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Role-Play Name: A Giving Soul

Date Started: June 19, 2018
Date Completed: September 17, 2018 (addendum made November 10, 2018)
Users Involved: User:EmperorSigma, User:Kenji Hiroshi
Setting: Houston
Characters Involved: Michael Davis, Lamaria Pryor, Fred, Christopher Ratliff, Shubata Kaigo, Shisui Sengoku, Kenji Hiroshi, Jenna Sheppard, Lloyd

Prelude to Change

It had been a week since Michael was released from the hospital and he spent all of that time on bedrest. He laid flat on his back in his large bed but gripped his hand tightly as a rope to a necklace stretch across his stomach. Gazing at the ceiling all he could do was think about the fight he had with that thing.

"This thing is bad luck..." He'd thought to himself, opening his palm revealing the red gem of the necklace which he'd taken from Lin. It seemed to have brought him back luck, but good luck at the same time. He felt as though there was something he had to do like he had been called into duty indirectly.

It'd also been a week since he'd last seen Sangius. Had he finally managed to get out of that thing's grasp? "Yeah, I'd rather not have to deal with that shit!" A proud claim he made to himself. Initially, going into all of this, Michael had neglected it all. I mean, he was a normal kid, star athlete for his school with a bright future of ahead of him. Things like this happened only is Japanese TV shows.

Among his extensive thinking, a knock came to his door, then slowly it opened revealing the face of a young lady. She was about five foot seven, dark-skin, long black hair, and red eyes. This was, Lamaria Pryor, a student at the University of Houston and longtime friend to Michael and his family.

Since his mother was busy with her book signing and other work-related things, Lamaria stepped in for her and had been partially nursing Michael back to full health. She came over from time to time to check on him and make sure he'd been making a decent recovery.

"You alright, Mike?" She asked.

"Yeah," he responded. "Imma' go to the gym in a lil' bit." Turning his body so that he could lift himself from the bed, he stood to his two feet, already dressed in his usual jogging suit attire, but this time colored black and white.

"I been feelin' like a bear stuck in a cave, man. I ain't tryna' stay in the house a day more, to be honest." Michael stretched his arms out and

Lamaria looked at him, "Yeah, she told me to not let you do that. But you're a grown man, I ain't stoppin' you." Pulling the door close she stated one last thing, "Just don't push yourself too hard."

Closing the door shut the dark skinned girl leaned up against it, closed her eyes and looked up. "What a stupid ass boy. I practically throw myself out there, for more than ten years!" She let out a sigh, "Calm down Lamaria, he's ignorant and VERRRRY conceited." Pushing off of the door she headed downstairs and out of the Davis' home.

Meanwhile, Michael had already begun brushing his teeth and washing his face so that he could do as he told Lamaria, and head to the gym to get some shots up. After taking about twenty minutes to prepare himself, take it he already had his clothes on, he exited the restroom and headed for his closet. Sliding the closet door open, he looked down where he met a lump sum of shoes.

Reaching for an all black pair of shoes with a black check on the side, he removed them from the closet and easily slid his feet into them. Sliding the closet down back close, he checked himself out in the mirror that rest on it. On the nearby dresser were a pair of hoop earrings, which he placed into his ears to get a better look at himself.

"Hold up," He smiled, turning his shoe to the side. "I'm lowkey kinda' fresh right now." A compliment he gave to himself despite no one being around to hear him.

Ending his self-admiration, Michael headed for the door of his room, rushed downstairs and exited his home. Heading for the all black car resting on the side of the road he got into it and turned the car on. Before putting the car in drive, Michael look at the passenger seat and had an insta-flash of Sangius sitting there.

"At least I ain't gotta' worry about that nigga' fuckin' with my seats." Shifting the car into drive, Michael pulled out of his neighborhood and began to make his way along to roads to his location.

After driving for about thirty minutes, Michael pulled into the parking lot of a gas station named "Shells". A large gas company known throughout the United States. While it had man chains and stores across the country, it was known for bearing a bad reputation when it came down to gas prices.

Currently, the digital sign read "$2.15 w/ cash.", meaning those using a debit or credit card would have to be a whopping $2.35. A grand finesse scheme to say the least. Luckily for the young man his car had been full on gas, courtesy of his mother who always made sure he was never low, providing him with her "gas only debit card".

Pulling into a parking spot near the main facility, Michael jumped out of his car and entered it. Once getting into the store, Michael paused in place as he became absent-minded. His expression gave off the feeling as though he'd forgotten something. That "something" was the fact that he'd forgotten what he'd came into the store for in the first place.

"Hey, Michael buddy!" A man shouted from behind the register, his facial features revealed that he was a man of Pakistani descent.

Snapping back to reality, Michael remembered what it was he came in there for and then spoke back to the man, "Wassup Fred." A quick response, rushing to the display of chips surveying it he reached for the bag labeled "Funyuns" on one line and "Flamin' Hot" on the other.

Grabbing two bags of the chips he turned himself to head back towards the front of the store where he met with a cooler type of thing that had fruit in a clear container sitting on a boatload of ice. The containers had pineapples, grapes, melons, and watermelon.

Michael grabbed two of these as well and headed for the register where the man he'd called Fred stood. He opened both of the containers and moved the watermelon from the second container to the first one. And the placed all the remaining fruit that wasn't watermelon from the first container into the second one. Once done he pushed the second one to the side.

"You already know. Charge me for both, but I only want the watermelon." Reaching into his pocket as the cashier rung him up, Michael pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to the man.

"The usual," Fred started "but congratulations on winning the tournament." He finished, placing the twenty into the register and beginning to count the change.

Placing the items into a white plastic bag he responded, "Keep tha' change and appreciate it, next is the league." His southern accent emphasizing the word appreciate as he turned to exit the store. Reaching his car, he opened the door and placed the bag over into the passenger seat.

"Well damn, if it ain't College Champ himself, Michael Davis." A voice called, relatively close, causing the mohawked male to lift himself up meeting face to face with the man.

The man sported a short taper fade and had skin very similar to Michael's own. He was a few inches taller than the latter, but Michael still managed to make eye contact with him. "The fuck you such close to me for, Chris?"

"Damn Mike, it's like that now?" Chris let out a soft chuckle. "Damn you started takin' basketball serious and forgot all about a nigga. You don't even wanna be gang no more."

Chris, or Christopher Ratliff, was a childhood friend of Michael's who took the wrong path in life. Drug dealing, robbing, all of the above. For the past years the two have been on bad terms due to Michael choice of wanting to do something positive with his life, yet Chris couldn't accept this and often tried intimidating him.

"Think imma' have to catch yo momma at one of those lil' book signin's or some shit like that." Chris laughed, "Yeah, some public type shit man, hahahaha."

Without a single thought in his mind or cocking his hand back which had already been formed into a fist, Michael smashed his fist against the center of Chris' face. Before the latter could recoup his fist would be met by a strong hook this time with the opposite hand, the right.

Grabbing ahold of his shirt, Michael pulled him all the way up to the side walk and threw him against the store's wall. Consecutive left and right jabs were throw at Chris' face and abdomen. Each punch heavier then the last.

"Yeah nigga, let's squabble!" Michael shouted throwing more punches.

Finally Chris managed to smuggle enough strength and push Michael off of him so that he could throw a punch of his own.

However, with a simple weave, Michael launched another strong left hook this time making direct contact with Chris' eye and ultimately lead to Chris falling to the ground, Michael stood over him and began throwing punch after punch.

Chris' face was bloody, every inch of it painted in the maroon substance. "Get yo' bitch ass up, nigga!" Next he began to stomp on him with his foot, lifting it and slamming it down with all of his might, truly intending to break something on his foe.

"YOU BALLED UP LIKE A BITCH NOW! GET YO WEAK ASS UP AND SAY THAT SHIT AGAIN, NIGGA! WATCH I KNOCK YO' BITCH ASS SMOOTH THE FUCK OUT!" Michael's words were filled with rage. He hadn't even noticed the large number of people watching him deliver this beating.

Fred, the store worker, flung around the corner grabbing Michael away from doing further damage to Chris. "Get out of here! Hurry up before these people notice you!" Fred shouted, pushing Michael to his car as the teen launched his hood over his head, jumped into his car and pulled off with haste.

Offering the Soul

"FUCK!" Michael shouted, smashing his hands against the steering wheel as he pulled into an abandoned junkyard. Turning his hand around so that he could see the front side of it, he noticed the skin of his knuckles had been peeled off. A result to the countless hard punches he threw at Chris.

He gripped his left wrist, wrapping his fingers around it tightly and opened and closed his hand. Michael's temper got the better of him in that situation, a problem he struggled with in the past but he'd thought he handled it. Then again, who'd let someone threaten to hurt their mother? She was everything to him. The two had been through so much and he wouldn't let anyone get away with making even just one of her hairs stand up.

