DISCLAIMER: Kubo Tite owns Bleach. Not me. Copyright hounds, rest in peace.
A/N: Hey, everyone, this is the first chapter (more of a prologue) of my first story, which is pretty much the story of how Kenpachi survived before he became a captain. Kubo pretty much gives us this: Kenpachi lived in the 80th district, met someone named Yachiru and greatly respected her, was somehow separated from her, and then meets a girl who is not afraid of his sword and names her Yachiru. After that, he meets and defeats Ikkaku, whom he befriends. Finally, he kills the 11th division captain and becomes captain himself. Nothing of any significance to the story happens after that until Ichigo and his friends show up in Soul Society. This fic expands on the pretty meager details Kubo gave us.
"Wow, what happened to you this time? You run into Ryuuken's gang? Didn't I tell you to stay away from them?" A/N: No, Ryuuken does not have anything to do with Ishida Ryuuken. I forgot he has the same name.
"You really think I would look for them? They heard that I had found some extra cash."
"Want me to go get a couple of my friends and beat em' up?"
"S'Okay Saru… nothing worth going over for. I can always steal some from those idiot patrol Shinigami that drop by every once in a while…"
Saru glared at me. "Okay, okay… I won't do it," I muttered. "Not my fault those Shinigami have so much money it practically falls off of them…"
"Kid! You're not going to steal from the Shinigami!"
Hi. People are usually supposed to begin introductions with a name, but I don't have a name. I don't even know how old I am, when my birthday was, or who my parents are. 99% of the people here in Zaraki never knew any of that, so they make stuff up. Saru tells me he made his name up by pointing randomly at a hiragana table.
I look about 16, am the tallest person I know, and have shoulder length black hair. It's not that I actually want it; it's that there aren't very many opportunities to cut your hair here. I'm a fairly good swordsman: I'd probably be able to fight my way out of a tough situation about anywhere in the world except two places- Zaraki and Seiretei. If you're just average with a sword in the lower districts, you'll be ripped to shreds before you know it if you set foot in here. Compared to the rest of the district, my fighting skills are about average.
Saru's probably the best fighter I know, and my only friend. We met each other in this shelter for homeless people. Saru's been at the shelter for 10 years, whereas I just showed up 3 years ago. He looks like he's around his 30s. He's got blonde hair that always made him stick out, making him a target for Ryuuken and the other gangs. He's fine, though. Anyone who tried to mess with him usually got sent to the medical camp the Shinigami set up outside the district. He was the only one who stuck up for me, the poor kid who had the misfortune to wind up in the ugliest place in Soul Society. Most of the people who find themselves here were either orphans or woke up here after dying in the real world. I'm an orphan who never knew his parents. Same thing with Saru. I guess we bonded that way, both of us orphans stuck in hell. Most of the people in the shelter are the victims- people who are too scared to get up and walk outside, for fear of being mugged, or worse, killed. Some are the people who try and protect others the best they can. And then there are the few people with… issues. Trying to sleep at night is hard when your house doubles as a rubber padded room.
Saru's a goody-goody two shoes. He always refused to steal, even when he desperately needed something. The other people living in the shelter told me that once, a couple years before I showed up, Saru came down with one of the many illnesses circulating around Zaraki. This one was particularly nasty, but Saru didn't let his friends raid the Shinigami med camp. Once I teased him that saints like him who always did what was "right" and could fight as well as him belonged in Seireitei, not Zaraki. He laughed it off, but there was a strange look in his eyes that only went away the next morning.
I was out to get some water for the shelter when they found me.
"Hey, you! Scrawny boy with the girly hair! Got anything on you? Doesn't really matter if you do, anyways."
That's Ryuuken. He's the bald ringleader of a group of thugs. I have never seen a single strand of hair on his head. People tell me that he's been bald his entire life. His whole gang's a bunch of arrogant assholes who never gave a damn about anyone but themselves. I could probably take down one of them one-on-one, but this time, Ryuuken showed up with his entire gang, almost a dozen guys. His little comment bothered me however. He doesn't care if I have money? Ryuuken, not caring about money? When pigs fly.
I considered my odds. A dozen guys, some of the meanest people in Zaraki, versus an average fighter who wasn't even armed. I figured a 3 year old had about as much chance of beating them as I did.
