Hmm, the last chapter seems to have been received pretty well, I mean the amount of people reading the chapter basically doubled from previous chapters, but the amount of people that reviewed it, was halved. Not going to lie guys, but that kinda confuses me. My thanks to everyone that did review though. Anyway I won't hold chapters ransom, but remember reviews actually motivate me to write more for you, so it's a win-win for the both of us. I get feedback and you get a story. Rant over, read on.
PS. Heard Takedown by Blue Stahli on the radio, and now that song is probably going to be plaguing me every single time I want to write a fight scene. CURSES!
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or any other intellectual property mentioned.
"Kido/ Zanpakuto techniques"
What defines a person as 'evil'? Is it the dominance of an individual against their will? Is it the pursuit of one's desires through any means necessary and regardless of whom we harm? If this is what makes one 'evil', then all of humanity is evil and there is no good in this world.
Excerpt from the journal of Ichigo Kurosaki, Herald of Chaos.
Chapter 5: In Pursuit of Power.
As the sun rose the following day, bathing the palace in its warm light, Tatsuki shifted across her bed, trying to find the warm body that had been pressed up against her during the night. In her sleepy state though, she failed to recognise that it was missing and proceeded to roll over until she fell to the floor with a startled yelp in a tangle of blankets.
Grumbling to herself, she poked her head out of the mountain of blankets and pillows she was under as she took in her surroundings. Seeing her door slightly ajar, she extricated herself from the floor, tossing the blankets back onto the bed and walked out it.
Along the hallway outside her room, the sun shone brightly through the windows, blinding her slightly after being in her dark room. Hearing sounds to her right, she padded towards it, her body shivering with pleasure as her feet were caressed by the carpet.
After reaching the end of the hallway, she headed to her right, the sounds becoming clearer with each step she took and soon she was enticed by the smell of bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and waffles, making her quicken her pace to get to the delicious aroma. What she saw when she finally entered the room shocked her as her senses took in everything.
She stood in an ornate kitchen with an island countertop in the middle of it, decked with the foods she smelt earlier, along with a decanter of coffee and pitcher of what looked like orange juice. What stole her breath though was Ichigo topless with his back facing her, as he stood stacking several pots and pans on top of each other. When he turned to face her, he showed no surprise at her presence and simply gestured for her to take a seat.
As she sat down, he calmly prepared two plates for them both, while her eyes still roamed his chest. What caught her attention besides the toned muscles was a large purple tattoo. It started with a purple skull with several flares radiating off it just above his heart, but each of the tendrils of flame then spread out, crisscrossing every now and then, giving it the appearance of a spider's web as it wrapped around his torso, crawling up towards his neck and right shoulder.
"Like it?" he asked with a grin, making her blush and turn away after being caught staring. "I must admit it surprised me too when I went for a shower and found it across my body. I always wondered how I would look with a bit of ink on me."
Tatsuki could only nod dumbly as she was handed her plate, pouring herself a cup of orange juice to try and cool herself down somewhat. Looking around her, she examined the kitchen further, seeing it was like something out of a décor magazine with its pristine surfaces and modern appliances.
"Say Ichigo, where does all this stuff come from? I mean the food has to be bought somewhere and the clothes in my cupboard are…well… all my size," she said tentatively, watching as Ichigo only shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly.
"The miracles of being a King Suki-chan," he said as he took a sip of coffee. "The palace itself maintains and produces what we need, thanks to me feeding it my reiatsu. It also seems to possess some consciousness of its own since it can scan your body and mind and accommodate your varying needs."
The idea that the building they lived in was actually alive shocked Tatsuki beyond belief, causing her to sit gaping at him, until he casually reached over and closed her mouth with a finger.
"You'll attract flies like that Suki-chan," he said with a smirk, before pausing and holding his chin as he thought. "Then again at this altitude they shouldn't even exist."
"So what are we going to do today?" she asked once the meal was finished and she was helping him clean up the mountain of dishes.