Michael's adrenaline was rushing and his body temperature began to rise. Mostly due to the fact he was pants and a hoodie when it was nearly summer season. Stepping from his car, he looked around quickly and noticed there was no one around for the time being. His hood still sat over his head, covering him in case there was someone nearby.

Reaching into his back seat, he pulled a wrap out and began to cover his injured hand in it. This was no medical wrap, but for the time being, it would be a marvelous substitute as he had nothing more to work with.

Heading to the hood of the car, he laid across it and threw his hands behind his head looking up and gazing at the skies above. "Nell..." He thought to himself, his heart heavy and his eyes filled with sentimental emotion. "I miss you man."

Pulling his hood down to cover his eyes, he just let his thought process run wild, trying his best to clog his mind and forget about the words he just said. It had been four years since the passing of his elder brother and the "it's going to be okay"s were no longer able to hold him over.

He laid there for about ten minutes, but then he could feel a sudden breeze of wind. He removed his hood from his view he kept his eyes locked onto the sky where he could see a bit of a blur in the sky. It was like a smudge like someone tried to erase the sky with a very cheap pencil.

"What tha' fuck?" A question echoing in his mind as he tried to figure out if his eyes were failing him. To test this theory, he rubbed them then looked up again, only to see the blur had moved to a different spot. Literally, a moment later there was a small explosion about thirty meters from his current location.

Pulling his hood down again to shield himself from the mass of debris in the air, he tried his best to look into it. As he struggled to do so, his flesh began to crawl as though he'd felt a tingling sensation. Then, there was another explosion. This time much larger.

The force of the explosion was enough to launch Michael off the hood of his car, causing the teen to tuck and roll to decrease the damage he'd take. More debris whipped up, almost completely obscuring his view. "Got damn, am I in Afghanistan or some shit?!"

As the cloud of dirt was pushed away be an ominous wind. Michael's face followed the wind flow onto to meet a large crater in the earth. Picking himself up off of the ground to stand to his feet, Michael looked into the crater. What he saw forced his eyes to open wide. He took a step back, yet his eyes were locked onto the crater.

Within it, a man laid out on his back floating in his own pool of blood. He'd been dressed in some sort of all black night gown and in his hand, he clenched a sword.

Eyes now locked onto the man floating, Michael stood and hesitated for a moment. He wanted to run from the scene, not because he'd been scared or phased by the sight, but because if h were caught there he could lose a lot. This time in age, a man like Michael could be given life in jail just because he was near such an unholy scene.

Truly he wanted to run. He wanted to get out of there before anyone else came and noticed the situation and he'd become a suspect in all of this. Yet, at the same time to leave a man in in his own blood would weigh even heavier on his mind. So called out, "Hey!" He shouted, but made it low enough so that those who could have possible been around the two would not hear. "Hey!" he shouted once again.

There was no response and Michael could bear it anymore. The body was just there and it led the teen to believe it was lifeless. He turned his body and began to run for his car when suddenly he heard a cry.

"Hey... you... you can see me, right?" The voice called, faintly, but the words were clear enough to be deciphered by the athlete.

Stopping dead in his tracks, Michael slowly turn his body and made his way to the source of the voice. It belonged to the man who'd just barely been clinging to life.

"Yeah, I can see you." Michael responded, "Is this some sort of joke."

The man tried to move, but his efforts were in vain as his body was incapable of reacting to his commands. "No, I assure you this is not joke." The man answered, his eyes locked not on Michael, but the sky above where another man dressed just like he was stood off against a being. "I see, so that means you can see spirits... Listen kid, get out of here."

Somehow following the man's sight, Michael too looked up, and for a moment he ignored the man's name. "Is that another one of them damn things?!" He questioned not the man dressed in the black gown, but the being that had also been in the sky with him.

"M-my name is Shubata Kaigo. You've come into contact with a Hollow once before?" The injured man asked.

"A Hollow? 'ion know what the hell that is, but I remember that thing had a mask just like that." Just as he finished, the man who'd been floating in the air standing against the Hollow came crashing to the ground near the crater, but managed to gain his balance. He slid backwards, his blade down at his side, and finger acting as brakes to help slow him down.

"Shubata!" The man shouted, gripping his side which had been soaked in blood as the thing known as a Hollow closed the gap between the two clashing against him with its claws.

The ebony stood in awe as the man struggled in a battle of tug-of-war with the Hollow. About thirteen different thoughts ran through his head and not a single one of them made any sense.

"Y-you've got to get out of here, kid!" Shubata shouted, cough up a lump sum of blood in the process.

Michael instead ignored the man's words, rushing over to the Hollow, cocking his fist back he lunged forward with all of his might. The red gem around his neck lit up as Michael's body became shrouded in an red aura as when he made contact with the side of the Hollow's face, he sent it hurling a great distance.

"Y'all are both weak right now. I'd be a lame ass nigga to leave both of y'all to do here. Besides, I beat one of these things ass once before and I can do it again." The red aura around Michael instantly disappeared and the standing man fell to one knee.

Stabbing his blade into the ground so that it could be a cane for support, he began to breathe heavily. "Did he say, he fought a Hollow before?! I don't sense any true spiritual pressure, surely he couldn't have defeated a Hollow on his own!" Panting carefully, he found a way to pick himself up, yet the wound to his side seemed to have been taking its toll. "I'd never tell a man full of conviction to back down", the red-haired man exclaimed.

Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a device and spoke into it, "This is First Division third seat officer, Shisui Sengoku. The reported Hollow, causing terror in Houston, Texas was not an average Hollow. It is an Adjuchas-level Hollow. SEND BACK UP IMMEDIATELY TO THESE COORDINATES; -52, 121. I REPEAT THE HOLLOW IS AN ADJUCHAS, SEND BACK UP TO -52, 121 IMMEDIATELY!!"

Drawing his blade from the ground, Shisui held it up. "You aren't a Shinigami, put you pack a punch," freeing letting lose of his group of his side, Shisui took a deep breath. "You seem to be a bit more calm than most humans who see things like this."

"Heh, they ain't been through the shit I've been through."

"I see that, well, can you lend me a hand then. Until reinforcements arrive. I need to you hold off the Hollow until I can release my power." Shisui requested.

"I don't know shit about this power you talkin' about, but I ain't even gone ask you about it either. I can tell you, I ain't holdin' shit back though. Imma' beat the shit out of it before you can release whatever power you talkin' 'bout." Michael's words were big, yet meaningful.

"I like you, kid." Shisui stated bringing his blade out in front of his face and his body lit up in a red aura.

The Hollow from earlier finally stood back to its feet and slowly began to make it way towards Michael and Shisui. Then suddenly it disappeared and reappeared right in front of Michael, its hands up making a hammer like post, then slammed over the boy creating a large explosion from just its hands alone.

Michael's body had a barrier erected around his body, a blue stream of energy channeling from Shubata surrounding Michael's own protecting him from the unexpected attack of the Hollow. He swung his fists unleashing a barrage of punches, each dealing not a single bit of damage to the Hollow.

"He swings both of his fist one after another and doesn't rely on just the heavier blow." Lost in his own train of thought, he began analyzing the Human who'd seemingly managed to capture his attention. He has an epiphany, the boy held two katana in each one of his hands. Upon blinking his eyes, they disappeared.

A simple swing of his hand was all it took for the Hollow to send Michael flying, especially since he no longer had the barrier provided by the severely injured Shubata. Tucking his body up so that he could minimize the damage. Now rolling in the dirt, his path was stopped thanks to the large pile of crushed cars stacked on top of each other. Lifting his upper body using his fist, he looked up at the Hollow before him.

"Damn," he cured. "It ain't no way in hell these two things are tha' same. I can't even get 'im as good as I got tha' other one." He spat blood. "It ain't my hand, is it? It feels weird not bein' able to use both of my hands...." He dropped back to his chest, his body in pain which he had previously neglected due to adrenaline rush he'd received.

"Good job kid!" Shisui shouted, a grin now the dominating expression on his face. Turning his sword so that the tip of the blade faced the sky he recited. "Lend me thine power used to burn thy mother, Kagutsuchi!" The temperature in the area began to increase significantly. Shisui's blade instantly became shrouded in a flames. Pointing the blade outwards, away from his body the intensity of the flames grew exponentially.

"I'm sorry it took so long, but Kagutsuchi can be a bitch." He added.

Michael's eyes widened in awe and his face dripped in sweat. "What the..." he thought, the heat messing with him and slightly robbed him of his oxygen, he tried to reach for the broken pole next to him as though it would lend any bit of help.

"You bought me a lot of time, kid. I was able to feed him enough reiatsu. He won't wake up unless certain requirements are met, but he's good now." The flames around his sword began to spin around his blade as though they'd been dancing in celebration. It hadn't been long before they formed a whirlpool, whirling the nearby oxygen into it. "This is all I can do right now, but it's more than enough to defeat you." His claim was heard, but would it live up to its expectations.

