There was shundo, which was a decently advanced martial arts technique in which you moved short distances so fast that to the untrained eye, it seemed the user had teleported.
There was shunpo, which, as detailed in one of the few texts in the medical library that apparently nobody had caught on yet didn't quite match the rather specific criteria of the place, was a decently advanced shinigami skill, in which the user's speed was amplified to the point that they could move short distances so swiftly that to the untrained eye, it seemed they had teleported.
When all the details were boiled down, they were essentially the same technique, albeit with miniscule differences and, of course, the fact that they were based on the use of completely different energy sources..
Having already learned one of the two techniques had accelerated her learning the other, and, after a small amount of consideration and tinkering, she had decided to find out what happened when someone used both techniques at the same time.
After prying herself loose from the new, Ranma-shaped dent in the wall, all Ranma could note was that when you added shundo and shunpo, you got Really Damn Fast. At the very least, more than the sum of the two parts would imply. It wasn't an additive increase. It wasn't even multiplicative... it was closer to exponential.
It was also, unfortunately enough, a great strain upon her body to use and carried risks of the 'sudden interference of walls' variety. As such, it would probably take a great deal of practice before she was prepared to use that particular trump card in any sort of combat situation.
She idly wondered what all the hammer-on-wood racket was about as she made her way slowly back to her personal quarters, having put off the reuniting with Zero for too long already.
There was a long moment of awkward silence when she entered, as the doll's eyes widened slowly. It was broken as she swung one pointing arm around.
"Muh... muh-muh-muh... Master's beautiful face! What have they done? I'll butcher every last-!" Zero shrilled at the top of her lungs.
It was much later that Ranma finally managed to get to sleep, Zero having finally settled down and agreed not to kill anyone yet, but once more completely insistent on being with Master wherever she went, no matter if it might hurt her cover any. And there would most certainly not be any repeats of this taking hits to preserve her false identity nonsense.
She stared balefully at the stitches on Ranma's cheek for the entire night.
Tatsuki Has A Potty Mouth! And, you know, plot happens, but it's probably not as interesting as Tatsuki swearing.
"Tatsuki-dono... try harder."
Tatsuki bit off a snarl, knowing that the distraction of yelling at the pair of goons would cause a catastrophic collapse of the spiritron shell she had formed, followed by an explosion.
She comforted herself with the knowledge that, at the very least, she was catching on to the trick of it far, far faster than Ichigo.
Another hour of effort did it, and she left to go eat and sleep, undisturbed by the shaking ground and loud 'boom' that came with Ichigo finally figuring out how to make the shell, with assistance.
In the morning, she mostly zoned everything out as they assembled and were fired from that ridiculously huge cannon, right up until...
"Dammit, Kurosaki! You made me read the same line twice!" Ganju howled angrily.
Tatsuki flinched as she broke from her morning stupor, the world around her becoming crystal clear as she realized the implications of that statement just in time to join the rest in ignoring synchronization and simply shoving as much power as they could into the shell protecting them.
Tatsuki fought through the maelstrom of force, and nearly managed to reunite with the group before the final blast came, scattering them across the city. She managed to right herself as she came in for a landing, and braced for impact.
As it turned out, it didn't do much good. As she relaxed, having landed in relative safety in the center of a new spiderweb of fractures in the ground, there was an ominous creak. Before she could brace herself again the earth below her gave way, and she tumbled awkwardly into the sewers below.
Battered and now half buried in dirt and paving, Tatsuki lost consciousness. When she woke, it was behind bars.
Ranma smiled at her from the other side in the same manner a teacher would smile at the stupidest whelp they had ever had the misfortune to be pressed into instructing, matched perfectly with the doll riding her shoulder.
"Hiya. That was... let me see, fifteen minutes between crashing through the forcefield and being taken in by a really surprised sewer scrubber? Nice. And you lost consciousness without even having to fight. I'm real impressed, little miss invader. You guys must have put all kinds of thought into this idea."
"Choke on a cock and die, you fucking whore!" Tatsuki snarled, frustrated both by the turn of events and that Ranma was absolutely correct that they hadn't made plans to deal with anything that might happen in between getting in and getting out.
