Chapter 2

It was a rare sight to see their esteemed princess wearing her zanpakutou strapped to her side. It was rarer still to see her in an elegant and beautiful kimono. Her personal bodyguards surrounded her in a box formation, although it was completely unnecessary. They also wouldn't be able to follow her beyond the threshold of the door only she could open.

Forced to stay behind, the Yonkami Taishou watched their princess disappear beyond the horizon created by the portal's bright light. For her part, she never looked over her shoulders. She continued forward, knowing exactly what was to come. Her father the king wanted a report on the latest mass battle between her shinigami and the enemy hollow.

Personally, she was not pleased. The enemy she had expected only showed up to observe before retreating. However, it was a complete military victory. In the end, the victory was all her father was concerned about. The enemy was routed, and her latest kidou was a smashing success. It worked exactly as she had expected, and she had used a mere fraction of her reiatsu to power it.

The pathway before her opened to a grand hall, ending her musings. She looked around, solemn and proud. She was in the royal palace, a place few ever laid eyes on. She was born on the sacred ground, more out of her father's boredom than necessity. She had been an unexpected boon, pleasing him to no end.

He never expressed love for her.

As she walked past the great columns and sensed the presences she was expecting, she made no delusions as to what she was. She was a tool, a means to an end. She was powerful, and her power was necessary. Her reiatsu affected those around her, and she had a gift that was absolutely necessary in ridding the worlds of the foul stench of hollow once and for all.

She was the shinigami.

She slid open the door to the audience chamber and expressionlessly looked upon her father's vaulted throne. He sat high, as expected of royalty. He even looked down upon his own daughter. He even hid his face from his only heir. A silhouette projected onto a screen and surrounded in golden light was all she could see of him.

In politeness, she fell to one knee with a single fist forward and on the ground. She showed her proper respect for his position and authority, and she awaited his words before responding. All around her, she felt and heard the approving words of advisors and guardians.

His voice was deep, and it carried easily across the audience chamber. "We are pleased to hear of your exploits, Hikari-hime. We hear your Yonkami Taishou performed admirably on the field of battle, even ridding the world of vile gilian before your kidou was completed. We shall hear your report."

At his command, she stood erect and held the proof of her heritage close to her heart. The Ouken was not only a key to the hidden castle of her father the king but a symbol of her prestigious position. "At your command, Reiou-sama." She was not prone to leave out details, so her report was as detailed as possible.

It would be some hours before she finished as he was also interested in hearing the theories and exact statistical data on the kidou used to end the battle. Outside of her personal bodyguard, her father the king was to be the first to hear everything. He, along with his forty-six advisors, would soon understand one of the shinigami's dirtiest secrets.

Kenpachi, in a fully repaired shihakushou that still opened to reveal his toned chest, wiped a small bit of drool from the corner of his mouth as he watched from behind the bush-lined fence. He was no ordinary peeping tom. He had a purpose, not as perverted as the activity might imply. He just couldn't help it. The leader of the medical corps was among the most beautiful women in Soul Society.

Medixia was wearing the top of her shihakushou down as she trained, and her sweat caused her white top to stick seductively to her skin and bra. What man in his right mind wouldn't drool?

She was training with a quarter staff, and it was even topped with practice blades to represent her shikai zanpakutou better. After a moment, she stopped and swept sweat and hair off her brow. She stared directly at the spot she knew she was being watched from. "You can come out anytime, pervert." Her tone was oddly playful even with the dangerous glint in her eye.

The man who considered himself strongest stepped out of his hiding spot with a broad smirk across his lips. "I'd expect as much from one of tha Yonkami Taishou." He could tell from the surprised looks on some of the surrounding medics that they hadn't realized he was there. He could tell by the tilt of their leader's head that she knew he was there from the beginning.

The great healer leaned against her practice weapon to appear more fatigued than she was. "To what do I owe the honor?" Though her tone remained playful, trained ears could hear the promise of retribution if she didn't like the answer. She also intoned 'honor' with slight venom to imply sarcasm.

