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A week has passed since Kentaro and his friends had their first disastrous run-in with the Imawashī. Since then, Kentaro has taken the opportunity to flee his friends and protector so he can face this menace on his own without restraints...

Fateful Meeting

Waking from restless sleep and nightmares that saw his friends slaughtered one-by-one before his eyes while he could do nothing to stop it, Kentaro dressed himself quickly in the shade of the bushes where he'd spent the night tossing and turning among the thorns. His arms and legs, chest and stomach where covered in small pricks; some of which drew blood. Strapping on his zanpakutō and noting the blackened clouds overhead that promised rain, the young Shinigami began walking into the horizon, not really walking in any designated direction. His thoughts lingered on his battle a week previously, and the heated words he'd exchanged with Naibu before he slipped away in the night. Naibu had expressed his concern about the Imawashī's numbers, while Kentaro had urged a counter attack.

It was rare for the two to argue like they had done, but for once, Kentaro didn't care. His anger hadn't diminished and neither had his desire to see vengeance done to the Imawashī. "I'll kill them for what they done," He shouted internally. The heavens opened and rain soon had him soaked completely through when he wandered into a small village. The windows around revealed a soft glowing light, despite the early hour and dogs barked occasionally before their owners shushed them or brought them inside out of the rain. It hadn't taken more than a few steps before Kentaro was completely soaked through in the downpour. "Weather to match my mood." His silver-tinged black hair was lying over his face, shadowing his facial features and eyes. The homes around where built from stone and had slate roofs that allowed the rain water to slide right off them onto his head. "Dirty bad-" He reigned his temper in, determined he wouldn't let his mood sink further with the weather.

He wasn't sure when he became aware of it, but someone was watching him from the courtyard up ahead. The figure was that of a white-haired woman, young with a beautiful figure that made Kentaro's heart skip a beat. Harumi was pretty, but this woman was beautiful. Her crimson eyes were measuring, as though taking in every part of him before she walked forward and covered his sodden head with an umbrella. "We meet again, I see." Racking his brain for the womans name, Kentaro finally grinned and nodded. "Akiye," He breathed, "It's been... at least two weeks now, right? How are you?" His cheeks were reddening, but thankfully, his soaked hair hid his cheeks mostly; and if they didn't, he hoped she took it for fever. "Yes, it has." She replied, slipping her arm around his and smiling up at him. "I hope you girlfriend didn't treat you too harshly," A dangerous smile, Kentaro noted. "She isn't my girlfriend." He insisted as he walked with her below the shelter of a small bus stop. "Really? Her reaction suggested otherwise."

Leaning against the back of the shelter, Kentaro's eyes slowly followed Akiye's figure, though he quickly brought them eye-level when she turned to him and grinned cheekily. She'd saw, and that smile seemed to suggest she didn't mind much at all. "So different from Harumi," He observed before her voice reached his ears. "I thought you were traveling with your friends?" A slight narrowing of her eyes accompanied the question, and a wariness entered Kentaro's posture. She was fishing for information. "I was," He replied simply. If she was fishing, she'd have to fish a lot longer before he'd give her the satisfaction of the catch. "Oh? That's unfortunate. The one with rosy-hair was gentle on the eyes," It then occurred to him that he was in his Shinigami form, and she only a human. "How can you see me?" he asked without thinking, but then summarized that she must be spiritually aware. "I'm in my Gigai. You and your friends are not the only people who have spiritual powers... or Shinigami ones, either."

Wariness turned into a defensive posture, his right hand straying to his zanpakutō's hilt with the left opening as if for a palm strike. Narrowing eyes regarded her coolly and his posture radiated readiness like the dancing flames of a fireplace. "Who are you?" He asked somewhat viciously. "You were watching us train the other day," And if he thought what he was thinking currently was true, then she wasn't the average stunning-looking spiritually aware person one found walking the various paths of the Human World. "Yes," Her smile deepened, obviously she was somewhat aware of what he was thinking. "But as I said, the rosy-haired one was easy on the eyes... and you're quite handsome yourself, if I might say so." His mouth worked itself into a snarl, but questions died in his mouth as a large Hollow descended on the shelter and split its roof in two down the middle.