"Temper, temper." Ranma snarked. "You should know, though..."
"Saotome-san." A gentle voice interrupted. "It's not nice to bait the prisoners. Isn't there something more important that you could be doing?"
".... Yeah. Sure thing Captain." Ranma said after a long moment. "Just thought the Invader might be pleased to know that while her buddies are still running loose right now, it's only a matter of time before she sees them again... and that with those cuffs sucking up all her spirit energy, she can't possibly escape on her own. I guess I'll be off, then."
"Quite. Twelfth division has had a significant chemical spillage, and your name was drawn for the duty."
Tatsuki was the only one to see the sparkle of delight enter the redhead's eyes, and couldn't be quite sure what it meant. But it definitely couldn't be a good thing. Shortly after Ranma left, the captain followed suit, leaving her alone with her thoughts.
"So this is where you went.... huh. I guess it makes some sense. Definitely doing a better job..." She shook her head softly. "Heh. Still babying me along, too. So the cuffs drain spiritual energy? That cuts down on my options, alright. I'd have found that out on my own, though. This just gives me a little more time."
Tatsuki closed her eyes, focusing within, as she had been taught. After a moment, they shot open, and she tore her arms sharply away from each other, snapping the short chain holding the cuffs together as though it were no more than a paperclip. In the next moment, she slapped her arms together again, and the cuffs splintered with a sharp crack, the pieces scraping against her wrists as they tumbled to the floor.
"Guess I should thank sensei later." She decided. "If I only had spiritual energy to rely on, I'd have been in a pretty tight spot. Lucky..."
"You're doing it wrong." Ranma noted some time later, looking over the shoulder of a nameless twelfth division newbie, who's grip on the scalpel tightened as he glowered down at the moaning wreck of what had once been an average Hollow.
"What would you know about it? You're just-!"
"A healer with a very significant amount of medical and simple anatomical knowledge? Yes. Yes I am. And if you try to cut there, you'll nick the artery, it'll bleed out within a minute, and this experiment will have become a total waste of time. Give it another millimeter or two."
The newbie snorted and stubbornly ignored her, slicing a careful, perfectly straight line into the Hollow's flesh, smirking as he completed it without apparent incident and drew the scalpel away. His face fell when, with the creature's next raspy breath, blood began to pour rapidly from the incision.
"See?" Ranma said smugly, before setting her hand onto the wound and knitting it together again with a soft glow. "And since I'm feeling generous, you can have another shot. With luck, you might yet be able to make it through this without screwing up completely."
"I loathe you." The nameless twelfth grumbled softly.
"Duly noted! My work here is complete."
Both of them turned, the nameless goon going pale when he realized that his face-painted captain had been standing behind them for an indeterminate period of time.
"You." Mayuri said calmly, pointing at the goon. "I'm watching. Botch this again, and you'll be seeing this experiment from an alternate point of view. And you, redhead. A word, in my office. Follow me."
Ranma shrugged and followed the man, while Zero waved back at the goon and was studiously ignored.
"Tea?" The captain offered, and Ranma calmly accepted, sipping carefully at the unrecognized blend. "Very good. Now, I'd like to ask why you're making a nuisance of yourself about my division."
"I was sent here to clean up a chemical spill."
"Yes. According to witnesses, you finished three hours ago. Why are you still here?"
"Oh, no reason." Ranma responded. "A couple of things looked interesting, there's not many patients around back at fourth, I've read the whole library already, and the whole 'menial chores' thing just doesn't do it for me, you know? Honestly, I was just trying to figure out where your library might be."
"That's restricted to seated officers of this division, and guests of either myself or the vice-captain." Mayuri rebuffed. "And approximately half an hour after you finished cleaning up the chemical spill, the entire eleventh division, save its captain and vice-captain, and a few stragglers who were off-duty, were admitted to fourth division for treatment of wounds incurred battling the intruders."
"Really. That's such a shame." Ranma noted idly, ignoring the insinuation that she should be dropping everything to run to assist. Mayuri snorted at her lack of reaction.
"Second question. Why have the paralytics in your tea not yet taken effect?"
"What, that? I run a self-diagnostic every time I eat or drink something I didnt personally prepare, and remove any poisons that may be there before they can do any harm. I've been doing so since the moment I discovered that particular application of the healing kido."