"Well I thought I might see about unlocking some of the potential you have within you," he said as he deposited the last plate into the dishwasher, closing it and turning it on. As the machine rumbled softly as it filled with water, he took the opportunity to stare into her eyes, hypnotising her as she stared into those bottomless pools of black, tinged with violet.
"Yes, you'll be much stronger by the end of the day," he whispered into her ear, making her shudder again. "But first you need to me more appropriately dressed," he said clapping his hands as he leant back again and bringing her back to reality.
Nodding her head in agreement, she headed back to her room to get ready for the day. Once she was finished with her bath, she chose a set of shorts, t-shirt and some trainers, not knowing what training he was going to put her through exactly. As she was putting on her bra, there was a knock at her door, before Ichigo walked in. Seeing her standing there clad in nothing but her underwear, he froze in his step taking in her body. Angry that he had yet again got a 'tour' of her body so to speak, Tatsuki grabbed a silver container on her bedside table and lobbed it at him, stunned when it bounced off him harmlessly.
"Uh sorry," he said calmly as he turned his back on her. "I'll just wait outside then."
"A bit late for that pervert!" she yelled after him, hearing him chuckle slightly as he walked out.
Huffing in irritation, she finished changing and walked out of her room. Looking at him in the hallway, she could see that he had done away with the purple kimono she had first seen him in and was now wearing a black loose fitting tank top with a purple stripe over each shoulder and black cargo pants with black combat boots. Chuckling as her eyes roamed his body once again; she pouted and avoided his eyes as they walked. Following him, he led her down one of the lone cobblestone paths that led away from the palace.
"We're here," he said as the path they were on came to an abrupt end.
"Is there something I'm missing here?" she asked as she could see no difference between the area around them and this particular spot.
Bending down on one knee, his palm shone a brilliant purple glow as he placed it on the ground, causing it to rumble under whatever strain he was putting on it. A second later, the ground rose unexpectedly surprising her as a glass door was revealed leading them underground. As they entered the door, they found themselves in a long dark steel corridor that had a slight decline to it as it led them lower. As they walked down, lights came on overhead illuminating their path. Stopping at last at the end of the corridor, they found themselves in front of another glass door.
Pushing the door open, Ichigo paused at the entrance and flicked a switch to his left and turned the lights on in the room. Tatsuki couldn't help the gasp that escaped from her lips at where they found themselves. They were standing at the edge of a large training room with smooth wooden floors and a replica of a brilliant blue sky overhead. It was easily two football fields in width and length with various sections around it for specific activities. Along the left side of the room were racks of weapons, from swords to spears, flails to axes and so much more, along with marked circles for matches. On her right were several dummies that one could use for martial arts practice along with several practice mats laid out on the floor for casual sparring. Along the back wall she spotted a small kitchen with a long counter and several bar stools, along with a double door that she assumed led to the washrooms. The dominant feature of the room though, was the sunken area in the middle, resembling a barren desert with a few pillars of stone interspersed in the sand.
Feeling Ichigo grab her hand, she lost her bearings as he vanished with her. When she finally could stand on her own again, she found herself in the centre of said pit. Looking at Ichigo, she could see he was concentrating intently on her, his eyes unreadable. Finally he seemed to come to a decision as he stretched a bit, his horns growing out of his skull once again.
"Now then, the simplest and quickest way I can see for me to unlock your potential and add to it, is by helping it along with a bit of my own power," he said as he walked over to her slowly, his boots crunching the ground beneath his feet. She felt herself heat up slightly as he stood before her, his face no more than a finger's breath away. Cupping her cheek with one hand, he locked his lips with hers surprising her, but making her return the favour without hesitation. As she felt a finger trail down her neck to rest between her breasts, she paid it no mind, until the sensation of a knife being stabbed into her, caused her to scream in pain, breaking contact with him. Looking down at his finger, she was horrified when she could see it glowing slightly and sliding effortlessly into her chest. There was no blood from the wound, but at the same time she whimpered at the intense pain she was enduring.