"He made flames from outta' nowhere... who're these people? They can't be like Sangius, nah. Shit and I can barely breathe right now." Michael stated, barely finding enough oxygen to remain alive.

"Hikachū!" Shisui shouted, releasing the large vortex around his blade sending it hurling at the Hollow. "Burn you Hollow scum." He commanded, as upon contact the vortex swallowed the Hollow, lifting him into the air then a fiery explosion followed by the sudden disappearance of the flames.

Regaining the necessary amount of oxygen, Michael was able to regain his composure. His eyes still locked onto Shisui, he finally addressed the man. "What kinda' power is that?"

"This?" He asked, lifting his sword over his shoulder, acting all high and mighty with his smirk still active. "This is my Zanpakutō, his name is Kagutsuchi." Inching closing to Michael, Shisui held his hand out. "You still haven't given me your name, kid."

Grabbing the man's offering hand, Michael got up so that he could kneel on one knee, but remained holding onto the man's hand. "Shit, sorry, this happened so quick. Michael, Michael Davis. But what about him over there"

"He'll be fine, trust me. Shubata is tougher than me, he wouldn't kick the bucket that fas-" Shisui slowly began to fall face first to the ground, his chest had been pierced through with a beam, and after a few moments his body face planted into the ground.

Michael's jaw dropped as he watched the man fall after the unexpected attack. Blood leaked out of the wound, slowly hydrating his entire front side. Michael was shocked and as he turned his head the direct the attack had come from, he would meet the Hollow which had been standing just as though Shisui's attack had no effect. Reaching out to place his hands on Shisui, hoping to lift the man up, Shisui stopped him.

"No, it's okay." He stated and right after, the Hollow lit up in flames. "Hikachū will burn him for at least a couple of more-," Interrupted by his own coughs of blood, he came to a halt in his sentence. "It'll last for a couple more minutes. Now listen and listen to me good, kid." Managing to scrap what little bit of strength he had left up, Shisui flipped himself over so that he could lock eyes with the kneeling and shocked Michael.

"Shisui, are you good? Shisui!" The ebony shouted, removing his hoodie ready to place it against the man's wound to apply the pressure necessary.

"He hit me," he said pointing at the hole resting in the left side of his chest. "in my heart. I ain't gonna make it. But right now, I need for you to make a decision." Clinching the handle of his blade he continued on, "I know this all may seem weird to you, you've already confirmed that much. Yet, you stuck around and despite not knowing who I am personally, you were willing to help me buy enough time to put that thing down. I failed and underestimated its power, so I lie here waiting for death to open its door. But before I enter, I want to tell you this. As you are, when I die, those flames will no longer be in any effect. He'll recompose himself and he will kill you. You will need strength in order to be able to defeat him. If you want to save yourself from your own demise, I am going to need for you to thrust my blade into your chest."

Without even considering the situation or even the words Shisui just stated Michael blurted out. "NIGGA YOU OUTTA' YO FUCKIN' MIND IF YOU THINK IMMA' STAB MYSELF WITH A SWORD!"

"Listen you fool!" Shisui roared. "By thrusting my blade into your chest, you will receive this power at which you are so very curious about. But by doing so, you are accepting a voluntary duty to protect those who Humans cannot see."

Michael was lost for words. He couldn't even speak, that's considering he knew what to say in the first place. Stab himself with a blade? Michael wouldn't do something as crazy as that... would he? He was hesitant because from Shisui's words, there seemed to be quite a lot on the line.

The Hollow began to make its way towards the duo, it seemed the fiery effects of Shisui's sword was no longer active as the beast had been back on its feet. As it came into view it revealed the many burn marks across its body caused by Kagutsuchi's damage, yet moved as though it were completely unaffected by his moves. Every second that passed allowed the beast to inch closer and closer, putting Michael's decision on a timer.

"There is no downside to this." the Shinigami lied "Other than the fact that he who shared his powers with a Human receiving the death penalty, there will be no harm done to the receiver."

"Shit man!" Michael cursed, looking up only to see that the Hollow had still been approaching the two. The time to make a decision thinned and crept up on the teen quicker than he'd hoped. He had a decision to make, trust a man he'd just met and stab himself with a sword which had no guarantee to back up the words he stated. Or get up and run now and hope for the best chance possible.

"In the very least, Michael." He spoke, blood still spewing from his body. "If you won't do it for yourself, then do it to protect those of the city that cannot protect themselves. Protect and think about the innocent. Think about your own family's safety, think about... your mother or father!"

The word "mother" was like a trigger in Michael's head. Those doubtful thoughts he once held were completely thrown out of the window. Without another thought, Michael grabbed the blade of the sword with his hand, closed his eyes, and drove it directly through the center of his chest.

Instantly upon doing so, a bright red light engulfed the area and pushed outwards with tremendous force. The light seemed to be a colorized wind, it forces were enough to knock down two of the towers of crushed vehicles. It was enough to have the Hollow stop in its tracks, either on its own accord or the effects of the pressure being released.

Suddenly the light compressed itself and was absorbed into Michael's now visible body. Shisui's body had vanished from the area, it seemed he'd actually had already entered death's room just as he predicted. Standing to his feet, Michael took an entirely new appearance. His clothing had been switched out for the same black nightgown Shisui and Shubata both wore. In his right hand, he held a sword just underneath its golden circular crossguard. The sword rested in a brown sheath, with a red hilt and a gold diamond shaped design along the side. And finally, both of his hands were covered but low cut white gloves.

The Observing Soul

Jenna Sheppard ran into the cover of her local grocery store and quickly shook the rain from her clothes. She was frozen through! It was just her luck to pick one of the wettest and coldest nights to do her shopping.

"This is eventful," she huffed, suddenly remembering her elder brother.

"Evening, Jenna." The man -- Lloyd -- serving at the till announced. "I'd stay away from that, if I where you."

Sometimes she forget he was spiritually aware too.

"I intend to. Have you got those cream fingers David likes?"

"I kept you some."

"Awesome! I've a few things to pick up."

She had been content enough to do her evening shopping. Her little brother had a bad habit of eating them out of house and home, so it was a wise decision to keep the cupboards stocked. That had been her intention at least. As soon as she was done talking with Lloyd, however, her senses where once again on heightened alert.

"This reiatsu is massive...!"

Despite an innate desire to keep her powers and identity on the down-low, Jenna found herself subconsciously summoning her bow and knocking an arrow. It took her a few moments to realise just how silly this was, and she blushed red when Lloyd approached her and asked just what was wrong.

"What am I thinking? This has nothing to do with me."

"It's nothing, Lloyd."

Or so she hoped.

The Saving Soul

Shubata managed to garner enough strength to lift himself partially out of the crater, but his wounds were still too severe to be of any sort of help. A droplet of water streaming down his left cheek--a tear for his fallen comrade who's spiritual pressure had slowly been withering away from existence.

At the same time, he felt as though the man's spiritual pressure had been trying to linger on and he could feel faint traces of it inside of Michael. Yes, he could feel the tremendous increase of spiritual pressure the boy now held. "His spiritual pressure... it's massive now."

Using his left hand to draw his blade from the sheath, Michael dashed at the Hollow making a slashing motion, curring right across the mask of the Hollow. Blood spewed from its cut and Michael did not let up here. Instead, with both his sword and sheath he unleashed a barrage of attacks. Each attack making contact with the Hollow giving it multiple cuts across its body.

"The way he swings his blade... Reverse grip; the practice of holding a katana with the blade pointing down, along the wielder's arm." Shubata wiped his lingering tear away. "That is a safe way to hold a blade and swing. The opposing side could slice right through the wielders arm, yet he's doing it without a problem."

Michael continued with his attacks, but the Hollow showed that it was much more stronger than Michael had expected. Grabbing the boy by his wrist the Hollow slammed the teen into the ground, literally breaking the ground beneath, the threw him away as though he were a piece of trash.

Sliding across the ground, Michael threw his hand against the ground to stop the moment. Using his sheath as a cane in the same manner as Shisui, Michael had found himself back on one knee. His face had been full of bruises and he lifted his head to keep an eye on the Hollow. "I feet that power flowin' through me. But it still ain't enough." Michael smacked himself in the face. His negative thoughts wouldn't get him anywhere.

"Shisui's death ain't gonna' be in vain! Imma' kill-"

The Hollow opened its mouth and in the center, a beam of energy began to form. The more spiritual energy it gathered, the large it grew, and of course with passing time.

Michael rose to his feet and quickly lifted his blade up so that it was guarding him. His body and the blade began to light up, his spiritual pressure surrounding him to further enhance his defenses as he prepared for the Hollow's attack.

Just as he had expected, the Hollow unleashed a powerful beam of spiritual pressure at the new Shinigami. Dropping his back leg down so that he could stand against the current of the beam, Michael sliced right through the middle, splitting the beam in half.

