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A lone figure walked down the streets of a small part of the Seireiti, his face masked in the shadows of the night. As he sipped from the contents of a metal casket, the figure looked from the corner of his eyes to peer down the many side streets; clearly suspicious of ambush. As he capped his casket and placed it inside a pocket of his jacket, he looked up at the clouds that were concealing the moon. However, as he contemplated his surroundings, he sensed the spiritual pressure of a Shinigami, and quietly began to move on.

His presence did not go unnoticed as 12 adult wolves surrounded the stranger. They did not snarl at him, as if assessing him, but they did not grant the man passage any further. One of their number, a blue striped and sharp looking wolf, looked over to a nearby cliff that overlooked the area. A figure in navy blue clothes sat atop the cliff. He looked down upon the intruder with emotionless eyes.

The figure looked up at the wolves' commander. For a moment an eerie silenced settled before he suddenly said, "Can I get going now? I have things to do, places to see."

Please state your business passing through these fields. An eerie voice came from the figure on the cliff, but it was as if he spoke to the traveler's mind.

The figure looked bored, and said flatly, "I don't remember having to answer to the Gotei 13... but it has been a while since I last saw you when I was a capain, Nodoka."

Nodoka jumped down from the cliff. Verus. How's life outside the barriers of the Gotei schmucks?

The figure, Verus, said simply, "The only difference is that I can't order as many people around. Now then, I'd love to stay and chat, but as I said before, I have places to be." Though he said this, he still stood still; not moving until the wolves gave him an opening.

The wolves held their ground, not even flinching when Verus stepped forward. They simply stood stationary. Nodoka wheezed what seemed to be a laugh. He then 'said' Those wolves are used to piddling spirit energy as yours. You pose no threat.

Verus seemed to be overly irritable today; as expressed by the fact that instantly he was behind Nodoka with a sword to his throat. "No threat eh? Then why is it my blade is at your neck before you could even react? And don't say you knew I wasn't going to land a blow; your eyes tell me more than your words. Psychology lesson 1... if their eyes contract they have just recieved unpleasurable results." However, instead of letting the scene continue, the blade Verus held suddenly vanished, and he turned around to walk away.

Nodoka looked toward Verus as he strode away, and he burned with anger against him. He put his hand on the hilt of his sword. I am not the same person you once knew. Master Kurosaki has taught me quite well. I know that I can kill you.

Verus stopped and glanced back, "Try it then." As he let that hang in the air, he turned away and continued on.

Nodoka was suddenly infront of Verus and exhaled, sounding as if he were suffocating. He had his massive Zanpakutou in the ground; a giant double edged sword with a jeweled skull on the blade's connection to the hilt. It was a dark obsidian skull with cloudy blue diamonds for eyes, nose, and teeth. The teeth were arranged in a grim smile. The edge of the hilt had a chain on the end of it with a small leaf attached to the chain. Nodoka wheezed again, this time making his laughter more prominent. He then said, Let us see who is the stronger of us. He leapt toward Verus, slashing at his head.

Verus sidestepped the blow to Nodoka's left. He didn't stop their; grabbing Nodoka's wrist with his left hand and sliding himself forward by sending Nodoka's arm. As he moved forward, he brought his arm up under Nodoka's shoulder; after of which he performed a basic shoulder throw; sending Nodoka tumbling onto the ground. As he did so he was completely silent; except for his still leveled breathing.

Nodoka smirked as he was flat on the ground. He stood up and brushed off the dirt on his garbs. He looked over at Verus and said, You still are as strong as I remember, Verus. You were always able to dodge my broad attacks. He spat on the ground, and picked up his blade. Yet, do you remember what I was capable of?

Verus was silent, for a few moments before responding, "I've only ever heard of what you are capable of; I've never actually seen it, so I can only remember what I've been told; not what I haven't seen."

Nodoka raised his sword to an attack stance, but he gripped it with both hands. He then spoke, "'Show Your Sorrow, Itoyanagi'." His sword then transformed into a gigantic scythe. The blade had a dragon and a lion engaging in battle.

