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Old 01-19-2007, 09:04 AM
too_lazy too_lazy is offline
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[SPOILER="plot volume wot?"]This thread will contain all my chapters for plot missions. I wasn't sure where to post this, because it wouldn't make sense if I posted it in the Gotei Field Reports, or in the Backstreet Slum Districts. >>[/SPOILER]

Ang Unang Araw: Kwento Ni Dante
[Tagalog Translation]The First Day: Dante’s Story

The plethora of buildings within Seireitei looked nearly identical. More or less they appeared similar in design. Architecture didn’t change much upon their bone white spiritron collective structures. There was one exception as the dawn heralded a new arrival upon on of their many rooftops, casting a soft glow of vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds in a shimmering display.

Out of all things to appear, in the midst of the chaos and bedlam involved with the current Sine Qua Non, a wooden gate materialized from thin air, forming a portal for the entry of one person. As the doors widened apart, revealing an eye blinding whiteness that rivaled the rays of morning, a shadow formed from its void.

First to emerge from the contrasting blackness was a foot, gently setting itself upon the rooftop. It tapped daintily with its toes against the firmness before it, as the rest of the form followed suit. An arm shot to his face in reaction to the unbearable light.

“Nakakapagpabagabag*,” Dante Espiritu grunted with a heavy sigh. At times he lapsed into his Tagalog, his native language, on pressing matters. “Why is everything so… shiny.”

Speaking to no one in particular, the infiltrating Vizard spoke with a slow and slightly annoyed drawl- how he commonly spoke. Accustoming his eyes to the other light about him, he stretched and yawned. Apparently he was still tired from his nap, along with the whole ‘travel’ through his gate. Scratching his rear, he walked to the building’s edge to survey his surroundings and try to get a grasp on where he was… normally landmarks would help orient him.

That is until he noticed that he entered Seireitei rather conspicuously- had anyone been within a good vantage point of his entry they would have noticed his appearance slightly amiss. Normally Shinigami traveled through Senkaimon, did they not? And wasn’t that at… their Division? Dante couldn’t remember if it was at the odd or even numbered Divisions though, and…

Nakakapagpabagabag! He easily got derailed by his own thoughts. His head craned to and fro to check if anyone had caught sight of him…

But actually the building he happened to arrive on was one of the tallest in the vicinity.

“Hmm, guess I’m safe,” he relaxed slightly but now began to scratch the silver locks on the front of his head. “Though, I’m not sure where I’m at right now…”

Shrugging it off, he decided to explore somewhat and figure things out with a simple journey.

Several hours passed of aimlessly wandering about Seireitei, and Dante still couldn’t figure out his actual location. He passed by numerous Shinigami but they were all in a rush. Something about ‘battle’ and ‘Sin… Quota… None.’ Whatever. In all actuality he wanted to find the singular Shinigami that gave him an incomparable feeling the last time he set foot in Seireitei. His missing… link… he guessed. But walking for so long began to take its toll on the lackadaisical Hybrid and he decided to take a seat.

The seat turned into lying down, and the space cadet soon found him gazing at the sky for the next hour enjoying a relaxing smoke, thinking of how nice the clouds looked today, and how the smoke wafting from his cigarette traced their way in elevation.

“Oi,” a voice interrupted his blissful idling. With a shift of his head, he noticed a pair of unruly looking Death Gods blocking any further view of the sky. “What are you doing… there’s an invasion going on.”

“I, um… well. Hmm…” Dante quickly thought about it, putting out the cigarette. He secretly wished he contained the Jonetsu ability of masking his presence entirely… it would have made situations like these avoidable altogether. “You see… I’m not specifically trained in battle. I’m from…”

He paused for a moment, scanning through all the Division specialties in his head. What were they again…?

“Heh. You’re from the Eighth, like we are,” answered the other Shinigami, scratching his short cropped mess of black hair, and then snickered. “We may not be specialized in battle, but we sure do know how to fight. You must be new around here… and a bit of a slacker. Avoiding our duty to observe and-”

“Oh, but I am observing,” Dante nonchalantly pointed up at the sky.

“Heh, smart-aleck, huh. No wonder you’re in our Division. But you must be new around here… thinking that being a Shinigami is nothing but lounging about, purifying Hollows once in a while, or mainly researching Kidou and the Arcane Sciences.”

“So is the Eighth close by…?” noticing how these Shinigami readily accepted the slow speaking man, Dante decided to ask them some question due to his ‘newness’. “I’ve seem to have gotten lost.”

“Maybe he isn’t so smart, ne, Izumo?” the other asked his friend, flicking his bandaged nose while winking. A devious smirk crossed his face. “Look behind you.”

The wall Dante was lying by housed an enormous sign:

8th Division Headquarters ----->
“Heh, yeah, Koutetsu, not too bright at all. But listen, newbie. You can’t just be lounging about like you’re on break. You better get to work.”

“Hmm, well, I think that observing the sky for irregular patterns, and the fact that we have invaders, is plenty work alone,” replied the Vizard. The shock of finding out his location was dismissed by the new change of subject.

“Nope. Not even close, friend,” Koutetsu laughed, winking at Izumo.

“Oh? We’re friends? I don’t recall meeting you before. After all, I am new,” said Dante earnestly.

Izumo held out a hand to help Dante up, with a big wide grin plastered upon his face. “Of course we’re friends! We’re Division mates! You know, we should help each other out. Just like how we’re helping you avoid trouble from the big bad Captain of ours. You ever hear about Fenre-Taichou?”

“I’ve heard of him, but I’ve never met him in person,” lied the Hybrid as he was righted to his feet. He forgot the names of half the Captains in the Gotei.

“Then you wouldn’t want to get on his bad side,” Koutetsu answered. “Trust me. So, what you need to do is…”

Throwing an arm over Dante’s shoulder, Izumo then thrust a small package into the Vizard’s chest with his other arm. “Deliver this to Tenth Division for us, friend. We’ve been swamped with duties lately, and why, it might be because people are slacking off like you.”

“Oh my,” he pretended to act shocked, but the careless Dante wasn’t a very convincing actor sometimes. “Then I’ll have to pick up the slack of our Division. I’ll make you proud.” Spinning on his heels, he began to take off in a direction. “Oh… which way is Tenth Division again?”

“Other way,” Koutetsu scrunched his lips together, with an enormous smile to match Izumo’s.

“Thanks! Koutetsu-san, Izumo-san, I really appreciate it!” with a courteous bow, Dante headed off.

Once he was out of sight, the duo began to bellow with such laughter, but soon stopped themselves for fear of their ‘friend’ overhearing. Izumo began to wipe his eyes, which started to tear due to his amusement. “Can you believe that guy?! What a newb!”

“Now it’s our turn to take a break. I sure as hell don’t feel like fighting today.” Koutetsu snickered, as the two walked off in a separate direction.

[Nakakapagpabagabag*= Troubling in Tagalog, or something along those lines.]

I hate violence.

Saika Rakushun - Ninth Division Captain - Research & Development

wud u liek 2 rp w/me? 8D
[ sigs done by steph ]

[SPOILER="Last of the Elite 4"]
"How troublesome... too much effort for a battle."

Old 01-21-2007, 10:06 AM
too_lazy too_lazy is offline
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A Fleeting Dream: Tian Cai’s Story

[SPOILER="***"]***Continued from What Lies Beyond Looks***[/SPOILER]


The air was still. No noise could be heard. A faint red glow washed throughout the near endless culmination of buildings within Southern Rukongai. The same vermillion tone now stained a devastated market square, contrasting from the rays of the sunset. This happened to be the lost essence of two souls left within the area. A pool of crimson built upon one of the prone forms, the last of his life slowly draining away.

Tian Cai shallowly breathed, wheezing, feeling that same liquid find its way into his lungs. His body was wracked, bones were broken, his skin feeling as if it was set ablaze… and then pulped by an invisible vice. Maintaining consciousness alone proved to be a formidable act in itself. The only thing he wanted to do was close his eyes and rest…

But all he could see was him.

The image was such a strong, pulsing, vibrant one. Its sight burned heavily upon Tian Cai’s mind, with a heavier weight than anything he could possibly imagine. Everything that had happened to him in the shortest time frame that seemed to have lasted an eternity… was it even real anymore? He quickly succumbed to doubt, for all of this appeared to be a dream… or even worse, a nightmare.

He still couldn’t lose the sight of that man.

Who was he?

How was this possible?

Why… did he look like… Jin?

At least, in terms of facial structure that person greatly resembled him. Everything else was nothing like the Jinsoku he knew, the Jin from the Shinigami Academy, one of his best friends, one of his only friends. The voice, the clothing, the demeanor, all of it far too contrasted Jinsoku. But how were they related to one another? Was this a sibling? Relative?

As much as it would have made sense, given the fact that they shared a similar pulse of Reiryoku… it didn’t quite add up. Tian Cai knew that the person he fought was an Arrancar. That was for certain… the chitinous remnants of a Hollow mask were prevalent on the antagonist’s face, the tusks covering his mouth and across his face a glaring obvious fact. But even if this person were related to Jin, it still wouldn’t have made sense.

For if he were related, the appearance of him would never look like Jin due to the process involved with the birth of Arrancar.

This led the battered Keigun to believe that the only real reason for this would be the common knowledge that, despite the wide variety of faces, looks, and genetic make up in this world, there is always the possibility that someone could have the appearance of another, despite not even being related.

But that didn’t explain the traces of Reiryoku.

There wasn’t anything the quick witted boy could think of that would logically explain it. But was this Tian Cai’s fate, to be left to die by someone who had nearly the same face as one of the only people to befriend him? Everything that happened was surreal. Too tired to even move his head, Tian Cai slightly wished he could see Genki… but then thought twice about it, and suddenly preferred to watch the pile of rubble continue to smoke beside him.

The Arrancar hadn’t even lifted a finger, let alone moved- at least in Tian Cai’s eyes- but definitively ended his comrade’s life. All it took was several seconds. The first, wherein a deep sized hole had seemingly materialized into Genki’s stomach. It threw off the duo of Keigun, but Genki, the impetuous soul, charged in regardless. After all, that was what the promising cadet had wanted; he strived to make a name for himself and would take any matters to accomplish that goal. He even went against his superior’s, Tian Cai’s, words and rushed onwards despite the crippling wound.

Still in shock over what had occurred, Tian Cai was left to witness Genki’s head being shorn clean off from his neck. Still, the Arrancar appeared to have taken no movements whatsoever, no spike in Reiatsu, no release of Zanpakutou to be able to achieve such an unimaginable sight. Nonchalantly, its demeanor was still relatively cold, but warning Tian Cai of what they had stumbled into. The hybrid had an infatuation with sins… speaking of how the Gotei was being punished for their transgressions. It spoke of how that this would be a fitting warm up prior to his future endeavors.

Before Tian Cai could call for back up, the device around his ear was instantly shattered- no doubt by the same force which had ended Genki’s life so quickly. Unable to run, knowing full well that same ability of the Jinsoku doppelganger would erase Tian Cai from existence, he had to fight back. With his tactics, and knowledge in Kidou, it wasn’t even close to an even match for the sheer brute force of the Hybrid. Countless times Tian Cai was stopped by what appeared to be pressurized wind currents. But for each time the near motionless Arrancar had utilized that affinity with wind, he would then notice that something did indeed move.

The Jin imposter’s left hand, hidden beneath his robes, would twitch. This led the genius in Kidou to utilize countless Hadou in conjunction with Bakudou, to set up a trap and stop the Arrancar from creating the blasts of wind. It worked to no avail. For when the Arrancar did move, its speed was almost too much for Tian Cai to keep up with. And after a barrage of the Demon Arts and failed strategies with the Hybrid’s sheer speed, Tian Cai finally felt the technique of the Jin clone’s might.

Now lying in a pool of his own blood, the Keigun was left to die- after being thanked for the quick spar and the Arrancar’s disappearance. He hadn’t even the strength to attempt a life saving Chiyudou. Quickly losing the ability to even reminisce about what had transpired in that battle, the crimson colored world about him was now being dipped in darkness.

Though he caught an all too familiar glimpse before he would close his eyes for the last time.

An enormous canine, black furred, with piercing amber eyes began to lick his face tenderly while whimpering.

“M… Michi…?” shallowly whispered Tian Cai, though he tried to force it out.

“Tian Cai!” shouted a memorable voice, one in utter distress.

Unable to move his head still, the crippled youth chuckled lightly, until he coughed up blood. “Cross? Now I know I’m dreaming…”

All of these coincidences, these meetings, these happenings. They were all connected, tied by the invisible strands of fate. Before he could hear a response from his other friend, the darkness finally completed its consumption of Tian Cai’s world.


I hate violence.

Saika Rakushun - Ninth Division Captain - Research & Development

wud u liek 2 rp w/me? 8D
[ sigs done by steph ]

[SPOILER="Last of the Elite 4"]
"How troublesome... too much effort for a battle."

Old 02-26-2007, 08:49 PM
too_lazy too_lazy is offline
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Of Hotdogs And Hazing

***Continued from this Chapter: The First Day: Jin's Story ***

Jinsoku awoke from his sleep, surprisingly finding himself well rested. Although his dreams were another matter in themselves; he constantly envisioned himself in that same world wherein he fought his Excelsior comrade Gankou. However, what looped constantly through his head were the ‘separate’ entities of himself, the doppelgangers and shadows representing different shades of his being. He couldn’t understand why he dreamt that of all things (usually he found himself in naughty situations with various femmes of the Gotei), but there was one thing for certain nagging him once he was fully conscious.

He had felt a deathly presence emanate wildly amidst Seireitei once he came to. What was curious about this feeling was that it was… horribly similar to his own. Unable to explain the full rationale of how the likeness of that presence affected him, there would be no other alternative but to seek it out. The rogue just worried if there were any other Shinigami prowling around, waiting to pounce on the former Captain. Unfortunately there was no other choice but to proceed onwards; he would more than likely run away if he encountered any further ‘resistance’ from his old allies and accomplices.

Note to self: Remind me to bop Rei later for having such a dumb Division, smugly thought the silver haired man, as he exited the storage room and set out on his new journey. Despite his well rested invigoration, he had awoken rather early- a feat that he wasn’t quite used to. He faced the breaking of twilight; shards of blue were cracking through the ebony eve and heralding the dawn. If he moved quickly enough, he could sneak around easier around Seireitei and maneuver through the multitude of shadows created by its magnanimous buildings.

A crisp breeze billowed, chilling the warm blood pumping through his veins. It howled, leaving no other tell-tale trace of sound or activity so early… at least not yet, or where he was. Perhaps he had slept in one of the storehouses that contained hotdogs for the Academy Cafeteria- that old and useless. Shuddering at the thought of eating and sampling the wieners before, his mind switched back to his feeling surging about him. Jinsoku took to the mid-ground, not too high to be easily detected, and not too low, whereas others would make their daily rounds.

Creeping about the shadows, until the rays of sun had finally speared their way brightly upon Seireitei, Jin had luckily encountered no resistance blocking his path. Several hours must have passed, for in his rapid paced running and alternate bursts of shunpo, he grew slightly weary. That and his stomach was rumbling, nagging him to sustain himself.

“Aiya,” he lightly jabbed the source of the complaining growls, using his other arm to down his gullet with sake. “This’ll tide you over… dang… maybe I should have checked that warehouse if it really was a hotdog place…”

Slumping over in a slightly darkened alleyway, a short rest seemed suitable. Too many things were working against this break though. The empty stomach, the incomprehensible feeling rattling its way down to the core of his soul, the chance that any of his old Division mates could be seriously harmed by this invasion… Why did he even care about them so much? They weren’t his concern… **** his sentimentality. It seemed as if this rest was soon to be cut short.

Answering his thoughts completely, a pair passed by the alleyway he was in, then stopped completely.

Shimatta! Jinsoku knew that he was caught; if he tried to escape, it’d look even worse on his part. And he couldn’t just injure people he was trying to help; it was too counter-productive to his overall mission. Sighing, he said nothing and remained in his lazy position against the very back of the alley’s wall. He’d wait for them to make the first move and act accordingly.

They whispered to each other, and cracked wide grins. That didn’t mean a good thing. Slowly the duo of men approached Jinsoku, their smiles not ceasing, a malicious intent present upon them. The Excelsior member’s muscles tightened; perhaps he really had to use force this one time to avert a potentially dangerous situation. Tension swelled up quickly in the narrow corridor, its walls seeming to cave in any moment due to the sheer pressure. A rapidly thumping heartbeat, followed with the echoing of the Shinigami pair’s footsteps was all that could be heard.

“Ohaiyou gozaimasu~” crooned the silver haired Shinigami with a bright beaming smile, his once clenched fist spreading open to a friendly wave. He couldn’t help it! Standing against pressure like that, the unorthodox Jinsoku didn’t know what else to do. It was all up to the Fates to decide what would happen.

The moment Jin greeted them, the pair of Death Gods halted completely in their tracks. They looked at one another, befuddled, before rupturing the once tense alleyway with laughter. In the darkened area, once they tilted their heads to the sky to laugh like that, Jinsoku caught what they looked like. One had long and messy, very thickly clumped spikes of black hair, with a bandage covering his nose with narrow eyes. The other was wearing a bandana, with shorter hair poking out, large and dark brown irises catching the glint of light.

“So what happened after that errand, newbie?!?” chuckled the one with the bandana, placing his hands on his thighs and bending over to gain a close look at Jin.

“Yeah, did you get hazed by the Tenth Division after we had you send that package?! You look like a wreck! Your hair, clothes… looks like a blind person gave you a makeover! That and you reek like liquor!” the bandage nose man bellowed with laughter, crying out so loud, that he had to lean an elbow and some weight of his onto his bent over comrade’s back.

Kweh?! was the Velox Argentum’s only mental response; he had never come across these Shinigami ever in his life, yet they spoke to him as if he were a cadet. So long as they didn’t find him as the Rogue that had a warrant out for his arrest… Hey! They insulted his look! What was wrong with it?!? Jinsoku’s fists clenched again; perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to knock these two clowns senseless. But the fact that they were confusing him for someone else became more and more intriguing; no doubt this was tied to his sensations of a ‘similar’ presence emanating in Seireitei.

“I heard that ever since their crazy former Captain gave some initiates bad hazing, I heard it was commonplace over there! What a bunch of drunken louts at the Tenth, it’s really quite sad.” The man with a bandana slowly shook his head in dismay.

“Do you even remember us? Probably not, after such a traumatic experience. You probably want to kill after that errand we sent you on turned into a nightmare. I’m Koutetsu; the other guy’s Izumo. No hard feelings, ne? We didn’t think that you’d end up like that.” Koutetsu tried to keep a straight face, but soon exploded with a deep chortle. It prompted Izumo to follow suit.

The pair didn’t have time to stop their laughter and continue the conversation. With an uncanny speed, Jin had rose to his feet, and trying not to hit them with all his might (for it would no doubt render them incapacitated for quite a while), he sent a backhand to the Izumo, and spun around for a knee into Koutetsu’s gut. They asked for it! Their first strike was for mocking his appearance, then how he ran his former Division, and lastly, laughing in his face for being mistreated (though he really wasn’t, but that was still a horrible thing to do to a person overall, particularly a new recruit).

Izumo’s body lifted effortlessly to the skies like a rag doll, before skidding for several bounces to the mouth of the alleyway. Koutetsu managed to splinter the wall behind him, making a spider’s web of cracks to line the walls, before he crumpled in a heap.