The youngster tackled Akiye to the ground, her grunt muffled by his chest as he relocated both himself and her with a hasty Sonído. "Where did he come from," He asked of no in particular. "A Garganta!" Akiye's finger pointed it out and Kentaro's nod was swift, his Sonído more so. The first Hollow fell to a horizontal strike across the torso before the youngster's hand overflowed with reiryoku as he fired the yellow flash of Ōkasen towards the descending Hollow. Their mouths contorted in pain before they vanished with the spell, but Kentaro was still traveling to the Garganta in the heavens. "All I need to do is touch...!" Sparks flashed and then again as a talon almost pierced his ribcage from the right. An Adjuchas regarded him with intelligent eyes, but its mistakes were twofold. One, it had attacked without aid and second, it hadn't stopped to analyze any of his abilities in detail. All it took was a circular motion to knock aside the talon and then a running motion forward to run in through the chest.

Akiye watched with a calm expression, as though she were never in any danger. "Why did he move me out of the way, though?" She asked herself. It confused her. For a time, he looked on the edge of drawing his zanpakutō to try and attack her, which would have been a suicide mission on his behalf, she duly noted. His skills were impressive, that was true, and for one as young as he was; but there was something buried under the surface that made her think of herself. "He should have left me be. I could have escaped myself no problem without his aid... but why am I grateful that he did?" She didn't know, but when she returned to her senses the battle was done with the young, rain-soaked Shinigami landing lightly, his zanpakutō clinking back into its sheath. "It wouldn't do to stay here," Was all he said before taking her by the hand. Surprise kept her from saying anything or pulling away. "If there's an Adjuchas with them, they belong to Averian's Army. More will come after sensing my presence, and since you have spiritual energy yourself, you'll be a target to." The two walked into the rain-filled horizon quickly, Akiye noticing Kentaro's eyes taking in his surroundings calmly and assuredly. He had done this before.

One Persons Betrayal? Another's Hunt

Shigeru Yuudai watched his other comrades carefully, a slight tightening to his shoulders the only indication of his readiness to act in self-defense. Akiye had yet to return from her mission to locate Kentaro and now Shigeru was the one that had to answer for her running off. "What does she think she is playing at!? When she runs off like this...!" A calm voice in complete self-control broke his thoughts. "Shigeru," The voice said and The Betrayer of Hope as people called him now looked up to regard Yajuu with a fierce expression that almost promised bloodshed. "She is your partner and you allowed her to run off with the enemy. Our eyes and ears tell us this."

"Just because the bitch is my partner," Shigeru replied curtly, "doesn't mean I'm her fucking keeper. Last time I checked, she was a grown woman... Or maybe the old Bastard wishes to purge our free will entirely?" Iba Ikari barked a laugh, obviously agreeing, while Yajuu's eyes narrowed in disgust. Kyū Senshi, the old dog of the group, rose and back-handed Shigeru across the jaw with enough force to knock him from his perch atop the dresser. "You will not refer to the Shadōkingu in such a manner again, Shigeru." Rising, Kyū leapt back to avoid having his skull split open. "And if you touch me again, you decrepit old shit, I'll break every bone in your body and deliver you to your precious Shadōkingu in pieces. We understand one another? Good." Iba was still laughing. So much so, in fact, that he toppled off his seat and landed on the floor. "I will deal with this." Yajuu said simply, turning to leave via an opened Garganta. "I will kill the boy and return Akiye as per the order of the Shadōkingu. Shigeru," Yajuu's voice grew dangerous. "Never threaten my partner again," With that, Yajuu vanished and Shigeru began planning how he was going to die.

The Search Continues

"This isn't like him," Harumi said again. Jinta ignored her for the most part, his attention on Naibu and how he was reading the trail Kentaro had left. "He slept here," The elder said, feeling the ground. Jinta found that a little hard to believe. If it where true, he slept among the thorns and tossed and turned the entire night. Blood was still visible on some of the thorns that weren't hidden by the shade. Riki stood with his eyes closed, Jinta mostly ignoring him to. "Kentaro... you fool! We've got assassins after us and you decide its a brilliant time to wander off! Gragh! He's so infuriating!"

