If you were quick enough to see chapter 8 before I removed it, you probably would have been happy it was removed. I'd like to thank Mr. Khan for giving me some of advice (don't worry, I didn't take any offense, I was already worried about it not being well-written, so I just needed to hear someone with experience and talent). Plus, I wrote most of it early in the morning; I was probably incoherent.
But hopefully this is better. I think so; I guess some of you wouldn't know if I deleted the first version of the chapter. Should I re-post it so you guys can compare? I still kept some things, though. Anyways, this will be a direct continuation from the last so you guys won't get confused. Enjoy!
Erratic. That was how I would describe the entire situation. It was completely unpredictable, just when you thought the situation would calm and everything would go back to normal, something else would happen.
After I had ceremoniously been pushed into the room, I was the last one to arrive and had to be the center of attention for a few moments. Then the Sotaichou asked me to stand on his right side, saving me from further embarrassment, and finally the attention turned to him when he started the meeting. It was during his long introductory speech that we learned of Urahara's experiments, the Central 46's ruling on the exile of the rogue captains and lieutenants, and now of the sudden appointment of these new and inexperienced Shinigami, including myself.
Yes, I wasn't the only one. The new captains were that weird guy with face paint who worked with Urahara at his lab, the peculiar lieutenant of the 5th Division, a dark-skinned blind man with interesting hair, a tall bulky man who hid his face behind a veil, and the young, white-haired 3rd seat of the 10th Division. What? As if I'd bother to learn their names.
I wanted to say, "Sotaichou, I know that you're old and wise and that you helped with the founding of the Gotei 13, yet I can't help but doubt your way of handling this situation." None of us achieved bankai, nor did any of us have a lot of experience. But, hey, the Gotei 13 was already in an unstable condition at the moment, so it couldn't have gotten worse, right?
After the ridiculous, two hour meeting full of introductions and surprises, I was extremely fatigued from the day's event, so I decided to walk back home. The others went back to their respective squads, and none of them spoke to each other. I was alone, but I was content. Dusk was nearing; the sky was a beautiful combination of red, pink, and orange. There was no wind, and the temperate was just right.
Peaceful. I was a little jealous. I wished my inner state could match the outside. But I could feel myself slowly breaking down, piece by pitiful piece.
Although, looking back at it, I had handled the state of affairs rather well. I could have easily sunk back into my despair. Or worse, ended my own life. Yet I survived through the heartbreak. I wondered why. Whatever the reason was, I was proud of myself.
And I couldn't help but feel a few of those pitiful pieces being put back together.
It was during my self-observation that I felt the approaching presence of another individual before a messenger abruptly appeared before me. He wore the standard Onmitsukido outfit, but with a peculiar golden, rectangular design on the front.
And then it registered in my head while my heart skipped a beat.
Before he could open his mouth, I raised my hand to silence him and nodded, telling him that I already understood. He led me to the outskirts of the Seireitei where the noble houses chose to live in their own secluded manors. We arrived at the main gate of the largest of all the noble clans, in terms of both the number of members and the size of the entire property.
Yes, I was called for a meeting with the main council of the Shihoin Clan.
There were servants who were waiting at the large entrance to the foyer of the mansion. They led me through a series of hallways that led to a small open space with two chairs by an open window.
"Please wait here," the servant said, "they will call you in shortly."
After he left, I sat down in one of the chairs and looked out the window. The sky changed. The warm colors looked more like they violently collided with each other into a light violet. Maybe it was because of the setting sun distributing shadows across the land.
Later I would find out that the heavens were trying to warn me.
A booming male voice yelled for me to come in. Before I walked in room, I wiped my sweating hands on my obi and squeezed it to give myself some reassurance. Stepping into the doorway, I bowed deeply at the eight individuals. It is always important to make a good first impression, especially for people who could easily destroy everything you ever lived for.
"Come in and sit," the same voice spoke again, "we have many things to discuss, Shaolin."
The room was similar to the captains' meeting room, except that the walls were violet with a golden trim. It was rather dark because of twilight, but there were a few lit candles, giving an eerie feeling to the mood. The eight most powerful men and women of the Shihoin Clan sat a long wooden table, and I sat in a chair facing them from a yard or two away.
I scanned all eight of the similar faces before nervously darting my eyes back down to my soaked hands that began to tremble. They all either had impassive or annoyed expressions. Contrary to common belief, I did not know much about the Shihoins or their politics. I served Yoruichi-sama only, and she told everything that I knew about her family, whom I had never met. The main council, who made the final decisions for the family, consisted of two elders and the immediate family of the Tenshiheisoban, but since she was missing, it went back to the former Tenshiheisoban's council. The title was hereditary, so I assumed the meeting would be headed by Yoruichi's father.