Kenpachi didn't miss a beat. "I canna call myself tha strongest iffin I ain't willin' to study some'ne as strong as ya." Sometimes, he had to be brutally honest with himself. He had only challenged himself against Kago. He knew nothing of the other three. "I jus' was caught off guard a wee bit. Nothin' much."

Medixia allowed a smirk to play across her own lips. "Oh, is that so?" Her gathered medical staff was growing wary under the growing pressure even as she simply seemed to ignore it. She closed her eyes and shrugged. "If that's all then…" She was interrupted by the loud clang of metal against metal.

She opened one eye to see the strength-obsessed man standing over her with a surprised look on his face. He held his zanpakutou with both hands, and he used a traditional kendo, vertical thrust. She had swiftly blocked with her scalpel-like zanpakutou. Worse, she held the one hand grip easily with her thumb behind the scalpel head. Though his arms shook violently trying to press his obvious size advantage, she seemed hardly strained.

He jumped back and prepared to charge again, with a horizontal slice. The corner of his lip twitched in anticipation, and he pushed off with his legs…and fell into a boneless heap. Blinking, he tried to stand only to find his strength had failed him. "Wh-What's goin' on?!"

As playful as ever, the experienced medic approached while pulling her top back into place. After swiping her scalpel-like zanpakutou to remove the blood from it, she sheathed it in the hidden compartment within her sleeve. She knelt down beside him while picking up a stick and poking his shoulder with it.

Only then did he notice the small abrasion.

Kenpachi felt his eyes widen. He knew there was no way he could be defeated by such a minor wound. Medixia just tilted her head to one side and answered his unspoken question. "Poison." She saw him try to move his mouth. "Oh, don't bother. You're completely paralyzed…except for life-sustaining, involuntary functions, and, yes, my zanpakutou only creates its own poison when unsealed."

Without explaining further, she stood and directed her aides to the fallen warrior. "He'll need treatment immediately or his vital organs will shut down. Hime-sama doesn't want him dead, so treat him well." She put on a decidedly malicious smile before gazing at the fallen man once more. "After all, it's not often somebody's strong enough to survive a direct dose of my toxic blood."

A woman with long, dark hair lay with open miko robes. Her naked body was exposed to the cold night air, except for the disrobed male laying across her. His limbs were discolored blue, and foam slowly dripped from his mouth and onto her shoulder. Her eyes stared dispassionately at the ceiling as she felt his rigor mortis set in.

She pushed the lifeless form off her pale body and muttered a simple word. "Fool…" She forced herself to stand and drape her robes over her shoulders, although her knees were weak. The man was strong enough to force her down, and yellowed spots were starting to swell and show signs of bruising. She continued to chide the man who would hear no more. "I warned him like the other fools, and he still tried to have his way with my body."

She opened a sliding panel door to reveal the moonlit courtyard. As she staggered out with weak legs, she saw the hungry looks from the rest of the foolish men. She also felt that familiar, looming presence. She hated that presence. As she walked out into the courtyard, she heard shuffling behind her followed by a scream.

"He's dead!" She couldn't help but smirk at the shrill voice of one of the dead man's sex slaves. "Sh-She killed him! That murderous demon killed him!" She almost laughed as the slave's description for her was nearly spat out. Then she stopped as she was surrounded by the rough-looking thugs who probably thought they looked tough with their big swords.

She dropped her arms to her side and allowed the part in her robes to separate. She felt bile rise from the pit of her stomach at how easily the brigands were swayed by the sight of a miniscule amount of flesh. "If any man is brave enough, have at me." She heard some of the men shuffle towards her and saw the glint in their eyes. "They'll die the same way as that fool. I told him as I told all of you. My flesh is poisoned. My Kusanagi blood is filled with too much taint."

The men halted their advance, but their eyes never stopped roving over her body. She heard somebody clapping behind her and turned to look over her shoulder. The loathsome presence was coming from him. New to her, the rogues around her suddenly looked at the man in expensive robes. "Oh my, but don't you play your role splendidly?" Despite his looks, his speech revealed poor education.