There would be words. Hot words when they reunited. "The idiots blind as a bat," Jinta voiced internally. He couldn't even see how much Harumi cared for him. "She cried herself to sleep last night," He hadn't got a wink of sleep because of it, to be honest. But still, it annoyed him that that blockhead could simply wander off like that without a word to anyone. "Naibu-Sensei," Jinta asked, Naibu's black hair swaying in the rain as he turned. "Yes?" Pausing, Jinta motioned his mentor to follow him and stopped out of ear-shot of the others. "I know you won't like this, but what if he's already been..." Naibu stopped him with a finger to his lips. "He hasn't. Kentaro has... Let's go. Just suffice to say that he will not be caught easily. He is resourceful and cautious enough not to lose his head by sticking his head in the wolfs den. Now Jinta," The rosy-haired youth stopped, "no more ill thoughts. Your own mind is a dangerous toll if someone can use it against you. Believe and trust in him, as a friend and ally, and keep looking." Feeling relived, Jinta and his friends continued their search.

The Beast Makes Itself Known

Sitting in the protection of a large tree, Kentaro sat by the large fire he had made; warming his hands and clothes. He sat in nothing more than his boxers with a thin towel Akiye gave him wrapped around his shoulders as his other clothes dried in front of the open flame. Akiye was sitting opposite him with a towel draping her own shoulders, though she had two as opposed to his one. "You know," She said, moving around to sit beside him, "your defintely cuter than the rosy-haired boy."

"... His name is Jinta," Kentaro interjected tiredly. His bones ached from the chill and he wanted nothing more than to lie down and sleep for a while, especially after last nights nightmares. Her lip dropped into a snarl quickly, but was disguised behind a smile so quickly, Kentaro doubted seeing it in the first place. "I knew she was after something," He concluded. Rising to his feet, he picked up his semi-dried clothes and dressed quickly, finally strapping his zanpakutō on his back for a change. "I'll stay until morning," He said over his shoulder. "I won't let anything bother you, so get yourself some sleep."

She had to admit, though. There was a certain temptation to take him up on his offer. Somehow, she knew he would still be there, watching over her when morning came. It was a feeling unknown to her. She was used to waking at the slightest sound, attacking at the slightest provocation. Now, though, she felt at ease in his company. "... Thank you," She wished for the words back, but instead she turned and rolled over, taking his discarded towel and wrapping it around herself as though a blanket. But something tickled her senses and her lips started trembling. "No! Not now! Leave me... alone!"

A powerful presence filled the area and the wind became fierce. It carried with it the will to kill, almost like a stench. Kentaro had smelt it before, only the previous sense was much stronger and fouler than the one walking towards him. "You are Jinta Kanō, true?" The voice asked. "I'm Kentaro Hir-" He stopped, suddenly aware of the ruse. "Crap! Now he knows my name!" The figure in the darkness walked forward, eyes piercingly direct and with a grin that made Averian's look normal in comparison. "Ah, so I was correct, then. You caught on to slowly, I'm afraid."

Regarding the figure with a growing level of annoyance and spite, Kentaro cast a momentary glance over his shoulder and noticed Akiye standing behind him. She wore a black top and dress and held a zanpakutō that almost took his head off had he not dodged at the last second! "What the hell are you doing!?" His question remained unanswered. She surged forward, her strikes quick and precise. They clashed briefly, every strike forcing Kentaro back. Growling, he attempted to put distance between them by lashing out with a kick, and although he succeeded, it was not in the manner he had intended. His foot struck the muscular physique of the man who had addressed him previously and a single strike to the solar plexus doubled Kentaro over in pain and brought him to the floor in mere seconds. His vision shook, his head thumped and every bone in his body refused to obey him.