The man from earlier was most likely her father; he sat in the middle and had the same voice form earlier. He was practically an older male version of Yoruichi. Seeing the familiar features made my heart ache, and I tensed up from the harsh memory. Clearing his throat to get everyone's attention, the man began the meeting with an odd look in his eyes.
". . . Um . . . I'm guessing you're Shaolin Fon?"
Huh? I was kind of caught off guard with the obvious question, and I thought it was a joke until he paused for a while. I looked up and saw amused looks on a few faces, and the man was even smiling. This gave me a little more confidence, so I opened up with a small voice.
"Ah, yes sir . . . but you can . . . I'd rather be called Soifon."
"Soifon?" a woman who sat at the far right of the table spoke up, "Oh, you must be her granddaughter! She was a great spy. No wonder you have such talent. And, you know, she was a cutie, too."
I bashfully smiled at her compliment and quickly looked back down at my hands while muttering a thank you. The others chuckled at this, and my nervousness resurfaced for a moment. Was this their normal behavior?
"Oh my, it looks like we're scaring her. But we should stop and truly begin the meeting. I smelled the servants cooking ramen. And yes, Soifon, even an elegant nobleman like me enjoys eating ramen," the former Tenshiheisoban smiled at me.
"Well, let's start with quick introductions. If you have not figured it out yet, I am the former Tenshiheisoban, and the father of the current head, Shihoin Takeshi. Pleased to meet you." His handsome grin widened as he combed through his shoulder-length hair with his hairs.
"Sitting to the left of me is my sister Yumiko and, to her left, her husband Hikaru. On my right is my beautiful wife Kazumi, my older brother Itsuki and my nephew Shizu. The two old men at the end of each side are Keitaro-sama and Rei-sama."
Except for the two elders, who narrowed their eyes, everyone gave me a welcoming smile. Kazumi, whose hair was lighter than the others, beamed at me especially. Were these the "corrupt monsters" that people talked about? I smiled back, and Takeshi continued.
"Well, let's get straight to the point. As you know, my daughter was involved in some kind of foolish conspiracy with that Urahara boy," his voice softened with grief, "and she has not contacted us since. The entire Seireitei was in disarray as we all looked for replacements and explanations, whether rational or not. The situation caused a perfect opening for an enemy to attack us in our weakened state. That is why Yamamoto-sama and the Central 46 made those sudden decisions. We, however, have not agreed on who will command the Onmitsukido, which has always been under the direct control of our clan for generations.
"Most of us do not want a change in ways. When Yamamoto-sama recommended you, some of us were outraged," Rei-sama sneered at this, which earned him a glare from Takeshi, "They did not want a non-Shihoin, especially a Fon, to take the position that our family has always had. You see, the Fons have served us for centuries. We have gotten use to their obedience, so if one of you were to take a higher position, some may feel as though we were serving you, and that does not sound enjoyable." He paused to take a sip of water and motioned for his wife to continue for him.
"And then there is the other side," Kazumi started, "The side that does not mind a change in our traditions. Your superiors have told us of how talented you are. My Yoruichi wouldn't have chosen you just because of your face, so they must be right. And we understand that with a few more years of rougher training, you could easily surpass any of us. These two opposing sides have been fighting and quarreling with each other for the past three days, and they still are."
Takeshi nodded and took up the speech again, "But at the end of the day, the main council will make the decision."
He paused for a moment to take another sip. But I thought the moment of silence took forever. Even though I was receiving this warm treatment, I still couldn't help but feel a little concern about it. One rumor would not affect my way of thinking at all, but a large mass of them from multiple sources, reliable and unreliable, would have me worried for my life at the moment. And when I looked back up, the faces wore either disappointed expressions or smirks.
"It is a tie between the liberals and the conservatives. That is, four wants you gone and the other four wouldn't mind a change."
Confused, I sputtered out, "W-what does that mean?"
He sighed. "Since we have not come to an agreement, it means that in order for us to truly know that you are capable of leading the Onmitsukido, we will have to test your abilities. We take great care to make sure that our organization is made up of strong soldiers. It'll only make sense that they need a tough leader. The Tenshiheisoban was always most likely to become the commander, and each generation had to be more powerful than the last. Yoruichi is stronger than me, and I surpassed my father. Do you understand now, Soifon?"