Oops… think I hit them too hard… Jin’s face sneered in shock. “You okay?!?” he screamed, hoping that one was still conscious to hear him.

“Ugh… yeah… remind us not to… mess with ya…” huffed Izumo, writhing along the ground, holding his hands around his injury.

Koutetsu said nothing, but coughed harshly, the wind knocked completely out of him.

“Maybe you ought to think more carefully before you speak,” Jinsoku scratched the back of his head whilst laughing lightly. His stomach whined in a deep rumble. “Though I got one thing to ask you before I go. You know where there’s a good bite to eat around here?”

“Y… yeah, but…” Izumo exhaled loudly. Apparently he found it difficult to talk with a near dislocated jaw. “D… didn’t you pass… by the old h… hotdog storehouse?”

Jin mentally slapped himself. He knew that awful stench he slept (perfectly) through was familiar! “Give me a break. I ate that nasty food before; now tell me where some palatable grub is.”

“Shut up… Izumo. C… continue a little ways… down this path…. There’s a n… nice ramen booth…” Koutetsu groaned before trying to cough up his own lung by the sound of it.

“Thanks, and remember, be a little nicer to new recruits around here… because even at the Tenth, they never did anything bad like this,” Jin whistled, strolling out the alley with a big grin upon his face.

[ 1,597 ]

I hate violence.

Saika Rakushun - Ninth Division Captain - Research & Development

wud u liek 2 rp w/me? 8D
[ sigs done by steph ]

[SPOILER="Last of the Elite 4"]
"How troublesome... too much effort for a battle."

Old 02-26-2007, 08:54 PM
too_lazy too_lazy is offline
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Karma And Chance Reunion
(A.K.A. A Man And His String)

A great burden had lifted itself off of Jinsoku’s shoulders after dealing with the two ruffians he had just met. Perhaps all these building emotions could only be released through its fist. Sadly, that was the only talent he could use to express himself; the silver haired Shinigami seemed to be only capable of fighting and hardly anything else. Although he really didn’t want to injure some of his old comrades, the long story short was he thought they were jerks. And after all, wasn’t that his duty in the Excelsior? To do what was morally right?

It was as if he received a bonus in justifying his actions. To think so much good came from violence. In fact, the earlier heavier weights of sensations involving the presences in Seireitei, how his Division was, and how tired he had felt had all vanished without a trace. Riding purely on good vibes and jovial emotion, Jin spared no time wolfing down countless bowls of ramen, ignoring the shop keep’s warnings of the spicy bowls, and why a Shinigami would look and dress the way he did.

The humble and elderly fellow continued to babble on to Jin about the olden days, and other invasions, and how Shinigami like Jinsoku were rare, and the silver haired Rogue half-heartedly listened in midst of his feast. For a solitary moment, he wondered why there wasn’t enough Shinigami in this area during a siege, and why this shop owner would still be out as if nothing was going on. Offhand, Jin noticed that all the hair upon his head had somehow migrated to places all over the rest of the owner’s body- arms, ears (particularly nasty), almost… everywhere.

Still in his ecstatic happy-go-lucky attitude, Jinsoku also noticed a pair of odd sunglasses at the stand. Seemingly made out of paper, each lens held a plastic-like shade of blue for one side, and red for the other. Cooing like a child, he snatched the pair of glasses without the hirsute ramen booth owner even noticing. Things were grand at the moment. One by one he devoured bowls as if they were grains of rice, and his stomach would not allow one portion of itself to remain that empty again. For all his deft voraciousness, surprisingly, he made little a mess overall. The bowl count was unknown.

With a hearty belch that seemed to rock a several mile radius with a howling gale of storm like concussion, he yawned, patting his belly. At the end was the geriatric booth keep, enormous smile plastered upon his façade, and a palm outstretched for money.

“Ano… chotto matte, ossan,” were the first words Jinsoku spoke other than ordering food, as he patted the multiple areas of his body which housed pockets in a desperate attempt to find anything. Scrounging through them, he ultimately found in his splayed palm:

One ryo, a string (that brought him great ways to pass the time), pocket lint, something broken and indiscernible in its shattered fragments, a hardened and irregular shape of already melted chocolate, and… a ball that seemed to be inert. A slight giggle of embarrassment escaped his lips as he realized he was nearly destitute; that and he left his money back in his other pants pocket along with a ball that wasn’t inert.

“Heh… think I can leave that it on those two guys’ tabs that passed here not too long ago?” cheekily asked the rogue.

The vendor’s face soon turned sour and his once sweet voice turned bitter. “Those guys owe me more money than the bill you just racked up.”

“Oho?” without warning Jin shiftily glanced about, his head moving to and fro, as if he were hearing and searching for impending danger. Like a secret agent unable to tell anyone of his true agenda (which was kind of the case in his part), he bolted from his seat, taking off in a fevered dash. Behind the wake of dust, his shout came to the old man’s hairy ears, “I’ll pay you back when you know that I helped save Seireitei! Believe it!!!!”

Surprisingly the ‘dine and dash’ worked. In most areas of Seireitei booths and shops were rigged to take down even a person of Captain level stature. Perhaps the old man really believed that Jin was after an adversary that didn’t exist… either way, he remembered the ramen cook’s face well, for he would pay him back… someday. But for some reason the blue and green eyed Shinigami kept sprinting, as if he were afraid that the old man had set explosive ramen to detonate just in case of these occurrences.

Though in his escape, a cramp soon came upon his stuffed innards, and he stumbled over his own two feet into a crashing heap. Could this have been just an example of the ramen keeper’s explosives?!? Jin hoped not, but soon found himself unable to move- the pain was that great. Crawling to an area that wasn’t wide out in the open of Seireitei (and where an angered booth owner could find him), he miraculously found yet another alleyway that had enough shade in it. Something about being shady fit quite well with these surroundings…

Sighing, he hoped the ramen wasn’t drugged either to chemically shut down his system unless you paid for the bill and received your after dinner “mint” (a.k.a. antidote) at the end. Though he was slightly more particular to cinnamon candies now for some reason…

Interrupting the overactive imagination of the rogue, a trace of Reiatsu flared up brightly within his extrasensory perceptions. Answering to his mock display earlier at the ramen stand, Jin finally understood that Karma had come back to retaliate in the harshest of ways. This is what he got for beating up Koutetsu and Izumo, then trying to place the bill on them. This is what he got for insulting the hotdogs at the Academy. This is what he got for stealing that sweet pair of glasses at the ramen stand. This is what he got for dining and dashing.

Slinking like a worm upon its belly, he finally managed to reach the shady alleyway. Once again his heart raced at the thought of him possibly running into an enforcer of the ramen booth owner, or something far worse- say for instance like an Arrancar, or those white robed fellers that wished to do Seireitei much harm (he honestly forgot what they were called again)…

A lump of rock which was really him trying to gulp down his impending fate followed as he could feel the spiritual pressure come closer and closer. Eerily silent, he could hear nothing, save the labored breathing of his. Was this fear? Weakened, did he know his time would end? He soon began thinking of things he’d like to do, things he wished he could have done. Used the string in conjunction with a potato chip and some other homemade products to create explosives, build another sake brewery in Rukongai, tell Yuri he loved her, things like that.

And the time came. He could see a shadow looming at the edge of the corridor, moving ever so slowly, as if to antagonize him.

The next second was a blur, as he felt himself become pinned to the ground with a great force, his insides being pulped within.

“You really need to learn your way around here,” the sweet sing song of voice rang through his (non hairy) ears, for it was all to recognizable. A bark came from above him.

“Michi!?! Cross?!?” cried Jinsoku in disarray, as he finally could smell the canine upon him, and get a long hard glance at the woman coyly smiling at the end of the bright alley.

[ 1,290 ]

I hate violence.

Saika Rakushun - Ninth Division Captain - Research & Development

wud u liek 2 rp w/me? 8D
[ sigs done by steph ]

[SPOILER="Last of the Elite 4"]
"How troublesome... too much effort for a battle."

Old 03-07-2007, 09:09 PM
too_lazy too_lazy is offline
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Pursuit, Peck, Pervasive, Promise


At first, Dante had an inexplicable joy in finding out that he had a task to perform for his rather busy Division mates Koutetsu and Izumo. To see the smiles on their faces and the reciprocating feeling involved with aiding them, for once, the man felt the motivation and invigoration to actually accomplish a task- something he had never quite felt before. It was an odd sensation, really. There were things hardly worth making important in Dante’s world, though now, he found himself running through Seireitei in an attempt to deliver this package to the Tenth Division.

Though by the end of the day, he found himself tired. And lost. Not sure where the Tenth Division was anymore, an idea came to him:

Why was he helping out these clowns anyway?!? He wasn’t even a Shinigami!

Exhausted, the Vizard threw the package down. For some reason, the thing felt like it was getting heavier and heavier. He wondered why Izumo and Koutetsu didn’t have as much trouble carrying this around; or perhaps they knew it was this heavy and decided to throw their heavy burden at Dante instead. Possibly the two were strong, far stronger than Dante…

Curious as to what the blazes was in the parcel, he had half the mind to just open and reseal it. But who knew what could be inside, and whether or not it was safe to open it, or who was receiving it, hell, maybe even Koutetsu and Izumo destroying him… too many unknown variables to throw in and further make things troublesome.

The Hybrid decided to lie down for a while and gain his bearings. The rest eventually turned to a nap. And the nap, well, eventually became sleep. For when he came to, he found the dawn ahead of him, and the package as a pillow. The masked one stared at it angrily. Blasted thing tired me out… and for what. Feh, I should be looking for him…

Picking up the parcel regardless, he decided it would be a good enough excuse to explain his unwillingness to take part in the battles spread across the Gotei. After all, why would he fight or do anything for people that he hardly knew?

Shrugging it off, Dante continued his trek towards Tenth Division, where he’d hopefully come across the person he was looking for.

The morning sun was just cresting over Seireitei's bloodstone perimiter, casting a warm glow over the scenes of rampant violence within. The sudden change of light almost caused Louhi to lose sight of the man she was pursuing, his white uniform now blending into the bright surroundings.

There! She spotted the top of his head disappearing behind a row of sloping roofs. With a triumphant grin on her face, the girl scrambled over the incline in a haphazard dash and leapt over the edge, intending to land on her foe and tackle him to the ground. What she captured instead was nothing but a puff of smoke.

How does he keep doing that!? Frustrated beyond belief, Louhi picked up the trail again, determined that this SQN wouldn't make a fool of her again.

Maboroshi was nearing his limit to keep running. He'd tried nearly every diversion he knew, and he knew a lot, but none of them had shaken that horrible girl off his back. He could practically feel her breathing down his neck. He'd tried to fight her at first, but it didn't take long for him to realize that was a far too dangerous altercation. So, of course, he made a run for it. There were so many of his comrades crawling through the city, he thought if he just got out of her sight she would simply move on to a less slippery opponent. Instead, he was getting a much too personal taste of the Hunter-Killer's tenacity.

One more trick; that was all he had left up his sleeve. It was a good one though, if he could just find some unwitting shinigami to deploy it. His hopes for that were wearing thin. He must have picked the absolute worst direction to run to, this area seemed to be completely deserted. Just when the wily rogue was certain his luck had run out, a perfect candidate appeared before his eyes.

A rumpled and dazed looking shinigami, his silvery hair jutting every which way as though he'd never heard of a comb, slouched his way directly across Maboroshi's path. It could only be divine providence. Not that he believed in stupid stuff like that. I'll never let it be said that I ever wasted an opportunity, he thought, and pulled a small pouch out of a fold in his uniform.

Hardly breaking the stride of his flight, he scattered the powdery contents of the bag over Dante's head as he ran past. A haze of smoke swirled around the vizard, distorting his image with a mirage so that he took on the appearance of the fleeing rogue. As soon as the smoke cleared, the illusion would be gone, but Maboroshi had already mustered up his last burst of speed and made himself scarce.

A second later Louhi came skidding around a corner, and seeing what she thought was her adversary, she immediately hurled herself at the man in a running dive. At last, she felt the impact of a solid body under her! Victory! However, something didn't seem quite right... this reiatsu had a vaguely familiar feeling, but it was definitely not the one she was after.

"Come back here, ya shameless coward!" Louhi yelled after the vanished enemy, but her resolve to continue the chase was utterly gone. Embarrassed by the defeat, she hadn't even looked at the real identity of the fellow she'd landed on.

“Heh?” a weak smile of confusion followed Dante’s façade while an enigmatic person in white whizzed by him. Too groggy in the morning to stop a random assortment of flurries invade his cranium, a plume of mist soon scoured his vision. Due to inhaling the mystery smoke, the Vizard began coughing vigorously in an attempt to force out the badness now invading his system.

The next moment he found his body being forced to the ground, the air further losing its way from him, as he was slammed to the ground viciously by a fleshy bodily mass. Suspecting it was another enemy, he was very close to gripping the clothes tightly of this person and wrenching the form off of him- but his vision came to, his breaths made steady, and was now fully conscious.

What a rude wake up call.

Though now he found himself face to face with a woman. She screamed after the person who had probably sprinkled this fairy dust on Dante, so, he set these grievances aside to let her properly explain herself. Even if she was an enemy, Dante had problems with hurting women. It didn’t seem very gallant. But if she was someone who intended far more than a tackling, she’d be in for a harsh surprise.

“Nakakapagpabagabag,” he grumbled, locking his bright blue eyes with her icy azure ones. Though he couldn’t help but give a slight snicker and a smile, because he noticed her missing a tooth, and the frustrated look on her face made her look… cute. To further lighten the mood (and hopefully her weight pressing against him) Dante joked, “So do you tackle everyone you meet for the first time?”

The sight of Dante's face when Louhi finally set her eyes upon it caused her to blink slowly several times, wondering if an illusion were still in place. The resemblance was so uncanny; she nearly called him out loud by the name that he reminded her of so much. She shook her head. There were plenty of differences in the details when she looked closer; she'd really never met this man before.

A slight blush crept into the girl's face at his last comment as she realized she was sitting rather awkwardly on top of a total stranger, the heat from his body radiating into her own frigid temperature. He looked so much like Jin though, it was confusing her reactions and she couldn't bring herself give him the usual rude treatment she served up to just about everyone else. As if it was any better to be toyed with.

This guy seemed almost as guileless as Jin as well, Louhi thought. It made her curious to see how far the similarities went. Instead of disentangling herself from the doppelganger, the slender shinigami propped her chin up on her elbows and studied his features. The riotous spikes of his hair caused her to smile especially.

"Hmmm, sorry. I guess I mistook you for someone else. Now that I'm lookin', though, I think yer probably cuter than him. You haven't got terminal sake breath either." She still didn't get up, but waited to see how he'd react, since Jin went into nosebleed mode so easily. It might be the same kind of entertainment in store.

Noticing the woman inspecting his features rather than plainly getting off of him, Dante raised a furtive eyebrow in her direction. At least she wasn’t a potential enemy. At least. Not that he couldn’t take care of himself in a scuffle, just the fact that it was all too troublesome in the long run. That and hitting women…

She accepted his apology and commented on his facial appearance. At least the Vizard passed in her examination, so that was a good thing. Though she seemed to have had a case of mistaken identity for a slight moment (thus explaining her reluctance to pry herself off of him). That also was the reason why she wouldn’t get up, though it was slightly bothersome that he could hardly move. Usually his encounters with women didn’t result in this kind of situation, no less them talking about his looks. Not sure how to react, Dante just blinked several times and replied as honestly as he could.

“Yeah, umm, I don’t drink all that much,” he said, yet remained still. Her smile was at least comforting. Unfortunately, that was the least of his worries at the moment. The way she was laying on him was starting to give him a cramp in the hips. Giving a light squirm of his lower extremities with a nervous laugh, he continued, “As much as I’d like to lie down all day, would you mind…”

Rather than relenting to Dante's half hearted plea for release, Louhi found his demeanor increasingly infuriating. Out of all the possible responses, someone failing to react to her attention getting tactics would set off her temper worse than anything else. Suddenly, the fleeing SQN was nearly forgotten, and the third seat's attention focused to the new challenge on her hands. How dare he act so nonchalant? She would definitely get a big reaction out of this guy, no matter what it took to procure one.

Shifting her weight slightly, the girl positioned herself to pin down the man's squirming body more deliberately now. Her smile broadened a bit, in a way that wasn't quite pleasant.

"Would I mind what...? Just who d'you think you are, tryin' to tell me what to do, huh? What division are you with, anyway?" She demanded, grabbing the edge of Dante's gi and pulling it up slightly.

Hmm, maybe there is somethin' suspicious about this guy, he's got no kamon there where it should be... He could just be pretendin' at being a clueless chump. In that case, I'll just hafta make him snap, right?

Without acknowledging that she'd noticed anything amiss, she waited for an answer which might confirm her suspicion, though she was determined to harass this person thoroughly regardless of whether he turned out to be an enemy or not. Now that charming resemblance to her friend simply made it more fun, when she considered what sort of things she might do to him.

“Gomen Gomen Gomenesai,” a loose but forced smile came from the quick to apologize Dante. Apparently this vibrant woman must have had a high seat within the Gotei- either that, or a very abrupt demeanor. It was best to apologize now and let this lady have her way, squishing the Vizard underneath her while manhandling his robes, rather than make a big commotion and land himself into a predicament he wouldn’t want to deal with.

“I’m from the Eight Division, ma’am,” said Dante, adjusting his lower extremities a bit to avoid further cramping- although the girl managed to pin him in the right position! Though he could have easily plucked her off of him, she might find it as sexual harassment and have him tried or something.

Who is this chick… How in the world did this happen anyway… Why the sudden interrogation, when she’s the one who bumped into me… But then again, things could be a lot worse. Nakakapagpabagabag.

Veering his gaze away from her cold stare and slightly creepy grin, he noticed the package beside him. Perfect! A great excuse for getting this quizzical yet awfully… eccentric Shinigami off of him.

“Yeah, and I have to deliver that package over there to the Tenth Division. But… since I’m pretty new around here, I got a bit lost along the way… do you think you can tell me where it is? Because I think I’m a bit late in delivering it.” His forced grin soon turned to one to evoke sympathy. With these earnest answers, who wouldn’t take it easy on the poor new guy?

"Oho?" Louhi's interest perked at the story, and she couldn't quite hide a predatory gleam that flashed through her eyes.

As a practiced liar, she quickly recognized this person wasn't telling the truth, though she could have told just from the looks of him he didn't belong in the 8th division. Even worse, he was trying to make her feel sorry for him and that stupid smile of his actually tugged at her for a moment. Unforgivable!

He really was cute. Annoyingly cute. Could he really be one of the invaders? One of the Sine Qua Non or even a Ryoka? If that were the case, she should behave responsibly and try to apprehend him... but then again, if he was one of those people, he should have fought back rather than letting her just sit on top of him for such a long time. He didn't seem to be enjoying it much. Still grinning, she wriggled on top of him in a rather lewd manner.

"So you're from the 8th, huh? That must be pretty awful, being one of Junko Shigenhiroi's subordinates. Ya know if you're looking for the 10th, you're way off," Louhi snickered. "I could maybe tell ya how to get there, but what's in it for me if I do?"

She wondered about that package, too. If her captive was really a criminal of some sort, it could contain something dangerous, even though it looked quite small and innocuous. She'd have to get her hands on that at some point.