"HE ACTUALLY DEFENDED A HOLLOW'S CERO!" Shubata thought to himself, stilling hiding inside of the crater. However, his celebration would be short-lived as the Hollow had already prepared to launch another. What he had also missed was the residual damage Michael had taken from the Hollow's physical attack and a bit of the Cero which he had thought to had fully deflected. "If he doesn't get out of there, he's going to die. I have to do something, but what can I do?!"

It seemed that Michael too had realized what Shubata had concluded. He was stuck and his body could not move, all backed by his heavy pants and trying to stand to his feet but was unable to do so. "Damn. That nigga sold me some bullshit, I thought he said I could kill it if I gained his power." The familiar sound from before when the Hollow had prepared its attack rang through his head, catching his attention and forced him to look up. "Shit, I guess this is what it means when people say they come to the realization of somethin' right befo' they die."

Slowly losing consciousness, Micheal's body fell backward and he gave off his final thoughts. "I'm sorry Shisui, Nell, and momma'." Images of the three all flashed in his mind just as quick as he said their names.

"NO!" Shubata shouted, gathering what amount of effort he had left to shout a empty cry, yet the no letter word meant more than just "don't"--it meant "help".

The Hollow released it's Cero again, but unlike before Michael had no defense, his body was an open target and in just seconds he'd be blown from existence.

"Strike, Aoi Inazuma!"

The sound of roaring thunder and the flash of lightning appeared as if from nowhere! The bolt struck the Hollow right in the mouth; the Cero it had been gathering backfired in magnificent fashion, and knocked the Hollow right on its ass! A bestial cry split the night; one of pure rage and hatred. But for all its protests the Hollow was, for the time being, paralysed. So the man took the opportunity to relocate the two who where still alive a little away from what would soon be a new battlefield.

"He was given Shinigami powers? What kind of show where you guys running here!? I understand that things an Adjuchas but for fuck sake he's only a kid!"

By rights the man who said this shouldn't even be here to deal with the fallout. This particular area was under the jurisdiction of the 1st Division, of which he was not a member.

"Now to save the kid."

"3rd Seat Kenji Hiroshi of the 9th Division reporting. Adjuchas confirmed at -52, 121. One Shinigami confirmed dead; the second seriously wounded. Cancel request for reinforcements. You can grill me about me being in the wrong jurisdiction after I kill this thing. Kenji out."

Not that there'd be any fallout in that regard anyway. Kenji had already received special permission from Captain-Commander Kyōraku to conduct an investigation into a new doomsday cult believed to be active in the local area. Said groups had been cropping up like flies ever since the end of the Blood War, and Kenji had documented more than a few in his travels. His mission had been quite simple: go to Houston and see if this new group had anything to do with the larger, violent and more organised Evening Primrose group. Thankfully they hadn't. The "doomsday cult" was little more than a single deranged homeless man shouting at his fellows, but a painless memory erasure was enough to shut him up. Kenji had been about to head back and make his report when he heard the emergency call.

By this time the Hollow was righting itself but its day was about to get a whole lot worse. Reciting incantations for what he was about to do would take too long; so instead he used extended hand gestures to achieve the same end whilst retaining full power. His movements resulted in several chunks of concrete dislodging from the ground around him and rising into the air, where he proceeded to weave a Kidō net between them which he subsequently set aflame. The chunks of concrete became roaring fireballs. He then made a brief spinning motion with his hand, which produced a blast of hurricane winds! The wind sent the chunks of burning concrete directly towards the Adjuchas. Each chunk smacked with concussive force until the Hollow was driven to its knees; its new wounds, coupled with the old, was enough to keep it stunned.

"Hadō #78. Zangerin!"

Kenji generated a large amount of lightning on his Zanpakutō before slashing once. This served to release that force in the form of a single, lighting-wreathed circular blade. Weakened as it was the Adjuchas was sliced vertically in half!

"Now... what to do about this?"

And his gaze fell squarely on the dark-skinned teenager who wore the trappings of a Shinigami...

For the most part, Michael had been unconscious during the entirety of the Kenji's arrive. At the very moment of his saving, Michael could see a figured dressed in the black garbs much like Shisui, but honestly, he thought he'd been hallucinating.

For him, it seemed as though hours passed, but in reality, it had only been a few short moments. His eyes opened slowly and met with the striking red gaze which was the eyes of Kenji. He laid there for a moment, "Am I dreaming?" He thought, "Am I dead?" he wondered. "No." He'd go on to answer his own question. "I got saved." He concluded. Plenty of possibilities rolled through his mind but he knew for sure that he had been saved.

Slowly he lifted himself up. Dust of the Hollow blew away in the wind, Kenji had defeated the Hollow that both Michael and Shisui struggled to even deal with. Its fragments passed by Michael and circled him, latching onto his body piece by piece by piece. Michael could hear a sudden ominous voice, one he'd never heard before. "This is just the beginning, you Shinigami!" These words could only be heard by Michael. For the moment he thought nothing of it as he had his own things he'd need to be worried about.

"You." He said, gripping his head as though it had been in some sort of pain. "What the hell is going on? I guess another one of these Shinigami niggas, Shisui was talkin' about?" Michael paused as he remembered Shisui met his demise to the same Hollow Kenji easily defeated.

The Telling Soul

Kenji had been standing with his back to the young man when he regained consciousness and began speaking. For the time being Kenji kept his back to him and remained silent; he still hadn't fully worked out how he was going to handle this particular issue. The Soul Society had certainly become looser in how they dealt with Humans gaining Shinigami powers ever since Ichigo Kurosaki saved them countless times, but this kid? He was a complete unknown. He could just as quickly end up like Kūgo Ginjō. But then even he had ended up helping during the Blood War.

"This is one headache I did not need today."

Kenji stood in the centre of what looked like an old derelict factory. The room was large -- easily two stories -- but had been gutted of equipment and furnishings save for an old television set, a ragged black sofa, and six small single beds squeezed into the top right corner of the room and well out of the way. The building was owned by one Maria Hill and had been left in this state for use by Kenji and friends back when the Evening Primrose still operated openly in this area.

Kenji finally spoke. "Yeah, I'm one of those 'Shinigami'," He turned to look at the young man directly, "And just encase you where wondering, this factory isn't far from where we fought that Hollow. And just an FYI, kid? You are now one of those 'Shinigami' too."

He stopped talking to let that sink in and stood with his arms crossed.

Usually, Michael would completely try to grasp his surrounding before attending to the current events that would be taking place in front of him. However, right now, this was not the case. He completely ignored the fact that the area he was currently in, was no longer the scrapyard the boy had been in while fighting the murderous Hollow. Disregarding this fact completely, he instantly reacted to the words of the man before him.

"Imma' Shinigami? Nah, hell, fuck, no nigga! I only did this because of the moment! I ain't wanna see-" He stopped himself in the middle of his rant, looking down to his hands and balling them to make a fist.

For a moment, he thought about Shisui--the man who'd died trying to protect the city Michael held so dear--being killed right next to him. "Look, Super-Shinigami-Nigga, I got a life all this Shinigami shit ain't me bro. Let's not ignore the fact, that THIS AIN'T NORMAL MY GUY! My condolences go out to Shisui, but I ain't tryna be some shit I'm not. Especially when I don't know what it is."

Kenji's face went from one of grave seriousness to one of confusion in no time at all. "The hell's a Super-Shinigami-nigga? The start of that sentence makes me feel good, but the end doesn't. Couldn't I get a pain in the ass who speaks proper English!?"

"I understood about half of what you just said."

The fact remained though that Shisui had put Kenji in a remarkable position. And the kid in front of him, all balled fists and anger, hadn't the foggiest idea just what Shisui had placed in his lap. "I thought about killing you, to save you from this exact situation. But I've sworn to protect Humans and because of that I stayed my hand. Van would have made a different decision."

But that wasn't Kenji.

He sighed. "Van always did say I was too soft. Guess the old bastard was right." Kenji then pulled a plastic chair one might see in a school classroom across the floor and beckoned Michael to sit down. Kenji remained standing.

"Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat this for you: you're in a remarkably precarious position. 'Normal' no longer applies to you, kid." And Kenji sounded grave. His tone left no doubt that Michael's very life was on the line. "Shisui gave you the powers of a Shinigami -- what exactly that means for you we'll get into later, because it involves a shit tonne of politics which I don't have the time to explain to you. So you'll get the 'Kenji's Bare-bones Breakdown to Being a Shinigami' and count yourself lucky."

To aid his explanation Kenji created a rough silhouette of the Hollow that Michael had fought using Kidō.

"This is what we Shinigami call a Hollow; you'll see this one is identical to the one you fought, but the usual variety aren't even close to this things level." Kenji then cut down through the silhouette's skull with his Zanpakutō. "These Hollow are born from the souls of Humans who fail to cross over to Soul Society, and it is a Shinigami's duty to purify them."