"Master is paranoid!" Zero confirmed.
"On that note, I also ping that diagnostic once every sixty seconds as a simple control exersize, and so I'm afraid the invisible, odorless knockout gas you've been flooding this room won't be having any effect either. Sorry. But I wouldn't have noticed at all if I wasn't in that habit, so there's that to consider. But what would you have done if it had worked?"
"Oh, I have several experiments that have been awaiting a... volunteer." Mayuri stated ominously.
Ranma shrugged, grin not even twitching.
"I see." Mayuri said dryly, changing the subject. "An intriguing use of that kido, I'll admit... I don't believe I've ever heard of anything like it."
"Mm... well, I hate to say it..." Ranma began, in a tone that hinted that she didn't really hate to say it at all. "But most of Fourth division is pretty clinically depressed about their lot in life, just drudging along between janitorial duties and being heckled by the other divisions for being such pathetic losers. They can't really concieve of the idea of thinking outside of their nice little box of ruts, and so they never do anything particularly noteworthy, which confirms their relative worthlessness in the eyes of the other divisions. That increases the heckling, which reinforces fourth's depression. An unfortunate cycle. Adding to this is that there is no particular reward for imagination or innovativeness, and they are in fact punished by subtle shunning of a more talented shinigami by the sullen mass of fourth, and peer pressure plays a heavy role in destroying the desire of new recruits to excel. 'Why bother being the best, if it just gets the punishment of more work piled on? Better to simply be capable of getting the job done, but not being particularly better at anything than any other member of the division.'"
Ranma shrugged again.
"To be honest, I havent the slightest idea how promotions might be handled other than by comparison of 'experience', or more simply, that you get promoted after a set amount of time passes. I've certainly not yet seen anything to suggest that 'merit' or 'ability' are taken into any sort of consideration."
"A well thought out rant." Mayuri noted, at the same time Kagami interjected with "Hey, hey. Don't get distracted, now. We ain't here for promotions, you know."
There was a short moment of awkward silence, during which Ranma assumed that Mayuri ventilated the gases out of the room, as she suddenly didn't need to flush them out anymore.
"So. Due to your... imaginative use of healing kido, I find the force I can bring to bear suddenly limited." Mayuri admitted. "It seems time to pass threats over for negotiation."
"Excellent! I would like access to your library, if it can be arranged."
"Oho. Direct and upfront with the demands. But I can't just give something for nothing, you know." He pretended to mull the situation over for a moment. "All right... I believe I can allow you entry as a guest. In exchange, however, you must allow me to perform an experiment on you."
He settled back, closed his eyes, and waited patiently for the outraged denial. He waited for several long moments before opening them and realizing that, rather than seeming even slightly offended at the suggestion that she allow herself to be used like a guinea pig, Ranma was actually stroking her chin, seeming very contemplative.
"Exactly what kind of experiment are we talking, here?" She eventually asked, leaving the man dumbfounded.
"Eh...? You... you're serious." The man realized. "Depending on what I say, you're seriously considering going on my lab table in order to further your own goals. Why? You said you were finished with the medical library, but..."
"I hunger for knowledge." Ranma explained. "And I have a cultivated ability when it comes to studying. While I'm reading, I can adjust my own brain such that my memory becomes near-photographic, and I can recall anything I've read that way in perfect detail at any time." She finished smugly
"Hm. That may well be true, and does go some way toward an explanation." Mayuri allowed. "But I was referring more towards the fact that most shinigami are not pleasantly disposed towards the idea of being cut apart in a lab and put back together better. I would call it squeamishness, but few have an objection towards being cut apart in battle and put back together the same as before." He grumbled.
"I suppose they would consider it cheating." Ranma ventured.
"Ah. And you don't?"
"Hey! Show him your arm!" Zero interjected chirpily.
"Hm. Do you want him to see it.... or do you just want to see it again yourself, since you haven't for a while?"
"Does it matter? Your arm is awesome! You should totally go back to the stitches-lady and have the other one done!"
"I'll think about it." Ranma demurred. Grinning, she turned the conversation back to Mayuri. "And no... I really don't see it as cheating at all. For the most part. And sometimes, you just have to have a palmed ace, you know?"