"What are you?" She practically spat at him. Her hand instinctively twitched for the dagger hidden in her miko robe's sleeves. She almost clicked her tongue in disgust when it wasn't there, but she knew it had been removed with her other belongings.

The man tilted his head to one side. "Oh, you are delicious my dear. There is no finer specimen than you." He looked around at the gathered men. "However, you did just kill their leader. I'm sure they're out for revenge." A smirk painted his face a sinister shade. "Why don't you try begging forgiveness?" He snapped his fingers in revelation. "You could try stripping for them…or giving them a show."

She felt bile rise in her throat. "Such disgusting thoughts from a vile creature…" His idea revolted her, but she was surprised when he didn't rise to her bait. "A Kusanagi would never shame herself so." She looked pointedly to the men surrounding her. "Well, either kill me or let me go. Know this, however. If you strike me down, no man here will survive."

The men steeled their resolve for revenge a moment before it was shattered. Though they were rogues and uneducated at best, even they had heard of the poison-fleshed miko family lines. The Kusanagi were especially dangerous. Their boss was confident because he had bedded other poison-fleshed maidens from families of less renown. They weren't so confident in their victory.

The business-dressed man scoffed their indecision. "Are you men really so weak? She's just one girl!" He sneered in disgust. "Are you afraid of the rumors? Just stand upwind and as many paces away as you can fire accurately. The poison her body expels won't kill you then."

He stood and walked to her, smirking the entire way. His eyes seemed to ravish her body, and several bandits whistled their approval of his bold behavior. Already, they were backing away upwind to prepare to rain death upon her. She stood resolute and proud as he stopped a breath away.

Gently, he glided his fingers along the edges of her miko robes. He was careful not to touch her skin. He wasn't about to repeat the same mistake as the foolhardy brute lying dead, exposed to the world. He knew her clothes were made from a material that didn't absorb her body's poison.

His face contorted to rage, and he violently tore her robes from her body. Though she did not shiver in the cool night air, goose bumps formed over every inch of her exposed skin. Her expression didn't change, but his seemed to soften. He eyed a pattern of scars on her shoulder that distinctly looked like teeth marks. "When I bit you then, I had no idea just how deadly you were."

Her eyes flickered in surprise for a moment before she reined in her emotions. Her fists clenched to her sides. "It was you." Her voice quivered in righteous fury. "You were that demon who yowled in the night after attempting to bite into my flesh. You were the demon only I could see after I crumbled to my knees in unimaginable pain."

He laughed and looked over her shoulder. "Yes, you were the meal that almost got away, but I'm smart. Unlike my brethren, I knew to wait and watch. Your reiatsu was well worth the wait. Soon you'll be dead, and that absurd protection will be stripped away." He started to walk away, purposely to one side. He was going to stand upwind but away from the bandits. "I'll see you in a bit, my delicious morsel."

She watched him walk away in disgust. When she heard a voice cry out over the din of angry bandits, she returned her attention to the men prepared to kill her. She looked on impassively and gave a final warning. "I have more poison in my body than most. If you are within range to attack, you will die." Prepared, she sat and awaited the outcome.

She looked up and wasn't surprised to see the mass of arrows and stones. It would be an exaggeration to say the sky was darkened by projectiles from bows and slings. She had nowhere to run and no time to dodge. She cast one, last harsh glower to the evil entity in human skin and clothing. He laughed maniacally at her plight and as she died.

Under normal circumstances, she was careful not to be injured in the presence of others. Her skin was tougher than most, calloused from strenuous use and constant travel. However, the slightest sliver released deadly toxins into the air. With bandits to the front and a camp to the rear, she had no room to escape.

She watched finality approach, and death took her as easily as anybody else. Her body was hardly recognizable once the arrows skewered and stones bashed. Body broken and bleeding, a variety of toxins evaporated from her blood and mixed with the air. Unlike the business man or bandits' expectations, hiding upwind was no defense.

Perhaps it was the power of a miko or wish of a dying grudge, but the wind shifted. It twirled and whirled as it spread toxins over a wide area. Before they knew what was happening, the bandits were experiencing the effects of every fatal element that once resided in the poison-fleshed miko's blood.