". . . Sir, you're not serious, are you?"
"I may be a comical man at times, but this is a serious matter, child." He took another sip of his water and stood up, looking down on me with his golden eyes. "Tomorrow, when the shadow of the Sokyoku Hill reaches the white forests, you and I will battle. If I'm defeated, you may take the position as Commander of the Onmitsukido. If you are defeated . . . well, I just hope you are still alive in the end, child."
He glanced towards the other members, who stood up and left the room one by one, each giving me a nasty, sorrowful, or blank look. I was left alone in the room with Takeshi, who had an odd look on his face.
"What are you thinking?"
"What do you mean?"
"You were just told that you, someone with the level of training as a 3rd or 4th seat, will have to fight me, a former commander with captain-level strength, in order to control the Onmitsukido. Yet you have not had much of a reaction. So, what are you thinking?"
He was right; I didn't really know what to think about the sudden turn of events. "I . . . I don't know what to think. I don't even know if I even want to be a captain or commander."
He looked at me for a moment before sighing again and staring down at his hands. "You say you'd rather not take any position. What if I say that your life depends on it? Would you then change your mind?"
". . ."
I didn't see how my life could be in danger. If I loss, then there will be no reason for the Shihoins to bother with me. If I were to somehow win, then I would have won fairly and it would hopefully be the end of the problem.
As if reading my mind, Takeshi continued, "Whatever happens tomorrow will not end the problem. There are some who are so offended that they will kill you either way, or at least not work easily with you. You see, you have greatly insulted our family. Not only because of your presence, but because my daughter believed that you were the only one capable of replacing her," he pulled out a small piece of paper with writing on it from his robes and handed it to me, "It seems that Yoruichi quickly scribbled a small note and left it at my door on the night that she left."
I skimmed the letter and looked back up at his eyes with a confused expression on my face. "I don't understand . . ."
"They say that when you read something out loud that you will better comprehend it."
Following his advice, I cleared my throat and read the note:
I cannot tell you why I'm leaving, for I am running out of time, but you must trust me when I say that it is of great importance that you take care of my guard, Soifon. I request that you take back the position of Tenshiheisoban, and that you act as some sort of a regent to Soifon, as she is the only choice I would want to command the Onmitsukido. Please, do not question me or my choices. I will return, but it will be a while. This will be my last order as the 22nd head of the Shihoin Clan and the Commander of the Onmitsukido. I hope that you will do everything you can to not let anyone touch her.
Good-bye for now,
"It made me wonder why you were so special to her," he pondered while I gave him back the letter, "So I just assumed that you were something more to her than just a bodyguard. Something more than a friend." He looked at me with an intense look in his eyes. It made me feel as if he was looking right through me. "Am I right to assume that?"
Could I really tell my personal life to this man? ". . . I-I am not saying that I deny any feelings for your daughter, but we did not have any relationship above friendship." It was hard to lie in front of the very face of intimidation. But did I really just tell someone who I just met today my biggest secret? The day kept getting stranger.
"I see . . . well, if only one of you had the courage to confess, but I guess her departure would have had an even worse effect on your mental state. But back to the matter at hand, so, please, sit down." He motioned for the chair next to his, and I warily took the offer. "Don't be scared, child. I have no intention of hurting you."
I looked back up into those golden eyes. "It's hard not to be intimidated by the man who can easily kill you before you even realize it."
"Who said I was going to kill you?"
"Well, the end of me equals the end of the problems."
"So you're saying that you've accepted your death?" he quirked his eyebrow at me and had a pained expression on his face.
Feeling more fatigued and dejected, I whispered, "What else am I suppose to do? It's like you said, I would probably die either way . . ."
He blankly stared at me for a moment before clearing his throat and abruptly standing up. "I have a proposition."
"Yes, one that includes me faking my own defeat so that you could rightfully take the title that Yoruichi wanted you to have."
He walked over to a window and stared at the cloudy night sky. "Are you familiar with Hado Number 89?"
I responded no to which he said, "Hado Number 89 is called the Trickery of the Laughing Possums. Possums are rodents that aren't common in the Gotei 13's jurisdiction of the World of the Living, but they are widely known for being able to effectively play dead when a predator is near. Well, Hado Number 89 allows the user to not only play dead but actually die. The lungs stop breathing and the heart stops completely, but the brain still functions with a small amount of special electrical pulses made of charged reishi particles. In a subconscious state, these charged reishi particles allow the user to still be aware of their surroundings. Therefore, they act as a link between the subconscious and conscious.