Kenji then snatched the blade that Michael had fought with earlier out of his hand. "... This weapon is your life, kid. It's called a Zanpakutō. Don't lose it. If you do I'll defenestrate you." He then returned the blade. "That blade you hold is the key to purifying Hollow. As I said, those that are purified are sent on to the Soul Society. What is the Soul Society, I hear you ask! I'll explain." And this was where Kenji smiled. "It's basically Heaven, with none of the benefits. But it's us who keep this world balanced."

Kenji finally turned to look at Michael. "Any questions?"

It was an open secret that 'Kenji's Bare-bones Breakdown to Being a Shinigami' had sold rather poorly, but Michael didn't know that.

Usually not the type to listen to long explanations, Michael actually found himself being more and more intrigued in the conversation with each passing sentence. Did he accept what the man was saying? No, hell no. But even then, the words that flowed were a very interesting bunch and when he finished Michael couldn't help but look down at the palm of his hands.

"At first, when all that shit with Sangius was going on, I thought I was bein' trolled or some shit." Again, he closed his hands and tightened his grip. "But then errthing started lowkey becoming more and more realistic. Like I don't know how to explain it. You rambled about the duties and all this shit, but to be honest, I ain't cut out for that shit from what how you been explaining it." Lifting his head, he set his eyes on Kenji.

"You talkin' about heaven with no benefits. I ain't about to sit here and let you fog my view on the heavenly plane that is written in the bible. Yet, after the stuff today I wouldn't even think you lying, fam. Yeah, Shinigami and all this extra shit you keep mentioning might be real and have a meaning, but I think y'all might have hired the wrong employee my guy. You said purifying Hollows and shit, bro ion even know what you talkin' about. A nigga like me ain't build for shit like this! This some 2009 Ghost Busters type shit!"

Reaching for the nearby wall, slowly lifting himself up fighting through the pain, he perched his forearm up against it. He began to pull on the black attire, trying to rip it off of his body to only add on to the fact that he wasn't considering going through with these "duties".


"You where 'hired' because Shisui made an amazing decision, likely knowing he wouldn't be around to deal with the consequences."

This was precisely why Kenji hadn't liked this situation from the start. In the event a Substitute Shinigami should appear he or she was to be assessed and given a choice; cooperate with the Soul Society and work in their local area as a representative with certain restrictions, or be treated as a hostile. The second choice was no choice at all because it essentially meant death. Ginjō had made the latter choice and revolted and ended up dying for his trouble.

"Kid, I'm afraid I'm making the decision for you, because you wouldn't like the alternative. You can't protect anything if you're dead." That left no doubt as to what declining meant. Apparently killing Humans -- who Shinigami where duty-bound to protect -- was allowed if one of them got uppity and gained the power of a Shinigami. "I've strict laws to follow and I'm already skirting over the line of what is permitted and what isn't."

He began pacing as he casually stroked his chin. He had shaved before taking this assignment and truth be told he missed his beard.

"So sit down and open those ears because we've got a lot to discuss, starting with souls." Kenji again made an apparition appear through Kidō; it was of vague Human shape and consisted solely of an outline. "You're going to be seeing a lot more of these guys. Your job is to protect these little critters and perform Konsō on them. What is Konsō? It's essentially a burial minus the shovel and dirt, which you perform by jabbing the poor sod on the forehead with the base of your new shiny sword. Shinigami govern the Spirit Cycle of Souls. When you perform Konsō, or kill a Hollow with said-shiny-sword, you're fulfilling your job."

Kenji then grinned. "There are no day offs, the pension-plan sucks something fierce, and there's no union to complain to." He said it so casually that it was hard to determine whether he was joking or not.

"Look, Shinigami, my guy, I can't do it bro. Regardless of whatever it is that Shisui said, that ain't me. I'm sure there's a T.V in this Soul Society that you talkin' about. My career already laid out! Saving people ain't even in my memo. If it ain't my family, I ain't tryna risk my life, especially at my current status. I'd be puttin' a lot of on the line and disappointing hella people." Back straight, face forward, and sights set he looked right into the eyes of Kenji.

Continuing to attempt to rip the robe off of his body, but upon being unable to do so he gripped his hair and began to pull on it. Truly the teen was frustrated with what he'd been dealing with currently. Yeah, he talked the talk of not wanting to protect complete strangers, but at the same time, he felt pain in his heart from those words he stated.

But wait. Something hit it. It hit him and it hit him hard. There was a specific sentence that managed to resurface and echo in his psyche. "That blade you hold is the key to purifying Hollow. As I said, those that are purified are sent on to the Soul Society. What is the Soul Society, I hear you ask! I'll explain...It's basically Heaven, with none of the benefits. But it's us who keep this world balanced."

"Nell.... Nell..." He reached for his eyes and rubbed them with his fingers, holding back the ponds of water that resting in his sockets. "If I do this... if this true.. imma' be able to.. see Nell?" A smile emerged on Michael's face, yet he was able to keep it hidden from Kenji. A sign that he had yet to fully believe and understand the situation.

"Gettin' in trouble with the law is somethin' I wanna avoid. But you gotta explain this shit more for me. You threw everything at me like a textbook. But you gotta be able to come to agreeing terms with me."

"Yeah, it didn't sell well for that reason." Kenji was musing more to himself than to Michael though.

"That's fair." Kenji finally acknowledged. "The truth is that your situation currently has occurred only twice before, at least that I am aware of. Human's are not supposed to gain the power you have but in the rare instance it does happen, we've been cautious. I don't know you well enough at the moment to explain this in a way that you'll understand, because you simply haven't experienced it. You've fought a Hollow but there's so much more to the job than simply killing masked beasts."

It was then that Kenji slumped down onto one of the available chairs.

"... So I guess that making it so you understand all this new stuff I've been throwing at you is my job now." He returned to a standing position. "But where to start? I can't throw you at Hollow as you are now and expect you to hold your own. No, we need to develop your foundation; give you something solid to work from, and build on going forward. So I guess we'll start with Hakuda and Zanjutsu -- that's hand-to-hand and swordsmanship to you."

"Yeah, you and only you. If you can't be the one to teach me, I'll instantly drop all of this." He responded, standing tall once again, but the thoughts from earlier seemed to have been what drove him. "There's a chance that I'll see Donnell in this Soul Society and I got no reason to not believe him after all this that's been goin' on."

"I wanna' make another suggestion too," He waved at the man. "Foundation and all that shit is good, but I don't wanna' use these fam." Michael made a fist and twisted his wrist to show the man exactly what he meant by "these". "They got me into hella' trouble in the past and it's always been somethin' that haunts me. I can't control 'em I always seem to lash out. So if imma' be doin' any fightin', it'll be by that sword and the power Shisui gave to me."

Leaning against the wall he grabbed his wrist. "Teach me how to fight by the sword, only so I can protect the people. But, priorities are always first. If I feel my momma is even close to being in any life threatenin' situation, I will leave from whatever duty I'm part of and go to her aid without a question. Kill me if you have to."

"Then I guess we know where we're going to start then, eh?"

Kenji's features adopted a sudden and fierce cast; as if a switch had been flipped and the man standing before Michael was completely different. The air around him began to crackle and electricity danced along his limbs. He then reached for his katana and wakizashi respectively. The katana sported blue hilt wrapping and a square guard inlaid with lightning motifs which was worn at his waist in the traditional style threaded through his ōbi. The wakizashi bore red hilt wrapping and a bronze circular guard which he wore strapped horizontally across the small of his back. As the blade flew from their sheaths the blades overflowed with beautiful and magnificent surges of blue-coloured lightning.

"Strike, Aoi Inazuma!"

The daishō combination that comprised the pre-released state of Kenji's Zanpakutō straightened upon the voicing of the command word and name, and produced two jutte-like prongs near the base and tip that appeared much like the fangs of a wild beast, which continually produced surges of lightning. The two blades he held where connected together t the base through means of what could only be described as a rope of lightning.

"This is a Zanpakutō; this weapon is not a mere tool. What you saw me do just now is called 'Shikai', and no two are the same. Each is unique unto their wielder. When I'm done with you, kid, you'll know the name of your own Zanpakutō."

The Training Soul

"Shikai?" Michael thought back to Shisui called forth the name of his Zanpakutō and the power that seemed to be unleashed. A mental image of that very moment flashed in his mind, the flames of Shisui's blade obscured his view. Snapping back to reality those very flames were replaced by the electricity of Kenji's own blade.

Furthermore the blade's change in appearance took him by surprise, something that Shisui's own neglected to do. "Shisui did somethin' like you just did. He said his Zanpakutō was being a bitch or somethin' like that. But he said a long paragraph, it was more in detail than yours was. Is there a difference in this type of thing?"