"I probably should have warned you that this would hurt," he whispered into her ear. "But don't worry; it'll all be over soon." At his words, his finger finally came to a stop when it reached her heart and he channelled a pulse of his reiatsu into her.
In that moment, her body was encased in a pillar of purple light that reached up to the ceiling, a swirling tempest of energy that crumbled the ground beneath them both. Stepping away from her, Ichigo watched as the tempest reached its climax and a shockwave tore through the area. Once the vortex had dissipated, he walked over to where she lay crouched on the ground and stood with a blank expression on his face as he waited for her to stir. As she struggled to her feet, he grinned at the changes to her.
Her clothing had changed from the simple shorts, t-shirt and trainers, to black denim shorts with a purple blouse and slim slippers, similar to the ones Sui-Feng wore.
Physically she seemed no different as she stood there, but when she opened her eyes to look at him, he could see that her irises had shifted from brown to black and the white sclera was dotted with purple flecks. Her arms and legs didn't seem to be anymore more muscled than before, but a punch to his gut that sent him flying backwards into a pillar, forced him to reconsider that assumption.
Laughing as he extricated himself from the rubble, he saw Tatsuki standing with her fist out facing him. Jumping to his feet, he walked back to her, the grin not leaving his face.
"Good punch Suki-chan," he said as he walked around her in a circle, noting that her face remained blank through it all. "I'd say it was about as hard as when Komamura hit me with his bankai, so you should feel proud." Stopping in front of her, he frowned at her lack of expression. "Hello, anyone in there?" he teased as he rapped her on her forehead, receiving a kick to his side that sent him flying once again. Unlike the last time though, she chased after him, grabbing the collar of his shirt as tackled him into another pillar.
"That really hurt," she whispered into his ear, her voice sending a chill down his spine, while his arousal at her actions grew.
Seeing her rear a fist back to hit him again, he smirked and raised his reiatsu to match what she was putting out. When her fist struck, it sounded like a clap of thunder as he blocked her fist with one of his own. Pushing her away from him, he sped after her with a jab aimed at her head. Leaning back, she felt the force of the blow breeze past her, before she countered by grabbing his outstretched arm and spinning on the spot and throwing him into the ground, his body causing it to crack as it absorbed the force.
Hearing him start to laugh, she tightened her grip on his arm, wrenching the limb out of its socket, before breaking it at his elbow. Spinning on his remaining arm, he delivered two kicks to her chest that sent her skipping like a stone across the ground, kicking up small clouds of dust each time her body struck the ground. Digging her hands into the ground, she skidded to a stop, staring back at the direction she came from, trying to find his location. A slight breeze behind her was all the warning she received, as she rolled to her left, narrowly avoiding his fist as it destroyed the ground where she used to be. Looking up, she paled and rolled backwards as his newly healed limb was heading towards her now, just barely missing once again. Chuckling to himself, Ichigo paused and let her catch her breath, as well as calculate her next move.
"You're doing well Suki-chan, but you need to be angrier, you need to want to kill me before you manage to even leave a scratch on me," he called out to her, clenching his hands into fists and showing them to her. "You see this?" he asked, as his purple reiatsu wrapped around his fists, "this is the power that says I don't care if I hurt you during this spar. You need to find your own." His speech finished, he disappeared from her sight, reappearing above her. Jumping back from his axe kick, she was awed when the ground didn't simply crack or break under the attack, but was incinerated in a small explosion of purple and white.
Looking back at him, she watched him emerge from the smoke, grin on his face and his fists still emitting flares of reiatsu as he stalked her. Growling at his attitude, she darted forward, feinting an attack to his head, before ducking and bringing her knee with as much force as she could into his gut. Winded and hunched over, he was open for a bone-breaking uppercut, sending him reeling back. Not allowing him time to recover, she kicked his feet out from under him, bringing her heel down on his unprotected chest. The blow never landed as he reached out and grabbed her leg with both hands, swinging her down into the ground next to him, before lifting her up and kicking her back into a pillar, the rock crumbling down on top of her.