Verus stared at the scythe for a moment, before commenting, "Well, you showed me something special about your Zanpakuto... so its only fair I show you what's special about mine... have you ever heard of my release?"

Nodoka leaned against his blade. Something about manipulation gases in the air?

Verus sighed, "I've gotten that response before from some people that were in my division... but that's not the full answer." Suddenly the very air seemed to thicken, and Verus held up his right arm; causing his blade to suddenly slowly materialize back into his grip. As the end of his blade began to appear, he muttered, "Let me show you the truth..." At the moment the blade's tip appeared, Verus whispered, "Fold, Ateisuto." The sword remained, but it was clear something had changed; even if Nodoka couldn't understand it at the time.

Nodoka then sniffed the air as if something was emitting a stench. He then noticed his blade began to quiver. He smirked and said, You do realize that I absorb spirit energy with my Shikai, right?

Verus smiled, "Notice did you? Good. It makes my job so much easier when you do things for me..."

Nodoka then raised his scythe, and swung it down at Verus.

Verus was silent, before switching his sword to his left arm and countering Nodoka's attack which came from his right arm. Using his own blade to push the scythe out of line, Verus lunged in quickly and stabbed Nodoka in his stomach with his index and middle finger; his other fingers tucked in; a sword charm. His middle finger was the only actual one to hit; because of the small area of the tip of his finger, there was much more energy per square inch than if he had pulled a normal punch. Due to this, the attack was much more potent; knocking the wind out of Nodoka and making him bend forward involuntarily as the attack was driven into his solar plexus.

Nodoka coughed, then smirked. Psych! He faded to a wisp. Try to find me now!

Verus looked around for a moment, before looking up at the sky. The clouds were still there... but now the moon was clearly visible; an impossibility. Verus thought for a moment, before seemingly realizing something. He let his sword vanish, though it was still released, and began to walk away as he had attempted to do before.

Even the coldest swordsman experiences fear', rang Nodoka.

Verus silently accepted this without remark, and continued to walk away. I have too much to live for to be scared and die from something like this... Even though he said this, it was clear his heart rate was at least increasing a tad.

As the darkness seemed to close in toward Verus, strange, creepy laughter started. Hahahaha Heeheeheehee Hohohoho... This continued to echo in the area.

Verus let out a deep breath, and began performing a meditation exercise while moving away from where he and Nodoka met. As his breathing came under control, so do his heart rate and mind.

Just as Verus reached his own peace, a man with black hair, black clothes, a scythe of obsidian, and pure white wings stood in front of Verus. He did not move except to lift a bony hinger to point at Verus. He then let out a hiss that would have caused anyone's blood to run cold, "You're dead."

Verus looked at his right hand for a moment; still calm. "No I'm not; if I were I'm pretty sure I would know." Suddenly he cut through the man; his blade rematerializing and disappearing again within seconds. The blow had nearly cut the man in two; as the man registered this, Verus was already walking away once more.

"You don't seem to get it..." As he finished speaking, vines sprung out of the man and wrapped around Verus. They also wrapped around Verus' blade.

Verus sighed, "I thought you were smarter than this..." Suddenly, the air itself blasted away the vines; freeing Verus from his entrapment. Verus looked up at the moon; it had moved slightly since this had began, and that was a good sign for him, bad sign for Nodoka. Time to go on the offensive... Verus closed his eyes and felt for his Reiatsu; as expected, Nodoka's own shikai had dispersed it evenly throughout the entire area. His hypothesis was beginning to look correct.

Geez, you have a lot of spirit energy, mused Nodoka as 4 trees sprouted around Verus. Each tree grew to about 3 stories tall each. They all pulsated with Verus' stolen spirit energy.

Verus smiled, "I must thank you after this is over." Suddenly, the very air began to pulsate, before all of the oxygen drew into a bubble about 5 meters in radius; with Verus at the center. Now the only spot in this deserted area where a person coudl survive was within Verus' range of sight; any other living beings would die if they were not inside the bubble. The bubble moved with Verus, and as such he continued to walk through the area where it had all began.