The way she stared at him, the way she smiled, the way she ground herself further into his bottom half began to make Dante worry about what this Shinigami had in store for him. Was this the look of someone who suddenly had a spark of carnal lust? Surely that wasn’t it, despite the way Louhi was wriggling about like that. Besides, the Hybrid wasn’t much for dealings with the opposite sex and seeking a love life. Who needed those- they sounded too troublesome in the end.

Did she know he was lying? Could she possibly have noticed something amiss with him so that would lead to his revealed identity of one of the intruders in the Gotei’s midst? That couldn’t have been it. This pig-tailed girl was acting too nonchalant and far too… “playful” to do that. Unless she was like a cat… and Dante didn’t care much for felines…

Before he knew it, the Vizard’s mind had wandered off again and came back the moment Louhi began speaking.

“Oh, I never got the chance to meet this… Shigenhiroi-san… or…” he paused for a moment to remember the name of his “Captain”. “Fenre-Taichou, for that matter. I’m quite bad with names,” he added the last sentence quickly at the end.

“But… if you could help me, I’d be eternally grateful, and in your debt. Once I finish delivering this package, I’ll be sure to help you with almost anything you can think of. I want to make a good impression for my Captain and my Division.” Nodding furiously at that statement, Dante wasn’t sure if this “new guy” persona was working or not… until it occurred to him.

This wasn’t a part of his mission! He was supposed to be searching for a Shinigami whose presence nearly mirrored his own! D*mn the Gotei and their quirky soldiers, and their inquisitive dispositions! But all of this couldn’t be helped. Ah well, he had plenty of time to investigate- and learning more about how these Shinigami performed in daily life wouldn’t be so bad.

Flinching his bottom half one more time, he glanced back up, his sky blue eyes shimmering with a desperate plea, quivering his lower lip ever so gently. From what he knew, women were suckers for sympathy. Or so he hoped.

“So will you help me, please? Miss…?”

It wasn't very common knowledge, and those who had witnessed it certainly knew better than to talk about it, but Louhi had in fact a very sentimental side to her hidden away somewhere which surfaced from time to time. A certain susceptibility to cute things, among others. This was the part of her which rescued baby birds and baked cupcakes for her sweetheart and made her jealous of how much prettier all the other female shinigami were. And usually it only caused her a whole lot of trouble.

If only his eyes hadn't sparkled quite so widely, or if his bottom lip hadn't quivered exactly like that, she might have resisted it. She knew he was lying, and manipulating her, and probably very dangerous. But so adorable! The sinister grin was quickly disappearing, replaced by a look of bewilderment nearly equaling Dante's.

She should keep interrogating him, she told herself. Find out his real intention; tell him such underhanded tactics would never work on an experienced trickster like herself. Instead, she was temporarily caught by the vizard's beguiling gaze like a deer in headlights. What's the matter with me? I can't believe I'm fallin' for this crap. I hafta shut him up somehow... And that rebellious, sentimental side was telling her exactly how to do it, with such a good excuse. Why not?

Heart pounding nervously, the girl slowly bent her head lower until the tip of her pale nose was almost touching Dante's wider, curving brown one. When was the last time she'd actually kissed somebody?

Oh, right. Louhi froze as the memory of her first and only kiss flooded back with a sudden vividness. That time even mirrored her posture now almost exactly. For a second, a blood streaked and sticky eyeless face from the past overlaid Dante's in the present. Would it always have to be like this?

The moment the devious smile of Louhi’s faded Dante thought he had won his intellectual match. Rarely did good things swing the Vizard’s way, or so he thought, or remembered, or whatever. Though he could have sworn through trial and error, he had failed against women countless times. So for once he chalked up a personal victory (albeit small) to his learned experiences. A small amount of pride warmed him over, and it was an odd sensation overall- for little things, little feelings such as this hardly warranted a blip on the Hybrid’s “care” radar.

So I am good at this acting gig… I wonder if the Mortal Realm needs any of my talent… though that sounds like more trouble than weaseling my way out of these messes overall…

Before the daydreamer could continue his inner monologue, the pig tailed Shinigami refused to budge.

Hey. I thought I won… Umm… she’s supposed to get up now… his façade attempted to continue its pleading appearance, despite the pain shooting throughout his hips and legs, her pressure building upon him. Those feelings immediately shot down his pride, as a more literally pressing concern came to his physical well being.

Her cool blue eyes became larger as she slowly inched her way towards his face.

No. No. No. That’s not supposed to happen… What are you doing… Dante began blinking rapidly, not quite sure what Louhi was up to. His throat became constricted for some odd reason, as if the closer she became, the more she tightened an invisible vice about his neck. Women never acted this way towards him; and the girl seemed to spark a note of unease to light up briefly. He shuddered slightly for this rush of sensations had never worked on the insensible Vizard ever.

You were supposed to get off of me, rid me of this annoying cramp swelling up my bottom half, and gleefully escort me to the Tenth, where I would more than likely do a menial task for you in return, and I could finally get to my mission… Though that was his original plan, it was going horribly awry with a deft melting. Unfortunately he never saw his plans with women go this far through their course. Louhi’s pale skin became so close, so incredibly close to his darker tan, and now he could feel her breathing on him, caressing his lips gently.

But the pain below soon became excruciating; far worse than any other wound he had been dealt before.

“Kya-” Dante’s shout was cut off midway, as his entire body moved instinctively upwards to avert the crippling cramp flooding through him. His lips met Louhi’s while he pushed her face away with his motion, planting a hard smooch on the Shinigami.

There was a moment's time in which Louhi could have reacted and prevented the accident, but the finely tuned reflexes which usually served her so well seemed to abandon her completely for some reason. So the moment passed and the accident went ahead and happened. It was certainly shocking, no matter that she'd been contemplating the idea of kissing him on purpose, and to have it happen just like that was... for a split-second, a little bit thrilling, but that excitement was swiftly eclipsed by a more typical furious reaction.

With her own strange psychological reasoning, the girl quickly determined that Dante had in fact played the whole thing out and that he was the one trying to molest her, and not the other way around as it had actually been. Finally dislodged from her seat, she jumped to her feet and smoothed her somewhat bloodstained clothing back in to order, waving a finger at the still confused looking form of Dante on the ground in front of her.

"OOOOH! You perverted little upstart!" Louhi scolded triumphantly, "Is that any way to behave towards a third seat officer of the Gotei?" It really didn't sound all that impressive. If only she could have said 'Vice Captain'... Not that anyone would buy such a ridiculous fiction. "Ehhh?" She demanded, stamping her foot dangerously close to the poor vizard's hand.

"I oughta have you court-martialed for such inappropriate behavior! Really! I can hardly believe such a thing," she shook her head sadly, brimming with a smug feeling of moral superiority. Of course she didn't see herself as being hypocritical in the least. There was still an investigation to undertake, she remembered, spotting the small package out of the corner of her eye had reminded her of it.

"Someone like you, I can see, you can't be trusted with even the smallest of tasks. I suppose I shall have to unhappily escort you to the Tenth Division myself," Louhi sighed, although inwardly for some reason she didn't mind, what she really wanted was a chance to spend more time and pick apart this fellow. To make him crack, she reminded herself again, that was what she meant to do.

Grateful that the woman was off of him and the overwhelming pressure finally released from his legs and hips, Dante let out a billowing sigh, as if the air had built up inside his lungs as well. While the veritable balloon of a Vizard enjoyed his freedom and fresh air, it was interrupted by the woman screaming at him. He hadn’t even time to think about the unintentional kiss he just gave; her loud reprimanding didn’t give him enough time to let his mind wander.

Dropping his jaw, he merely blinked repeatedly in reaction to this bizarre Third Seated Officer. To think that someone was at this high a rank- Did she just nearly step on his hand in her frustration?! He half-heartedly listened to her screaming and concentrated more so on the fact that all of this was her doing, the fact that she wouldn’t get off of him, and the fact that she was the one who leaned in to kiss him (or whatever).

Once again, before he could drift off into thinking how someone like Louhi could gain such a high rank in the Gotei, she finally offered him what he desperately needed to do. How this reminded him of one of those old adventure books he read… One task leading to another. Nakakapagpabagabag in other words.

“Really?!?” scrambling for the package, Dante shot up to face her. The ridiculous weight of the parcel meant nothing now that he had found help in sending the blasted thing back to its owner. “That means a lot to me, and I’ll make it up to you in any way that I can.”

No you won’t… hopefully she’ll forget about owing you by the time this is over with.

“Well, I’m sorry for causing such a distraction to you, since you’re a highly seated officer.” He bowed over and over again to show a sign of respect, and hopefully get on her good side- or else this journey wouldn’t be a pleasant one. “I didn’t mean to take up your time like this, but as you can see, I’m in a bit of a bind. I’m pretty sure I’m late in delivering this package, and I just want to thank you. Your generosity shows know bounds, and I can see why you have this rank… Miss…?” he tilted his head slightly, stopping his compliments to wait for a response.

This whole situation was just so suspicious. Why was this so-called shinigami bowing to her in apology after the way she'd treated him? By the most logical reasoning, it had to be an act, yet Louhi found herself placated by the demonstration. Even the bowing which would have normally irritated her under even the best of circumstances, instead it made her want to laugh.

I wonder if the drugs are finally getting to me? She tried to envision herself becoming entirely hippie-like and strung out, spreading messages of peace and universal love. Nah. I'm not that crazy.

Returning to reality, she realized the man was trying to ask for her name. Well, that was perfectly normal, right? She wasn't that well known in the gotei, apart from her own division and the third to some extent... But of course it was all part of his act, pretending to be helpless and ignorant and cute. Cute? Why am I thinking of that again? She blushed inadvertently, remembering. That conniving pervert!

But then, being so insecure about herself, the next conclusion Louhi arrived at was that he certainly hadn't wanted to, rather he was trying to beguile her into doing his bidding, or put her off her guard, something like that... Over thinking so much that she couldn't consider the possibility of an honest mistake.

"Hmm, I think you're lying to me and flattering me on purpose so I'll help you, even though you're probably thinking I'm really detestable. I said I'd do it anyway so you can cut it out with that crap, okay? It's not 'Miss' anything. Just Louhi Ilpotar. Go ahead and gimme whatever fake name you're plannin' to use, so I got something to call you at least. And lemme see that package..." The pigtailed girl motioned, tilting her head to the side so she could read the label on the small parcel.

Oh, great. It's meant to be delivered to Goro!

“Wakarimashita, Ilpotar-san,” nodded Dante with a grin while Louhi inspected the parcel. Though the Vizard instinctively regretted saying that afterwards; this woman probably wasn’t too fond of having honorifics attached to her name. With a momentary pause after mentioning that, he continued, “The name’s Dan-”

Her words were true; he stopped from giving out his full name, for it would reveal too much about his true identity. “Hajimemashite. Douzou yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”

Yet Dante continued with his politeness anyway. Were he to keep this façade going, he had best stay true to this humble nature.

“My last name’s not important…”shifting the uneasiness regarding what he had just done, and this time, smoothly without skipping a beat. “But yes, I could see your reaction after looking at this package… perhaps you’re acquainted with the future owner of it?”

”Yeah, Danny.” Louhi frowned at the continually polite manner. “Names aside I sure hope that ain’t your real personality either, if ya act so polite it just makes you more suspicious. I sure can’t trust someone who calls me ‘san’. C’mon. I’m not even Japanese.”

That business with Goro was interesting though. It meant perhaps this man was in fact tied to Jin somehow, were they related? It seemed like too much of a coincidence, but she’d never heard of Jin having any family, certainly not any in the Gotei. This whole mystery was making her burn with curiosity the more she thought about it.

“Kazuki Goro… Well he’s really a terrifying guy. You better stick with me ‘cause you’ll be screwed if you try an’ show up late with that package by yourself. I know how to handle him,” Louhi hit her stride of lying cheerfully as she began leading the Vizard back in the direction of the 10th division. Fictionalizing always had a positive affect on her mood. “Otherwise he’ll probably eat you alive, literally. He was nearly convicted once for cannibalism, got off on a technicality.” She added, making a nasty face.

When she could only see Dante from the corner of her eye, she could nearly imagine she was walking alongside Jin, a nostalgic feeling which reminded her of the times she’d gotten in trouble with him. He certainly never commanded the respect of a captain, at most times he seemed like a simple blundering drunk, even when he was fighting. She didn’t blame him for leaving, but it still pissed her off.

Was this ‘Dan’ fellow here possibly looking for that blundering drunk, without knowing he’d left? Louhi supposed she’d have to stick with him to find out. There was still plenty of time before she needed to be back at the 12th…

“Well, I can’t help but be polite to you; you are in fact a seated officer… but I’ll drop the honorific anyway if that makes things better for you.” Dante was right in his assumptions. Louhi was easier to read than an open book for the most part- though trying to figure out what the eccentric woman would say next was a completely different matter. Though he had to admit, she had a certain “charm” to how she carried herself; never before had he met someone like her.

Like this information on the recipient of the package. Though her tone sounded meaningful, why did all of that information Louhi give seem like pure and utter malarkey? Shrugging it off, he continued to play the helpless new cadet. And a part of him wanted to poke away that devilish look she cast and opt for a smile.

“Oh, thank goodness you’re here to accompany then, ne?” he beamed a grin, the light hitting his teeth just right to catch a sparkle. “I don’t know what I would have done if I faced him alone, or even found my way there! You’re amazing, Louhi! One day I hope to be as nice and caring and strong as you.”

… Now Dante was sounding just as bad as Louhi was. Even he couldn’t believe the babble frothing from his mouth. Hopefully they’d reach their destination soon so he wouldn’t have to keep this pantomime of his going much longer. Even cracking silly smiles like that was slightly irritating him.

Though I don’t see how they’d let a cannibal still roam freely about their ranks like that…

That last proclamation caught Louhi off guard. It was so completely and obviously false, but the delivery of it was somehow hilarious. She snorted, clapping a hand over her mouth at first, and then gave up and laughed maniacally for what seemed like several minutes.

“I thought maybe yer a criminal mastermind or somethin’, but dude, yer seriously the worst liar I ever met. You can’t be up in some nefarious plot; you’d never pull it off. Geez.”

The patch of blue stained skin between her eyes crinkled as she tried to keep from laughing again, realizing the man’s helplessness hadn’t been an act at all. He probably really had no idea how to get to the 10th. That package might even be a real delivery someone had foisted on him while he was pretending to be a cadet.

“Do you even have any idea what you’re doing here at all? Honestly.” She had to restrain herself again, this time from ruffling the vizard’s already disarrayed hair.

Her eyes shifted to the package again, unable to contain the impulsiveness any longer. “Gimme that,” the girl demanded, snatching the object away without giving Dante a chance to comply.

Unfortunately, the items contained within, intended for the former captain of the tenth, had been activated by Dante’s remarkably similar Reiatsu and when passed to Louhi’s grasp, it became immensely heavy.

“What the crap!?” The Shinigami exclaimed, dropping the package in surprise. Unfortunately, it landed on her foot.

“Awwwaaaaahhh!” She howled, grabbing her injured toe, shooting an accusing look at Dante. “What kinda trick is that?? How the hell were you carryin’ that thing so easily?” I’m stronger than him, aren’t I…?

Dante just blinked several times at Louhi’s laughing, until she found him out. Well, not quite. Her suspicions were dashed by the ridiculous actions of him. Could this guise work against anyone, or did he luck out with her? Or maybe he was actually good at playing the clueless type… Hell, he hardly knew what was going on in the Army of Masks. Not that he cared much; they called him when they needed him. It was as simple as that.

He was going to reply back in his “new guy” routine but she had plucked the package from him without a moment’s notice. But when the Vizard saw her hands take all of the parcel upon them, he was about to warn her of its ridiculous weight.

Too late.

With a crash as the box slammed upon her feet, she screamed at him for trying to deceive her. Oh the irony. Despite how badly he wanted to laugh at the situation, he continued being ‘Dan, the bright eyed cadet from the Eighth Division’.

“I’m sorry! I should have warned you, but you grabbed it out from my hands right away! I’m sorry, so so terribly sorry! Forgive me I’m not sure what’s in here… but it is quite heavy, even for me. It seems like a pair of training weights or something- but a really ridiculous and overweight set.” the Hybrid picked up the object with a grunt, before casually carrying it like before. Bowing several times, the only thing he could give out was a nervous grin and slightly coy giggle.

“I guess I’m… stronger than I look? Do you… want me to help you?” he offered his free arm to the injured woman.

The small pain that throbbed in Louhi’s foot was ignored quickly enough. Narrowing her eyes to a squint, she pushed away Dante’s arm. She wasn’t willing to play this game with him any longer, even if it was tempting and fun. They were in fact quite close to the destination now; the peaked roofs of the elemental division were just in sight over the top of a maze of walls separating them. There was simply no way any cadet could carry such a weight as far as he had, carrying it as if it were just a bundle of scrolls.

If this guy is a threat, he’s gotta be a dangerous one. I can’t just let him go like this, right? If something bad happens to the tenth it’d be my fault for letting him go… Kotori’s there, and all that delicious sake too. I hafta stop him. The third seat steeled herself to act, finding a rare chord of responsibility within herself.

“Yeah, I guess yer gonna have to show me just how strong you are. I dunno what you’re up to, but you aren’t any ordinary Shinigami. I can’t just let ya go about whatever nefarious business you got planned, not that I care about anyone in the Gotei or anything stupid like that. I’m just up for a good fight, anytime.”

Intently focused now, the girl braced herself with one hand wrapped around Kirjokansi’s coal-black guardless hilt. She didn’t think he would reveal his true self by any other means, but if she attacked him directly…

“Bakudou #13, Earthen Maw.” Louhi hissed, summoning up the rocky tentacles from under Dante’s feet in an attempt to entangle him while she surged forward to drive her blade into his gut, fairly certain he wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen and was quite capable of preventing it. Still she wanted that undeniable proof.

Thinking that Louhi pushed his arm away because of her bullish nature, Dante overlooked that fact. But the next second she had him fully pegged as an outsider.

“W-Wait a minute there, toots, you don’t know what you’re doing,” was all that he could say, his once sheepish toned changed to one in dire straights- the Vizard’s sky blue eyes reflecting back into the icy shades of Louhi’s. The second she placed her hand on the Zanpakutou…

Nakakapagpabagabag… I didn’t want it to happen like this… it was all going smoothly until she picked up this stupid package. I don’t even know what’s inside it! Although he wanted to throw aside the package, for some reason Dante couldn’t throw it away. So instinctively he leapt backwards from this assault, and kept doing so.

This defensive positioning enabled him to harrowingly evade the earthen whips to try and capture his legs; the crackling rock whipped about in front of him. Though her attack didn’t stop yet- she thrust her blade in his direction, compensating for the missed Demon Art by leaping over it with incredible agility and staying true to her target.

“Nande ya nen,” he grimaced, pulling upwards on his Zanpakutou. Still in its sheath, the shizomikue (cane sword) lifted out from his obi sash, meeting Louhi’s steel straight on with a hollow clank of wood. As the duo slid across the ground, their edges still locked together, the Vizard sighed deeply.

“Listen… You found me out. I’m only here on recon. I’m not here to fight you; in fact, that’s the last thing on my mind. Let’s cut a deal, na?” A minor flare of Reiatsu flashed from Dante, pushing the woman back and displaying a hazy bright aura with earthen tones to wrap about him for a split second.

He continued his pitied look towards Louhi. “If you let me find the person I’ve been looking for- and no worries, I won’t do anything to this person or anyone else- I’ll leave you alone.”