For the first time, Michael truly showed a form of curiousity in front of Kenji. He seemed to actually seem like he had some sort of care for the things in front of him. This was mostly due to the fact that all of this was foreign knowledge to him, Zanpakutō, Shikai, Shinigami, the whole nine yards, but unlike with the explaination of Shinigami, he was actually intrigued by the concept of the Zanpakutō and wanted to know more.


And that was exactly what Kenji had been hoping to see: excitement. The pursuit of knowledge was useless without it.

"First of all, these aren't 'things', 'tools' or even 'weapons'. Your Zanpakutō is a living embodiment of a Shinigami's soul and power. Each has a personality that is all its own, you see, and while it mirror's its owner to a degree, there can be significant differences. Shisui's was being a bitch, you say? Some can be like that. I'm told that my friend's Kōsekihana is much the same." He smiled as if recalling a memory; Van was beating his blade against a large stone, and the language that poured from his mouth was vulgar to the extreme, whilst Kenji sat atop a similar looking stone in a meditative pose with Aoi Inazuma laid across his lap. "Mine for instance? She's a beaut."

Aoi Inazuma subsequently returned to its former appearance and Kenji sheathed her respective blades.

"All Zanpakutō have two stages of release: Shikai, which you've seen already, and Bankai. You don't have to worry about Bankai just yet, so we'll stick with the first stage. To unlock Shikai one must know the name of the spirit inhabiting it. And no, that does not mean you start giving it names on the fly! It has one already and I'm afraid to learn it you'll have to get to know it first."

He smiled again for he was momentarily reminded of the time Ace had attempted to guess his Zanpakutō's name.

"Any questions before we start in earnest?"

He asked because the easiest way for a Shinigami who was completely unfamiliar with the process of Jinzen or meditation to enter their Inner World was to be forced there. That could be achieved through Kidō easily enough but that method involved little risk, and thus little return. Another method existed and that was quite a bit more dangerous for it involved the genuine threat that one's life was about to end. In the case of a Zanpakutō knowledge was power. Looking into the cold abyss and walking the line between life and death again and again and again was one of the quickest means of building bridges between a Shinigami and Zanpakutō Spirit.

After all this wasn't the first time Kenji had oversaw this type of training. Ace, Kichō, Mikado and Momoko could all attest to that.

"Bankai.. beyond Shikai?" The ebony thought, placing his fist on his chin as he listened closely to Kenji, something he only did when learning a new play from Coach Young.

"I see." He finally spoke, eyeing his own sword at this point. "So I guess it's a whole different being inside of here which means they aren't "it"s, but "they"s instead, right? So all I gotta do is find out its name and I'll get past this basic level stuff y'all call "shikai"? If that's all, I ain't got any questions, let's get straight to this shit."

Yes, straight to it. Talking wasn't going to cut it with this hard-headed teen. He always needed actions, just like after he had a play explained to him. He always requested the Coach Young enact this play so that he could have visual experience and would then go on to try it himself and would continue to practice it until he got it down packed. Right now was the exact same thing.

"Heh, if you say so, kid."

The change in Kenji at that point was extreme to say the least. It wasn't his disposition or even the way he stood, but rather the feeling he emanated that changed so abruptly. Not only that but his crimson eyes appeared sharper; like those of a predator who was about to sink its teeth into its prey. The man standing before Michael had certainly been distant, for he had yet to even properly introduce himself, but he was not what one would have called violent up until now.

That changed.

Kenji shimmered; one minute he was standing a few feet from where Michael had been standing, the next he was standing behind the dark-skinned teen with the blade of his katana resting gently against his neck. Not so gently that he didn't draw a trickle of blood however.

"In a real fight that would have been your head. Heed me well, kid, because from now I'll be coming at you like I'm trying to kill you. You have to the count of ten to draw your sword and fight. Oh, and focus."

Kenji stepped back purposefully at that point but the degree of killing intent he exuded made it feel like he was genuinely serious with his threat. His reiatsu made the malicious aura of most Hollow feel tame in comparison, and the smile he wore was one often seen on members -- current and former -- of the 11th Division.

A droplet of sweat crawled down the side of Michael's face as Kenji's words flowed into his ears. Not complete fear, but an uneasy feeling of a man being in one place at one moment then another in the next caught the teen off guard. Much like Kenji, Michael had also jumped back, but the distance he covered was minimal at best.

"Next time, be about it. I ain't never needed no body's grace to save me from a situation, especially not in no damn fight. So you can save all that graceful shit for the next motherfucka'."

Just as he finished, Kenji unleashed a wave of energy which completed engulfed the domain around the two. Yet, Michael felt as though that murderous unleash of power had been stationed and aimed directly at him. He swallowed his own spit as another droplet of sweat ran down the side of his face, following the exact same path as the previous one.

He brought his sword up across his chest, but kept it in his reverse grip hold, only waiting for Kenji's next move hesitant on what to do next.

"Save you?" Kenji goaded. "Kid, you have no idea."

For Micheal didn't understand the politics at work here. How could he? He was a Human with the only knowledge of Soul Society in his possession being the deliberately vague descriptions given to him by Kenji. There where only two possible outcomes to this scenario: Michael became an asset to the Soul Society through this exact training, or he died right here and now by Kenji's sword. Even if he somehow survived and refused to become a willing ally then he would eventually be hunted down, as had happened in the past before.

But exceptions existed and Kenji hoped very much that Michael proved to be one of these exceptions.

"Now to see whether he can actually do it. Come on, kid. Prove me wrong."

As promised there was no holding back: Kenji drew both his katana and wakizashi and flash-stepped behind Michael, where he readied a downward slash from his katana! The wakizashi, meanwhile, was held back encase it was needed to parry any counter Michael attempted.

Kenji's initial words were triggers to Michael, he quickly drew his blade from its sheath while managing to hold it in its reverse grip form. With sheath in one hand and blade in another, he looked a bit similar to Kenji in the regard of being a dual wielder, but obviously the skill gap between the two was evident.

Just as Michael fixed his mouth to respond to Kenji's statement, the man disappeared only to reappear behind him swinging his blade. While Michael's body was untrained to react to something so instantaneous, his mind was--allowing him to sense Kenji's presence behind him in time for him to lift his blade up and stop Kenji's very own from cutting deeper than what it already had.

Jumping forward to increase the gap between the two, Michael began to pant, Kenji's own reiatsu weighing down on Michael's. He could feel the blood from his opened wound sliding down his back and being absorbed by the cloth of the shinigami garbs he wore.

"Shit, he fast as fuck." Michael thought, turning around facing Kenji to "hide" his wound from him. "But, I think I got it."

Michael gripped his blade tighter and pulled it back as though he were readying a strike, glared into Kenji's eyes, then lifted his foot from the ground. Like Kenji demonstrated twice before, Michael had done just as the man had and disappeared and reappeared right behind Kenji, his blade already in the swinging forward motion he hoped to strike the man along his back much like he had done to him.

"Does he learn through observation without even realising it? Or is there another reason?"

That was Kenji's initial thought at any rate as Michael disappeared momentarily from view. "That wasn't an improvised leap; he used Shunpo." Kenji, however, followed the movement and spun quickly to parry the blade -- Michael's reverse grip allowed for wide attacks but those attacks, especially when the movements in use where essentially what Kenji himself had just performed, was easily dealt with. With the threat dealt with Kenji kicked low at Michael's legs and spun around him swiftly in order to approach his exposed back.

"Can't have you bleeding out on me, kid."

Kenji struck Michael's back with an improvised Kidō net, with an appearance not unlike spider webs, that pulsed at regular intervals with green light. The blood that was flowing just moments prior ceased and the wound, whilst still undoubtedly uncomfortable, was beginning to knit itself closed. Soon all that would remain would be a thin white line. With the wound treated for now Kenji sheathed his wakizashi once more.

"Can you do that movement again? Or was it merely a fluke?" Kenji asked before waving -- goading -- Michael to attack. In answer Kenji vanished to the far side of the room. "I'm something of a gambling man, you see. And I think it was a fluke."

"Now... prove me wrong."

His first chain of action was to gain space between himself and Kenji that at which he did with a greater leap from behind. He then brought his hand to his back and patted his former wound which had been healed through what he thought was magic, which was what it quite literally was.

"I ain't never capped in my life." Michael responded to Kenji, holding his sword in its famous position. "The technique basic at best. It's basically just a play of footwork and speed. Two things I gotta lot of. Coach Young call the shit a gift or something, I can see a dribble move once and be able to use it just like I was the other person."

Michael swiped at the air, "Honestly, 'Ion know about none of that, I just hoop. I know how this about to go, we about to go back and forth with you obviously having the upper hand. We can play that game a while longer, but I know this ain't gonna have shit to do with teaching me that shikai stuff you spoke of."

"I ain't in a rush at the moment, but..." Michael disappeared from where he stood, now standing behind Kenji breathing down the man's neck with his blade high over him, but at the same time swinging his sheath. "I'm tryna' get the real power."