Hmm...You are able to control the elements then? Interesting. Nodoka suddenly appeared beside one of the trees just outside the 5 meter radius, yet he was breathing normally. He smirked and said, You really should read more. Trees produce oxygen by taking in carbon dioxide. My trees still survive even without the oxygen in the air. And for a small sacrifice of spirit energy I can increase the output of oxygen. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a match box. He pulled out a match and lit it. He smiled evilly and said, Also, oxygen is flammable in a pure state. Not a good choice of tactic my friend. Nodoka lazily tossed the match toward the bubble, setting it ablaze.

Verus was unharmed, as the oxygen bubble suddenly disappated; letting the flames go out, before coming back in. This time however, another gas came into the bubble as well; all the carbon dioxide in the area. He was now starving the trees, and so they withered to the ground. "That was smart; reminding me of a plant's achilles heel," commented Verus. He continued to walk away; his bubble of carbon dioxide and oxygen following him; now being the only area of life."

But as the trees withered, they sprouted back up looking healthier than before. Nodoka laughed, which sounded normal-ish this time. Nice try. Yes my plants may follow the rules of regular plants, but they always have a secondary source. Your spirit energy.

Verus sighed, "You do realize you're helping me right?" No one answered, and so he continued, "Very well, let me just demonstrate your mistake." Pointing his blade with one arm at the general direction of the trees, he muttered, "Some no Tei, Gensuibaku." On that command, within 5 seconds, all the trees exlpoded within mushroom clouds; decimating them. More trees regrew, but they continued to explode and die, and the regrowing process was clearly taking its toll on Nodoka as every few moments a gasping whisper could be partially heard. The scariest part was that Verus did not seem tired by all the explosions. Verus explained simply, "My spiritual pressure is highly corruptive... when you took it in as your own, you did not realize that by doing so you corrupted your supply as well... thus I can fuel my attacks off of your own energy to a degree... you need to learn to control your spiritual pressure more."

Nodoka gasped as the carnage ensued in front of him. He then held his scythe with both hands and charged at Verus, no plan in mind.

Verus watched as Nodoka charged, but did not act until the last second. As Nodoka's scythe came down, Verus whirled his left arm; grabbing Nodoka's left arm and once again pulling himself forward. This time however, he let the momentum carry him all the way behind his opponent. As he did this, he let his blade disappear and put his right hand into a sword charm once more. Twisting, he brought his sword charm into line with Nodoka's neck, and stabbed at a particular point on the back of his head. The attack was strong with pinpoint precision; hitting a pressure point as intended. The point in question was connected directly to a person's eyes. As such, as Verus hit it with his sword charm, Nodoka's vision disappeared.

Nodoka was paralyzed with fear. Not only couldn't he speak, he was now blinded. He also heard a ringing in his ears. He tried to get up, but he couldn't muster the strength to get up. He then sensed that his sword returned to its original form. He then sensed that Verus was approaching him.!!! I can't lose. I can't. Hikaru...he's taught me so much. He hand selected me for his company. I can't lose. I...WON'T LOSE!!! He then jolted up to his feet, still blinded, but he could still hear. There was no movement, but he could tell Verus was in front of him. Nodoka wheezed, then spoke, "I can't...d-die...y-...yet. If...I" Nodoka's head jolted straight up and was eye to eye with Verus, even though he didn't know it. He swung his sword horizontally at Verus.

Verus watched the attack coming, "I think its about that time to wrap things up... Tsugi no Tei - Kurodaiya." Suddenly Verus' arm disintegrated. However, as the attack came, it was seemingly stopped by an invisible force protecting Verus. Verus said simply, "The carbon in my arm is now being used as a net formed of a structure called carbon nanotubes; even when weaved together they are invisible... however they are also strong enough to protect my from most attacks... when I used it within the 6th division, it came in handy for live captures." Suddenly the net, though invisible even to Verus, wrapped around Nodoka's blade and swung it out of line, before wrapping around Nodoka's legs and causing him to fall to the ground.