Pushing herself off the ground, she coughed up a mouthful of blood, before she felt herself lifted up by her neck. Struggling in his grip with her vision fuzzy from the previous blow, she could see no hint of relenting from Ichigo as he held her there. Dropping her, he kicked her in her gut, sending her skidding across the room once again. Flashing past her, he caught her with a spinning heel kick to her lower back, sending her back the way she came
"Killer instinct, Suki-chan!" Ichigo shouted as he walked slowly towards her, his ripped clothing the only sign that she had managed to do anything to him today.
Looking down at herself, she grimaced at the amount of bruises and cuts to her skin, her clothing no longer even protecting her dignity. Looking back at him and that damned grin on his face, she allowed her rage and frustration to pour out of her as she pounded her fist into the ground, cracking it little by little with each blow, while Ichigo looked on pleased.
Charging towards him again with a raw yell, she failed to notice her fists giving off red flares of reiatsu as she clenched them, a fact that pleased Ichigo greatly. As he blocked a cross to his face, he could feel his skin tingle slightly from the blow, seeing steam rise faintly off his skin as the flesh was burnt away. Turning back to the fight, he blocked a kick aimed at his ribs with a knee, feeling the same tingle as her energy burned through his pants. Allowing her an opening, she took advantage of it as she mercilessly rained down a variety of punches and kicks to his body. With each successful blow, her bloodlust rose as he bled from the numerous cuts to his skin, drenching them both in his blood.
When she came in with another blow at his head, he held his ground, seeing her clouded eyes widen slightly at the fact that he didn't react at all to the blow. In this situation, her normal reaction would have been to regroup and plan her next move, but in her frenzied state, such thinking was tossed out the window in favour of simply trying to hit him again even harder. Rearing his own fist back, he jabbed her in her gut, before delivering a chop to her neck. Off balance now, she spun with the momentum and brought an energised foot across his face, snapping it to the side with a spray of blood and spittle. Massaging his jaw, he grinned maniacally at her and made a come-hither gesture that enraged her even further. Despite this though, her blows didn't hit any harder, disappointing him slightly as they continued to exchange blows.
Feeling that enough was accomplished for now; he grabbed both her hands and swept her legs out from under her. Pinning her arms above her, he held her still while her bloodlust abated and she calmed down. When her breathing stilled, he felt her look around in confusion, horrified when she saw his bleeding body. Smirking at her, he healed each cut, showing her that he was unharmed.
"You did well Suki-chan," he said as he leaned over her and placed a kiss on her forehead, his eyes boring into her own. "Now you just need to practice to control that side of you," he said as he stood, carrying her with him as he jumped out of the pit and passed through the double doors she saw earlier. Inside was a set of showers and towel racks, along with several soft beds. Placing her on one of the recovery beds, his hands acquired a bright blue glow as he bent over her and swept his hands over her the bruises and cuts he had dealt her, healing them effortlessly. "Take the rest for today off, we'll continue tomorrow," he said and left her, heading off into another part of the training area.
Lying back down, she held up one of her hands, clenching it tightly and watching as it acquired its blood red glow again. Feeling the energy flowing within her, she continued to try and manipulate it, having little success at getting it to spread around her body. Sighing to herself, she put her hand back down and passed out, her body still unused to using such powers.
After a solemn breakfast, the inhabitants of the Urahara shop didn't quite know what to do with themselves during the day. Renji and Rukia had returned to the Seireitei to find out more on what was happening and what their orders were, while the rest of them with any abilities spent their time either defending the shop, or training below it.
Karin had spent most of her time, since last night, shut away in the room she and Yuzu used to share, turning away any contact from the others. She wouldn't even allow her father in to see her, a fact that was not completely unsurprising considering what she had learnt of the man since yesterday. Sitting alone in the dark room now, images of Yuzu being surrounded and killed by those creatures tormented her mind.