"So sorry," He heard Akiye say. "Your... one of the... Imawashī...! You... back stabbing... bitch!" Her eyebrows rose at his comments, and her foot snapped his left wrist. His screams filled the air, but they soon gave way to growls more befitting an animal. "Isn't that just so sweet!? I do like little boys like yourself who believe they know more than they do. Why, your barely old enough to be off your mother's apron strings and you already believe you know all there is to know. Boys like you don't live very long I'm afraid... But its still so adorable!" She turned to the man and nodded. "I liked this one, Yajuu. Kill him quickly, okay?"

Fear, anger, and pain floated within his mind, but he was only barely aware of it all. The one named Yajuu looked surprised as Kentaro's body was slowly covered in a protective white bone-like carapace, with his hair turning completely white in coloration. "What is this?" He asked of Akiye, though she looked as shocked and surprised as her comrade. "Is he... one of those Vizard?" No, this was different. There was no mask, she noted, and his spiritual energy felt more like that of an Arrancar. The two watched the development intently for a time, even as the youngster's spiritual energy continued to rise beyond his previous levels. Purple and black waves of energy emanated from his person, but the two still only watched.

Only when Kentaro's previously broken wrist snapped back into place and the hand gripped the ground beneath, did Yajuu strike! His enclosed fist approached the target, but his fist hit the solid bone-like carapace; leaving not a dent upon its surface. Mist left Kentaro's mouth and a roar; bestial in sound, echoed throughout the area! Backing away, Yajuu and Akiye watched with horror shown plainly on their faces as the boys body began undergoing a series of spasms, his cries loud and clear. Tears glistened in his eyes, and surprisingly, tears showed in Akiye's as well. "Yajuu...! What did you do to him!?" She made a move forward, but Yajuu's hand stopped her. "I did nothing, and you know it. This is his own doing. And I intend to describe what happens in great detail to our master... if you haven't turned your coat."

Kenji hollow form

The initial stages of the transformation...

Kentaro's transformation

...that results in a never-before seen form!

The duo wore shock like masks when Kentaro's morphing body slowly rose to regard them with intense levels of hatred, anger and spite. He was aware of every movement his body made, but controlling those movements was something beyond his control. The bone-like carapace surrounded him and soon cracked, revealing the newly transformed Kentaro. His hair lengthened and took a noticeable snow white coloration with ash-blond ends that hung roughly halfway down his back. His eyes remained their previous red, though they are now shown an intense and penetrating look, while his very facial structure altered to appear more stream-lined with slight shadows cast over his eyes. Clothing-wise, Kentaro's previous Shihakushō was replaced completely with beautifully ornate, ceremonial-like armor that protects the majority of his body, arms and legs and exposes only his neck and face. His elbows and shoulders are protected with flat guards with curved edges, while his knee guards bear spiked protrusions. On his back forms two short-swords, the longer of the two bearing a guard that resembles a sharp claw pointing down towards the hilt with an average pointed guard extending below that parts into two. The second short-sword is roughly half the length of the first sword and appears more like a long dagger than an actual sword, which possesses no real guard to speak of except a protrusion that runs beneath the cutting edge to support the blade itself.

A single roar sounded the beginning of their clash!


Kentaro's eyes opened to the familiar face of Naibu Shizuka standing above him. Harumi worked over his wounds with Kidō and both Jinta and Riki wore faces that showed both were glad to see their friend in one piece. "You used some pretty wild power," Riki noted, "Gave us all a good scare." Jinta finished. Naibu ushered them all out save Harumi who continued her healing without looking up. "When we arrived, you were alone and unconscious. But its clear for all to see that a battle took place. Tell me everything, Kentaro, and leave no detail." Kentaro sighed, and retold his tale. His meeting with Akiye, which made Harumi leave her healing half finished; the attack by the Hollow in the small town and finally his encounter with the Imawashī and how he had been betrayed. He left out the part about the mysterious transformation he took; but somehow, he felt Naibu knew, but the elder said nothing and only nodded. "I'll get Riki to finish your wounds. His saliva should be enough to do the job now, so think of it as your punishment for running off like you did. I don't think you need me to tell you you are lucky to be alive."

Next Story > A Time for Forgiveness.

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