A/N: Hello and welcome to the first installment of a pet project of mine. I don't know if this will actually go anywhere, maybe at most to the end of the saving Rukia arc, but I saw the fic King of Shinigami by Soujoukou Senkuo and couldn't resist. This story is the bleach storyline, except Ichigo got a different Zanpakuto and abilities, namely Shiro (Named Nisemono). I will try not to make him overpowered and have this story realistic, because that's always more fun anyway. I have also shamelessly added many things from various places, hopefully adding diversity into the story. Enjoy and review.
Fake and Proud
It was unbearable. Every cell in his body was being torn apart one by one, and it was slowly driving him insane. He was resisting it with all his might, but it was relentless. If this Is what happens to everyone who became a hollow, then Ichigo could finally understand why they all went mad. This was pure agony. But he had to hold on, he couldn't lose, because somewhere Rukia was being held captive and it was his fault. His responsibility.
Deep underground, below Kisuke Urahara's shop, was a peculiar sight. Ignoring the fact that there was an immense training ground hidden from the whole world of course. In the training ground, there was a large circular hole in the ground, about 50 feet deep. Inside this whole was a young man, 15 years of age and around 5'8. With amber eyes and bright orange hair, he was anything but the typical Asian male. A fact that had constantly caused punks trying to prove something to challenge him. This man, Ichigo Kurosaki, was currently going through the process to become a soul reaper again after his terrible defeat at the hands of Byakuya Kuchiki. A process that, by the looks of things, was failing.
Around the hole were two kids and two adults. These people were shrouded in mystery, and the only thing Ichigo currently knew about them was their names, and the fact that Rukia trusted them. The two children were Jinta and Ururu, two children that generally did the manual labor around the shop that was there cover. The two adults were known as Tessai and Kisuke Urahara. All of them looked on in worry as the sound of screaming reached their ears coming from the whole.
"Well, looks like he's gonna become a hollow after all." Jinta said, looking on in indifference.
"I've got to rescue him…" Ururu worried, looking over the hole.
"Just wait a little longer guys. Look, his spirit is still in physical form, which means the normal process is being reversed. That's a sign he's fighting back, so there's still a chance that he can overcome this and become a soul reaper again" Kisuke said seriously.
The pain finally becoming too much to bear, Ichigo blacked out. When he woke, it was to a dead field surrounded by flames. Thousands, maybe millions of weapons were thrust into the ground, and in the sky silver gears hovered; ticking away to something only they knew. It seemed like something that would give a child nightmares, a desolate land like this one, but to Ichigo it felt familiar and welcome. "What is this place?" He asked himself in wonder.
"This is a manifestation of my, now our, mind. The reality of our lives, and what we strive to represent." A voice answered. Ichigo whirled around to face the sound. In front of him stood a teenager, maybe a year or two older than himself wearing jeans, a tight fitting plain white t-shirt and an open blue jacket. He looked very similar to Ichigo, because of the orange hair and their similar builds. The main difference lay in their faces. The man in front of him was smiling, and looked like he did it often, in contrast to Ichigo's permanent scowl.
"Who are you? And what does that mean?" Ichigo questioned, still a little wary. The pain was gone, which confused him. And the surroundings looked nothing like the training grounds he was just in.
"Me? My name is ********. And what I mean is we are inside your very soul Ichigo. These surroundings are what you are, down to your very being." The man explained.
"My soul? And I couldn't understand your name." Ichigo questioned, feeling slightly frustrated. He needed to hurry up and save Rukia, not wander about in his soul.
"So you still can't hear my name eh? Oh well, we have slightly more important matters to attend to first. Like the destruction of me and your soul." The man explained. He gestured around him, and for the first time Ichigo noticed how the world around him was slowly disappearing.
"Great. How do I stop it?" Ichigo questioned.
"You have to find me" At the questioning look, the man elaborated. "Me in my sword form that is. It's somewhere around here" the man explained, looking out at the thousands of swords littering the field.
"Shit." Ichigo grumbled. He took off, trying to find the sword before his soul vanished on him. It didn't help that he had no idea what to look for. With millions of different types of swords surrounding him, it would be an impossible task to try and pick up every one to see if it was the correct one. Getting desperate, he was about to do just that when suddenly a memory popped out at him.