"I see...." Mayuri considered for a long moment. "You know, miss Saotome... I think I would like to see it after all. Your arm, that is."
Ranma shrugged, having expected it, and quickly unfastened the concealing glove, leaving her left arm bared for the captains inspection. With a few quick muscle tensings, she silently demonstrated the hidden bone spikes and extended claws.
"Ah... fascinating. It's always interesting to study the work of anther scientist. Is there a name tied to this work of art, by any chance?" Mayuri wondered.
"Fran. Madaraki Fran. And before you ask, as far as I know, she's still alive."
"Ah... almost a shame. She would have made an excellent recruit... not at all like the chaff that keeps getting randomly thrown my way. Is there anything else of note about this?"
"Hm... usually, I like to keep my secret aces secret." Ranma said, mulling it over before shrugging. "But... it's not like it matters. We're on the same side, after all. So... the claws are the vehicles to deliver a payload of a particularly deadly poison, from glands in the fingertips. A similar gland in the thumb produces the antivenom for it, however I havent used that one as often."
Ranma waved a hand and Zero produced a scalpel, likely stolen from either fourth division or during their little saunter through twelfth. She unflinchingly carved open her wrist and peeled the skin back to reveal the layer of glistening bone underneath.
"There's this, too. It's not much protection against direct strikes with enough power behind them to cleave the limb..." She admitted. "But against glancing blows and common accidents, it might as well be a layer of armor protecting the arteries."
"Fascinating." Mayuri said, having warmed up to this conversation. "Miss Madaraki decided on all specifications herself?"
"Unfortunately, yes." Ranma said. "I had just lost the original arm and was still somewhat naive and inexperienced at the time..."
"This naive, inexperienced portion of your life being... a month ago. If that long." The other dryly noted.
"... And I unfortunately didn't think of making any other requests at the time than that she replace the arm I had just lost. Since, I have regretted it, as I've thought up multiple upgrades and seperate features that could have been integrated into the design, but I have unfortunately been unable to look in on miss Madaraki since."
Mayuri was staring dumbly at her by this point.
"Miss Saotome... would you do me the tremendous honor... of bearing my-"
"No." She interrupted flatly, proving that she did, indeed, have limits. Mayuri shook himself lightly.
"In that case... would you mind terribly, if I petitioned the captain-commander for the right to adopt you as my own child?"
"Hm.... If it means I can get into your libraries, and you don't have any particular problem with me keeping my current name, then sure." Ranma decided.
"Excellent. I'll have to make my case before him later today, then. In any case, as for possible experiments..." His eyes flicked over towards the inexplicably talkative doll. Ranma caught it.
"I would like to note right now, that if anyone suggests any fiddling around with Zero, I will kill your entire division, you included, whether you've already adopted me or not."
Mayuri hesitated a moment as he calculated the odds of her managing such a feat, factoring in the general 'cannon fodder' nature of his own underlings and the fact that her unique usage of healing kido was essentially the perfect counter to most of his own zanpakuto's abilities even without factoring anything else in, and found them to be uncomfortable. Not that they were particularly high... but neither were they at all outside the realm of possibility.
"Duly noted." He allowed, mentally penciling in the doll as the latest addition to the very short 'off limits' list.
The discussion then turned to potential experiments, and Mayuri found himself delighted further and further with every minute that passed as Ranma dutifully considered every angle of every experiment, further advancing upon them, and bringing up points and issues that he himself had overlooked.
Why, if he hadn't grown Nemu from a surgically removed splinter of his own soul, in a vat, which itself was in a private laboratory which only he could access, and hadn't been overlooking every stage of her development, he would have suspected that the two girls had been switched at birth. Oh well. Obviously there had been some random factor which had flawed the creation process somehow.
In the end, the meeting drew on so long that he ended up canceling his plans to go interrogate the hospitalized elevenths, and had had to make the arrangements for his ambush of a pair of the intruders he'd come across rather more rapidly than he'd have preferred.