As if that wasn't enough, memories of Ichigo with an insane gleam in his eye as he talked so casually about killing people constantly replayed in her mind. She didn't know what he had done to Tatsuki, but he had changed her from the girl she wanted to grow up to be like, to a twisted twin that didn't care for her friends if her treatment of Orihime was any indication. Hearing the tell-tale howl of one of those 'hollows', she stuffed her fingers into her ears to block out the sickening sound.
'This is pathetic,' she thought, 'I promised myself that I would never be a burden to anyone after mom's death, but Ichi-nii took on protecting us from those monsters at the cost of his own life. Now with him gone, everything's falling apart and I refuse to lie down and accept it!'
Steeling her resolve, she exited her room and headed down the hallway towards Kisuke's lab. Knocking on the door, she waited until he called her in.
"Enter," Kisuke said without lifting his head from the report he was reading. When the person didn't make a move to interrupt him, he sighed and placed the paper down and looked up at his visitor. To his surprise, Karin stood there stone faced and still as a statue. "Ah Kurosaki-san what can I do for you?" He was even further surprised when she bowed before him.
"Please train me to be stronger, just like you trained my brother," she said still bowed over, missing him flinch at her request.
"I cannot," he simply said, turning away from her and looking back at the report.
"What? Why?" she asked, stunned that he was so quick to deny her request. When he looked back at her though, she could see the look of sadness within his eyes.
"The method I used to help your brother was highly dangerous and there is no guarantee that you would make it out alive like him," he solemnly said as he tilted his hat to hide his eyes. "Even if you managed to find your powers, you would also gain one other resident in your soul, a monster hell-bent on taking over your body for itself. I cannot willingly put you through such an existence."
"But…" she began, only to fall silent as a hand was placed on her shoulder. Looking back at its owner, she found her father with a grim expression on his face as he looked Kisuke.
"He's right Karin," Isshin said as he turned his gaze on his daughter. "It's not his responsibility to help you gain your powers, it's mine."
Shocked at his words, all Karin could do was gape at her father like a fish, while Kisuke watched his friend through narrowed eyes.
"H-How," she stuttered out, afraid of the answer after hearing the methods Kisuke would use.
"Simple," he said with a smile. "I will give you a portion of my powers to serve as a catalyst to activate your own. All I need to do is well…stab you in your heart, but it's completely painless I promise you."
"S-Stab me?" she sputtered, "What's after that, slicing me into tiny little pieces?" she said sarcastically.
"Of course not," Isshin joked, "Now head down to the underground area, it's the safest place to do this."
Nodding at him, Karin headed out the room and made her way down the ladder. Once they were alone, Kisuke turned on his friend.
"So now you'll actually teach them of the spirit world and their link to it," he said somewhat bitterly. "Where was this attitude the last few months?"
"There's no choice anymore," Isshin replied as he turned to walk away. Pausing at the door, he looked back at his friend over his shoulder and left one last parting remark, "I'm not going to ask for your help training her Kisuke, but I would appreciate it." With nothing more to say, he left the room and headed down towards the underground chamber.
With a sigh of exasperation, Kisuke slumped back into his chair, his head cradled in his hands. 'It's not like you're giving me a choice here Isshin,' he thought and stood up to follow the two of them.
Hidden deep within the palace, in a room lit by single blood red lamp, Ichigo sat with his legs crossed and head idly resting on his hand as he watched the scene at the Urahara shop unfold through a garganta. When his father stabbed Karin and boosted her own power with a donation of his own, he smirked and watched as everyone gathered around the newly minted soul reaper. While she marvelled at the shihakusho she found herself in, his eyes focused on the twin zanpakuto at her waist.
'A set of twin blades in its sealed state? Does that mean that she has either twin spirits or it was simply too powerful to seal into one blade? Either way that will be interesting to see.'