"The basis of my plan is that when we fight, I will purposely create an opening in my defense so that you can give me a fatal blow, and right before that happens I will use Hado Number 89 and you will become Soifon-Taichou, Commander of the Omnitsukido!" He finished his speech with a loud shout and a fist pump.
". . . You think that would work?" Was he serious right now?
He looked me right in the eye and gave me a serious expression. "Child, I have gathered a great deal of wisdom over the many decades I have been alive. I'm sure that I'm able to make effective plans that will definitely work."
But I was still doubtful. "Why are you helping me?"
I thought I struck a nerve because he sighed and stared at the ground until he looked up and stared into my eyes. "It does seem strange that I want to help you, doesn't it? You know, I'm wondering that myself. Well, if you didn't know already, I love my daughter. Her birth was the happiest day of my life. It's not like I had always wanted a child, but she was the only thing that brought happiness. You've noticed how she avoided her duties as a Shihoin, right? I was the same way, probably worst. I wanted to be free from my family; I wanted more than a political life. But my father refused to let me stray away from my duties, and I gave up when my arranged marriage went through.
"Kazumi is a beautiful woman, yes, and I do love her now, but it's a terrible feeling to be forced to marry someone that you didn't love. So I passively went through with it until Yoruichi was born," he put on a wistful expression, "My first and only baby girl at nine and half pounds; she was a big one! And I would be foolish to reject her as my child because she's almost like my twin. Yoruichi was honestly my first love, and I'm the reason why I let her ignore her responsibilities. But now she's gone and I lost my love without a good-bye. The least I could do is fulfill her last wish if I never see her. Whether you trust me or not I want you to know that I'm doing this with the best intentions. So what do you say, child?"
Believing in him, I smiled and nodded my head, to which he smiled back and embraced me tightly (and painfully). For the next half hour, we made our very detailed plan and then retired to our quarters. Our battle was to start at the break of dawn, so I got some much needed rest for the rest of the night. It had been such a hectic day that I literally fell into bed, and I had a vague dream of Yoruichi and me holding hands in a cherry blossom field . . .
"And I guess that dream was a vision of when we confessed." I looked up at her confused golden eyes and smiled. I wasn't surprised at her expression since I pretty much told her how "caring" her father is.
While I retold the story, our reiatsu subsided and we calmed down. I'm not sure when, but somewhere along the way we floated down and were sitting on a rooftop side by side. I didn't mean to drag on the tale, but I felt more relaxed as I kept talking. Yoruichi had always wanted me to open up more about her departure, so I guess I gave her what I wanted.
"Soi, I . . . I don't understand," Yoruichi started with uncertainty in her voice, "My father helped you, didn't he? From what you've said, only the elders didn't like you, but the rest either didn't mind or supported you. How did they not like you?"
I chuckled at the cute face she was making and wrapped my arm around her shoulder. "You didn't let me finish, love. But it's getting late, so let's officially end this fight and give each other a proper apology." I was about to get up and help her to her feet until she grabbed my hand and pulled me back down. She said, "No, Soi, I want to hear everything that happened with you and my family," and hooked her arm around mines to keep me from escaping.
I chuckled again, "Alright, alright, I'll tell you. But after this message." Feeling the reiatsu earlier, I turned my head to the just arrived messenger from my squad and told him to report. He said that my dumbass lieutenant was about to get his ass handed to him by Renji and Ikakku and the squad is trying to control the situation. I told him to notify my 3rd seat and let him handle it until I got there. When the messenger vanished, I turned back to Yoruichi who had a smile on her face.
"Well, it looks like Omaeda is being a good lieutenant and reminding you of your duties."
"Tsk, I guess so. But I guess I should wrap it up. I'll skip to the battle, okay?"
She nodded her head and kissed me, and I continued, "This part is a little dark, and hard to remember, but you asked for it so I'll tell. Takeshi-sama and I were in an indoor arena in your family's manor with a large crowd of protestors and supporters . . ."
The stadium was full of Shihoins and branch families that either came to see a good fight or came to see me die. The main council was sitting on the bottom row of the bleachers. I heard my name being called (rather loudly) and turned my head to see Kuukaku and her brother near the top. She was holding a sign that read "Stab 'em with your stinga, bee!" which got some nasty looks from other spectators (they also received a nasty look from her) but brought a smile to my face. Of course that quickly disappeared when I heard death threats from the audience being thrown at me.