The force of Dante’s Reiatsu was certainly more than Louhi had anticipated. What she had thought was merely a potentially dangerous person had turned out to be easily as strong as some of the captains. It was a disturbing thought, how someone so strong could just show up out of nowhere in Seireitei. Their security was really laughable. Nonexistent, even.

Frustrated, she wished that she were able to use a higher level of release with her Zanpakutou, then she might have a chance. If only that were the case. Somewhere within the complicated pathways of her psyche, it really meant a lot to her that someone had placed such trust in her to make her an officer. Trust that she could be relied upon in times like this, but here, what could she do?

“Ooh! Don’t give me that look!” The tattooed Shinigami spat, “A deal with the likes of you isn’t worth dog spit. I dunno why I played along all this time. I shoulda just went at you from the start, ya viper. Fine, tell me who it is you’re after, and why, or I’ll just keep fighting you and cause a big ruckus. I ain’t ever been intimidated by anyone just cause they’re strong.”

“That’s part of the problem, toots,” Dante swung the cane to his shoulder and began tapping it. “I don’t know who I’m exactly after. All I know is that there’s something about this person… it reminds me a lot of… me, you know?”

Backing off from her, he took several paces to get a considerable striking distance away. Catching a glimpse of how hot headed this rambunctious Shinigami could get, the Vizard was best off keeping it like that. He looked hard at Louhi, seeing if she would empathize with him for just a moment and understand where he was coming from. His heart began beating quickly. It wasn’t due to the fact that he was fearful of Louhi- that was far from it, although she was respectfully strong in her own right- it was because he was going to admit what he thought and felt to another soul. Yet… it felt comfortable enough with her.

“I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s like… feeling that you have family… or someone very close to you… and the fact that they’re right there- doesn’t that make you want to seek that out? Doesn’t that make you question your life and what you knew about it? Especially with an afterlife like this.” Now circling about her, he noticed that her attention was caught for the moment, and he could continue speaking. The words continued to flow out of him at a surprising rate.

“You know… I had to ask my superiors if it was even okay for me to come at a time like this- and trust me, I got some bad looks from the majority of them. But when I told them I just wanted to see this person, see if they were a missing link to a past I thought I knew… they understood.” The Hybrid stopped completely, lowering his Zanpakutou at a peaceful pace.

“So if you’d understand- and trust me, you might seem like one of those ‘rough’ types- I believe there’s more to you than you let on. And I think that you don’t know this part exists. Just like I am with this feeling I’ve had ever since I saw Seireitei for the first time. Please. I don’t want to hurt you or anybody here; in fact, I’ve grown to like you.” The last sentence came out unexpectedly; Dante for one of the first times in his life was expressing himself, for something he finally found interest in. And Louhi just happened to be one of those things. He shot a weary smile over to her, because within he had fought his own battle of letting his feelings go for this moment.

“I just want to see this person.”

Dante’s sudden outpouring was enough to put a damper on Louhi’s fighting instinct for the moment. Now, here was the real ‘Dan’, not pretending to be someone else. It wasn’t often that anyone opened up and spoke sincerely to the nasty, foul tempered girl. Of course she knew as soon as he spoke who it was he was looking for. That similar person, one who had also spoken to her in the same sincere kind of way.

She could understand, too. If she found some real clue to her past, it would be hard to let go of. The idea of finding one’s place in the world, of having a history, of belonging somewhere. Even if it might be an unhappy one, it was better to know, wasn’t it?

Some people might say that. I dunno. She shook her head. It was confusing, her feelings had been pulled in so many different directions since meeting this guy, she wasn’t sure what to think any more.

After all of it, she just wanted to trust him. She found she liked him too, not that she’d admit a thing like that. She wanted to ask more questions, find out his real name, who these ‘superiors’ of his were. Besides the Gotei, were there that many organizations of Shinigami? That was a Zanpakutou he’d wielded, no doubt about it. Somehow she knew she wouldn’t get an answer to such queries, though.

Finally, she slipped Kirjokansi back into his sheath and scratched at the back of her neck, a bit nervously. Why did he have to say he liked her? It was weird and embarrassing.

“Hmmph. You couldn’t a hurt me that easy, even if you wanted to. I pretty much never lose in a fight,” Louhi boasted, feeling a need to defend on that point. “I know who it is yer lookin’ for, I almost mistook you for him at first. I don’t need to worry ‘bout that ******* either, he can look after himself.” That wasn’t really true. It was surprising Jin even managed to dress himself in the mornings. On second thought, he probably just slept in his clothes.

With a sweep of her arm, Louhi pointed over at the roofs a short distance away, “The guy you’re after is Jinsoku. He used to be captain of the tenth, but he left a while ago. Technically, he’s a wanted criminal or somethin’, on account of leaving like that. I ain’t heard from him in a while though,” she shrugged, a bit sore that he’d never even said goodbye really.

“So I dunno where he’s at now. You might as well just go give that package to Goro,” she added, grinning as she pictured the poor scribe struggling with so much weight.

And just like that, Louhi had understood his feelings and sympathized. Although he thought she wouldn’t have at first, she let him off the literal hook and sheathed her Zanpakutou. A calm relief flooded Dante as he mimicked her, letting out a sigh. Thank goodness he’d avoid a troublesome battle- not because of his indifference towards fighting, but his superiors would give the Vizard even more trouble. An even more welcome surprise was that she knew the person he was looking for! What a coincidence, at that, that this person would be at the Tenth Division as well… or used to?

“He’s here… I can feel it,” the masked one answered resolutely. “And I’m sure he hasn’t talked to you in a while because he’s probably a busy man nowadays… though I don’t know why I’m defending someone I don’t even know yet.”

Which would lead to his next set of questions aimed at the pigtailed Shinigami:

“So you know what he looks like, eh? And how does he act… like personality wise?” his intonation peaked in excitement due to this startling revelation. This was another high point in Dante’s life where he was actually concerned about something. How did this possible family member look like? Was Jinsoku young, old, middle aged, hairy, craved hotdogs, quiet, studious and hardworking… the possible combinations of how this man that felt so much like Dante was almost endless. But he didn’t want to detract himself so easily when his goal was in sight.

With a shake of his head (which was secretly dispelling all the thoughts concerning Jinsoku), he glanced at the package he held tucked between his arm and side. “This thing… will it help lead me to him? I’m not here to see Gojo, or whatever his name is. I don’t want to waste any more time than I should, now that I know who it is I’m looking for.”

The Hybrid gave Louhi a mock look. “Because I’d rather not meet a cannibal.”

“Ehhh,” Louhi paused in thought, scuffing the heel of her boot against the ground. It was tempting to make up a ridiculous story about Jin for this guy, but the truth was probably just as surprising as any amount of fiction. “You’ll see for yerself, if you can find him.”

She frowned, considering if Dan really could sense the former captain’s presence. If he’s in Seireitei fighting the SQN too… He deserves to get his *** kicked for leaving. Stupid Jin. Why should I even care if he’s here or not. I bet he’s not even anywhere near here, he’s probably passed out in a gutter in some Rukongai slum and dreaming about marshmallow ninjas.

There was a rumbling from the south, intermittently, the sound of battles being waged as the rogue forces made their way into the city. Somewhat anxious, the third seat glanced over her shoulder, though she couldn’t see anything from here. She needed to get back to her own division soon, to fulfill a troublesome mission. This curious interlude was going to have to come to a close, as long as she felt assured that Dante wasn’t here as an enemy.

“Oh, the package…? Eh, I don’t care what you do with it. Maybe you should give it to Jin. Somethin’ tells me it mighta been meant for him anyway,” Louhi added, twisting her fingers and glancing back again.

She felt like she wanted to say something, a proper goodbye for this captivating person. She didn’t think she’d ever see him again after this, but meeting him felt important somehow. Instead, she found herself awkwardly staring at her feet. I’m really dumb, huh.

“So that’s how it is,” he muttered offhand, suddenly picturing this Jinsoku character as a moon bunny, smashing rice paste to make mochi. Mmm, mochi… haven’t had that in a while. Wonder if he makes mochi… though I doubt he’d be something like that, though verily fun.

The rumbles and quakes from further south snapped him out of his daydreaming. “Oh… then I’ll take your word for it and give it to him. You know… you’re a much better sounding person when you’re not habitually lying.”

Shivering in sheer excitement over these future prospects, a warm sense of elation filled Dante. A warm smile filled him as he went to turn about and race off for his impending meeting- though he noticed Louhi still standing there. Blinking several times he found her now looking at her oddly mismatching bright pink boots… the Vizard thought they looked cute on her and were a nice brand.

Though what was really important was that didn’t Louhi have matters to attend to too…? After all, she was a highly seated officer. And a very unique Shinigami at that; definitely someone he’d remember, regardless of whether or not she helped him in this “mission”.

A cool breeze sifted between them as he caught one last look at the pigtailed girl. Something brewed inside of him, something unusual yet settling at the same time. Was he feeling sentimental and emotionally attached to this bizarre person? Would he ever see her again? Too many weird things were happening ever since he felt this Jinsoku’s presence for the first time. He was actually starting to… care.

With his back facing her, the corner of his lips turned upwards for a smirk. “Thanks, Louhi. I meant it when I said ‘I owe you’, ‘Dan’ or not. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

Better sounding when I’m not lying? What kinda crap is that? A flash of temper threatened again, and she nearly opened her mouth to yell at the Vizard again as he left.

When she looked up though, the picture of him standing there, looking back at her and thanking her was enough to change her mind. The light colored front part of his messy hair contrasted brightly against his tanned skin, leading her eyes to a slightly rounded cheek.

“Yeah, maybe.” She answered quietly, not believing it. “So you better keep your promise and not hurt anyone.”

How could she trust someone so easily, someone she’d only met a few hours ago and he’d been acting for most of it? It didn’t make any sense, but there it was. Maybe it was just that face of his that affected her so much. She couldn’t help it.

At the last second before Dante turned away, Louhi closed the distance between them and lightly pressed her lips against his cheek. It was like diving into a cold lake, just rush in and do it without thinking too much. His skin felt even warmer and nicer than she’d imagined. She couldn’t look back at him again as she ran off towards her division, giggling furiously, but that little gesture was worth a hundred times the embarrassment.

Maybe… next time Imma find out your real name.

Before he could leave the sudden tap of slightly moist, smooth, yet firm lips planted themselves on him. For the second time the two kissed, though this time it was on purpose. And for the first time this was when a woman meant to kiss him. The only thing he could do was stand there with his jaw dropped and watch as the random girl giggled off into the distance. He placed a hand up to the cheek she graciously adorned with her lips; it felt a bit too warm over there for his comforts.

That Louhi was too much for him overall. She was loud, disrespectful, tactless, a habitual liar, violent, and off her kilter. Perhaps that’s why he accepted this kiss and took it as a sign of someone actually liking him. That Shinigami was unique all right…

No… I wouldn’t dare go back on my word. Besides, fighting is troublesome. Just like dealing with girls like you…

Tapping a cigarette out of his pack, he gripped it with his teeth while flicking a match off of the bottom of his tabi. He’d have more time to mull over what the hell just happened after he accomplished this mission of his. As he lit the smoke and inhaled deeply, he started off to finally end all of this.

Jinsoku… I’m coming, brother.

[ 9,189 ]

I hate violence.

Saika Rakushun - Ninth Division Captain - Research & Development

wud u liek 2 rp w/me? 8D
[ sigs done by steph ]

[SPOILER="Last of the Elite 4"]
"How troublesome... too much effort for a battle."

Old 03-14-2007, 07:05 AM
too_lazy too_lazy is offline
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Shiranui's Return and Tian Cai's Fate

***Continued from: Karma and Chance Reunion***

“You really need to learn your way around here,” the sweet sing song of voice rang through his (non hairy) ears, for it was all to recognizable. A bark came from above him.

“Michi!?! Cross?!?” cried Jinsoku in disarray, as he finally could smell the canine upon him, and get a long hard glance at the woman coyly smiling at the end of the bright alley.


“Who did you think it was, baboon,” the red and purple haired vixen calmly strutted down the alleyway to her fallen comrade, never losing that silly smirk of insult. “I don’t think anyone’s as dense as you are when it comes to these things.”

“Shup,” groaned Jinsoku, as he made a grimace towards Cross while shifting underneath the mammoth canine on top of him. If he were to comment properly, he’d best deal with his dog. “Michi, get off of me already, you’re probably unaware that you weigh more than you look.”

With a soft whine, she lowered her ears and slowly trotted off of her friend. Tail between her legs, it seemed that Jin’s comment had offended her. She too had feelings and the subject of how large she was became a sensitive and taboo subject. Nuzzling Cross’s leg for emotional support, the dog hid behind the Onmitsu Kidou and kept quiet.

“You’re really insensitive, you know that? I’m surprised that Michi hasn’t left you for a more suitable companion.” Cross bent down to lovingly reaffirm that Michi was indeed a prime specimen of her own worth. As usual, the woman with the cross tattoo over her eye spared no time in constantly delivering insults to one of her good friends. It was as if she took great leisure in noting how imbecilic the man could be. Though she always did wonder why Michi chose to stuck around someone like Jin…

“Che, she knows I didn’t mean it like that…” Jinsoku stood upright, brushing off his clothing. Despite the trio’s reunion, he was more so focused on trading quips with the girl than anything else. For some reason, the two always had it like that- no matter what the time or place, things would always be the same between them. Grinning, he extended a palm to Michi to disapprove Cross’s original statement. “She knows how important she is to me, ne, Michi.”

The overgrown pup blinked several times before making her way for him. But that walk was short lived, however, as a blur of ivory streaked through the alleyway, spiking its way for the silver haired rogue.

“Kweh?” was the only thing Jin could mutter before he was tackled by the white mass, knocking him back down to the ground. Just like moments before, a great weight placed itself upon him- though this time on his chest, crushing the air out of him. As his eyes shifted focus, the blurs immediately revealed the perpetrator of this pounce… along with the stench of decayed meat looming in front of his face.

“You?!?” a shocked look came to him. Glaring fangs dripping with saliva, pattering his chest. Staunch muscles hidden underneath a glossy snow white coat that seemed to contain a lustrous sheen. Icy blue eyes that sparkled in the light of the alleyway. It was the white wolf who had accompanied him during the Gotei’s attack on the Valley of Ultimo Crepsculo, a mysterious creature whom for no reason decided to aid Jinsoku and Michi in the midst of that chaos.

And before that, a similar white wolf had always been lurking about Northern Rukongai, performing random tasks of aiding the populace when Jinsoku had lived there with his mentor Mamoru. Whether this was the same canine or not, it was eerily intriguing as to why the animal had decided to help and follow them around randomly in the first place. Somehow Michi and this wolf had a relationship together… or so it seemed. Was the wolf merely protecting Michi in defense because of Jin’s harsh comments?

Growling, its hackles lowered when it heard Michi utter a yip. Creeping off Jin’s chest warily, the wolf gave a huff of disdain, as if it were saying “You’re not even worth my time.” Nuzzle to nuzzle, it rubbed against Michi before yawning and lying down lazily.

“What are you all doing here anyway,” the rogue finally got to the point as he dusted himself off yet again, his eyes carefully paying attention to the wolf. “And just how did Michi and that vagabond get here?”

“You mean Shiranui? He’s a sweetheart; I don’t think he’d appreciate you calling him that.” And to reciprocate Cross’s statement, the white wolf growled lowly at Jin.

“How the heck do you know its name? Or did you come up with that bright name yourself?”

“That’s what Mamoru and the others nicknamed the wolf around Rukongai. Besides, I received a letter from Mamoru stating that he didn’t see Shiranui around… and that he was heading towards Seireitei.”

“Oro?” Jin snapped his head towards the woman, looking at her suspiciously. “Since when did Mamoru send you letters?”

“Oh…” the multihued irises of the Onmitsu Kidou averted their gaze. “Well, it was directed towards you…”

“What?!” bellowed the rogue angrily. “You’re not supposed to be looking through my mail!”

“Hello!” Cross jabbed his chest hard with a finger. “You went rogue without telling hardly anyone! On top of that you didn’t even leave a means to get a hold of you! Hell…” she folded her arms and continued to look away, her voice growing soft.

“You didn’t tell me.”

“I… I’m sorry…” Jinsoku dropped his anger and replaced it with guilt, about to place a reaffirming hand upon the woman’s shoulder.

“Just remember to tell others who care as much as I do,” she shrugged her shoulder away, before continuing on. “Anyway, you brought up a good question though… you see, it all started off with me checking in with Tian Cai. Since he was patrolling the Southern Gate outside of Seireitei, I decided it would be a good idea to keep tabs on him. Since you know, apparently our South Gate seems to be the favored weak spot of all our intrusions. But when he didn’t respond… I got worried. When I came outside of the gate, I found Michi and her boyfriend. They led me to where Tian Cai was…”

Cross gave a deep sigh, as she could see the eyes of Jinsoku widen with her tale. “And when we found him… he was in pretty critical condition.”

[ 1,022 ]

I hate violence.

Saika Rakushun - Ninth Division Captain - Research & Development

wud u liek 2 rp w/me? 8D
[ sigs done by steph ]

[SPOILER="Last of the Elite 4"]
"How troublesome... too much effort for a battle."

Old 03-14-2007, 07:14 AM
too_lazy too_lazy is offline
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The Goggles... They Do Nothing!

“Dammit!” flared the Velox Argentum, his face and tone representing both fear and anger. “Is he okay? Who did it? Man, I should have came here earl-”

“He’s okay,” Cross interrupted quickly to avoid the outburst. “I managed to stop most of the bleeding and then took him to a nearby hospice. Thing is, he slipped into unconsciousness by the time I arrived. He wasn’t able to tell me who or what did it to him. Though the damage created in his battle was massive. He took out a sizable mass of the First District… something must have been rather strong to let those him spawn that much chaos. And… well, after I dropped Tian Cai off, Michi wouldn’t leave me alone. Seems like she caught your alcohol-laden scent.”

“I have a good feeling who or what did it now,” Jinsoku clenched his fist, a darker vociferation coming from the normally jovial man. “Espada. Shinkou-san informed us of them approaching. Oh, are they going to get it.”

“Slow down there tiger,” she slowly shook her head, as red and purple pigtails placed randomly upon her crown swished along, with that beaded cross earring following suit. “And just how do you plan on getting around? I mean look, here you are, we found you face down in some arbitrary alleyway. What makes you think you’re even going to find who it is you’re looking for?”

“I… uhh…” he began to scratch the silver and black laced Mohawk of his. “Hmm. Good question. Where I really want to go is to the Tenth and check up on them.”

“Hmm… I’ve heard that there’s some Sine Qua Non agents looming down in that area, along with a Lieutenant doing battle with several Vice Captains at the Twelfth. You can pick off the stragglers down there… though I doubt any Espada would waste their time where their allies were.” Walking over to the man, Cross slipped him a rolled up piece of paper, along with a flashlight. “But! Since you’re more than likely going to get lost and/ or attacked by one of our own because you look like a moron, it would be in your best interests to take the sewer system. And I supplied you a map because I know how much you hate technology and would probably break it. Less chance of you breaking these things.”

“Yeah, I was already chased by some of the Second Division already,” Jin nervously laughed. “Thanks, Cross. You really know how to look out for me… but what about you? What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to do my job. Don’t worry; if you’re ever in a big enough bind, I’ll be sure to help you out, baboon.” She winked and gave a devilish smirk- as if she knew he was going to get into a mishap.