Nodoka smiled and said, Just what I needed. He got back up as if nothing had happened. As he did, a black substance flaked off of his clothing and sword. When you used that attack, you left some of your spirit energy in it. Yes I know it is corrupted, but you only corrupted my trees. They were only extensions of my power. His eyes blazed with a shade of gray. He then was engulfed in a gray reitatsu. He stood upright and stuck his sword in the ground to be completely upright. He inhaled, then exhaled. He then said, I have been hiding this power for a while now, but I think it's now or never. He then spoke, "Seishin Gaidoku..."

The Grey Ghost[]

Verus looked bored, He doesn't understand the very bad mistake he made by doing this... Verus sighed, "You know what, I'm just going to finish this up all at once... Conduct, Ateisuto." Suddenly, Nodoka found his legs trembling and then causing him to fall to the ground against his what his mind directed. Verus looked at him on the ground, "When you took in my spiritual pressure you gave me the free reign to your body... a very foolish thing to do... carbon is the main part of the organic compunds that make up the human body... and so I control your muscles now... and its all thanks to; normally it takes a lot longer to get my reiatsu into a person." Nodoka's arms were now at his side; he was lying on his stomach on the ground; unable to move his legs or arms.

Nodoka trembled at this, then smirked. Psych again. He stood as if nothing had happened. He swung his blade as if shrugging off the attack. He then said, You don't get it either. His sword arm began to pulsate and exude a dark energy. It was Nodoka's reitatsu, but it seemed more sinister than before. It seemed to emanate death. I'm not human. I never was. I never will be. The reitatsu on his arm then formed as a cloud like formation on his blade. It then covered the entirety of his blade, turning it to a constantly shifting gray-purple.

Verus smirked for a moment, "Excellent... now I can use some stronger attacks on you... San no Tei - Ekitai Chisso." Suddenly mist erupted from the air around Verus, chilling Nodoka's senses and making it harder on him to sense where Verus was; oddly Verus' spiritual pressure couldn't be tracked, even when they were only with a few meters of each other. Suddenly Verus' blade deliberately clashed with Nodoka's scythe; Nodoka could faintly hear the trickle of liquid as it coated his weapon. Verus was still silent, and after another moment of waiting, he came from out of nowhere and slashed down with his blade; once more hitting at Nodoka's sword. However, this time Nodoka heard the sound of a blade and handle shattering in his grip. His weapon was now in too and both ends were so brittle another attack would probably shatter either end. Another attack then came and shattered the end of the scythe with the blade on it.

Nodoka waved his sword around for a moment, then smirked as the icy coating began to melt from it. The weapon still had some cracks in it, which were quickly remedied. Nodoka looked over at Verus and said, I don't mean to contridict every single attack you make, but if you studied your Japanese, Seishin Gaidoku means "Soul Virus". He pointed his blade at Verus. "It infects and destroys any reishi foreign to what I dictate. In this case, the reishi that forced that Nitrogen to freeze upon my blade. Nodoka swung his blade at the air, actually cutting the mist. And the mist as well.

Verus sighed, "That's ok... I figured out your trick... this next attack... will prove my theory." Suddenly Verus brought his blade down for a moment before activating flashstep. With incredible momentum he slammed into Nodoka's new form and drove both of them away; sending them both at least 5 miles. Both were in the air, so at the last second Verus disengaged his blade with a push that sent Nodoka flying down to earth. As Nodoka crashed into the earth, stunned, Verus once again had his blade coated in liquid nitrogen. Then he stabbed him in the solar plexus. Nodoka wondered if Verus had forgotten, before realizing they had exited the 2 Ri dome that had it center where his blade had first been released. The nitrogen was shilling his inards. Verus looked down at Nodoka with calm dispassion once more. "I was right..."