"I don't have anything on me, Ryuuken," I said. "Why don't you go and relieve someone else of his money?"
Ryuuken grinned. Bad sign. "Naah. It's okay. We'll find out about how much money you really have soon enough."
Before I could react, two of Ryuuken's guys grabbed me by my arms, preventing me from fighting back. They pushed me to the ground. I struggled, but it was useless. "Asshole. The hell do you want from me?"
"My, my, talkative are we? Why don't you just shut up?" he snarled, raising his fist.
When I woke up, I was in the abandoned warehouse that Ryuuken's gang uses as a hideout. I always thought it was a pretty pathetic excuse of a hideout. As I looked out the sole window in the room, I observed that we were obviously on one of the higher floors, several yards above the ground.
They had thrown me against the wall of the warehouse opposite the window. There was a small door on the wall adjacent to the left side of the wall I was on. I knew enough about the layout of Zaraki and where this warehouse was located to figure out that behind me, there was a river outside the buildling. You know it's a bad sign when you're in a building and you're worrying about whether or not the area below you will kill you if you fall down on it. When I looked up, I noticed that Ryuuken was standing uncomfortably close to me. I almost tried to shift my body away from Ryuuken, until I noticed the knife that he was holding to my throat. Now I knew why they hadn't tied me up- any attempts to escape would be suicide. I gulped, immediately deciding that I was perfectly fine just staying still. I considered asking what they wanted with me. Looking up at Ryuuken, I opened my mouth a fraction of an inch, to ask- and immediately closed it after I saw the look on his face. He looked crazy, like a demon that would kill and murder innocent, defenseless people just for fun.
Suddenly the door burst open, and Saru strode in. "No," I thought. "What the hell are you doing? They outnumber you 12-1! There's no way you'll get out alive!"
"Well, well. It looks like your guardian angel has finally arrived," Ryuuken mocked. Turning to Saru, his expression changed, becoming even more demonic in its hatred. "Well, Saru, seems you finally showed up."
"Let the kid go. He hasn't done anything wrong."
Ryuuken chuckled. "Of course he hasn't. I only used him to get to you." He laughed as Saru raised an eyebrow. "You really wonder why?" he spat. "Fine then. I'll spell it out for you, nice and easy. I'm a man of simple taste. All I want is money. The only thing you can trust in the world is money. Money is the only thing that really matters in this world. You are an obstacle between me and my money. You're a Shini-"
He never got to finish his sentence. Saru leaped forward, drawing his sword. Two of Ryuuken's men leapt at him, one of them raising his fists, the other drawing a sword. Saru easily dodged a punch, and kicked the first guy into a wall, which subsequently crumbled on him. Quickly turning, he parried a thrust and impaled the second man, who crumpled into a heap.
"GET HIM!" Ryuuken screamed, enraged. "And I want him alive!" The rest of the gang rushed Saru, not noticing his rapidly moving lips. "Ye lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Inferno and pandemonium, the sea barrier surges, march on to the south!" Saru shouted. Ryuuken's henchmen, ignorant to the impending danger, kept running forward, drawing various weapons. "IDIOTS!" Ryuuken exclaimed. "Get the hell back! That's Kido!"
Too late. A slight smirk on his lips, Saru shouted "Hado Number 31: Shakkoho!" The resulting explosion blasted the floor of the warehouse apart, catapulting debris high into the air and blasting several of Ryuuken's men to bits. Those that weren't killed cowered behind the remains of the warehouse floor.
Only their leader was unfazed. "Son of a bitch," he snarled. "Looks like I'm gonna have to deal with you myself." Saying so, he dropped me unceremoniously on the ground, and lifted his knife. "Raze, Bloody Flame!"
Throughout the entire battle, I was completely lost. (Don't worry, everybody except Ryuuken and Saru were.) Huh? I thought. Kido? Isn't that something that only Shinigami do? Saru can't be a Shinigami! And what's that strange knife that Ryuu… holy crap…
As I was busy being confused, Ryuuken's dagger had grown a couple inches, and had begun to drip blood, seemingly out of nowhere. Several notches appeared in its side. It looked like the kind of weapon you would see a serial killer hold after claiming another victim. Saru smirked. "Finally beginning to get serious, eh, Ryuuken? I'm not going to pretend that I haven't been waiting for this," he declared. I'd never seen Saru look so serious before. He was a laid back, easygoing kind of guy. Sure, he would chuck you out a window if you attacked him, but the look on his face told me that he was planning something much worse for Ryuuken. I was staring at Saru with a mixture of fear, awe, and respect when he suddenly disappeared.