“No worries!” beamed the rogue as he pulled out the mystery gift he had stolen from the ramen stand. It was the paper pair of glasses, with opposing plastic lens of blue and red film. “I have this! I’m sure these glasses work just as well, if not better than the one me and aibou got from a mission. That sneaky and hairy old ramen man must have kept them there for times like these!”

A large bead of sweat trickled off of Cross’s forehead, as she twitched her eyebrow in bafflement. Those… are a pair… of children’s “Three-Dimensional” glasses. How does he not know… Figuring that Jin would (hopefully) realize that those glasses had no worth to him (or did they, he was such a simple minded fool), she hoped to just push him on his way. Lifting up a conveniently placed man hole beside them, she spoke with an eager and surprised voice. “Oh! Those! I bet they’ll help a lot, now, you better get going!”

“Awesome! I knew that man was being stingy!” he slipped on the glasses and gave a peace sign to Cross. “As much as I’d love to stay and talk, we have a lot to catch up on; I better get going and save Seireitei!”

With an enormous grin and without a second’s hesitation he leapt down towards the dark depths of the City of Pure Souls. Michi, however, hesitatingly followed, before giving a forlorn look of caution to Cross- something along the lines of “Is this safe? With him and those glasses?”

The Onmitsu Kidou gave a weary grin in return. She mouthed quietly to the pup, “I hope so.”

Whining lightly, the black furred canine paused for a moment, glancing down the hole of the abyss.

“Oi! Are you guys coming?!? Everything looks groovy with these things on!” hollered Jin from the darkness, his voice pleasantly ringing. “It makes all the poopies and junk not look so gross! Man, I knew I lucked out when I found these!”

Cross slapped her forehead and exhaled a groan of annoyance. Now Michi was even more prudent about entering that wretched stink. The pigtailed girl could see the poor dog shaking- that was how bad she did not want to enter that place. And could Michi be blamed? Especially after what Jinsoku had just said. To ease Michi, she stroked the dog tenderly and whispered to its ear: “As soon as you get down there, take away those glasses of his. You’ll be much better off that way.”

The raven furred canine nodded once, and gave a bark of thanks before licking Cross’s cheek and jumping down.

Shaking her purple and red hair again, she couldn’t believe how she befriended someone like Jinsoku in the first place, and how Michi continued to follow him around with unwavering devotion. Her multicolored, rainbow like irises noticed Shiranui lazily lounging about still. “And what are you still doing here…?”

Lifting its head lightly, the wolf rolled its cold eyes away before laying it down again.

“Oi! Michi! No! Quit it!” Jin’s screaming could be heard from the man hole, along with the faint noises of a scuffle. “Ow! Why are you biting my head?!? Those… are… my… glasses!”

And the whine of Michi meant that Jinsoku was victorious. Shiranui finally rose to its fours, and yawned lightly. He glanced at Cross subtly, as if he were saying “Wait for it…”

The ground trembled, quaked, and roared, as the pair could feel something below them crashing down with an unforeseen might. Cross smacked her forehead once more.

“The goggles! They do nothing!” angrily howled Jinsoku, as a splash echoed from the abyss- no doubt him throwing the toy into the murky depths.

Shiranui’s corner of its muzzle lifted upwards in a smirk aimed for Cross, as it leapt down the hole.

[ 1,117 ]

I hate violence.

Saika Rakushun - Ninth Division Captain - Research & Development

wud u liek 2 rp w/me? 8D
[ sigs done by steph ]

[SPOILER="Last of the Elite 4"]
"How troublesome... too much effort for a battle."

Old 03-14-2007, 07:49 AM
too_lazy too_lazy is offline
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Don't Lose Sight Of Your Goals

Mizuno Keitaro, 10th Division
Zhu Jiang, Sine Qua Non
Jinsoku, Excelsior

The chaos and destruction was savory. Screams, howls, laments and pain scattered throughout the air, mixing in with the cacophony of Seireitei crumbling apart in a rapturous symphony.

Yet the only thing he heard right now was his footsteps.

His white boots clapped against the tiled grounds of the Court of Pure Souls, only knocking for his appearance, his destiny, his grand return. Garbed entirely in a white cowl that seemed to weave about the rippling wind, Zhu Jiang, a seated officer within the Sine Qua Non, tapped his Zanpakutou lovingly against his shoulder in anticipation.

What was he anticipating? The answer was obvious. Zhu only wanted to meet a fitting opponent worthy of his mettle. So far he was met with pitiful Shinigami who were unfortunate to pass before Zhu could release his Soul Slayer. That in itself was disgusting; he had paced the grounds around his old Division, the Tenth, for warriors who could match the burning ferocity of his element.

Jiang continued his leisurely gait, prowling around the Division. Those he could feel as insignificant Reiatsu were ignored entirely. Had any of his previous comrades dared charge him headlong, they would meet a promptly befitting end. So far he hadn’t even removed the hood off his cowl- that meant he needed no extraneous movements to slay his opponents.

And now, he walked onwards, passing by his fellow Sine Qua Non battling the Neo Gotei. Despite the calamity surrounding him, the cries of war and battle, the spill of blood, the ripples of Reiatsu and discord swimming about- it seemed as if the man was blind to it all. But the truth of the matter was, to everyone at this area in particular- All of them were weak. Pitiful. Not worthy of his time.

But a brief swell kicked up his extrasensory perceptions. His crimson irises flared while he smiled to himself.

There were enemies to be fought.

A cold breeze blew over the area, passing through the mass of black-clad and white-dressed shinigami. Battle ensued between the two factions as their intents differed – one was assaulting while the other was safeguarding their home.

His blue eyes gleamed with a dark luster, as Keitaro continued to drown in the aftermath of battle. His mind wondered if there’s anything good, which would be a consequence of this seeming war. There’s only one thing in front of him – destruction, utter destruction. His desire to protect reached its pinnacle, as the blue-eyed shinigami vowed to save from harm everything, which were important to him.

There were numerous enemies around but he didn’t worry about them, as he knew that the black-clad warriors of the Gotei would handle them. He should focus on eliminating the greater threats.

The device on his hand blinked as it indicated the presence of a being of consideration strength. Not that he need the help of the instrument to notice it, he, himself, perceived the approaching antagonist, coming closer little by little.

Again, his eyes gleamed. The shade of midnight blue that his eyes possessed during dire times challenged the even the color of the night. Looking at the direction from where he sensed the presence of his would-be opponent, Keitaro began walking, passing through several battling shinigami, and shortening the distance between him and his foe.

Zhu Jiang uttered no word in sensing the incoming arrival of someone who would indubitably put up a fight worth his time. Instead, he kept his back turned to the closely approaching individual and transformed his ever growing impatience to a tranquil calm, an energy that would be much more potent to fuel his flames of bloodlust.

Let the opponent come to you. Let them make the first real move.

The setting seemed to be appropriate- a pavilion of sorts in front of the Tenth Division. It was a wide open space for Jiang’s fellow compatriots to witness, a scene where he would take apart one of the Gotei’s stronger individuals. Enormous and wide white columns stretched closely to the sky, dotting the perimeter of the pavilion, while forming a set boundary for their impending arena.

There were five pathways leading off of the pavilion in the fashion of a star. Bordering each path was an ivory marble statue of a Shinigami surrounded by real, natural forms of their corresponding element- one wreathed in flickering flames, another by dancing lightning, a statue in front of a surging tidal wave, an alabaster form covered with howling winds, and the last was enclosed with earthen pillars. Zhu coincidentally faced the statue with the flames. Beneath his hood he could only smile, however.

Without a shadow of a doubt in Jiang’s mind, this Shinigami “intercepting” him was a seated officer as well.

Once his future antagonist arrived to the scene, he kept his back faced away from the person. He simply tapped his sheathed Zanpakutou against his shoulder before coolly speaking.

“Is this what remains of the great city of Seireitei? A bunch of clods desperately clinging to protect something so worthless to them, something that doesn’t care whether they pass on or not?”

Keitaro heard the last few statements coming out from the mouth of the white-cloaked man. Shaking his head, the azure-eyed shinigami disagreed on the point he has heard, and it took him quite a while before he found his voice, after weighing his options whether to speak up or not. It would reveal his presence, though, honestly, he knew that his adversary already knew that. From what Keitaro perceived, the other man wasn’t a weakling. Yet all his conceived reasons were ignored as the white-haired shinigami spoke.

“Everyone fights for a reason. It may be their desire for power and glory, the simple blood lust for battle, or a principle – one’s own sense of justice. Everyone has something to protect. It may be their dignity and pride, the life that they hold dearly, or their hopes – the wishes that their hearts cherish.”

The young man took a step further, inching closer to his enemy yet maintaining a comfortable distance. He didn’t unsheathe his sword, not wanting to start the fight too inappropriately. His midnight blue eyes shone with a sad spark as if he was disappointed at what he saw. Another inescapable battle. A clash of intent. And utter destruction.

The Sine Qua Non’s officer refrained from answering right away. Instead he slowly lowered and unsheathed his Zanpakutou from the cradle of his shoulder, but in such a way to not provoke any instinctive actions from his future opponent. Zhu strode towards the shining polished statue before him, glowing red with the sparks of fire before it. The both literal and figuratively warming flame gave him a notion.

“Don’t give me that bullsh
it, Shinigami,” growled Jiang in an embittered tone, aggravated by his antagonist’s words. He dipped his Zanpakutou into the statue’s flames, embossing his blade with the heat. The Soul Slayer continued to dangle there, as he began an interesting conversation with the other man. Despite his burning ferocity in battle he always sought to find the meaning behind his opponent’s view of life. How one saw things in and outside of battle gave great foresight to how they performed…

And provided Zhu the reason to utterly reduce their mindset into ashes.

Licking his pierced lips, his grin grew even wider- although Keitaro obviously couldn’t see him smiling. “Then what is your reason? Do you hold something deep within your heart also? If that’s the true case, then that’s sickening. Because it obviously isn’t the truth. Don’t tell me that you want to save a City, an ideal, a moral, a faction- that is only using you.”

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Melancholy filled Keitaro’s heart. The statement of the white-cloaked man could be construed as a revelation, not only of the rogue’s sentiments, but even the other man’s past, a bitter past. For the blue-eyed shinigami, those words gave him insight to the mindset of his adversary. With that in mind, Keitaro carefully chose the words he would say.

“My reason? I simply wished to protect those who are dear to me. As they did for me. It’s not a save-the-world thing, as even I know that I don’t have the strength yet to carry that much of a burden.”

Keitaro continued, “To be perfectly honest, I’m not worried about Seireitei. A city is nothing but a collection of stone, of buildings and of people. Even though all of those can be destroyed, as long as a single soul desired to rebuild it, there’s still hope.”

The shinigami paused for a moment, collecting his thoughts.

“And the Gotei using me?” The navy-eyed death god couldn’t restrain himself from chuckling. “There wasn’t a time when I’ve done something against my will, so… there’s my point.”

Returning to his normally serious self, Keitaro added, “And you? What are YOUR reasons?”

“Even if you don’t make it sound that way, it’s still idealistic… and quite saddening really,” Jiang grimaced in return while slowly rotating his Zanpakutou, letting it churn evenly upon the flame, his tone equaling that of someone upset. He deeply exhaled, as if his words didn’t matter anymore to this bright-eyed Shinigami.

It frankly didn’t. He knew how stalwart his former allies could be. The sheer stubbornness amazed him, but this was part of the reason of why he was fighting in the first place. The Sine Qua Non’s officer wanted to prove the sheer fallacy of their ways.

“There’s no reason for you to protect anyone here. They can all fight for themselves. They aren’t Shinigami for nothing…” his head snapped up to gaze hard at the statue before him. An enraged sneer righted from his face.

“Which leads to the reason why the Gotei is using you. You all fight for what, each other? No. It ultimately means you fight for the Gotei. Because you are their tools. You make sure their goals are reached. Anyone can do your task… because you are just a number. A numbered tool that is faceless and cannot change anything.”

With that, Zhu lifted his Zanpakutou from the flames, his blade glowing with a red haze. He said nothing and simply lunged at the statue with a quick and clean strike. It appeared as if he placed no effort at all, but the relaxed movement created the statue’s face to be shorn off completely, leaving only molten fragments to rain in front of him. As the steam hissed from the scorch mark left from the initial attack, Jiang merely smiled to place his blade in the flames once again.

“Me? Why do I fight? There’s only one true reason behind fighting. No matter what the outcome is, or whatever the ‘intent’ of the warrior is, the answer is always the same. It is the truth behind your words as well.” The hood of his cloak swiveled to show the slight profile of his face.


It was easily determined when something became a lost cause and this wasn’t any different. Keitaro knew that his adversary was already fixated in hiss own preconceived notions of the world. It would only be a waste of effort on Keitaro’s part to ceaselessly explain his side. Change of perspective is easier said than done.

It’s obvious that even though he heard my view on the matter, it simply passed from his left ear to his right. This is pointed. Keitaro realized as he sighed.

Of all types of people, he disliked meeting with those who were inflexible to change, those who were restricted themselves in set perceptions of the world. Normally, the blue-eyed shinigami would listen to what other people were saying but this time he knew it was futile to even try to understand. To analyze the fallacies in the rogue’s argument would take much of Keitaro’s time. He could only note one without even thinking critically – hasty generalization. Moments passed as the shinigami ignored the speech of the rogue. Then, suddenly the last words of the white-cloaked man attracted Keitaro’s attention. He could only comment.

A blood thirsty beast… with a mind similar to that of the earth - rigid and static, Keitaro thought. He needed not to voice out his opinion, as such action would only aggravate the situation.

His royal blue eyes turned into the color of the night as Keitaro readied himself for battle. He took a step, walking closer to the white-cloaked man. Then, he took another, and one more, before he burst into a flash of shunpo, appearing behind his foe. In the midst of his sudden dash, he swiftly drew his sword, delivering a slash to his opponent’s midsection, and using the momentum of his flash step as an additional force.

Expecting some more dialogue from his opponent, Zhu returned his gaze back at the statue. But unfortunately the headstrong Shinigami charged at him anyway. He heard the simple shuffle of feet before it snapped into shunpo- and that was all he needed.

An arc of fiery steel flashed to his flank, effectively halting the attack in a piercing screech. The sheer impact along with the heat of Jiang’s blade caused dozens of sparks to whittle from their blades, as his frame slid from the force. Yet that did not budge the Sine Qua Non in actual bodily movement. He tilted his head over to Keitaro, and from underneath the shadows of his hood, his lips curved downwards in disappointment.

“So quick to battle… my, you’re the greedy Shinigami. Fighting for your strength, I see. But there’s a slight problem…” their Zanpkutou rattled against each other as they pushed for supremacy, “I didn’t say to start. Isn’t that dishonorable of you, Shinigami?”

It appeared that his opponent cared not for conversation and Zhu would now repay it kindly. Those ignorant and not deciding to listen to their opponent would suffer. Simple minded Shinigami deserved to perish. A brief ripple of Reiatsu emanated from the core of his still frame, causing a wind to push amongst them, while simultaneously feeding the flames of the statue.

“I am Zhu Jiang, Fourth Seated Officer,” his tone changed to a darker pitch, as the fire in front of them raged and grew. The Reiatsu he now released began to set its place, a telltale heat warming up the air. “Next time you engage someone in a duel, you tell them your name and rank. Even as a rogue, I know the proper code of battle… though there won’t be a next time for you to learn from this.”

Zhu brought all of his upper body strength to rotate in a powerful torque, utilizing the force of his Reiatsu for an added push. His blade streaked crimson once again, the bright glow cutting through the air with embers dancing about the two, his swing reaching out to rip into the forefront of Keitaro.

“Now we begin,” hissed the rogue.

His midnight blue eyes continued its dark glow as Keitaro’s face seemed set in a cold demeanor. As following the principle of water, the shinigami adjusted his sword in order to anticipate the incoming attack, exerting less effort and allowing the rogue’s attack to take advantage. Keitaro’s blade skated through the length of his opponent’s sword, and at the same time, it reduced its attacking power by simply distributing the force all throughout the points of contact. Nevertheless, the white-haired shinigami forced back, since he executed a defensive maneuver, though he saved a lot of energy in his move as opposed if he went head-on.

Now, their swords were locked in battle as the two steel clashed for supremacy. Keitaro looked into the eyes of his opponent as if searching if there were any hint of salvation, but he found none. He was expecting it based on the earlier words of the rogue but he preferred to be sure. It would be bad if he were fighting a possessed or a hypnotized person.

Knowing that indeed he had disrespected his opponent by not introducing before his attack, the death god uttered his name. “Mizuno Keitaro.”

He didn’t start the fight with formalities because he thought his opponent was simply too barbaric to be able to have a coherent notion of the civility of battle. Maybe I guess wrong, he thought. Maybe, just maybe, there IS a lonely child hiding in that beastly armor.

However, it wasn’t the time for psychological analysis. Without warning, Keitaro resumed his assault, invoking, “Hadou# 17, Ice Water!”

Water gathered into his left hand and as usual, it formed into a perfect blue sphere. The ‘Teardrop of Heaven’ sparkled for a moment as it magnified the potency of the attack. Keitaro shot the swirling ball of water in front of him, targeting the head region of his opponent.

He didn’t stop there. Spinning in a full 360 degrees, the blue-eyed shinigami executed a devastating side slash, hoping that the continuity of his attack would increase the likelihood of his success. I need one strike, just one wound, He thought.

A withdrawn look and a mindless murmuring of Keitaro’s name left Zhu to believe that despite the Shinigami’s strength, the rogue was fighting nothing but a puppet of the Gotei. Such a shame to end up like that… to think, someone with this potential could actually pursue something more meaningful with their existence.

Which is why Jiang fought for himself and no one else.

Which is why he would prove this Shinigami… this Mizuno Keitaro, to snap out of his mindset and think of something else.

The Sine Qua Non resolutely thought this as he overheard the puppet now word out ‘Hadou’. Knowledge combined with instinct caused the rogue to briefly flash step to the side- which skirted his way out of danger from the frigidly spherical projectile of water that traveled in a linear path. The short flicker to his other flank caused Jiang to appear beside the flaming statue, and the white cloaked man leapt for it, harrowingly evading the oscillating slash of Keitaro.

That Demon Art caused a slight sense of urgency in the thoughts of the rogue, though it was hastily dismissed. He hoped to shatter Keitaro’s ideas, even if he refused to answer.

“Disappointing,” sourly noted Zhu, as he went through the flame in a swirling flip, the force of his jump causing a wake of air to split between the vermillion current. He landed with his feet upon the torso of the statue, his body in a crouched horizontal spring. The parting blaze revealed his hooded face through illumination as he glared at Keitaro for the briefest of moments.

Zhu had a slightly pointed nose, bushy eyebrows, and a pointed chin. Though what stood out most of all were his crimson irises, searing their way into the oppositely hued Keitaro’s. Although the rogue made no face in particular, those eyes are what spoke to his opponent in that small lapse of time.

But in the next split second frame he performed shunpo off the statue, his form disappearing from sight. The conflagration of the statue razed brilliantly once again.

“So straightforward, so simple. Is this all you have?” Zhu was now above Keitaro, spinning in a flip. Snapping out of the solitary rotation once part of his taunt was over, his following move ended with a cleaving diagonal slice downwards, aimed for the Shinigami’s shoulder.

“Is this all your life has to offer me?”

