trying to anticipate the next attack.

Whether graced with the goodwill of some sympathetic god or by sheer luck alone, a flash of jagged lightening split the sky just then, its thin branches of white light, illuminating the area on the roof and exposing that which had wanted to stay hidden. Not one to let a chance opportunity slip through her fingers, Uranus raised her right hand in the air, feeling the growing energy gathering in her palm as it manifested into a glowing yellow orb.

"World Shaking!" She shouted unleashing all that destructive power as she slammed it into the ground. The ball of yellow light ripped through the roof, growing ever larger as it traveled straight towards its wide-eyed target.

Immobilized as if its feet were glued to the floor, the creature watched powerless as impending death rushed towards it, a look of absolute terror on its face as the golden energy swallowed it whole. Its body began a systematic implosion, each of its major organs shutting down, shriveling as if squeezed by invisible hands. An all-consuming hatred for the one responsible for its pain welled up in the part of its mind that was still cognizant. Unwilling to leave this world without exacting its pound of flesh, it drew on every bit of power still at its disposable, roaring in the face of its fate.

Uranus shielded her eyes with one arm as the ball of burning light began growing brighter -- its radiance dwarfing anything from her past experiences, the sheer power in front of her pushing her back and lightly scorching her exposed flesh. An inhuman holler boomed through the night, the sound foretelling nothing but ill to all those who heard it. The senshi gritted her teeth as she dug in her heels but a sudden explosion from within the glowing energy sphere blasted her back as if her weight was inconsequential.

For one solitary moment, she felt like she was flying, weightless and adrift. Her vision was saturated by blinding white; she would have realized it was hurting her retinas if every single part of her body weren't also awash in piercing pain. She was an open wound, raw and bloody, flayed open to her bones -- she could feel each drop of rain like a pinprick stab on her sensitized skin. The solitary moment seemed to propagate and multiply, stretching out towards infinity, leaving her stranded in hell, until finally, blessedly, with a teeth rattling crash, she felt no more.

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