Nodoka smirked, The dome has been gone Verus. Nodoka stood up, once again having the nitrogen melt off. He laughed hoarsely. You think I'm on;y spirit inside the dome? He stuck his blade in his chest, and pulled it out. Gray energy was seen within. I am not human, even outside that dome. You never got it.

Verus smiled, "Wrong... I got it dead on." Suddenly, Nodoka found himself on the ground once more. Verus looked at him, "My reiatsu, though you managed to get rid of most of it, has another property. When you absorb it, it becomes literally you reiatsu, and so if you try to rid yourself of it fully you will kill yourself... on the other hand if you don't kill yourself I will kill you; once my reiatsu enters, it is nearly impossible to get rid of. You accidently overlooked a detail... I just needed to check what you just showed me." He pointed his blade at Nodoka again and muttered, "Disperse, Ateisuto." Suddenly, the reiatsu within Nodoka's body escaped his body and spread out in the environment; before disappating on Verus' gesture. Nodoka was left with very little energy now, and so sank to his knees, though still blind. Verus, it seemed, was not done, and suddenly his left arm disappeared once more; the net falling on top of Nodoka's entire body and holding him in place. Verus murmured, "Like I said... you lose... also these carbon nanotubes, while directed by my spiritual pressure, are still in the same form as before... and my reishi is not holding it in the form; I have knotted the whole thing to the ground with your own spiritual pressure... you get rid of what little you have, the net won't be necesary in the first place."

Nodoka coughed up some energy that splattered over the ground like blood. It immediately disintegrated upon landing. Nodoka then thought, There is no way to beat this guy. He's way too powerful. There's Nodoka then realized his sight returned. He looked at the ground, but he didn't see grass. He saw reishi.

Matrix of Energy[]

More specifically, he saw the reishi bonds. He looked at Verus' feet, and he saw the bonds within them as well. He was able to see all of the reishi around him. He then smirked and said Sorry. My definition of giving up is death. He looked up at Verus with something Nodoka would never had done. He wore a smile of determination. I'm not out of the game yet. As he said this, he began to glow a faint gray. The carbon net continued to push him down, but Nodoka's own reitatsu kept increasing. As it did, the net's strength increased, but small cracks could be heard from the nanotubes breaking.

Verus narrowed his eyes at the carbon nanotubes breaking, Through sheer detmerination alone... even Seireitou couldn't break though that net in his Bankai... that is the significance of it. Verus suddenly pointed his blade of pitch black at the net and muttered, "Collapse, Ateisuto." At this the net rolled together into a basic bag; restraining Nodoka's arms to his side, and slowly constricting around him.

Nodoka felt his arms beginning to give, but he still maintatin the level of power to break the carbon rods. Through his struggling he said, I...may only be a 5th seat. But in my company. Shattering noises were now present. That... Nodoka was now on his knees trying to stand up. Means... Nodoka looked at Verus straight in the eye as he grabbed his sword. He shouted out, "NOTHING!!!" He shattered each of the carbon rods, and slashed Verus vertically.

Verus' left arm instantly reformed and in a whir, caught the wrist of Nodoka's right arm. As normal, Verus was not done, and proceeded to bring his right hand, palm flat, up against Nodoka's elbow joint to bend it in the wrong direction. Nodoka managed to bend his arm to save it, but Verus continued from the move and pulled Nodoka's elbow back past his head; Nodoka was not that flexible and ended up falling backwards because his shoulder joint had reached its limit in dexterity. Nodoka ended up falling on his backside, with Verus standing over him; Verus then brought his knee into the partially stunnned Nodoka's face; the crack of Nodoka's nose was heard, as blood began to fall from his nose. Nodoka was stilled stunned, and even further still as his head snapped backward and he flew backward a good few meters; skidding even farther along the ground.