"This salve is crap." Ranma remarked idly, poking the wounds of the prone Ikkaku. "But I guess it serves its purpose, if all you want is something to temporarily keep you from bleeding out, and hiding it in the hilt of your zanpakuto is the sort of childishly clever thing I can't imagine you coming up with yourself, for some reason. Still, it degrades unfortunately rapidly, and it doesn't do anything to accelerate your own healing beneath it. Can't be put off, those wounds have to be closed."
Ikkaku grunted with disgust, then twitched as Ranma carefully picked up a stapler. All things considered, he would later reflect that he would probably have preferred to be tended to by any other randomly selected medic, even if it did mean dealing with Kurotsuchi.
Her tardiness in reporting to fourth had been noted, but overlooked, as there were several others who had also been slow to respond, and one or two shinigami that were missing entirely.
Kenpachi had been disappointed at how difficult it proved to be to find Ranma, and had responded to the frustration in typical Kenpachi fashion. Hunting down something to brutally maim.
"So, kid. I'll give you a free shot. Go on!" Kenpachi growled, leering at the carrot-top intruder.
For his part, rather than respond immediately to the invitation, Ichigo flushed heavily and stammered something incomprehensible as he averted his eyes. Huh. That was new. Kenpachi couldn't help but wonder.... something clicked, and she glanced down to where she had, in habitual fashion, bared her chest to offer a better target.
Oh. Oh, riiiight. Tits. That would explain things.
Compounding the simple fact of exposed flesh was that Kenpachi had never been particularly unattractive, when one looked past the facial scars and ridiculous hairstyle, and that had translated. As a she, she admittedly couldn't be called 'beautiful' with such extensive scars and an eyepatch, but she wasn't going to be called anything close to 'hideous', either. If it had to be classified, she was somewhat better than average, with all things added up, and could potentially become a real stunner, given the proper application of makeup and clothes.
Kenpachi didn't particularly appreciate these simple facts at all.
"What? You never seen a pair of tits before?" She barked.
"...... No." Ichigo admitted, flushing all the heavier.
"....... You poor, deprived little runt. Change of plans, I'll just put you out of your misery right away."
Ichigo managed to bring Zangetsu up to block, just in time to watch Kenpachi's blade carve through it like it was made of so much cheese, and continue on through to his torso. Kenpachi shrugged and turned, walking away and wondering whether she would have any luck finding Ranma now that she'd cut someone up.
Five minutes later, she was flat on her back and staring at the sky.
"What the crap just happened?" She mused aloud, confused about the rapid reversal of situations.... no, not reversal, the kid was face-first in the dirt again, but an equalization. She was still musing over where the hell things had gone wrong as Yachiru collected her and changed scenery to the rooftops.
'Okay... cut through his sword and chest. No problem there. Turned to leave. He stood back up. Wait, what? How did... no, think about that later. He stood back up, sword fixed. We fought again... crap if I know how, but suddenly the runt could trade hits with me like nothing. And then we both fell down. Okay, so how....? He was yelling something about the swords power...'
Kenpachi shook her head. Clearly, the correct mode of option was to yell, delireous from bloodloss, at her sword. There was no reply from it... pretty much as expected.
"Well... you're a fine mess." Came a familiar voice, just as she was ready to black out. Ranma. The recognition forced her eyes back open to see that the redhead was calmly looking down at the battlefield below, smirking.
"Oh. The intruder is getting away. With my superior's assistance." She remarked dryly. "Personally, I'm surprised. Must be charisma. Even so, if he gets caught helping an intruder... tsk, tsk. Naughty, naughty."
Ranma grinned and turned to inspect Kenpachi.
"Hm. Not bad." She eventually decided. "I'll admit I'm a bit curious about just how you pulled this off..." She shrugged, and poked Kenpachi's new features dubiously. "... But damn. That's dedication. Or crazy obsession. Either way, I guess I might let you buy me dinner one of these days after all. Right now, though, lets just see about making sure you don't die, alright?"
Kenpachi grunted, and Yachiru stepped out of the way in order to let Ranma make with the healing. There was an amiable silence as flesh knitted itself together.
"Did you know..." Ranma offered. ".. that sound doesn't travel through a vacuum?"
Neither of them looked particularly interested, but Ranma soldiered on.