“Soujoukouka Souryuushi!”

Instantaneously, water gathered around the azure-eyed shinigami, forming a barrier between him and the incoming attack. The rogue’s sword struck the film of water before the azure shield hardened into a layer of clear ice. Protecting Keitaro from the attack, the shield dissipated, disappearing into thin air and returning to nothingness. However, an opportunity for counterattack had been created.

Dark eyes glinted with intense coldness as it met with burning red irises. The shinigami spoke with an icy voice, “My life has lots to offer. But I won’t offer it to you!”

Seeing that his opponent was still recovering from striking the barrier, Keitaro took the chance and executed an accurate thrust of his sword, targeting the rogue’s shoulder blades. He followed with a simple flick of his wrist, causing the blade to slice horizontally for his opponent’s chest.

In their proximity, it would be foolish not to maximize his advantage. Pointing his fingers directly in front of the white-cloaked man, Keitaro recited:

“Dance, playful sprite. Spin and twirl, clash and freeze. Let the mystic dance, entrance. Bakudou #55, Diamond Dust!”

“So the mindless puppet of the Gotei actually has a heart!” cried Zhu as his blade skidded harmlessly off the elemental shield, lifting his body further skywards. Having been acquainted with several of the Tenth Division’s unique techniques, he knew full well now that Keitaro was an ice user… which played well into Jiang’s capable hands.

Perhaps this Keitaro was stronger than him and could provide an adequate challenge, despite the weakness…

All Zhu had to do was ignite the cold spark lying within this puppet.

While the Shinigami sought to cleave across his ‘open’ chest, the Sine Qua Non thrust his sheath forward with his other arm to block the horizontal swipe. Hearing Keitaro begin to speak something else not pertaining to their battle or prior conversation- Zhu assumed it to be more than likely another Kidou incantation. Since his antagonist was quite capable with Shinigami techniques and Demon Arts the rogue began to heighten his own combat capabilities; and pay back with his own.

Zhu created a pad of Reiatsu at his feet to begin with, initiating the first step of his counter. A visible elliptical shape of flame burst below him, drawing the heat from the statue to magnetically force itself to be used for his maneuver, whereas he felt a sharp stinging cold form about him- no doubt the work of Keitaro’s Kidou.

Snapping his Zanpakutou back into its scabbard, Jiang flared his spiritual pressure considerably, almost at its peak. There was a dual purpose in this tactic. The sheer heat building off of his fiery frame shouldered off a portion of the Bakudou’s effect taking place, only encasing him at trivial and random points at his body. And with the burst of his Reiatsu, he would show the opponent that he meant to fight to win, as embers wafted about his frame.

“Then make a true offering of your life, your fight…” the rogue howled through the crystallizing air before him. His burning Reiatsu wouldn’t save him from the rest of the Diamond Dust, so the best option would be to escape from the frigid atmosphere about him. Which led to him performing another flash step off of his blazing pad of Reiatsu and for Keitaro and thus evading the full out capacity of the Bakudou at work.

“If you won’t fight with your mind…” Zhu now snarled as he reappeared directly to his foe’s flank, a twisted sneer left upon his face. His hand gripped tightly about his Zanpakutou, he channeled another round of spiritual pressure into his blade’s sheath. This set him up for the next Shinigami technique he would utilize.

“Fight me with all of your heart!” roared the rogue as he released his Zanpakutou from its sheath. The resulting action caused an explosion of the stored up Reiatsu in the scabbard, providing him with the ability to unsheathe the katana at unfathomable speeds. Dually, this action manifested into an ethereal blaze that burned even brighter due to his naturally searing spiritual pressure, coating the Zanpakutou with a flaring red haze. The end of this technique was a Battoujutsu strike meant to end Keitaro’s life in one blow- an upward swing from hip to shoulder.

This was a fire elementalist using the Shinigami technique ‘Daitou no Hi’ at his full potential, with all of his heart.

The threatening ethereal fire rapidly approached the blue-eyed shinigami, slicing the air with its vicious force. His mind quickly weighed his options – to face the incoming attack with an equal force or to simply dodge the attack. The first option seemed wasteful in energy as it would only deplete his strength without providing a necessary advantage. The latter proved to be the better choice as he could use the time to rethink his strategy.

Keitaro nimbly performed a half-speed shunpo dodging the raging fire coming his way. He took shelter on the statue around them, standing on top of the motionless figure. The one statue was adorned by the continual flow of water as opposed to the fire statue that had recently been harassed by the rogue shinigami. Even from afar, Keitaro could feel the aggression emanating from his foe, the desire of a fight without bounds. Maybe, it is time, the death god thought.

The true offering of my life…

…my mind and my heart.

His lips formed a smile, knowing that his opponent wished for him to show his fullest potential - to be able to fight with his might. As if being called to come nearer to the frigid death god, a waft of arctic breeze blew, surrounding Keitaro in its chilly sensation. His eyes looked as if they were devoid of warmth, with his pale complexion and white strands of hair adding to the icy theme. With a crystal clear voice, Keitaro invoked.

“Water surged from darkened depths.
Ice descended from whitened heights.”

“Hyouga!” the ice-specialist shinigami exclaimed, releasing the seal on his zanpakutou. At that instant, his sword dissolved into a multitude of water droplets, mingling with the atmosphere. Gathering around his right hand and left arm, the blue particles began to form a definite shape. An outline of a sword appeared on his sword hand before it shimmered for a moment, then disappearing without a trace. At the same time, a grayish blue plate materialized on his left arm, producing an armguard.

In the similar abrupt fashion, he disappeared from the top of the statue, landing on firm ground. And as he fell, he aligned his sword with the ground, stabbing the flooring. As soon as his blade made contact with the bare ground, Keitaro uttered, “Tsurara Gaeshi.”

Another sparkle shone from the ‘Teardrop of Heaven’ as Keitaro gathered his reiatsu. Underneath the firm ground, water droplets began to collect at the sword’s point of contact. The mass of particles started to condense, solidifying into its more solid form - snow crystals. Then, the transformation didn’t stop here. The accumulation of snow hardened into clear ice. The whole process happened within a fraction of seconds and as soon as the transformation culminated, a trail of icicles emerged from the ground. Rapidly approaching the white-cloaked rogue, the frozen trail chased its target in a way of Keitaro’s preference as it were being controlled by his reiatsu.

Zhu made no outward reaction to the Shinigami’s release. His mind however went to work on the intricacies at hand. Judging by the ice barrier he released in his Division Technique that near invisible sword must be made of water. Tricky one… though I’ll make it steam if I need to see it.

The second Keitaro plunged the water blade into the ground Jiang hopped a short distance backwards, prepping himself for whatever the Shi Kai’s ability was. Noticing a pendant briefly glimmer in their frosting arena, he narrowed his eyes to slits upon it. That trinket no doubt either modified or increased the potential of the ice user’s attacks. Having gathered enough information on his opponent, the real attack begun. Stalagmites of pure ice frigidly sheared through the ground, making a beeline for the Sine Qua Non.

“Is this your heart?” Zhu’s white cloak whipped about him as he continued backpedaling in short hops. Clearly Keitaro had more than just a petty ground attack like this. It would be easily countered as he pooled enough Reiatsu, just enough, to match the strength involved in these ice spikes.

“From the thousand grains of the earth, to the very tops of the mountains. Let us hear your roar Earth Mother. Hadou Number 13, Inflamari,” quickly whispered the rogue, as he stopped his retreat far enough. Slamming his sheath holding hand to the ground, a massive pillar of flame erected from the ground. The elemental antithesis of Keitaro’s attack, Inflamari emblazoned its way to meet the attack directly. An ensuing collision burst in the cross of the two warriors, creating a blinding and hissing steam immediately.

“If this is all of your heart, Keitaro, I’m not impressed. You’re boring me,” Zhu’s voice echoed throughout the pavilion mysteriously, as navigated his way through the steam created in their attacks’ connection, and stealthily creeping upon his aggressor. “You’d better step it up quickly if you want to hold on to that precious heart for much longer. Since you’ve already lost your mind to the Gotei…”

Once the hazy fog of boiling steam had dissipated, the seated officer of the Sine Qua Non was now at Keitaro’s flank. A crimson glow flickered atop of his Zanpakutou, the result of his Reiatsu being anchored to its tip. The next moment was a ridiculous barrage of lightning fast thrusts, Zhu’s blade piercing the air in whistling screeches through the usage of the Technique “Sakuganki”, all aimed for Keitaro’s sword arm.

“Show me more than a cold shoulder!”

His smile never left his pale, youthful face, even though his previous assault, Tsurara Gaeshi, was quickly and almost effortlessly nullified by his dreaded elemental antithesis – fire. Because whatever method was used to counter his attacks, each fragment of ice and each drop of water both contributed to his strategy. As the misty steam covered the area, springing forth from the collision of two opposite elements, it provided the frigid shinigami the situation he hoped to achieve.

Field advantage.

“Not even flames can boil all the water in the atmosphere,” Keitaro noted, observing his surroundings.

Puddles of water covered the ground, moistening not only the floor but also even the surrounding air. Adding to the fact that a continuous flow of steam surrounded the fighters, it became bigger amplifier of Keitaro’s power. He smiled more, knowing that if he combined the magnification brought by about his necklace and the amount of water element surrounding him, he could easily strengthen all of his attacks.

He heard earlier that the white-cloaked rogue asked if this was his heart. Hell no, Keitaro thought mimicking the words of his guardian when being belittled.

While it’s true that contrasting elements mostly likely have difficulties when forced to clash with each other, Keitaro’s knowledge of the elements proved to be of use. Unlike the direct and brutal onslaught characterizing fire attacks, water techniques were more elegant, utilizing continuous fluid motion. It focused more on control through turning an opponent's own strength against him, rather than directly harming the opponent.

And as Keitaro’s midnight blue eyes shone with determination, the white-haired shinigami executed a series of short quick-paced motion, dodging the relentless attacks of the white-cloaked rogue. Utilizing shyunpo to put a distance between his and his opponent, Keitaro decided that it was time for him to show how he used his sword.

From a distance, Keitaro readied himself, shifting his hold of his sword, reversing it in such a way that it imitated a javelin. Throwing in a spear-like fashion, the still loyal shinigami hurled his invisible sword toward the rogue shinigami. Analyzing its accuracy, Keitaro noted that it probably would be precise enough as it’s hidden from his foe’s sight.

Yet, Keitaro didn’t stop here. As soon as he launched his sword like a spear, he immediately performed a quick dashing moves, in a completely random direction but he knew were he wanted to end. Appearing behind the white-cloaked rogue before Keitaro’s sword collided with anything, the blue-eyed shinigami summoned it back through ‘Gyoushuku’, returning the blade into his hands, and then he struck.

Starting off with a full blown thrust, he continued with a similar barrage of stabs and jabs, like what his enemy did earlier, delivering his own version of Sakuganki. Unlike his earlier use of the technique, this one was more potent as it utilized the inherent invisibility of his sword, thus increasing the accuracy of the assault several-fold.

Does he think I’m an idiot… And what’s with the smile. The Sine Qua Non grumbled to himself as he watched his opponent telegraphing his own move by throwing a near invisible weapon.

“You obviously aren’t using your head,” Zhu simply moved to one side, seeing as how all thrown things went straight. He now tilted his head and watched with an impatient look as Keitaro attempted to throw off his perceptions with zigzagging footwork. The last movement caused the Shinigami to disappear entirely, but the attack would no doubt place him in the only direction Jiang thought weakest- from behind.

“Don’t underestimate me!” roared the Sine Qua Non as he returned Keitaro’s initial lunge with a deflection of his sheath. The next appeared to be a succession of piercing stabs- though even with a blade that he couldn’t see entirely, one familiarized with the art of Zanjutsu needn’t a blade to follow. All he had to do was watch where his opponent’s arm, shoulder, and wrist moved in coordination. As he perceived through the technique of Sakuganki, the sparks shooting off their swords ensued.

Ringing through and through at almost uncountable strikes their blades met. Instead of simply evading the attack, Zhu wanted to show Keitaro that he had no desire to run away. Though by the end of his antagonist’s onslaught the white cloaked man already had a nasty surprise in store. His mouth hardly moving, his voice masked by the clangs of their Zanpakutou, Zhu began his first step, while using his scabbard hand to tuck it coolly back into his obi sash.

“Skin replaced by scale, nail swapped for claw, tooth succeeded in fang. The eye of the dead dragon opens, it flickering life overwhelms me as I summon its strength, Hadou Number 35, Cinder,” his sword arm began to glow alight with flame. Even if he knew Keitaro would avoid this attack by the end of his Sakuganki, there was another move he was accomplishing. As Zhu’s right arm began to thrum vibrantly, it reached down to his Zanpakutou. Once it reached his katana he gripped his blade with both hands and activated the next step, instilling the blade with his Reiatsu once again- making it seem as if the same flame had flared his sword, but it was truly something else.

“It’s over, puppet.” At the end of Keitaro’s assault the rogue saw his chance, swinging his blade of fiery Reiatsu and activating the next technique. This was ‘Fuojin’, creating a vacuum effect to lash outwards from the arc of his attack. The distance would leave him wide open to its gravitational pull, while he finally used the stored up Kidouryoku to create Cinder’s explosion of flame, ensuring the Shinigami to be caught and reduced to ashes.

‘Puppet.’ Perfect description.

A chilling sensation. Devoid of any emotion. Cold. Deathly. These words vividly illustrated the condition of the ice specialist as he faced the looming dangers in front of him. The threats from the raging fist of fire and the pulling force of the vacuum proved to be a dangerous combination, very dangerous indeed. His midnight blue eyes abruptly changed its color. For the very first time, it turned into pure white, removing the distinction between the iris and his sclera. It was like time stopped for the young man. His body remained frozen in that particular scenario.

In their closeness, the white-cloaked rogue and the frigid shinigami could nearly touch each other. As the rush of compressed reiatsu approached Keitaro, it looked as if he wouldn’t act upon it, as if giving up his chance of escape. The attack came closer and closer until it was barely a few inches from hitting the young man. Then suddenly, a frosty voice barely mumbled an incantation. “Soujoukouka Souryuushi.”

Unlike its previous manifestation, this time, the barrier didn’t materialize as a barrier composed of water droplets. Instead, half of the body of the death god was covered in solid ice like he’s frozen within it. The compressed reiatsu struck the formidable defense, causing the ice to immediately shatter, and relieving Keitaro from his arctic prison. With one attack nullified there was still another one waiting to receive his attention.

Red flames drew closer and a waft of warm air joined the heat of the onslaught. Stiffly raising his hand to meet the incoming fist, the ice elementalist invoked another water-based spell just in time for thwart the burning fire.

“Hadou #16, Ice Water,” Keitaro whispered as a breath of cold air emerged from his mouth. Similar to how it usually manifested, water gathered at the left palm Keitaro, shaping into a perfect blue sphere. Shooting the water ball at the enraged and threatening fist, the azure-eyed shinigami allowed nature to dictate how the elements would clash.

Staring with his whitened eyes, Keitaro looked at his adversary. They were only separated by a few distances, barely a few feet apart from each other. And, without warning, he stabbed his sword, targeting the white-clothed man’s chest.

For once, in a very long time…

Zhu Jiang was bewildered.

For he thought that there was no way this shell of a Shinigami would counter his deadly combination of Kidou and technique, for no one that he had faced ever did. The sheer shock of finding Fuojin’s vacuum annihilated by a Division Technique that really ought to have been used once in a fight- at most- caused a raised eyebrow in the Sine Qua Non as he held his breath in to witness the next scene. Horror transpired on with an incredible deftness, the Cinder was countered with Ice Water, causing an explosion of dousing flame, following suit into shooting steam.

To his amazement, Keitaro emerged from the steam, ripping through it, along with the remnants of the watery Demon Art. There was hardly much Jiang could do but raise his Zanpakutou up to try and repel the incoming perforation. Unfortunately the remnants of frigid Kidou managed to connect at just the right place- his right arm’s shoulder. As it froze upon contact, Zhu couldn’t bring his blade up quickly enough for a successful parry.

His white sleeve ripped at its side while their swords slid against each other with an awful screech. Keitaro’s Zanpakutou found its way through him, perforating the side of his bicep with a shallow- yet painful- nick. The effects of his befuddlement now gone and replaced with pain and instinct, Zhu could only grin now. Flaring his Reiatsu at its full height, he flung his edge skyward, shoving the Shinigami’s blade aside. The Seated Officer’s sheer strength alone fractured the encasing of ice at his shoulder, as he leapt backwards, still smiling.

Admiration gave rise to his adversary. And now, for once, in a very long time…

Zhu Jiang could release his Shi Kai.

“Perhaps I lit that dry cold spell within you, Shinigami?” snarled Zhu, as he swung his Zanpakutou behind him and adopted a full and true combat stance. “Though you won’t see this heart ever again…”

“Omae no hi wo sosogu,” the katana burst into flame, blazing with a capacity that was brighter, stronger, and more vibrant than the Cinder he released previously, or any fire he released beforehand in this bout. If Keitaro dared advance towards the Sine Qua Non at this point, he would be met with a violent surprise- as Zhu’s Zanpakutou literally exploded, sending shards of molten steel to flow around him in orbiting embers of the sun. These flaring pieces revolved about him in a sickening pace, until they formed a mammoth ring, whose thick and enormous edges revealed a triple edged chakram, about two-thirds the white cloaked man’s height, from tip to tip.


Flames crackled about the new weapon Zhu brandished, a sadistic sneer spread across his façade. Embers wafted as the Reiatsu within the air grew hotter with each passing moment- the not so distant statue’s flames seemed to rejoice in a growing dance. Throwing off his hood, Jiang revealed a mess of spiky and wavy messed hair- or the embodiment of flame, with its red, orange, and blonde hues. His crimson eyes shone for a moment and appeared to be consumed in this fiery release.

“Show me what’s left of that heart of yours, Mizuno Keitaro…” he spun the Magma Wheel behind his back in a taunting manner.

“Before I turn it to ashes.”

Nothingness. It was still the same scene. Empty. The look in his eyes could make people shiver, as Keitaro mimicked the motion of a walking corpse – a cold dead body.

Clouding the field was a layer of hissing steam; most came from the contact of the rogue’s fiery attacks and the now white-eyed shinigami’s defenses. Clearing enough space between him and the rogue Keitaro executed several irregular back steps. His pale hands continuously gripped his invisible sword, though the way he was holding it seemed different as opposed to how he held the blade at the initial phase of this battle. His hold seemed somewhat stiff, before it suddenly became loose, almost causing the blade to fall to the ground. This pattern continued, though it didn’t appear to be of any concern to the frigid death god.

A surge of reiatsu attracted the attention of Keitaro, focusing his sight on his adversary. There and then, he saw the release of the rogue’s shikai, bursting into its full splendor. By the looks of it, the white-haired shinigami assumed it was a ranged weapon, greatly increasing its range and not to mention its efficiency against melee users.

Warmth and heat emanated from the Sine Qua Non. Keitaro countered with an equal arctic aura coming from his side. Two fronts of air met – cold and hot. The field became divided into two halves, each projecting the classical attributes of the elements associated with each person. Burning flames and frozen water.

The cold man waited there, remaining where he stood. Knowing that this battle was too prolonged already, Keitaro was already acting based on his ‘instincts’. It began when his eyes turned white. Being defensive would be the best approach, understanding that his resources were limited and that he would tire out if he continued his assault. He needed to conserve his strength and bide his time, waiting for the proper time to counterattack.