Some dropped to the ground, paralyzed. Some grasped their throats as their innards were eaten away. Some cried and spat out blood. The women, forced to the bandits' whim, weren't excluded. They died similarly and no less painfully. Death held no prejudice, but one did escape the final grasp.

The business man seemed to tear apart at the seams. His skin stretched and cracked, and he split evenly down the center. From the grotesque scene, a vaguely bear-like figure emerged. It had a hole at the center of its chest, and it bore a white mask painted with black markings similar to a panda. Disgusted, he tossed away the human skin like it held the plague.

The freshly revealed creature reveled in the cool night air. Its body seemed to ignore the toxins spread on the winds. As it approached, life beneath his feet withered, and dirt purpled sickeningly. The mouth of its mask parted, and a second mouth inside followed suite. It bellowed loudly in triumph before dropping to all fours.

The miko looked on disinterestedly. She hadn't witnessed the destruction her death had caused, but she observed the aftereffects. The stupidity of hormonally challenged scum of humanity never ceased to amaze her. She warned them that her death would lead to theirs, and they still attacked in a misguided attempt to avenge their fallen leader. The blind truly led the blind.

She heard a sound almost feral and turned her gaze to the approaching creature. She had no name for it, but it charged like a rampaging bear. Hunger was evident in its reverberating screech. Though she stood tall and proud, her eyes wavered in fear of acknowledgement. She was about to die for the second time that night.

"Flutter unto the ashes, flame upon the sky…" The bear-like creature stopped in its tracks and looked around frightfully as the ominous voice filled the night sky. "…Hadou no San; Okibi Hitohana." The voice finished quietly. Before the creature could react, five flame-red shuriken impaled it, once in each the neck and limbs.

A well kempt, white haired man landed beside the miko. His hair was cut short, and he carried the air of nobility. Contrasting his hair, he wore a black shihakusho. A scornful look adorned his face, but it looked out of place. He was gaunt, sickly, yet he still carried himself with pride and strength.

As the creature fought to recover, he turned a gentle smile toward her. His voice was strained as he spoke. "I'm sorry for your loss. We didn't detect this hollow in time to save you, I'm afraid." It was then she noticed the sheathed blade at his side. He was a warrior, yet he was noble and gentle. The man was a bundle of contradictions to her.

He drew his sword, and pressure seemed to swirl around him. Her vision blurred, and she was almost forced to her knees. She bore with it and remained standing, if slouched and wobbly. She wanted to witness the creature's demise. It had sacrificed so many just to get to her, and it was finally going to pay.

It was over too quickly. It roared and charged foolhardily. The white-haired man didn't seem to move. At least to her eyes, he remained in the same spot. A thin line appeared in its mask. Then it shattered. The creature dissolved into nothingness a moment after, leaving no traces of its vile presence.

He wiped his forehead of sweat that wasn't there before sheathing his blade. The miko nearly fell to her knees as the pressure was let up. She swallowed hard as she put a hand to her near-bare chest…and heard a clang that shouldn't have been there. She looked down and noticed, for the first time, a chain hanging from the center of her chest. Curious, she lightly tugged at it.

The white-haired man grabbed her wrist to stop her. "I'm afraid that would be unwise." She looked at him unflinchingly. "I'm going to perform konsou on you." He closed his eyes and held up a finger, automatically lecturing her. "Don't worry, it won't hurt. You'll be sent to a better place, called Soul Society. There, you don't have to worry about hunger or fear ever again. You'll be safe, and…"

He was interrupted as she yanked her hand out of his tight grip. She rubbed her wrist for a moment as she glared angrily at him. "So, you're to send me to my afterlife? Fine, get it over with. I shall not dither in this world longer than I must." She tilted her head to one side. "Though if you are to judge me, perhaps a name is in order. I am Kusanagi Medixia."

He raised a brow. 'Medixia' was a strange name, but he wasn't one to judge. He nodded his head understandingly. "Though I doubt we'll meet again, I'll give you my name as well. I'm Juushirou Ukitake." He removed his sheathed sword from his side and held it so the butt would impact her forehead.