"It's because sound has to have something to travel through in order to reach your ears. Air works well enough, but if there's literally nothing for it to travel through, then there's no sound. Simple, huh? It's... kind of the same with zanpakuto."
Now their interest was caught.
"It's not an identical comparison, but there has to be a certain level of spiritual power behind the wielder before their zanpakuto can make themselves heard. But that's not so important... what you should think about is the other end of the spectrum."
Ranma shrugged, finished with the healing, and sat back.
"It's true that if there's nothing, sound can't travel through it. It's also true... that if there is too much of anything in the way, then the sound won't get anywhere."
Kenpachi's eyes flickered somewhat, as she seemed to catch on.
"Once again... it's not a perfect parallel, and it's significantly rarer than the inverse... but if the wielder has too much spiritual power behind them, then it's as difficult for it to make itself heard as in situations where the wielder has too little. Well... for the first contact, at least." Ranma admitted. "Once that's over with, the relationship shifts somewhat."
"So.... it can't hear me?"
"Quite the reverse." Ranma stated. "It's difficult to explain... but even your softest whisper, it can hear as though you howled it at the top of your lungs, directly into its ears. But in contrast... no matter how long or hard it screams, you've as little chance of hearing as if it were whispering from across an open field during a thunderstorm."
"Then there's nothing I can do." Kenpachi realized somberly.
"Hm. Now, I didn't say that..." Ranma said, grinning again. "It's just that more traditional means won't be of much help to you. It can't make you hear it, so it can't simply reach out to draw you into your inner world with it. You could try meditating to reach that world on your own, but that would take a great deal of patient effort. I might just have a little shortcut."
"What... no pressing for details? You don't want to hear the risks involved?"
"I don't care." Kenpachi stated flatly. "So go ahead. Do it."
Ranma grinned and slowly drew her zanpakuto.
"I'll have to ask you to remain perfectly still. I've never had reason to try this before, and I can only guarantee that it will be painful. Let's begin, shall we?"
In one smooth motion, she shifted her grip and stabbed downwards, impaling the weakened captain through the stomach. And around them, the world went black.
It was several long moments before Kenpachi opened her eyes again and took in the surroundings and Ranma, who was stroking her chin and staring.
"How very curious. I was sure that you would be male, when we arrived. Hmm... ah, I think it begins to come clear. The soul, the body, and one's self-image are interestingly interwoven. The soul is shaped by the form of the body... the self-image cannot change the body, but can impact the soul's form, but not to anywhere near the degree of the body... I see. That explains...." She paused and shook her head, letting her musing trail off into silence.
"Where are we?" Kenpachi rasped, trying to pierce the veil of fog, sloshing through the knee-deep tides of blood. Her foot nudged something which could only have been a bone of some sort.
"Where? Why... this is your inner world, Kenpachi. I do love what you've done with the place."
"Is it nothing but blood?" Kenpachi wondered, very slightly disturbed, but not honestly capable of claiming any surprise.
"Who knows?" Ranma said, shrugging. "But I'm sure you'll find out. In any case... somewhere in here, you'll find your zanpakuto's spirit. It can't reach out to you... if you want to make any progress, you'll have to find it yourself."
Ranma's form began to flicker, and she frowned.
"Tch. Seems this isn't so easy as.... I have to leave, very soon. But... I'll wish you good luck, all right? I'm sure you'll find it. And with luck, you'll be able to hear..."
Ranma faded entirely in mid-sentence, leaving Kenpachi alone in a knee deep swamp of blood. After a long moment, she snorted, and started walking.
There was no real way of telling just how long she walked through the near-featureless mire. She didn't stop until she realized that she'd passed the same shriveled, leafless black tree three times, despite that she hadn't changed direction even slightly. The landscape looped. Great.
On the plus side, that meant that there was only so much space to search, and it didn't go on forever. Using the tree as a point of reference, she turned and started walking again.
She'd turned several more times before she finally found something. A sheer, circular drop-off to a gravity-defying scoop out of the landscape, the blood maintaining an even, knee-deep level throughout, which would have given any observer who knew and cared about physics histrionics. Kenpachi didn't care, instead focusing her attention on the small island floating above the hollow.