Despite the clashing of their respective Reiatsu elements, Zhu became enraged at his opponent’s unwillingness to continue the battle.

“Once a puppet of the Gotei, always a puppet of the Gotei!” bellowed the rogue, as he threw Ganshouhoiiru in a wide arc. Its ability immediately activated the second it left his hand; the chakram spun around Keitaro, creating a fiery blockade between it and the ground- which in turn transformed the tiled floor into a path of roaring lava. As Ganshouhoiiru weaved its flaming course in a circle about his opponent, Zhu murmured another Kidou phrase.

“From the spirit of the earth, and by the wrath of heaven, be purified. Hadou Number 21, Infurnus!” Jiang rammed an open palm to the floor. Ganshouhoiiru completed its ring around Keitaro once the incantation was done, and now trapped the man against a rapidly speeding pillar of flame in his direction.

“To think I thought of you as a worthy opponent,” scoffed the Sine Qua Non, watching his adversary’s impending demise, snatching Ganshouhoiiru from the air and slamming it down in front of him.

The high temperature radiating from the red river made Keitaro recoil, as he wasn’t used to the extreme heat, preferring the exact opposite of it – cold temperature. Yet this didn’t stop the white-eyed shinigami. He felt the warmth of his skin and instinctively, he desired to extinguish the source. Suddenly, he stabbed the ground with his sword, executing ‘Tsurara Gaeshi.’

A stream of icicles emerged from the ground, traversing the path of the magma river. Controlled by the ice specialist’s reiatsu, Keitaro guided the ice trail, accurately superimposing itself upon the molten flames. Fire met ice and immediately a reaction occurred, causing the ice to melt and the flames to cool and die.

A kidou spell drew near, with another set of flames that needed to be extinguished. As it came closer, barely a few feet away from the frigid death god, a giant ice pillar materialized, realizing the conclusion of Keitaro’s shikai attack. Fortunately, it was enough to be able to shield him from the incoming blast. Not only that, it also allowed him to have enough time to cast his own spell while hiding himself in the misty aftermath of the recent elemental clash.

“The Frozen hand breaks, melting away the sun. The frosty breath blows, relentlessly assaulting the wind. The binding ice collapses, nurturing the earth’s plants. Hadou #30, Aisudansu!”

Plucking Ganshouhoiiru from the ground as he watched the barrage of numerous icicles head for his direction, Zhu simply waved the massive chakram in front of him. A blazing wall of fire shot from the river of magma it created, effectively melting the Kidou bombardment of frozen shards, leaving only melting water and mist to hazily ensue.

The fire elementalist was surprised slightly that this zombie of a Shinigami could stop his attack- but Ganshouhoiiru’s abilities were not to be underestimated. Keitaro may have cooled down the path of lava, but there were still cinders left in its wake. By merely pouring his searing Reiatsu back into the pathways of the triple bladed chakram’s original path, the ring around them conflagrated once again with the same heat as before, raging brightly.

Using the barrier of fire that halted Aisudansu, Zhu began his final assault, hoping to end the battle with this puppet quickly. Spending this much time in his Shi Kai alone, against fodder like this, spurned him on. Throwing the Magma Wheel in another wide arc, this time it weaved a circle in the opposite direction, but even closer to the ice user, flaring the arena to even greater heights. Meanwhile he whispered lightly, “Skin replaced by scale, nail swapped for claw, tooth succeeded in fang. The eye of the dead dragon opens, it flickering life overwhelms me as I summon its strength. Hadou Number 35, Blaze.”

A horizontal line of pure flame propelled itself from the fiery wall in front of Jiang, intent on charring the Shinigami to a crisp. With a distraction underway, the Sine Qua Non performed a series of shunpo to intercept the still flying Ganshouhoiiru. Revealing himself in the final flash step to Keitaro’s left flank (where Zhu assumed it wasn’t Keitaro’s dominant sword arm and thus much easier to strike), the second and much more deadly ability of the rogue exploded.

Three flying spheres of flame revolved about Zhu, all three converging in on the other exposed sides of Keitaro- one above, one from behind, and one from the other flank, as the literal flamethrower spell of Blaze came to the Shinigami’s front. Zhu simply smiled as he swung the last open spot of his opponent with Ganshouhoiiru, with all of his might, in a lateral slice.

A flamethrower-type spell to his front. Three fire balls aiming above him, his back, and right side. And a shunpo-boosted attack to his left flank.

A five-pronged onslaught. From a strategic standpoint, this maneuver was almost impossible to dodge. Even if he avoided one or two of the attacks, there was still a very high probability that the others would hit, successfully. Analyzing the total damage would be futile, as such moves deemed to be quite potent that only a tactically equal defense would match it. And unfortunately, the white-eyed shinigami’s energy was almost completely depleted and he had barely enough strength to perform a few techniques.

He needed to find a way to save himself from this perilous situation.

Given the fact that his mind was working reflexively, his planning took much less time than it usually would. The distraught young man understood that there was no way he would be able to come unscathed out of this. He could only lessen the gravity of the destruction his body would receive as to ensure that he was still, for a few moments, breathing and in one piece.

After careful deliberation, Keitaro decided that the kidou spell would be the easier one to negate. Quickly he recited the chant for a specific spell, which had a contradicting element to that of fire:

“The Frozen hand breaks, melting away the sun. The frosty breath blows, relentlessly assaulting the wind. The binding ice collapses, nurturing the earth’s plants. Hadou #30, Aisu!”

Pointing his fingers at the incoming flamethrower, the ice specialist released the gathered water spiritrons, shooting a thick powerful wave of water. It froze before it collided with the torrent of fire, effectively causing the ice to melt back to water and resulted in the dousing of the flames. One down, four to go.

Keitaro nimbly executed three side steps, reorienting his body to face the incoming attack at his left flank. Reversing his grip on his sword, he positioned the blade in such way that it was in front of his armguard, forming a combination of the two armaments. He raised his left arm, where his armguard resided, preparing to block the incoming blow. Withstanding the tremendous impact of the shunpo-boosted attack, the combined defenses of his sword and guard decreased the damage that he was supposed to receive. Yet, it wasn’t enough to prevent the white-haired shinigami to be thrown a distance back, due to the recent brunt contact. Two down, three to go.

The three fireballs appeared adamant in causing harm to the frigid death god, speeding through the air, and causing the nearby surroundings to warm in their presence. There was one zooming above him, another one from his right flank, which was now his left due to his shift in position and the last one rapidly approaching from his front side.

From the depths of his subconscious, a lonely voice spoke up, expressing what he thought about his present predicament, Now, I’m being reminded why I didn’t like flames or any people using fire element.

He only had enough vitality remaining for one last technique and there were still three menaces endangering him. Opting to protect the one targeting his head region, as it posed the greatest threat to his life, Keitaro called forth his last energy to summon an elemental shield.

“Soujoukouka Souryuushi.”

Unlike its previous appearances, the barrier manifested differently. The gaseous cloud formed above the white-eyed shinigami, condensing out of nowhere. The haze seemed ethereal, though it showed that it was quite formidable when one of the fireballs clashed with its misty defenses. Immediately nullifying the mass of flames, the elemental shield dissipated as if it had already done its purpose, which it did.

Two more of the balls of fire remained but Keitaro didn’t have enough life in him to continue the battle. It wasn’t the fact that he was giving up. Up to his very last moment, his determination and willpower was evident in his purely white eyes. However, it wasn’t enough. The two red spheres joined their carnage as they struck Keitaro at his chest, causing the frigid death god to reel back from the mere impact of the assault. He was thrown into the ground, landing hard, and then and there, he wasn’t able to stand again. The white stands of his hair looked disheveled as it covered his eyes, which was closed. Motionless, he simply lay there. Frozen and lifeless.

It wasn’t surprising to see someone unable to successfully counter the full out assault of Zhu in his Shi Kai; hardly any opponent, save Asakura Sumiteru, was able to withstand the full barrage of Ganshouhoiiru in its utmost potential. Though he was shocked to find out that Keitaro managed to have enough strength (or will) to muster up another barrier. The fires surrounding them died down instantly, leaving only drifting embers about their battlefield. Their fight was over, at least in Jiang’s eyes. He strode over to his unconscious opponent with a blank expression.

The gaze soon turned to a half smile.

Perhaps this puppet did have a heart in the long run. Pity that it was over now.

The Sine Qua Non raised Ganshouhoiiru for the death blow, but stopped. There was an odd aura culminating in this vicinity… it seemed ridiculously high. Far too high for Zhu’s tastes at least- perhaps the imbecilic Gotei had finally sent in backup of Captain stature to assist in one of their fallen Taisho? Pausing, he glanced about the razed area, seeing nothing to his benefit. Solidifying his gaze back to Keitaro, he poised the chakram for a clean sweep at Keitaro’s neck. The faster he got this over with the better, for he would not like to end his Rogue career prematurely upon meeting a Captain.

The finish to their bout was ended in advance, as the ground beneath Jiang shook and threw the Sine Qua Non off his heels- several feet in the air no less!

“What the?!?” hissed Zhu, quickly scrambling to see how he had fallen.

Apparently the tiled floor beneath the Sine Qua Non was a secret opening, which connected itself to the sewer system of Seireitei. The square piece shot to the air with simplicity, soaring high into the sky and becoming nothing but a mere twinkle. From the hole, several silvery spikes jutted their way out, leading to the Mohawk dome of Jinsoku.

“Oro?” he blinked repeatedly. “I could have sworn I hit something hard… maybe…”

But the puzzled look about his face turned sour, as he still wasn’t sure if he was in the right place.

“Aiya… I hope I made that right turn at Albuquerque,” he muttered, until he found the prone body of someone he knew and recognized well- along with the devastated area of battle surrounding him. No doubt the pulsations of Reiatsu he had felt earlier in his travels through the sewer system had led him to this area.

“Keitaro!” screamed Jin as he leapt from his proverbial rabbit hole. Scanning the body, he found his old subordinate to be alive and breathing, as he deftly turned about- finding a man in a white cloak facing him. Even a moron like Jinsoku could figure out what had just occurred, and this man must have been from one of the factions Primo-dono had spoken about in their briefing. All the care Jin now had for his fallen comrade now turned into growing rage; for once again- he was unable to protect his subordinates. An icy glare shot towards Zhu.

“And who the hell are you? Some furry reject that happens to like puppets of the Gotei?!?” Zhu snarled, his very marrow chilling due to the simple view placed upon him. Yet his insides flared brightly inside to quell the spreading sheet of cold enveloping within, and as such he gave that response. Curiosity had bested him when he knew he was against an adversary whose mere stare could spread this unnatural feeling throughout him; it was this same feeling he felt when against Asakura Sumiteru- though magnified several times over.

Jiang knew he couldn’t escape at this point. This mockery of a Shinigami had strength unparalleled to his own; but he dare wouldn’t lose himself to a deadlock of perspective. He wouldn’t give out to fear. This cold sensation spreading through him would disappear through the flaming passion of his resolve. The Sine Qua Non would prove himself and his reason for fighting- Nothing would hold him back.

“It doesn’t matter,” he regained his composure as an explosion of Reiatsu enveloped the area about them. The flames left from the wake of Ganshouhoiiru erupted brilliantly again, forming a heating arena bathed in waves of crimson, orange, and yellow. Their blaze rekindled the spirit within as he cast off any insecure thoughts involving the upcoming battle. Now the only thing Zhu could focus on was to engulf this mystery Shinigami and reduce him to ashes, in a succession of techniques he had just mastered not too long ago.

Sparing no time the white cloaked rogue hurled Ganshouhoiiru in a newfound speed- no doubt fueled by his desire to prove himself. The Magma Wheel cast several loops around them, weaving in a figure eight, illuminating the area with an intense heat that crackled and hissed with pure lava. During the moment this occurred Jiang whispered, “From the spirit of the earth, and by the wrath of heaven, be purified. Hadou Number 21, Infurnus!”

In the near split second moment Ganshouhoiiru completed its searing journey, he caught the chakram. A raging pillar of Kidouryoku emblazoned hastily for Jinsoku, while Zhu threw the Magma Wheel once more to his opponent’s left side. As he willed the flames from the Ganshouhoiiru to burst with explosions of lava in its figure eight path while dually whispering another Kidou incantation. “Skin replaced by scale, nail swapped for claw, tooth succeeded in fang. The eye of the dead dragon opens, it flickering life overwhelms me as I summon its strength, Hadou Number 35, Cinder.”

Zhu took off in a straightforward shunpo with all of his might, cracking the tiled ground beneath him in a hefty push. He landed to Jin’s right as he caught Ganshouhoiiru. The flames from Cinder ignited from his arm, simultaneously bursting with the activation of “Fuojin”, and traveled down to the Magma Wheel.

“You’re going to die just like your friend will.” Zhu pressed his attack by releasing a conflagration of fire spheres, each heading similarly in the exact same places he aimed at Keitaro before. However, he now too swung with a horizontal slice from right to left with Ganshouhoiiru, releasing the vacuum of Fuojin and Cinder to consume Jinsoku while feeding his massive explosion of unadulterated flame, increasing their size by an incredible amount- as they now glowed with a pure white flare.

There were no words needed to be spoken in return to all of this; Jin both loathed this man not just for insulting him, but for the sheer fact that he had bested and possibly killed Keitaro.

Consumed by rage, the Velox Argentum simply activated his Rara Avis. Archaic symbols embedded themselves upon the Excelsior’s hands and face, a sing of him tapping into this incredible power, while the sky grew dark- as if the heavens were accepting this change of might. A volatile roar of energy coated the duo and Zhu’s attacks with a silvery blue gleam, shrouding the heat with a distinct tundra of strength.

At first, for several moments, all seemed still in this azure and shining steel eruption.

Until the sound of polar cold fronts collided, crying out as though a million snakes had congregated angrily to this position, hissing violently. Steam and mist spouted like bullets, their clouds creating a thick soup in the ‘arena’. For just the briefest of moments the vapors released were hot- until a bounty of cold billowed outwards. A literal hailstorm ensued with snow and ice howling about.

The next second, from these almost never ending blizzard clouds, the form of Zhu Jiang was sent hurtling along with these frigid flurries. Coincidentally his frame smashed through the statue of flame, while the frozen embers completely doused the remaining fire upon it. The Sine Qua Non’s body tumbled a great distance back while creating a wake of debris.

I… should’ve used Ban Kai…

And Jiang laid still, opposing the chaotic scene of speed not too long ago, and settled with the gentle wafting of snow and ice.

After the storm’s end, Jinsoku didn’t bother to check up on his foe. He knew with the Rara Avis and his patented technique, “Empty Palm”, would deal with someone that held such skill and would be severely incapacitated. With no Reiatsu flowing through the Sine Qua Non, even if he could recover (though that was highly unlikely), he wouldn’t be a threat to Jin or Keitaro anymore. Though the Velox Argentum couldn’t help but acknowledge his foe’s strength- for if he were any stronger, that masterfully skilled succession of techniques could have finished him.

But there were more pressing issues at the moment. Keitaro appeared critically injured, his pulse of Reiatsu dwindling fast- which is why Jin ended his and Zhu’s fight prematurely. Yet something was bothering him that the Sine Qua Non was stronger than he had felt…

The Excelsior member rushed to his former comrade, gathering the appropriate Kidouryoku for the moment.

“Divining grace, Unicorn’s horn. Grant me the eternal elixir of life and save me from all plagues. Chiyudo Number 60, Mend,” he used the full incantation for its maximum potential. As the properties of Mend worked its way with the sacred circle and pink compass like sphere began to flow its healing energies within Keitaro, Jin followed up with successive Chiyudo. Although he wasn’t a healer, it took common sense to figure out the extent of his subordinate’s injuries- the white cloaked man was a fire elementalist, and the visible marks of damage only took place at Keitaro’s chest. The Excelsior placed his hands just over the charred injury, as the pink glows of Mend continued their work.

“From the night sky, among the clouds of ice, release a single snowflake of timeless beauty… Chiyudo Number 40, Hyoukai Seppen.” Forming from his hands was a crystalline snowflake which drifted through the light skin of Keitaro. This would heal the internal damage created from the wound. Without a second’s hesitation, Jin followed up with one more Healing Kidou; the last and only useful spell he could give to Keitaro as his only means of salvation.

“Cool muscles like the sweetness of the evening and the warmth of the sunrise, let this body replenish... Chiyudo Number 27, Daifuku.” This final spell would restore the white haired Shinigami’s muscles, and in Jinsoku’s hope, help the insides of Keitaro pump with a renewed vigor and continue to push blood and keep the body working.

Kneeling beside his former subordinate, the silvery sheen and tattoos from the Rara Avis faded away. There was nothing else this special gift could give at the moment. Deep within Jin’s mind he repeated the same thing over and over to himself, echoing throughout his being.

Please be okay… Please be okay… Please be okay…

I can feel a sense of warmth, like the light at the end of a tunnel. However, it didn’t feel like it was the sun, knowing that the great ball of fire was far away. It should come from a different source, one who emanated a similar feeling to that of the searing flames of the sky.

Vigor returned to him as if the hurt Keitaro received from his earlier fight was rapidly diminishing. It was like the pain was being lifted, similar to the gentle caress of Mother Nature consoling her own son. Strength entered him, bringing back life to the supposedly damaged body. He was being healed.

Like a newborn child’s first try to breathe, the blue-eyed shinigami gasped as air suddenly entered his lungs. Yet his eyes remained closed as if it was already accustomed to the dark. Slowly, he opened his eyes, wondering what scene would be in front of him. Light momentarily blinded him and when it subsided, he was able to take a glimpse at the world. Silver strands of hair greeted him, the locks adorning a certain familiar face – a person he knew from long ago. He couldn’t believe it. After such a long time, he didn’t dream that they would ever meet again.

The white haired shinigami choked on the words. “Jin-sama…”

Keitaro spoke weakly, yet his voice couldn’t mask the joy he was feeling in meeting again his captain. Though he didn’t blatantly express his thanks, he believed that the other person knew that he meant to do so. With great effort, he anchored his left hand on the ground, trying to push himself into a sitting position as not to be disrespectful to the man he held in high esteem.

Even though he wasn’t at his best state, Keitaro’s observation skill wasn’t hampered a bit. He noticed a peculiarity in the man in front of him. Discerning whether his groggy eyes were fooling him, he tried to focus, and then he saw the lack of white haori decorating the other shinigami’s attire. Several questions rushed to the mind of the young man; each one becoming ruder as the one before it. Hesitation made Keitaro to weigh the possible consequences of his future action – to ask or not to ask. But, his innate curiosity was killing him.

Raising one of his pale fingers, the blue-eyed shinigami pointed to the missing part of the robe. With eyes glimmering with an apprehensive look, the young man asked, “What’s the meaning of that?”

The fact that Michi, the companion of Jin was not within sight escaped Keitaro, as he was more concerned about learning the truth above all things.

The noticeable pulse of Keitaro’s Reiatsu stirred, wiping the once nervous façade of Jin’s to a calmer one. His Chiyudo were successful and that was the most important thing at the moment. The fact that Keitaro could speak alone, albeit weakly, was a fine sign that he would be fit for now. No rushing to the nearest hospice, at least. And if the slightly dull hue of Keitaro’s irises showed that he wasn’t fully recovered, all it would take was some rest. The worst of things were over.