How often was he going to repeat what was, essentially, the same manoeuvre? Twice Michael had instinctively used Shunpo; twice he had managed to move to Kenji's back, where he readied the same movement with only an additional step. Kenji twisted on the balls of his feet, met the blade with his own, and caught the sheath with his free-hand. He smiled, looking impressed, and held the sheath fast.

"Real power? Heh. Since when did you become an expert?" Kenji asked, his tone dripping sarcasm. "You wanna learn Shikai, as if it where something you could do by simply snapping your fingers, right? Not gonna happen, kid. That was a good strike, but that's all it was; there was nothing behind it. No soul! I told you before we started to focus!"

Kenji's body tensed briefly as he released a surge of reiatsu! Michael found himself skidding backwards as electricity danced along Kenji's limbs.

"Let me show you what I mean by 'soul'."

He slashed his katana to the side away from Michael and cut a massive rend into the floor! Kenji was hopeful that Michael would see, or rather instinctively feel, what had just happened; for it wasn't Kenji's own power that had resulted in the large hole currently in the floor, but rather a combination of his own and Aoi Inazuma's power turned loose and working in perfect sync.

"Now, focus. You aren't alone in this fight, not anymore; you've been part of a two-person team ever since that Zanpakutō appeared in your hand. Now, I want a real swing this time, kid, or my next will find its mark."

It was Kenji's desire to push Michael into a corner; to elicit a fight-or-flight response that would tear down his barriers and open the door to the "real power" he sought, if only a little at this point. Because at the moment there was no other option; Michael could not perform Jinzen in order to converse with his Zanpakutō to build the relationship. The spirit within had to be the one to initiate contact and at present the only way it would do that was if the threat to Michael's life was real. Even if he didn't hear its name and speak the command aloud now, if he could draw even some power from his Zanpakutō, it would be a success.

Kenji raised his katana aloft one-handed as electricity began to dance along its edge. "Get ready." And he hoped that Michael would challenge his attack with his own.

Kenji's first slash left Michael stuck. His eyes were opened and his body stiffened as though a spell had just gotten cast on him. The powerful slash skipped past Michael's cheek, literally millimeters away from taking half of his face with it. Using his left foot, he took a step back like he were stepping down.

The boy shook his head but could help to think about Kenji's most recent attack. "So, he was even still holdin' back. I know he missed that on purpose, my face coulda' been cut clean off. Is this what happens when you focus?" Michael shook his head once more and placed his left leg back in its previous location.

"I ain't alone in this fight?" Michael began to reflect on Kenji's words, but for the time being, he couldn't make a connection. Electricity shrouded Kenji's blade and Michael had a sudden flash image of Shisui releasing his own Zanpakutō and allowing the flames to overcome his blade. The teen didn't know the man, but for reason, he kept getting mental images.

With a sudden burst of speed, Michael leaped forward towards Kenji with his blade high over his head, reading to strike the man down right where he stood.

Kenji's face betrayed his hope for the briefest of moments; for his lip curled into a smile, and his eyes alighted in delight. He could feel the difference; not in the strength of or magnitude of Michael's spiritual energy, but rather in the resolve reflected in his blade, his eyes, and general posture. He had already came so far in so short a time that Kenji couldn't completely hide his pride.


Kenji swung his katana forward with a guttural roar! Before his slash had appeared like a wave of lightning leaping from the steel. Now he kept that electrical current shrouding the blade and he purposefully aimed for Michael's own Zanpakutō. His hope was simple: resonance. When one Zanpakutō resonated with another and the user's past was revealed to the other in the form of a short vision. The image, thankfully, was controlled by Kenji and what he showed Michael was his first conscious conversation with Aoi Inazuma, and how he did so through a process known as Jinzen; in the vision Kenji was seated atop a large stone with his legs crossed and his daishō pair laid across his lap. Michael saw this vision even as Kenji's lightning-wreathed slash sent him flying backwards!

"And now... I wait."

Michael’s body was thrown back, thanks to the overwhelming force Kenji placed behind his parry. The time his body soared through the sky, Michael’s mind keep a replay of Kenji sitting in the indian format with his blades across his lap, meditating with the Zanpakuto. Michael had no idea of what this process was, but obviously wasn’t the training that he and Kenji had been currently engaging in.

”What?” The teen thought to himself before making solid contact with the ground, his fall broken by his hip, but luckily it hadn’t sustained any threatening damage, other than the many scuffs across his face and the tethered portions of his shihakusho. Something he’d have to thank Kenji for later.

His Zanpakuto’s blade had the electricity of Kenji’s attack running down it, but somehow managed to avoiding latching on to the boy’s body. It were as if something were stopping it from even going past his hilt. “You sure are dumb.” A voice called out to him, feminine and obviously not belonging to Kenji. “Yeah, your dumb as hell.” The voice stated once again, her words directed toward Michael this time.

He looked around, but only saw Kenji. There was no one else. He looked deeper, way past the eye, but couldn’t even sense anyone either. “My god, there’s just no fuckin’ way I’m apart of you. What a dumbass.”

“What the fuck, who is that?!” Michael questioned, jumping to his feet looking around the warehouse only to find himself and Kenji once again.

“Pipe down will ya’?” She responded, “You can’t see me because of two reasons: One, I won’t let you come here. Two, you’re retarded, actually… retarded.” Michael lifted his blade, eyeballing the electricity woven blade. “Ah, you’re just a slow learner. We’ve been together for more than three hours and it took you that long to catch on? By the way, you letting that other Shinigami kick your ass is just a bad look.”

“My swor-, my Zanpakuto is talking?! What the fuck is goin’ on?!” He paused, “Wait, wait, wait wait…”

“Pipe down, pipsqueak. And referring to me as just “your sword” is rude, tha’ names’ ‘’’Tenrairyu’’’. And can you pipe down with that damn screamin’ you do? If it hadn't been the electricity of that attack, your voice woulda' woken me up for sure.” The electricity that dance on Michael’s Zanpakuto was absorbed into the blade. Soon after, a wave of wind was exerted from his blade. “Now that was good, not my preferred color, but a meal of electricity is a meal nonetheless.”

“Tenrairyu…” Michael thought, for the third time he got a mental image of Shisui once again, at the exact moment he called the name of his own Zanpakuto, Amaterasu. Then another of Kenji after he released his, Aoi Inazuma. “Her name is, Tenrairyu.” Michael stated, turning to Kenji while keeping his own eyes locked on his blade.

Kenji had maintained a respectful silence throughout Michael's outburst; he was well aware of the confusion that Michael was going through right now, especially since Kenji had kept his explanations vague. Michael seemed to respond more to observation and execution rather than explanation; he would have to remember that, in the future. And that was when Kenji realised that he couldn't -- wouldn't -- abandon Michael now that he had released his Zanpakutō. He had taken a large step, yes, but there where many more to be taken if he wanted to be useful to the Soul Society.

And he had to make himself useful. The Soul Society wasn't currently fit to coddle him; the war with The Coven had seen to that. But that topic could wait for a while yet.

"I guess he did prove me wrong."

As Michael declared the name Kenji began clapping. He wasn't being flippant or condescending, and the smile he wore showed that he was genuinely pleased. He couldn't help but notice however that he did not voice the release command: did he know it? Had Tenrairyu divulged everything? Or was she testing him yet more?

Only time would tell.

Kenji finally broke his silence. "I just hope your Tenrairyu is more reasonable than my Aoi Inazuma. She was... hesitant to teach me all my Shikai had to offer."

For a moment, Michael kept his eyes locked onto his Zanpakutō--Tenrairyu. He felt a bit of a security, he felt as though he had actually accomplished something, much like when his team won state in the Final Four Tournament. It was an epic feeling and while he hadn't been showing it, he truly felt it.

"What I gotta do now?" Michael asked.

Kenji unsheathed Aoi Inazuma and held the daishō pair out before him as he once again released the blades into Shikai. He started to explain himself before the katana and wakizashi had completed their transformation.

"I don't say 'Strike' for the good of my health or anything," he said. "You've learned Tenrairyu's name, but that's not enough to release Shikai. Every Zanpakutō has a release command; as you've no doubt guessed, mine is 'Strike'. Others still have another requisite. You said earlier that Shisui's Zanpakutō was being difficult? Some are like that. Some need to be forcibly awakened to be used in battle. It's hard to tell right now, but I guess you'll be learning a lot about Tenrairyu very soon."

Kenji then sunk to the ground and placed his two blades across his knees.

"So to answer your question: talk to Tenrairyu."

The Next Step

Again, his eyes still locked on Tenrairyu, he repeated Kenji's words in his head a couple of times. "Talk to". As crazy as it sounded, everything that matched these crazy accusations seemed to work. Michael clinched the hilt of his blade as Kenji dropped into his new position.