Looking at everyone there, he could see acceptance from Kisuke and Isshin, worry from Tessai, Ururu and Yoruichi, confusion from Chad, Uryu, Mizuiro and Orihime and of course, hysterics from Keigo and Jinta. Chuckling to himself, Ichigo couldn't help but miss some of the antics from the eccentric idiot.
'Maybe I should turn him into a Jack-in-the-box to amuse myself with,' he chuckled.
Turning to look at a second garganta, he could see Yuzu being trained by a female arrancar with black hair and a mask fragment shaped like a horn on her forehead. In the background he could make out three more female arrancar, one with blonde hair and her face half hidden by her collar, a brown haired beauty that would rival Rangiku's bust at least and lastly a shy olive haired woman judging by how she held her sleeve to her face. What surprised him though, was the presence of Ulquiorra Cifer at the training, his eyes watching over Yuzu like a hawk.
'From what Aizen knew of him, he only watched those that were of interest to him, considering everyone else trash.'
Turning his attention back to the young girl, he saw that she was jumping back constantly to avoid a stream of red bala that the arrancar was firing off at her. He burst out laughing when after a set of blasts had sped past her, Yuzu flared her wings and slipped under the following barrage and rammed a clawed foot into the arrancar's midsection, doubling her over while Yuzu apologised profusely to her. Much to the chagrin of the trainer, the brown and olive haired arrancar's laughed as well, while Ulquiorra and the blonde one had traces of surprise on their emotionless faces.
For his last inspection, he opened a garganta to view what the Gotei 13 were doing, unsurprised by the fact that their plans consisted of defending their current position, while trying to help the survivors as best they could. Scoffing at how boring their plan was, he idly traced circles on his chair with his free hand as he continued to listen. What did surprise him was the report of the lone survivor of the Royal Guard and how severe her injuries were.
'I could've sworn I killed everyone there,' he pondered with a thoughtful look, shrugging as it didn't mean much whether there was one survivor or a hundred, it just meant that she was strong enough to survive in this new world.
Hearing the sound of soft footsteps behind him, he barely reacted as Tatsuki came and stood next to him, her clothing repaired from the damage he had dealt her earlier.
"What are you watching?" she asked as she examined each screen, feeling mixed emotions at their friends and their expressions.
"Just wondering how everyone else is doing," he said and reached out to grab her hand, pulling her down into his lap as she yelped. "Their civilisation is collapsing in some parts of the world. They will soon lose their modern day conveniences and be thrown back to a time of hardship. It will strengthen others and consume many. But…" he said with emphasis and gestured to the two screens with his sisters on it, "the world is reacting exactly like I said it would. Eventually it will create humanity's champion and they will come to this place seeking my blood. I wonder who it will be in the end."
Leaning back into his chest, she elbowed him in his ribs, making him look at her curiously.
"You seem to think that they will ever get past me to even get to you," she chuckled. She was surprised though when he did not join in with her. Looking back at him, she could see him deep in thought and that worried her.
"You're right," he finally said, breaking the silence. "I don't want to have to deal with these weaklings, but that doesn't mean that you should have to either. I think I have our next outing planned out," he finished with a twisted grin, his eyes shining brightly as they reflected his insanity.
"What are you going to do now?" she asked curiously, falling silent as he placed a single finger to her lips, stroking them gently. Bidden by a sudden impulse, she sucked gently on it, much to his amusement.
"All in good time Suki-chan," he said and withdrew his finger, despite her whine of protest. "After all, I think you might like this next surprise."
And that's the end of chapter 5. I can't remember if I said this but I like Suki-chan, better than Tsuki, which if I'm not wrong is a completely different name and wouldn't really fit as a nickname then.
So a small insight into Yuzu and Karin's development, more will be revealed later. Now with regards to the updates, I am going to cut this cycle off here, since I do want to do the next three chapters in an unbroken sequence, rather than give you two great chapters and leave a massive cliff hanger later on. Up next will be 'The Sons of War'.
So please let me know what you thought of this chapter.