She nodded in appreciation. Even if they were never to meet again, she would always be thankful for his help. She closed her eyes in anticipation, but it was over with antagonizing haste. Though she didn't know what to expect, she felt like there should have been something…more.

When Medixia next opened her eyes, she witnessed a sight that baffled her. She was in the middle of a busy and bustling city. She had visited cities before, but there was something different. The very air energized her, and…she wasn't in a city moments ago. She shook her head, but the dregs of her living memory were already fading fast.

She heard shuffling feet behind her and turned to look. A rugged man with a scraggly, woodchip brown beard stood behind her. His hair was equally messy and similarly colored, but speckled gray highlighted his wizened face. One eye was closed tight with nasty scaring, probably from a combination of buns and cuts, and the sclera was sickly yellowish-red. The other eye measured her up and down in its dark, brown orb.

She looked into the burly man's powerful gaze as she turned around, and she matched his glare with a glower that demanded respect. The streets quieted as they stared each other down. He was obviously a commanding figure within, at least, they district she found herself in. However, life as a poison-fleshed miko taught her to never back down. The weak willed her cut down, tortured, or raped.

The man suddenly grew a wide grin and slapped her roughly on the shoulders and laughed. Around her, the people wore similar smiles as a clamor moved through the streets. She winced in pain even as his voice bellowed over the renewed vigor of the surrounding shop. "I like this one, has real spunk."

She narrowed her eyes. "What kind of show was that, cretin?" She rubbed her shoulders as he released her and continued to smile, amused. "What manner of place is this? I shall not tarry here, so kindly point me to an apothecary. I must catch my bearings and see what ails this city proper."

The man shook his head. "I'm not gonna even ask what era you're from, too much trouble." She huffed indignantly at him, but he continued without pause. "If you ask what ails this district of the Rukongai, it's that we lack any healer." His smile morphed into a knowing smirk. "Funny you should ask. Are you a healer?"

She blinked, surprised. "Are my services in such dire need?" He nodded, expression filled with dread. "Haste man; show me a field in which I can gather necessary herbs. If you have the means, report what symptoms require my arts. I shall not walk away from a problem that requires my aid." Her steely gaze watched and waited as she fell silent.

The man released a hardy laugh. "I knew I liked you. You're a bit overbearing, but you'll need that here in the Rukongai." He turned and motioned for her to follow over her shoulder. "Don't worry, I know most of the people here's troubles. I'll explain on the way." He started at a slow pace to see how quickly she would keep up.

Along the way, he explained that his name was Kada Zeshin. He had no memories of his life in the world of the living, and he just wanted a peaceful afterlife. He started life in the Rukongai as a simple tradesman, specialized in carpentry. After breaking up a few street brawls, he became the de facto leader.

Medixia listened carefully to his tale. Though he didn't seek the position as leader, he took to his duties diligently. Better yet, he spelled out the ailments various residents had so well that she constricted her list to what was most needed. With supplies gathered, they hastened back to the district center.

Zeshin was kind enough to help her find a small shop to set up her apothecary. She shooed him off, so she could get to work. She mentally reviewed the list of symptoms they had spoken of as she placed the ingredients on open shelving. She reviewed her work as she decided what items she needed to purchase.

She scoured the cabinets for anything that could be used as pestle and mortar. Dismayed at finding nothing sturdy enough, she walked to the exit. As she opened the door, she noticed the district leader about to knock. He smiled and held something out to her. "I thought you might be needing this."

She looked at his offering. The bowl would suffice in the short term, and the thick rod was passable. She looked to his face and studied his features. Despite his rough appearances, he at least knew something of her arts. "You surprise me, Kada-san. Tell me, do you have practice in preparing medicine?"

He shook his head woefully as he handed over the makeshift apothecary tools. "Nah, I'm afraid I've little dealings there. I've mixed a poison draught or two, to handle pest problems you see." He noticed her contemptuous look. "Ah no worries, I haven't used that. Wife'd kill me."