It was a move I'd seen many times when I'd watched Shinigami spar. One moment they were just standing there, the next moment they appeared, flickering into vision, somewhere else. At first I thought it was some Kido teleportation spell until I observed them perform the move enough to be able to follow the Shunpo to some degree.
I was sure that Ryuuken was about to be decapitated, but he whipped around and raised his knife, just in time to parry Saru's blade. As the strange knife blocked Saru's sword, it began to glow, like metal in a furnace. Cursing, he jumped back just as his sword began to crack.
Ryuuken grinned. "My, my, Saru. Did you even do your homework? You don't even know Bloody Flame's abilities, do you?" he taunted.
"It's not that I don't know them, bastard. It's that I don't care. Flow, Mercury!"
Saru's blade shimmered, and then completely dissolved. Ryuuken's cursed as a stream of metallic liquid rushed out of Mercury. He used Shunpo to dodge as the strange fluid slammed into the wall behind him, destroying it. Ryuuken's eyes widened at the destruction. Suddenly aware of something to his left, he raised his sword to block as Saru hurtled towards him.
The impact slightly melted Mercury, but Saru looked unconcerned. With a deft flick of his wrist, he turned his sword to its liquid form and back again, reforming it perfectly. Saru wasn't even sweating. His opponent, on the other hand, looked much worse for wear. He was panting and had several small cuts where small bits of Mercury had cut him. "You… bastard…," he managed to say between breaths. "I'm… gonna KILL YOU!" "Good luck," Saru muttered, as he seemingly disappeared, reappearing an instant later behind Ryuuken. "You'll need it."
This time, Ryuuken was expecting it. Dazed as he was, he managed to lift his Zanpakuto, sliding his body under Saru's blade. Whipping out Bloody Flame with a speed that could only be achieved with its short length, he slashed him across the neck. Saru collapsed, blood streaming from his wound, while Ryuuken got unsteadily to his feet. "Well. Looks like you really weren't that much trouble after all, eh?" he mockingly said, a grin on his face. "Now, how to deal with you…" he said, turning towards me.
Throughout the entire battle, the primary emotion that I had been experiencing was fear. Now, another feeling coursed through me, driving all the fear away. With a start, I realized that this was the first time in my life that I had never been afraid- all I wanted to do was kill. Something shimmered in my right hand. I could see Ryuuken's eyes widen as he took a couple steps back…trying to get away from me…
… when he walked straight into Saru's outstretched hand. On the ground, dying, he had grabbed Ryuuken by his leg and was using him to drag himself up. Too shocked to do much but stare, Ryuuken watched as Saru reached into his pocket with his free hand, took out a small vial, and threw it at Bloody Flame.
When the vial hit the Zanpakuto, its effect, which was automatic, activated. The glass melted away, exposing the liquid underneath. The liquid was one of the rarest substances in Soul Society: synthesized liquid firerock. Firerock was an explosive that had been used when digging out the vast sewer systems. When exposed to high temperatures, it reacts violently.
The explosion hurled all of the warehouse's occupants out into the streets of Zaraki. Pedestrians and Shinigami alike looked up in awe at the colossal explosion. The warehouse was wiped off the face of the Earth, blown to bits.
The last thing that the boy who would become a demon remembered was being flung over the streets of Zaraki. As Saru had thrown the Firerock at Bloody Flame, he had mouthed the word "run" at the boy. He only had time to run a couple feet, but those extra feet were all that made the difference between life and death as the explosive liquid had ignited, triggered by the Zanpakuto's effect. As he was blasted away from the warehouse, he had a stroke of luck- he landed in the river. The only physical damage the boy took from the blast was a thin cut, running along the left side of his face. As the impact knocked him unconscious, however, his head hit a rock- not enough to kill him, but enough to knock loose a couple screws. The next day, when he woke up, a sword with several notches along its length in his hand, he didn't remember who he was, or what had happened for the previous years of his life. But the amnesia couldn't obscure the overwhelming sense of purpose that had overcome the boy- to kill a bald man named Ryuuken.