Takeshi glanced at me and gave me a quick smile before he raised his hand, which immediately silenced the crowd. "Let us settle this problem that we have all been stressing over for these past couple of days," he spoke with a loud booming voice full of confidence, "There is no need for introductions since all of you know who I am and who this child is. We have come here to see who will succeed Yoruichi for the title of Commander of the Onmitsukido. This will be a fair fight; I will use my katana and martial arts without wearing armor and Soifon will use her Zanpaktou and martial arts without wearing armor. The rules are simple: kill or incapacitate the other opponent and you win. There will be no penalty for the loser, so she will just return to the Gotei 13 and her duties." The crowd laughed at his emphasis but he gave me a reassuring glance.
"That is all there is to say, so let's begin!"
With the crowd roaring with delight, Takeshi stepped forward and put out his hand. "Let the best commander win," he playfully said with a wink. I smiled at him and confidently gripped his hand. The second I touched his hand, I heard the loud gong that signaled the start of the fight and felt myself being thrown in the air.
In the background, I heard cheers and shouts of joy as my mind wavered in and out of consciousness. It was even painful to keep my eyes open, although it was hard to see with the stream of blood that flowed down my head and over my right eye. Barely able to breathe, I hesitantly moved various parts of my body. A sharp pain in my left tibia; I think that was when he sent a powerful kick at it. A sting within my chest; he launched an unrecognizable kido that made my lungs explode, or at least that was what it felt like. Some of my ribs were broken along the way in a series of rapid punches. I either bit my tongue or I received a blow. Broken nose and arm. Add a fractured skull to the list, too.
What happened to Hado #89 you ask? I wondered that myself. At first, I thought he was only playing rough so the fight could look genuine. But when he began to purposely make openings in order to strike me back down, I soon realized that I was tricked. That sweet smile of his turned into a sadistic smirk, and all of those "supporters" on the main council wore the same face.
Takeshi stood over me with his bloodied katana and that same smirk on his face. He only had a scratch on his cheek and a broken nose, the latter being a lucky shot. He had homonkas on his right cheek, his right arm, somewhere on his back, and his left leg. Every time I tried to get that much needed second hit he would easily evade my attack. It almost looked like he was just playing with me and letting me give some hits.
The fight had lasted for about 15 minutes. The only reason it lasted that long was because of Takeshi's excessive tormenting. The fight began with a roundhouse kick to the side of my body when I was in midair. The fight ended with a devastating blow to the side of my head while I was on my knees. I would never forget that horrid crunch I heard.
My pounding head was able to hear a few calls of my name, which I vaguely realized was from Kuukaku, but the cheers were still too loud. Takeshi crouched over me and moved a few strands of hair out of my bloodied eyes. While he caressed my cheek, he leaned over and whispered in my ear, "I'm so sorry, child, but you must be denser than I thought if you really think I'll just give you our Onmitsukido," he then said in a sweet voice, "But don't worry, you might be able to see Yoruichi in the afterlife." He stood and raised his katana so that it was vertically pointing above my head. "Oh yeah, and that letter was a fake."
I thought this was it. I thought it was time for me to leave this godforsaken world. I closed my eyes and waited for my painless death. It was shameful to just give up like that, but what could I have done? During the fight, I kept getting back up and struck back down, until I just couldn't anymore. Yoruichi left me here to waste away, I thought. Maybe she was in on this little plan. Maybe she . . .
"Soifon, please, stop." Yoruichi interrupted and wrapped her arms around my waist, laying her forehead on my shoulder. "I don't want to hear the rest; I don't even want to hear the end and how you survived. I just want to go home and forget about all this."
She stood up, pulling me along with her, and turned so her back was facing me. Her hands clenched into a fist and she began to tremble.
"Yoruichi," I said in a worried voice, "Are you okay?"
She glanced over her shoulder and had a pissed off expression on her face. "I'll be back," she growled before she disappeared from the rooftop.
I'm sorry about the long wait but I didn't think I would have summer work and reading packets for my classes. The chapter is still pretty long but I tried to stick to the storyline. What do you think of this version of the Shihoins? I know a lot of people make them look evil and corrupted, but I thought I change it around and have them seem nice and sweet at first. We're going back to the present next chapter, and to give you a hint on what's next, I'll say that Yoruichi is pissed about her father's betrayal.
So I was re-reading some of my earlier chapters from this story and my other ones and, well, I didn't really like them. It looks like my "new" muse doesn't appreciate the works of my "old" muse. Especially that smut chapter for this story; I think I might rewrite that one, but we'll see. Anyways, thank you for reading. I very much appreciate your support.
Shakkaho3000 over and out