Man, Jinsoku wistfully thought to himself, Now I know how Sayuri and the others feel when treating others. The life of a healer must be a pain in the ***.

Though he couldn’t help but chortle at his former subordinate’s replies in his awakening. Out of all the things to say…

“Baka,” he whispered lightly, rapping the white haired man on the top of the head with a brush of his knuckles. “Didn’t I ever tell you not to call me that?”

A gentle smile could be seen from the face of the blue-eyed shinigami. He knew that Jinsoku didn’t want honorifics and only wanted to be regarded like any other normal people, without the carrying the burden of the complexities of the society’s hierarchical structure.

Keitaro still remembered their first meeting. He was just a fresh graduate from the Shinigami Academy back then; unaware that fate would make his path cross with Jin-sama. At least now, he wasn’t the same stuttering idiot that he was before.

“Really?” He thought to himself and something dawned upon him. He was still the same. The only thing he could utter in front of the other man was short punctuated phrases. He might be a bit more comfortable in the presence of the other but still everything was almost the same as it was in the past.

Something struck Keitaro. “But I have improved!” Yes, it wasn’t exactly the same. Once upon a time, he was a nobody. And the heavens shocked him when he actually got some sort of attention from the captain. That meeting alone changed many things about him.

“Don’t lose sight of your goals.” Jinsoku once said.

The blue-eyed shinigami took those words to heart and followed it to the dot. All these times in his stay in the Tenth Division, he strove hard to become not only a stronger shinigami, but also a better person. He didn’t relax on his own training and wouldn’t easily give up on things. He didn’t want to fail the person that once had given him notice, a boost of morale, a glimmer of hope. That one day, one day, he might have the right stand beside the towering Jinsoku, to fight with him…

…if I could just reach the sky.

Before Jin could answer Keitaro’s second question and approve of his former subordinate’s growth, Michi had arisen from the same hole her friend came from, barking triumphantly. Without hesitation she made her way over to the pair, bounding around and yipping with glee.

Who do you think you are, barking like you did all of the work? Snapped the silver haired Shinigami with a steeled glaze, though he also gave a hint of playfulness towards his canine companion.

Michi dared not offer a response to him; rather, she turned her attention to Keitaro completely and began licking the youth’s face, her furiously wagging tail bopping Jin repeatedly against the side of his head.

“Yeah, yeah, I got it,” grumbled the former Captain of the Tenth as he rose to his feet. Folding his arms behind his head, he wasn’t quite sure what to say exactly to Keitaro to convey his current standings with the Gotei. Not sure how the now seated officer would react, or what the best words to use in accordance, he sighed and let Michi do all the “talking” for now. Pushing amidst him was a deep sigh of how to approach this; especially considering he wasn’t just Jin-san, he was Jin-sama to the poor lad.

“Michi!” Keitaro exclaimed as soon as he noticed the canine approaching him. After a few wet licks, the young man took the time to adore the furry companion, petting it and feeling its smooth fur. It had been a long time when he last saw Michi. The white-haired shinigami raised his arms to hug the canine, hoping that it wouldn’t be offended by his sudden act of appreciation.

“Let me do something first,” Keitaro said smiling a bit shyly. Then, he released Michi from his embrace, primarily because of two reasons - he needed to free his hands and he thought that he might be overstepping his boundaries when he hugged the furry canine. Removing a container from deep within his black robes, he obtained an Elixir of Regeneration. Yes, he had been previously treated by Jinsoku, which was proven by the fact that his vitality returned for no apparent reason. Not that he doubted the healing skills of his captain, but he believed that what to come needed his fully rejuvenated state.

“Excuse me for a moment,” The blue-eyed shinigami said to no one particularly, when he started drinking the contents of the vial. He did have it prepared just in case of emergencies like this. After all, he didn’t want to become a liability to anyone. Immediately, he felt the effects of the liquid and adding the treatment he received earlier, he surmised he was back to full health. Now, he stood up prominently.

“Heh,” the mohawked man snickered to himself while Keitaro downed an Elixir. Perhaps he wasn’t the best healer, but for now the young man wouldn’t have any problems for now. The ex-Captain nudged aside Michi with his foot after all was said and done… to tell the seated officer now would be the best course of action. “Keitaro…†

“If you’re wondering about… what’s up with this new look of mine… well… I thought it over, and nothing is static.” His throat became dry suddenly and the rogue motioned for his sake decanter to take a sip in an instinctive display, just as simply as he breathed. He had to break the news now and wouldn’t stand to lie to Keitaro about this. Jinsoku couldn’t lie to himself either.

“I received an important letter from Shinkou-san a while ago. He informed me of things going on behind the scenes of the Gotei, and offered me a choice. It wasn’t an easy one, believe me. Do you want to know what that was?”

When he was confronted with the question of whether he wanted to learn the truth about what had happened to Jinsoku, Keitaro didn’t hesitate for a moment and he immediately nodded in response, as if he was craving to know the answer. He wouldn’t waste this opportunity.

Seeing how quickly his former subordinate nodded, Jin still didn’t think he was ready to give an appropriate answer. He exhaled deeply, and turned to give hard looks at each of the statues in the pavilion where he had once accepted other members of his Division. How the times changed; nothing was static. Now the place had been reduced to a demolished mess… yet things could be fixed. Things could get better… he locked his eyes with Keitaro.

“In my opinion, Shinkou-san’s offer was to become… a better man.” He averted his gaze now to the sky. “Because… despite me working my way to the top, training, pushing myself physically… I still have a long way to go mentally. I might be able to fight with the strength of a Captain of the Gotei Thirteen… but I’ll never be able to lead all of you. I found out, during the Valley of Ultimo Crepsculo, this undeniable truth the hard way…”

“I cannot be the person that assumes command of so many lives.”

Looking back, that was one of the first times where under the mantle of Jinsoku’s Captaincy, countless souls were lost. After speaking to all of the other Captains, he knew he couldn’t cut it. He just wasn’t strong mentally enough to stand up to each and every face that followed him. He didn’t find enough force to allow him to accept so many deaths. He didn’t want to place such a strong influence on that many people anymore.

“But I want to become a better man, believe me. I want to continue fighting for all of you. I want to defend you, and help you indirectly instead of being a constant interference in your lives. I want to grow up stronger, and not just with these hands…”

Jinsoku stopped looking up to the sky. His eyes wandered to the ground for a moment. Yes… root yourself to reality. Face the truth. Tell Keitaro what you mean. Live your life the way you want to…

“I’m not your Captain anymore, Keitaro.”

A cold breeze blew as if it foretold the coming of a tempest. It circled around the two warriors, causing the temperature around them to drop a few degrees. The air became cold and the atmosphere chilly. However, that’s an understatement if it would be compared to the thoughts and emotions churning the heart and mind of the blue-eyed shinigami.

“Wha-what are you talking about?” Keitaro asked the other man, even though he knew it in himself that he heard the words correctly. It didn’t even brush his mind whether he was talking impolitely, or whether he was becoming rude. All he could think at the moment was those six words that came out from Jinsoku’s lips.

He’s not my captain anymore. Keitaro thought, as if the realization was just hitting him now. The notion opened up several theories, each one running through the mind of the young man, resulting in a plethora of unanswered questions that he was itching to ask the other man. Yet, even if it seemed that Keitaro was still calm, as hinted by his apparent capability of producing complex case scenarios, he felt the opposite.

Sadness. It was like an upwelling rising from deep within him. Depression. And then, his heart fell. No, in fact, it would be more apt to say that he was crushed by the news. His shoulders slacked. He wrapped his arms around his chest, caressing his arms with his hands. A sudden chilliness seemed to crept up his skin and he was trying his best to keep himself warm.

Keitaro was a person with a principle. He always tried to understand the reasoning of the other person before he formed any thoughts regarding whatever the issue was. But this – it simply blew him away. He wasn’t expecting it. Did he really didn’t see that coming even for its slightest possibility?

As a person harnessing the element of water, he knew that time kept progressing and moving forward. Change was inevitable. People couldn’t restrict themselves to the confines of invariability. Free will allowed them to determine which path they would choose, their destiny, their life.

Keitaro remembered an excerpt from his book, the Kojiki. He hoped that it would enlighten him in some way.

To those willing to give it all, the people who appease the sacrifice, those that can offer up enough, put themselves at a point in their lives where they have absolutely nowhere to go but up. There are individuals who have lost so much of themselves that they cannot even recall simple details such as their name or who they even were. Needless to say, people like this have given everything. Their heart, their soul, their minds, themselves. They gave it all, sometimes willingly, sometimes not, for a chance to gain a greater glory, a chance to make it through the gate that guards the void and subsequently, the power, as humans, that we all seek to obtain. The power that will make us great. Better than anyone else. The power to protect and the power to change the future.

But what these brave warriors of life don't realize is that the most important key lies within ourselves. The key that opens the largest and strongest of the doors before one's sacrifice is complete. The key to everything. To life. To the past. To the future. Everything. The key that is choice. Those that have failed, whether they realize it or not, perhaps those who simply cannot communicate it to the mortals who chose to stay behind, either failed or chose not to use this power. The power of choice is indeed strong. You even have the choice of choosing. It is that omnipotent and that flexible that its very existence is governed by it and it alone. This choice is what matters. It always matters and it is always there. It watches us while we sleep, it is the breath on our necks that makes the tiny hairs stand up. It is this choice which guides our lives and it is this power which will ultimately be the source of either our greatest success. Life. ...or the weakness that inevitably leads to the biggest downfall we will each ever encounter. Death.
He remained crestfallen. He was trying to understand, to see it in a different perspective. He always avoided asking the reason of other people’s doings. But he failed. He simply couldn’t. Or he could? Yes, but he needed more reasoning, more explanation as he was still shrouded with the clouds of incomprehension.

Thus after all the confusion, he could only utter a simple question. “Why?”

The rogue knew it was coming. He could see Keitaro’s face switch between confusion, then sadness, a break to think about something and soak up all the information, and even more confusion. Though they were subtle gestures, the meaning behind it, the… palpable feeling between the two could certainly be felt. And Jin could see the icy forefront of Keitaro melt away ever so slowly. He hated to see the Seated Officer give those looks, someone who once viewed Jinsoku as one of the greatest people in his existence, an idol.

But Jin was far from it and he knew that fact.

It seemed as if Keitaro didn’t understand it much either. Because he could only understand the most glaring fact in the conversation, and ignore or disregard the roundabout explanation of Jin’s. That was for the simple truth that Jinsoku didn’t want to tell Keitaro deep down. He couldn’t just say it bluntly like he usually did. And that aggravated him all the more, for toying with his former subordinate like this. A flood of sake would whet his throat and prepared himself for finally telling everything.

“Heh… I kind of didn’t tell you everything, did I, Keitaro… I’m sorry.” Jin found his body moving on its own accord, towards one of the statues in the pavilion- the wind statue, to be exact. For some reason he couldn’t stand up to Keitaro and face him while saying these things. “What I meant to say was… this choice of Shinkou-san’s… was to leave the Gotei. More importantly, this choice was to join an old group of his, kind of like a vigilante crew from the olden days- They were called the Excelsior. He wanted me and several of the other Captains to revive that…”

The Velox Argentum paused for a moment. A light whistling of wind emanating from the statue continued, as he now found the need to sit at its base and lean against it.

“And like I said, it was a hard choice. But I thought about it- and the thought came running through my head time and time again- of what my worth was. What were my goals. What was my purpose in life. Because… if I remember correctly- and for some reason I really do remember this well- that the first time I met you, I told you to ‘not to lose sight of your goals’, didn’t I? Well, I knew what these goals were after thinking about it for a good long while. I wanted to become stronger overall; I can’t be the ideal model of the Gotei, a Captain, while living like this. It’s an insult to everyone, most importantly myself. I want to become a better man.”

A breeze passed between them once again; and Jinsoku smiled at his former subordinate.

“So that if I ever do come back to the Gotei, I’d finally fulfill my role there. Do you understand now, Keitaro?”

The young man didn’t expect Jinsoku to actually admit the truth. Keitaro was waiting for a more subtle hinting, as opposed to the cold, hard facts. Why? Because he didn’t see himself as someone who could make Jin say those things. That particular information was somewhat personal. He already thought that he overstepped his boundaries when he dared ask the reasoning behind all these things. His inquiry was primarily an instinctive action, more of a craving since he knew it was kind of rude of him to delve deeper, to push for an answer. It was more of a spur of the moment.

Excelsior. That was new. He had not heard anything about that particular group or read anything from the writings he had studied. It was the first time he encountered the name. He didn’t even know whether it was affiliated to any known faction, though it would be more plausible for them to be inclined to good since Jinsoku joined them. Based on Keitaro’s understanding, the other man wouldn’t voluntarily join something wicked in nature.

This discovery only proved the young man had much more to learn and that what’s happening to world was bigger than what he normally sees within the walls of Seireitei. Keitaro now understood that Jinsoku merely answered to a greater calling.

Wait! Did he just say captains? That would mean Jin-sama was not the only one who left the Gotei. Other had joined in the migration. The white-haired shinigami pondered as he recalled from his memory. That would basically mean that the Gotei lost some of its best men. No wonder all sorts of beings suddenly forced their way into the Court of Pure Souls. It was like attacking someone in his or her sleep. A strike when the victim was weak.

That reminded Keitaro of his responsibility. He knew there were tons of people needing his help even if he could only exert a much effort he was capable of. He would not fail all the shinigami in the Tenth Division. During these times when forces of aggression tried to break the fibers of peace, one should not give up so easily. The man’s eyes burned with cold fury as it turned into the color it usually had when the young man was in a middle of a fight. The third-seat officer stood proud and straight, facing Jinsoku. Keitaro would do everything within his power to protect all those that were important to him.

The blue-eyed shinigami executed a traditional bow, bringing his head closer to the ground with both of his hands on his side. He intended to show his deep respect for Jinsoku. He was glad that the other shinigami willingly divulged the truth. And that fact only strengthened the high regard the young man had for the other.

Omnia mutantur nos et mutamur in illis.

“Hai, Jin-sama. I understand. And thank you for explaining it to me even though you’re not required to do so.” Keitaro replied. Then, he remained bowing for some moments before he lifted his head. “I greatly appreciate the trust you’ve given to me, someone who’s not even at the same level as you. Again, thank you Jin-sama.”

There was only silent pondering from Keitaro after Jin’s diatribe; this quiet air led him to wonder how the other would take it. Keitaro seemed like a very devoted person to the Gotei… and Jinsoku himself; the youth was very formal and straightforward, one of those no-nonsense types with big plans and used rational thought. Maybe he’d overcome the rules of idealism and opt to choose “justice”, and apprehend Jin just like those jerks from the Second were trying to do.

Interrupting his thoughts, Keitaro’s eyes began to almost glow; sometimes Jin wasn’t good at reading emotions, so he took this as a sign of hostility. Groaning internally, the Excelsior member shot to his feet in return. He sure as hell wasn’t going to get the jump on him again. Yet he still didn’t want to confront any warriors of the Gotei- especially his own subordinates of the past.

I don’t like that look… it’s kind of creepy. Like he turned into a crazed zombie or something. Man, do I really have to fight him? And to think, he would change his mind so soon... Come on, he worshipped me at one point! As stupid as that sounds; I’m one of the worst Captains in history I think. Heh, I wonder what the history books are going to say about me… “Worst. Captain. Ever.”

Before he could continue with this inner monologue, Keitaro bowed to him reverently… several times in fact.

“Oro?” he tilted his head to the side, watching his former subordinate make a mockery of himself by bowing to a goof like Jin. Nobody ever did it though… and it made Jinsoku crack a grin and slightly blush at the seated officer (while he wasn’t looking). Never mind… same old Keitaro. I guess some things are static…

With an erasing of his façade, the rogue kept a stern demeanor, and quietly walked to Keitaro. He secretly hoped that this would freak the ivory haired man out as much as the “death glare” of Keitaro’s did to him. A small burst of shunpo placed Jin standing tall above the kneeling man, his shadow blotting the light. Ever so slowly he knelt down- and he executed the latter half of his plan. His knuckles rapped against Keitaro’s skull once again, though this time a bit harder as he smiled widely.

“Baka, didn’t I ever tell you not to call me that? Especially if I’m not even your Captain anymore. Just call me Jin. Or Jinsoku if you can't handle nicknames.”

“Itai!” The young man exclaimed, a bit exaggerated while he smiled at the gesture. He was happy that the situation didn’t cause any tension in the atmosphere… or at least, nothing worth of his concern. His blue eyes continue to have its dark luster, albeit, to a lesser degree. From his position, he looked up at Jinsoku. And he argued. “But, I can’t just call you Jin. Jin-sama is more proper and apt.”

Another cold wind blew as if it was acting like a messenger, reminding the blue-eyed shinigami of the tasks that was supposed to be his main concern. Shifting from his earlier position, he stood up, standing side-by-side with the other shinigami. He looked around, trying to observe whether there was more Sine Qua Non hiding nearby. He sensed no one. At least, for now, he knew that peace had descended upon the land.

Keitaro’s focus returned to his former captain. To be perfectly honest, even though he already understood the reasoning behind the other’s decisions, he could lie to himself that he wasn’t feeling any form of desolation. In order to free any pent-up emotion he had, the young man punched at the side of the other man’s right arm, without any desire of actually causing injury.

“That’s for leaving.” Keitaro explained, knowing that Jinsoku would be baffled by his action.

“Anyway, I need to go back and check with the scribe about the current situation of the Tenth Division. I need to know the damages brought upon by the SQN and the condition of Tenth’s troops,” He explained and then paused for a moment as if he was thinking of something. Keitaro smiled. “It was nice meeting you again after all these times.”

It is not our abilities that show what we truly are, it is our choices. Such is the enduring mystery of human free will.

Completely not expecting the sucker punch from his totally submissive and utterly loyal former subordinate, Jin winced while giving a hearty grin. Even though Keitaro didn’t punch with all his might, he could feel the strength of the young man. He was indeed growing stronger and that was something Jinsoku was proud of. But then again, maybe he wasn’t as static as Jin had thought…

“Heh, you could’ve hit me harder because I wouldn’t have blamed you… Call me what you want though, because you seem to be so stubborn about it.”

Before Jin could answer, the white wolf, Shiranui, had quietly emerged from the man hole also. He barked several times in the direction of where Zhu Jiang’s body had once laid. The Sine Qua Non was nowhere to be seen, let alone his Reiatsu presence.

“Crap… maybe hitting him with Empty Palm wasn’t such a good idea…” mumbled the rogue to himself. But turning to Keitaro, who mentioned his leave, could only make Jinsoku swell with pride in meeting such a just and courteous fellow. “Yeah, I’m heading in that direction too… but there’s some other things I have to take care of. It was nice seeing you too… and I bet I’ll see you around after this, ne?”

A pair of similar Reiatsu presences were now trembling within Jin’s senses. This inexplicable similarity was drawing Jinsoku in, pulling him towards his destiny without a thought of almost anything else. Not one… but two. Things were getting increasingly interesting.

“Keep growing, Keitaro. With the way you’re progressing, you’ll attain your goals faster than you think.” And with that, the man and his pair of canines vanished without a trace.

[ Fight: 10,002 ]
[ Epilogue: 5,190 ]

I hate violence.

Saika Rakushun - Ninth Division Captain - Research & Development

wud u liek 2 rp w/me? 8D
[ sigs done by steph ]

[SPOILER="Last of the Elite 4"]
"How troublesome... too much effort for a battle."


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