It was made of bones, held together by the grasping roots of a large tree, the only one Kenpachi had seen thus far in this entire bleak landscape which wasn't just still alive, but flourishing with health. If she squinted, she could just barely make out something against the bark... no good. It was too far away.
As she approached, there wasn't any chance to make it out properly either, as with the change of perspective the top of the island and the tree were blotted out entirely. No matter. She'd see whatever it was when she got there.
Thin fibers trailed down from the roots, gently settling into the blood, a bone caught here and there in the tangle somehow. She grabbed a fistful and gave an experimental tug. The fibers held, and after a few more tests to ensure they could bear her weight, she began to haul herself upwards, making her slow way to the bottom of the island, and from there using the makeshift handholds offered by the root system and bones to carefully crawl further upwards, eventually heaving herself over the edge and onto relatively level ground.
She caught her breath and looked up, finally seeing what she'd been unable to make out from afar.
It was a snake. A snake which was not just abnormally large but, in fact, ridiculously huge, coiled about the equally large tree and held in place with thick, heavy vines coiled similarly around itself and massive iron spikes, driven through its body and into the tree, trickles of blood dripping freely from the wounds. One great eye was staring down directly at her.
"Sss... How troublesome." It grumbled to itself around the spike driven through its mouth.
I know it's short. Real life happened. I make no apologies.
Anyhow, Ranma's rapidly shooting upwards in terms of power. If she ever manages to get control of that double shunpo/do technique, it's gonna launch her right up to the heavy hitters all on its own, and it's not like that's going to be the only thing in her bag of tricks. 'Course, that'll be a while yet, if ever... right now, it's basically restricted to 'go really fast that-a-way.... until trees/walls happen'. So yeah.
I like the way Mayuri and Ranma get along. I think of it like a pair of kids playing with play-doh or legos. Except, these are pretty sociopathic kids, and instead of childrens toys, it's horrific abominations and crimes against nature, but still.
Yay for gender-specific pronoun induced headaches. Except, no. Boo. Boo! Anyway, I try to go by whether a given person is male or female at the time, when determining whether to put down 'him' or 'her'. And damn if I didn't just realize exactly how weird that sounds.
Anyhow, rapidly heading towards finishing up with the Bleach stuffs. They may play a role of some sort in the future chapters, after Ranma gets back to Mahora, or they might never be seen again. Depends.
So! It's potential future scenes Omake time!
Omake Scene 1, Oh, yeah, that makes total-wait, eat what now?:
"Ichigo... you'll slowly be devoured from the inside, by the Hollow within, and lose your mind. When that happens... it's game over." Shinji stated confidently. "Haven't you noticed? By now... the Hollow within you should be growing stronger at unimaginable speed. Come with me... and I'll teach you how to control him."
"Control?" Ranma interrupted sarcastically as she revealed herself. "Are you serious? This is bull. What's the point of sealing away half of yourself?"
"He's right." Ichigo denied. "For a while now... I've been hearing him. Getting louder and louder... not day by day, but at a much faster rate. Even if he hadn't told me, I already know that if this keeps up... he'll devour-"
Ranma slapped him.
"Moron. You are such a moron." She grumbled darkly. "Of course he's yelling at you.... when was the last time you let him out of your head to do anything? If the tables were turned.... after so long, you'd be screaming and hollering at him too!"
"Whether or not that's the truth... it'd never happen." Shinji declared firmly. "The Hollow would be incapable of allowing the other part continued existence. They cannot concieve of co-operation, or partnerships, and barely tolerate subservient relationships. Their first inclination is destruction, and so ours has to be the same in turn, to destroy them first."
Ichigo twitched, a few memorable declarations of 'partner' suddenly and unfortunately drifting across his memory.
"Ha... so that's it?" Ranma asked. "Not even bondage... you 'controlled' your other halves by wilfully cutting them out and discarding them. That's... really kind of disgusting. Because you're indoctrinated to hate them, you threw away the power that could have been yours?"
"Magic." the Other calmly pointed out, cutting off the rant Ranma had building in a flash of rage.
"..... Hmph. You don't know what you're talking about, girly. They were trying to eat us, case you didn't realize." Shinji snapped angrily.