Nodoka managed a smile and got back up with ease but was still a little shaken. He smirked and said You simply slapped me around like you have this entire fight. You're not even acting surprised that I broke through your attack. But I know what you're thinking now. You are wondering how a kid who isn't even Seireitou Level blasted his way out of an attack like that. You are thinking that I may be overconfident now. You are thinking that you may have to settle this with your Bankai in order to make me learn my place. Well... Nodoka stuck his sword in the ground and stood upright. I am not going to give up no matter what may happen. He then gripped his sword with both hands and spoke, "Bind All in Your Sorrowful Vines, Itoyanagi!!" Nodoka's sword returned to it's scythe shape, but tremors began to destabilize the earth beneath them. Nodoka took 2 steps forward as a massive Weeping Willow tree sprouted behind him. Its bark was an ashen gray, but it pulsated with a great, monstrous energy. Its leaves were a bright and healthy fluorescent green and seemed to emanate huge amounts of energy from each channel. Nodoka stood on one of its massive roots with his scythe in hand. He then said, This is the second form of my Shikai. Let's test it out! Vines from the massive willow sped toward Verus, slicing the air as they attacked.

Verus sighed, slicing through the attack wtih ease; the attack never touched him. "If I fought you with my bankai... you would suffer a fate worse than death. That is the simple truth," said Verus. "Now then... I'm going to have to step it up." Pointing his blade at the willow vines, Verus closed his eyes and whispered, "Conduct and Redraw, Ateisuto." The vines suddenly turned on their master and wrapped him up; their severed tips suddenly regenerating. The vines began to constrict around Nodoka in an ever crushing grip, and in the outcome, rib bones were heart snapping within the 5th Seat's torso. Verus then murmured, "Unfortunately, these vines are now mine to command... you see, my reiatsu, similar enough to yours that it cannot be negated without harming your own reiatsu, has dominated the plant, and now they will not obey you... unless you can completely counter all the reiatsu I have... which is impossible after I took more than half of it away back there and took a large sum of it into myself and fully converted it."

Nodoka cried out as the vines were crushing him. He then spat in Verus' direction. He then said So if I try to counter, I die. If I fight, I die. If I give up, I get bedridden for weeks, and a pep talk from Hikaru involving a paper fan swat to the head. Nodoka sighed and said. Dang it all. I was hoping it wouldn't have to come to this. As he finished speaking, purple energy began to surround his face...

...Which suddenly disappeared. Verus' blade was pointing at Nodoka's face, "I already pointed out that I could completely drain any energy you could muster because you took in some of my reiatsu. If you try that know all you'll do is probably give exhauts yourself of what little is left." He then brought his arm down and said simply, "So if that's all, I'll be on my way." The vines suddenly loosened their hold of Nodoka, though he was still held in place, meaning he would have to cut his own way out once he had the strength. Verus then turned away began to walk in the direction he had originally been walking in.

Nodoka smirked. Psych again. A hollow mask which resembled a wolves covered Nodoka's face. A purple and gray scar was angrily slashed across the right side of the mask. The energy that Nodoka eminated was not like his original Reitatsu. It was something completely different. At this change in energy, the vines around Nodoka seemed to fall prostrate before him.

Verus looked back at the hollow energy and smiled, "So persistent... but I still have something planned for the finale..." Suddenly, Nodoka found himself surrounded by odd, fist sized particles. Verus glanced at Nodoka, "Normally I don't get the chance to use this so many times... Some no Tei - Gensuibaku" All the particles suddenly bombarded Nodoka; drawn directly to his spiritual pressure, preventing him from moving without a chase that would end with the same result... ending with a gigantic explosion that Verus was barely out of range of.

Nothing was left where Nodoka once stood.

Verus yawned, "I'm gone then," he said though nothing was there. He then walked off before disappearing from view.

The earth where the blast had made impact was littered with rocks. Some of them stirred, and out came Nodoka. His mask was still active, but it only covered a fourth of his face. He sighed and looked over at the field of wolves. They all were watching Nodoka. Guess I wasn't strong enough yet. Ah well... He walked over to a wolf pup and picked it up. He then sat down and looked at the skies. Night was approaching. He yawned, and lied down in the grass. The wolf pup yawned as well and slept right next to him.