"Oh, let's see how it'll take you to figure this one out, Michael." This was the voice of Tenrairyu with its snappy nature. "It ain't like I'd give you my power anyway, you got some more maturin' to do before a command even comes to you."

Michael looked up at Kenji who'd already sunk into silence. That was the type of person Kenji was and while for a rookie such as Michael, it was the best method of teaching him. "Damn, how about you stop being so damn sassy, and help me out here!" He shouted at the blade, stabbing his blade into the ground with the impression of it possibly hurting her and getting his point across--but it did not.

"Come.. on.. my.. nigga! Can you not speak in riddles, dude?" This time he'd been talking to Kenji. "Obviously I picked the bitchy of the bunch. What exactly do I have to do?"

Kenji's face revealed the slightest of grins: he was enjoying this! The man's chest was moving with the very tell-tale signs of barely audible laughter. When his chest finally stopped moving and he exhaled a long breathe of air he finally fixed Michael with a cool red-eyed look.

"But isn't that half the fun?" Kenji finally answered. "Sorry, I'm just ball-busting."

He then returned to his feet.

"I'll go out on a limb here and say that Tenrairyu claims that you aren't 'mature enough', or some such?" He'd been down this path enough times in the past to have a good guess as to the thread of Michael's conversation with the spirit within his Zanpakutō. "If that's so then you can take heart: Tenrairyu acknowledges you in at least some form, or she wouldn't have told you her name. Capitalise on that and show her that you are ready. I'm a betting man, kid, and I'd bet good coin that what Tenrairyu is looking to see is some determination and resolve."

"Damn!" Michael shouted, reaching for the blade gripping the hilt of it with all of his might.

"That Shinigami's got a point. You gotta' show me your worth, you loud-mouthed brat before I'll even as far as have a conversation with you." Tenrairyu agreed with Kenji, but in the same sense barked back at Michael. "Me, commanded under some half-pint. In another lifetime where I'm altered."

"Worth? A'ight, a'ight, bet." Michael lifted his foot everso slightly, disappearing from the linear view of Kenji and appearing behind. He held his blade in its reverse grip hold but against the back of Kenji's neck. Almost as if he were trying to assassinate the man. "The only way I know to show my worth is by actions. So, don't even try to hold back this time, go all out with yo' shikai I'm ready to show her."

"... You asked for it, kid. Enkōsen."

Instead of voicing an incantation Kenji utilised the spell by signalling with the middle and index fingers of his left hand even as he held the blade. Michael's attack struck the shield, the spinning surface of which did much to dampen the teen's attack, before it shattered like a piece of glass. The shield did much more than stop Michael's attack; when his momentum followed through to where Kenji had been standing he saw that he wasn't there any longer! The shield had effectively hid Kenji's retreating Shunpo.

"He needs to break his chains; both those of his own making, and those imposed on him by Tenrairyu." Kenji wasn't blind: he could sense Michael's potential. "I just hope he survives long enough for Tenrairyu to fold her hand."

Kenji's eyes seemingly sparked with electricity as he resolved himself to do what he had to do.


The bolt of concentrated lightning was usually loosed from the finger. Kenji, however, leveled his Zanpakutō at Michael and fired from the touching tips of Aoi Inazuma. He had long ago learned how to channel the natural electricity of Inazuma Kyūshū into his Kidō spells to bolster their strength, and this one he aimed right at Michael's shoulder. By no means would it be fatal but it would do much to impair the teen's ability to fight back -- only through struggle did one grow and learn and it was very much this thought that drove Kenji's actions.

Michael had his game face on. This time he did not appear as though he'd been as hesitant as any other time Kenji attacked. No. Michael seemed much more confident. He lifted his foot once again, a preparational measure for utilizing Shunpo, but before he could pull it off, Kenji had launched an attack.

He lifted his own blade and readied himself for a deflect, but lowered his body as though he had something greater in mind. It was so that the lightning attack would completely miss his body. As the spell traveled over his head, it seemed to have redirected and latched itself on to his blade, resting at the tip almost as if Michael had taken control of Kenji's spell.

"Mhm, mhm, mhhhhhm!" Tenrairyu moaned in a sense that she'd just eaten something good. "Blue electricity just has that taste!" She added on. "If you keep this, then I might not have a problem with ya'! Now send it back!"

"Shut the hell up, I already caught on!" Michael shouted back, swinging his sword at the air which allowed him to send the electrical strike back at Kenji.

Kenji's sigh demonstrated well his exasperation. "Really? You're gonna try and hit me with my own attack? For that you deserve nothing less than my all!"

This was, of course, Kenji's own way of driving Michael into a corner. The words he spoke and the attitude he displayed was simply a means to an end: it was his role to force an evolution in the young teen, and damn it that was just what he was going to do. Michael had no way of knowing Aoi Inazuma's power; specifically that of Iazuma Kyūshū, which essentially made Kenji immune to the effects of lightning and electrical attacks.

"Kid... it's now or never. Judging from what I've seen, Tenrairyu is the only thing that can save you from this."

Kenji smashed his Zanpakutō into the oncoming strike and completely nullified its effect, before absorbing the force and amplifying it with his own power. What happened next was what Michael should be worried about, for the entirety of the strike was absorbed by Kenji's primary right-handed blade and subsequently transferred through the connecting rope to his secondary blade, which he levelled right at Michael.

"It's now or never, kid." Kenji declared. "If you face this attack alone you will die. Only by working together with your Zanpakutō do you have any hope of survival. Death or success: it's that simple!"

And Kenji's reiatsu surged massively. It was obvious that he was not holding back an inch; he was giving this next attack his all.


And from Aoi Inazuma's blade flew a bolt of concentrated purple-coloured lightning!

"This ain't a easy one, kid." Tenrairyu growled, her voice moreso excited that it was concerned for Michael's own safety. "How you gonna' deal with this one?"

Already over the fact that his own lightning attack had been dealt with relatively easily, Michael stiffened his stance. "Shut the fuck up, Tenrairyu! Didn't I tell you that I already caught on, you dumb ass!" Cocking his blade and holding his hand which held his blade underneath his opposing armpit.

A golden aura covered his body like armor. "Earlier, when Tenrairyu absorbed his lightning, I felt a sudden surge of power. It was like the power of his attack had changed and was absorbed into me." The electrical surges from Kenji's reiatsu made its stand. The attack he'd just launched was nothing like the one before. This one truly had a killing intent behind it and despite it being Michael's first time witnessing it, he felt every bit of it.

Kenji had honestly been a Shinigami capable of holding a higher position than he was granted, once even offered the role of lieutenant by the captain of the Eleventh Division, and despite Michael knowing nothing of this, he'd soon feel it... if he didn't think of something and fast.

The teen's pores opened up, sweating leaking out from each of them both due to his own nervousness and Kenji's reiatsu. Even though he was uneased, he did not waver nor stand down. Tenrairyu took notice of this. "I see, so maybe this kid isn't JUST a loud-mouthed brat. Oblivious, yeah, but a coward? Far from it."

Too many thoughts flowed and too many words were expelled, Kenji's attack began to close in on Michael and fast. "I guess I can help you out a bit, you dumb kid." Tenrairyu stated, just moments before Kenji's Seitennohekireki would connect with the battle stance teen.

"Well damn, it took you long enough." Michael stated in response to his Zanpakutō.

"Heh, I can't just give my power to the needy ya' know." She sarcastically remarked. So, just say it with me.

"Even the needy can't go unnoticed for too long." He responded.

"Now... ROAR TENRAIRYU!" The two voices of Tenrairyu and Michael synced together, to create a thunderous roar of lightning. The instant the statement was finished, a thick bolt of yellow lightning ripped its way through the ceiling of the abandoned warehouse the duo trained in, targeting and striking down right over Michael.

The clash resulted in a grand explosion which blew the glass off its frames and all loose items within the warehouse right through the walls. Kenji's own technique added on to the explosion's force, literally blowing the walls off of the building. The amount of reiatsu in the area around Michael was insane. But the smoke in the area managed to keep his physical body concealed.

Kenji assumed his full height and smiled briefly.

"See, kid? You can muster the resolve."

With the immediate task done -- and Kenji feeling more than a little proud -- he sealed Aoi Inazuma and returned both blades to their respective sheaths, and then dropped down onto his backside on the floor and heaved a heavy sigh. Michael had yet to emerge from the smokescreen but Kenji wasn't bothered. He could tell by the steadiness of his reiatsu that he was alive and kicking.

"... You know, I'm gonna milk this. I'll call it 'Bolt From the Blue: The New Substitute'. I'll need to see if I can't hoodwink him into a contract later down the line giving me exclusive access to his story." The only thing unclear was whether or not he was joking. "Now, what did I do with my pen?"

And suddenly Kenji's devilish grin had nothing at all to do with training, and he settled down to enjoy what was left of the evening...

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