"And did you try to find any alternative solution? Everything has to eat." Ranma countered practically. "If there's only one thing they can possibly reach to make any attempt to eat, then that's what they will try to eat. It's simple logic. And you're upset about it? That's like... a guard starving his prisoner, and every day conspicuously slathering themselves with barbecue sauce where they could be seen. Exactly what did you expect to happen?"
Shinji frowned, and then his eyes slowly widened.
"You can't be serious!" He barked. "You're a... and you've been letting it out!?"
"Heh... my motto is 'Victory through Compromise'." Ranma said, leering at the chalk-white vaizard. "Compromising the enemy... or making compromises with allies. Same difference. Yeah... my pale reflection and I... like yin and yang, two halves of the same whole. It's not fair, to keep your twin sister locked up all the time, is it?"
"It's an evil monster!" Shinji argued frantically.
".... 'Evil'?" Ranma mused. "That's a pretty nebulous concept. And after a few days, I'll admit, she started getting pretty snappy and irritable."
Ranma paused and grinned in a way that wasn't so much smiling as it was baring of teeth.
"Of course... then we tracked down an idiot Hollow, and with a full belly, she was much more pleasant company. Much the same could be said about me."
"What's wrong?" Ranma asked. "Do we offend you? Is our mere existence such a chore to bear, now that you understand a little about us? Or... have seeds of doubt taken root in your mind, so that you've begun to wonder if maybe, we haven't figured out the right of it after all?"
"I really don't get what's going on here." Ichigo admitted, having become lost somewhere over the course of the conversation.
"Don't worry about it. Shinji and I are having an important conversation, but it seems like words aren't going to be quite enough." Ranma shrugged and casually drew her zanpakuto. "So now... now we'll demonstrate why we are superior. Why only a fool would kill half of themselves. We'll not interfere with you if you decide to follow in the footsteps of fools, Ichigo... but watch carefully. Think long and hard, before deciding."
"Die!" Shinji snarled as he hurled himself into battle.
Omake Scene 2, It's Ace Attorney Time:
She looked up to the suited man, who was extending an official looking envelope for her to take.
"You have been served. Good day, madame."
Omake Scene 3, Eh? :
Ranma opened the door and paused. There, in the middle of the room, Eva was sitting in her chair, one leg crossed over the other. This wasn't particularly unusual.
What was, was that Negi was kneeling in front of her, holding the foot and leaning forward, tongue partially extended. Both had stopped and looked up when she started to enter, in differing degrees of awkwardness or humiliation.
".... Okay, you know what? I'm going to be back in an hour. You go ahead and do what you want, but I don't even want to know."
Omake Scene 4, Training Time:
"You know, sensei... I'm kind of offended. You look for a martial arts tutor, and you don't even think of asking me?"
"W-well..." Negi stammered. "It's, it's not that I meant to offend... it's just, you know... I have nightmares about you. And a really angry Eva-chan, sometimes, but mainly you. So it's not that I didn't think of asking you... it's that I did, and I very nearly soiled myself from the imagery."
"Yeah, yeah, okay, fair enough. We start right now."
"We start right now." Ranma growled dangerously, and Negi sighed in reluctant acceptance of his fate.
"Now, I very much approve of your seeking to learn the martial arts. You see, the tougher you are, the harder you are to defeat. So, when I do get around to killing you, I'll be able to pull out all the stops, and your absolutely wrecked and tormented body will be able to take a lot of punishment before you finally kick the bucket."
"Suddenly... I'm very much reconsidering my choice of magical battle style." Negi mumbled grimly.
"So! We'll start you off nice and slow. This is a little training excersize pops used to put me through every so often. It's called... well, I forget the offical name. Unofficially, it's called 'Don't Die'. The object of the training is not to die, and you know you've succeeded because, quite simply, you aren't dead at the end of it. It ends when I say so."
"Great. That's just... just great."
"Alright, we start now. Defend yourself!"
As per norm, I might integrate any, all, or none of these into the primary storyline. Personally, I'm leaning towards the Ace Attorney one... which is probably why it has the least actual level of detail, I guess. Put Ranma in a position she can't exactly just butcher her way out of, if things go south. Also, I just played a couple of those games, so yeah.