Chapter 9 - Running Away

Serena made her way through the park, looking around. It was dark out, almost midnight, and she was beginning to think this was a bad idea. But no, she was going along with it. Live bait is so coming off my resume, she thought, This stinks

"Remember what we're doing Serena?" Luna asked, making her jump.

"Course", she said breezily, "Now be quiet. This is creepy, I'm outta here—"

"Oh really?" she whirled around and saw Rei (better known as Shadow these days) standing behind her. "I'm not an idiot you know", she said, smirking, "I'm positive Mina, Amy, Lita, and your other little fur ball are all here somewhere, but in all honesty, I just couldn't pass up a good fight"

"I'm not here to fight", Serena said, "I'm here to talk"
"Well I'm not", Rei said silkily, "So either transform or I'll just destroy you now, but really, I was hoping for a fight"

"Rei please", there was an edge in her voice now, "We're not the enemies, please, just talk to me"
"And I should do this…why?"

"You used to be our friend"
"Not a good enough reason"

"Rei", Serena repeated, "Don't fight against me, please. Think about it, you know we're not your enemies"
"Thinking, thinking, thinking…" she put on a mock look of concentration, "And…yeah, I'm drawing up a blank in the friend department"
"Your talking time is done", Rei cut her off, "Now either transform or I'll just destroy you"
"I'm not going to fight"

"Your choice", she smirked, "Mars Fire—AH!"

She yelled as a yellow chain wrapped itself around her ankle and pulled one of her feet out from beneath her. "Have a nice trip, see you next fall", Sailor Venus called from a tree branch, laughing.

"You're playing by our rules now Rei", Sailor Jupiter added, stepping out from behind a tree.

"And you're going to answer our questions too", Sailor Mercury concluded from her post behind an overgrown bush. Serena grabbed her locket, in case she was needed too, even though she knew the other Scouts had it covered.

"Not bad", all four scouts were surprised to see that Rei still had that all-knowing smirk on her face, "I have to say, I'm impressed by whoever came up with this plan. So who was it, Mina, Amy, Lita? Certainly not Serena, she isn't that bright—"

"Enough talking", Lita cut her off impatiently.

"Oh you're so right", Rei nodded in agreement, "Lets start shall we? Mars Fire—"

"Venus Love Chain Encircle!" Mina jumped into action, sending her chain and wrapping around Rei, who tottered for a moment, surprised, and then fell back.

"Got her!" three Scouts and one yet-to-transform-Scout yelled at the same time.

"All right Serena, you were right", Lita said, nodding, "Now lets get to the bottom of this"
"Let me go!" Rei said angrily, struggling against the bonds of the chain, "You're going to pay for this!"

"What are you gonna do, yell at us?" Lita asked, half laughing, "Give us answers Rei, and then we'll let you go"

"Why should I answer to you?"

"I believe we have the upper hand here", Mina pointed out, "Now, we have a few questions—"
"And you're going to answer", Amy finished.

"Or what?" she snapped, struggling to sit up.

"Or we'll just leave you here", Serena answered, "Now start talking. Why did you turn on us?"
"Why should I answer?"
"Come on Rei", she was starting to get impatient, "Please, you used to be our friend, what happened? I know we used to argue a lot, and I know we never agree, but we were always still friends, weren't we? We don't have to be enemies, you can put an end to all this now"
"Yeah Rei", Lita added, stepping forward, "What happened? I'm not completely sure I want to know, but the point is, this isn't you. Or it isn't like you anyway, I know it isn't, you're still a Sailor Scout deep down, try and remember the good, not just the bad"

Mina wasn't joining the interrogation. She was watching Rei. There was a change in her eyes, they'd lost their evil glint, and were beginning to take on a look of shock and (was it possible?) guilt.

"You've been blasting us left, right, and sideways", Lita was saying, "Don't you even care you used to fight with us?"
"You have to remember, we're your friends", Amy added, "I don't know if that matters to you anymore—"
"But it does to us", Mina cut in suddenly. She'd been watching Rei through the entire talk, and realize something: their friend was still there, underneath that icy-cold getup, she was there.

"Well?" Serena, who hadn't noticed anything, kept the questioning up, "Are you just going to sit here, or are you going to actually talk?"

"I…" she seemed at a loss for words. One thing was for sure though; they were definitely getting somewhere. Before they could do anything else though, a scathing voice said, "Oh puleez", and a girl stepped out from behind a nearby tree.

"I know you!" Mina said, shocked, "I saw you that night at the temple!"
"Who are you?" Lita snapped, stepping forward.

"Azumi's the name", the girl said, "bailing new trackers out is the game"
"New trackers—?"

