A teenage girl strolled down a paved, gray-colored sidewalk, her sneakers tapping down rhythmically. The late afternoon sunlight shone with glittering golden rays, reflecting off the girl's black hair that was fairly short, coming down around her neck in raven shreds. A clumped strand of hair was down, over her forehead, between her eyes…sort of like bangs. Her bright black eyes had a violent tint to them. Her face at the moment held no expression whatsoever, and she made a turn at a certain street. A slight breeze ruffled her gray school uniform's pleated miniskirt gently. This high school student's life was fairly normal…except for the awkward fact that she had the uncanny ability to see ghosts, and communicate with them, too. Her name was Rukia. Kuchiki Rukia.

Rukia seemed to recognize someone, and she slowed down her pace of walking. A slightly faded figure fluctuated all of a sudden, beneath a swaying tree. "Hello, there!" Rukia called out with a soft, gentle smile. She walked to the figure, and kneeled down. The ghost was that of a little, helpless child. "Don't you worry," Rukia soothed. "Everything will be okay. You have to pass on to the 'other side,' don't you? Why won't you go?"

The little girl whispered, "But…but…I don't want to! I want to stay here, where there are pretty flowers and clouds and sunshine…"

Rukia was about to make a reply, when the ground started to shake. It felt sort of like an earthquake, a distant rumbling that was approaching closer and closer. A horrid screech shot through the air, and the ghost quivered with fright. "It…it's come again! For me!" she wailed.

"What?! What's come again?!" Rukia asked hurriedly, standing up and gesturing for the ghost to run. "What is that shaking?!"

The girl didn't reply, and instead, started to cry. "I- I'm scared…it…it looks so scary!"

"Oh, please don't cry!" Rukia said, wishing she could help in some other way other than talking. "Come on, run!" Rukia started to run, with the girl following after her. Then…the monster appeared. It was hideous, with a great black body and a hole in the chest, and a white, freaky-looking mask and large, unnaturally white teeth. The mask was plain white, but it had two green dots at the top (where the forehead would have been), and the body appeared to be somewhat like a bear's; it lumbered onward on all four feet. The ground shook harder this time, and Rukia picked up her pace hastily. She sprinted fast, and made sure that the ghost kept up with her. The monster let out a big, loud roar, obviously of annoyance.

A few people on the street around Rukia started to panic as the ground shook and a strong wind blew. "What's going on?!" some people muttered or yelled. Rukia ignored the commotion, and concentrated on running. The ghost was beside her, still weeping softly with glittering tears dripping down. The monster was close behind them, and Rukia worried that they couldn't outrun it.

Rukia's breath heaved, as she felt her body start to get tired. The ghost girl stopped running as Rukia stopped, and questioned softly, "Are you all right?"

"Keep running!" Rukia screamed, pushing the ghost away. Then, Rukia turned around, facing the monster. "Why are you after the ghosts? I remember seeing others like you before… and you always eat innocent souls. Why? Why?" The scary creature was quickly approaching Rukia, and the ground vibrated stronger than ever with each of the monster's steps. Rukia held her breath, and closed her eyes, determined not to show fear to the hideous beast in front of her Then, as her eyelids flickered open, she gasped with utter shock.

A boy who appeared to be fifteen or sixteen seemed to emerge out of nowhere, brandishing a massive sword-like weapon that was as tall as he was. He had fiery orange hair and brown eyes. He was clad in a black traditional Japanese outfit, and he darted toward the monster, and then brought his sword down quickly with a lot of strength. His eyes had a determined, tough look to them. The boy stabbed the monster in the chest, and then leaped up, slicing the mask in half. The beast disappeared into thin air, dissipating into nothingness, into a void.

Rukia watched, in shock. She could tell that this mysterious person was not an ordinary human. He was probably a spirit…a ghost perhaps? She did not know.

Rukia turned her head, looking for the little ghost. The ghost was gone, probably still running away from the terrifying monster. Rukia took in a deep breath, and let it out slowly. She started to holler, "Hey, you!" Her yell was directed at the orange-haired guy.

He slowly turned to face her, and a look of surprise was on his face.

Rukia placed her hands on her hips, muttering, "You never saw a girl before, or something?"

"Uh…you can see me?" the boy inquired suddenly.

"Yeah, of course I can see you! I'm not blind," Rukia replied haughtily.

The boy cursed under his breath, and wondered why she could see him. "Well, I'm not supposed to be seen by humans," he said after a moment.

"So you're a ghost? Or what?"

"I am a shinigami. A soul reaper. My name is Kurosaki Ichigo," the boy introduced.

"A shinigami?" Rukia did not look very convinced. "Are you serious?"

"Yeah, what do you think, I'm making a joke here?!" Ichigo did not look very pleased.

"Well, I'm just trying to confirm it! Geez, you don't have to be so hot-headed about it!"

Ichigo bellowed back at Rukia, "You're the hothead!" Then, he decided to calm down with haste, and ask the girl a question. "Where did that ghost go? That girl that you were with…"

"I have no idea," Rukia answered with a shrug. "At least she's safe."

"She's not safe. As long as she's in this world, the Hollows will be after her," Ichigo sighed.

"Hollows? Are those what the monsters are called? Was the thing you killed earlier a Hollow?"

"Yeah," Ichigo started to get impatient. "I'm gonna go find that girl. You stay here. Or go home, or whatever. Don't get in my way." Then, Ichigo dashed off down the sidewalk.

"Hey!" Rukia yelled. "Come back here!" She rolled her eyes, and mumbled, "I'm not just going to stay here…" She broke into a run, going after the shinigami she had just met.