She suspiciously eyed the bowl and rod. "I prefer to use my own tools, but the situation calls for quick action. Tell me though; does not your wife see my use as one and the same?" She was curious about the offering, but she understood the situation he found himself in. People trusted him, and he had little in the way of aid.

He shook his head. "Wife's the one who suggested it. Said something about not looking a gift horse in the mouth." He chuckled amusedly. "That's what you be to us, and it'd be foolish not to help you out whatever." He held the items out for her to take. "We'll ask for it back when you have a chance to get your own."

She nodded. "Of course, I expect no less." She took them and subjected them to a more thorough inspection and sighed. "It'll do for the time being, but I need to find a proper pestle and mortar. I normally prefer to have my supplies before I set up shop. However, it sounds like…your people need my aid faster than that would accommodate."

He nodded in understanding. "So, do you have any preferences in what order I bring them?" He scratched the back of his neck nervously. The nicer districts had apothecaries and healers. He was worried about word of her getting out, but he was more concerned with helping whom he could rather than being discrete.

She shook her head. "Nay, I only ask that you return in an hour's time. At the appointed time, I shall have you guide me to those with conditions most dire. It is important to treat those who cannot move themselves first. If I have time, I shall see to those who can move of their own volition."

He nodded carefully considering her words. He wasn't the most educated man, but he understood her point at least. "I see your point. I'll retrieve you then." Without another word, she closed the door on him. He chuckled. "She likes to get down to business." He turned on his heels and walked down the street.

"The twists and turns of time are a funny thing." Zeshin stated contemplatively. He wasn't sure what era the healer was from. It didn't really matter. If she could help heal the sick and injured, he was more than willing to accept her help. He chuckled. "It's just my luck to find a pretty little thing like that fresh from the world of the living, and she has the skills and mentality of a healer."

He had little idea what was going on in her head when they first met. She wasn't frightened of his oppressive stature, and she easily picked him out for a layman. She also didn't waste time. As soon as she learned people needed her help, she ordered him to help her find supplies. He was sure she would have pushed him into action if she thought she had the physical strength.

He shook his head. At least they had a healer…for the time being. He only hoped another district, wealthier or stronger, didn't find out too soon. He didn't delude himself. Rumors were most certainly going to spread.

Medixia looked over her newly gathered supplies. She didn't have the luxury of preparing everything exactly as she would have liked. Instead, she immediately set to work preparing what medicines she could. As she set to work, she thought about what she could remember from before she met Zeshin.

She worked diligently on her tasks even as her mind wandered. Her body knew what had to be done, and she could pick the necessary herbs without even thinking about it. She was more interested in the events that led her to her current situation. The Rukongai was different from anything she had known.

She was used to travel, not sitting in one place. The hustle and bustle of the city didn't suit her. She liked the open road and spacious country. She enjoyed the cool lap of the wind while she extracted herbs from the field. She felt a tugging at the back of her mind telling her to be wary, and she couldn't shake it off.

Author Notes

Medixia (flashback) speaks very properly, and it's very hard to make that come across right. Also, her name is pronounced Meh - de` - shi - ah. She'll explain next chapter why she has such an oddball name. If you think my characters were overpowered in the first chapter, the next several chapters will explore, in detail, how they attained that kind of power.

Yes, the shinigami who saved Medi-chan was Ukitake, but he was not a captain. If you look up pictures of his younger years, you'll see what he looks like. I tried to describe his younger version, and I think I did a good job of it. I'll have 'guest' appearances from some cannon shinigami from time to time, but don't expect much. Also, he faced a weak but cunning hollow.

As always, reviews are welcome, and flames outright ignored.

Story Word Count: 5,039
Story Page Count: 10.5


Ouken - Spirit Key: If you've seen what Aizen plans to do...

Reiou - Spirit King: involves this guy's death.

Hadou no San; Okibi Hitohana - Destructive Art Three; Blazing Fire Flower: The Shinigami focuses reiatsu to their open palm. A flower-like shape takes form, and five flame-red shuriken blossom to strike the enemy.