"Shame on you Shadow", Azumi cut off the question, "Why Lord Kejano trust you is absolutely beyond me, you're so weak…"
There was a flash, and the chain holding Rei down broke, allowing her to stand up. "So, who wants to try and fight me first, I've been looking for a good fight…"

"You're on", Lita said, "Jupiter Thunder Crash!"

Azumi jumped out of the way in the blink of an eye, and moved around the group so fast she was almost invisible. "There!" Lita was trying to keep track of the girl, but she was too fast.

"Over there!" Mina concurred, looking around.
"No there!" Amy broke in.

"Right here!" Azumi's sarcastic voice cut in. They caught sight of her in front of them for two seconds before she blasted them backwards.

"Oh…" Mina groaned as she sat up, "That hurt…"
"Time for the Scout finale", Azumi said, stepping forward. Before she could anything though…

"Mars Fire Ignite!" Azumi screamed as a fireball hit her and through her backwards. The girls looked around and saw Rei, fully standing, and looking fully surprised.

"Hey!" Azumi yelled, pulling herself up and clutching her arm, which was burned, "What is up with you, huh? Who's side are you on?"
"Quit scolding me", Rei said, some of the evil glint back in her eyes, "You know what side I'm on"
"Could have fooled me, what were you thinking?"
"Quick, while they're arguing", Mina said, stumbling up, "Come on—"
"Nuh uh", before they had a chance to do anything, they were being blasted again, this time by Rei.

"You're hot and cold", Azumi said before teleporting away. Rei caught their eyes somehow all at the same time, and they caught her cold glare. It wasn't the normal glare she gave them though; there was a flicker of doubt, maybe remorse. But before they could do or ay anything, she'd turned and teleported away.

"You're a real gem!" Azumi was in a fit of rage, "What the heck were you thinking?.!"

"Get off my back!" Rei yelled back.

"I had them!" Azumi shot back, "I had them!"

"You'll live"
"Why does Lord Kejano trust you?.!" Azumi questioned furiously, "He's out of his mind!"
"It was a mistake, all right?"
"No!" Azumi whirled to face her, "it's anything but all right!"

"You two are giving me a headache", Shaikira, who had been watching the fight as though it were a tennis match, said, "Everyone makes mistakes, give me a break already"
"Stay out of it Shaikira!" Azumi snapped, "Shadow's mistake cost us big this time"
"It was an accident!" Rei said, annoyed, "Give me a break already!"
"Arguing really isn't going to get you anywhere", Lord Kejano's silky voice reached the ears of the young, feuding trackers, and they instantly jumped.

"My Lord", Azumi said quickly, "perhaps now you will listen to me, after the events of tonight, you can not truly trust Shadow, can you?"

"You never trusted me", Rei said sullenly.

"I do still trust her, as a matter of fact", Kejano informed the girl icily, "It is you I am beginning to doubt"

"Your refusal to work with Shadow is blinding you", Kejano explained, "Now either you learn to work with the whole team, or you can say goodbye to your powers—and your life"
Needless to say, Azumi was fuming when Kejano left.

"I saw it", Mina was saying, "The look in her eyes, we were getting through to her"

"I'm not sure Mina", Lita said doubtfully.

"I am", Mina argued forcefully, "Trust me"
"Maybe you're right Mina", Serena said, "But even so, it doesn't help us"
"It might", Amy said, "If she's doubting her actions, maybe we can talk her back to our side, without any interruptions"

"We can try and grab her on her way home or something", Mina suggested.

"It'd be worth a shot", Serena said. She jumped a mile as the phone rang. "My mom'll get it", she said unconcernedly.

A second later though, her mom was calling up the stairs, "Serena, phone for you!"

"Okay!" she ran to the phone and grabbed it, "Hello?"
"Hey Serena, it's Chad", Chad's voice drifted over the line, "Is Rei there?"
"Um, no, why?"

"She hasn't come home", Chad explained, "And her grandfather got a call from the school today; she wasn't there"

The girls jumped right into action, splitting up and starting to search the city. Tokyo was only so big, they reasoned, she can't have gotten far.

"Anything Lita?" Amy's voice came over the communicator.

"No", Lita said, annoyed, "I don't think she's even in the city anymore"
"What do you think then?"
"She could have gone to where ever the Tracker's hideout is"

"It's possible", Amy agreed, "Why do you think she ran away?"

"I dunno", Lita said, "any ideas on your end?"
"No", Any shook her head, "This is useless, Serena and Mina both agree she isn't in the city anymore—"
"Than why are we still looking?"
"False hope, I assume…"

Lita sighed as she closed her communicator. Rei was gone. And she couldn't help but feel like it was her fault