"Did you know? Soul Reaper spirit ribbons are red." Uryuu Ishida said
"I owe you one, Uryuu" Ichigo murmured, concentrating on finding the spirit ribbons around him. He snapped his eyes open, and grabbed the red ribbon out of all the ones that suddenly appeared around him. He started sprinting, running as fast as he could to try and outrun the destruction around him. The world was being destroyed around him, and no matter how much he ran it seemed like the ribbon just kept going. Finally, with the floor falling and turning into nothing right behind him, he neared the end. In front of him was a hill, and on top was a sword that seemed like the most magnificent thing Ichigo had ever seen. But, he realized, the ribbon lead to the bottom of the hill, where the hilt of his old sword was stuck in the ground. Right as the ground gave away under his feet; Ichigo managed to grab the hilt and with a yell yanked it out of the ground.
Outside, things seemed to be taking a turn for the worse. The white bubbling substance that earlier had been pouring out of Ichigo had turned into a mask that almost took up all of his face already. The tremendous amount of spiritual pressure being thrown out by him was fluctuating wildly, and the screaming had started to turn into a eerie ear wrenching sound normally produced by a hollow. The bonds holding his arms together started to snap, and this snapped Tessai into action.
"He's at his limit boss. I am switching to suppression mode." Tessai shouted. "Bakudo #99 part 2 Bankin. First Incantation: Siryuu" White wrappings came out of nowhere near Tessai and flew over to Ichigo, cocooning him completely. "Second Incantation: Hyakurensan" Bright lights appeared and stabbed into Ichigo, keeping him in place.
"Tessai!" Jinta shouted "If you complete that kido, he's gonna die."
"I have no choice. I must kill him before he becomes a hollow." Tessai exclaimed. "Final Incantation: Bankin Taiho!" Above the hole Ichigo was in a massive stone appeared with seals covering its entirety. "This is it!" He screamed, sending the stone down to crash into the hole. Right before it hit, Ichigo let loose a piercing scream and a giant burst of power that completely tore through the kido's holding him. A giant explosion occurred, and everyone closed their eyes and coughed as the giant dust cloud reached them.
"Something's there" Jinta observed, narrow eyes examining the area the explosion occurred. "Hey are you alive out there? Answer me carrot top." Through the dust red eyes glowed and glared out making Jinta gasp slightly. The dust cleared showing it was Ichigo, but he now had a white mask over his face that had flame designs covering it. He was wearing a Shihakushō, standard soul reaper attire, and had the mask of a hollow on his face "A Shihakushō and a hollow mask. Is he a hollow or is he a Soul Reaper?" Ichigo's arm reached up and grabbed the sword on his back and pulled out the broken stump that was left of his sword after Byakuya destroyed it.
Ichigo held the handle in a reverse grip and smashed it into the mask. The kids stared surprised as Ichigo slowly peeled the mask off his face and had the remains rest on top of his head. He opened his eyes revealing they were brown showing that he was still a Soul Reaper.
Clapping met Ichigo's ears "Well done" Kisuke said grinning with his fan in front of his face "Now that you've become a Shinigami again lesson two is now complete; congratulations."
"Shut up" Ichigo hissed smashing the hilt into Kisuke's chin making him cry out comically and crouch on the ground crying silently. "Well well, I bet you weren't expecting me to come out of there alive" Ichigo said with a scary grin on his face. "I told myself that if I got out of there alive then the first thing I would do is kill you."
Kisuke looked up recovering from his little tantrum "You really think you can accomplish that" he asked impishly.
"Damn straight" Ichigo said.
"Well then lesson three will now begin" Kisuke said pulling a sword out of his cane making Ichigo feel slightly nervous.
From out of the destroyed hole that was all that remained of lesson two, one very dirty Tessai finally climbed out. He was grumbling about something, but otherwise seemed unhurt.
"Hey Tessai, you all right?" Jinta asked without concern, knowing how tough he really was.
"No, of course not! My clothes are all dirty and my glasses are almost broken." Tessai huffed, pouting to himself.
"Errr…right." Jinta said, sweat dropping at the childish side of the normally impassive man. "But worry 'bout that later, cause boss pulled out his sword. Things are gonna get interesting." As soon as he said that, a giant rock was cut in half, showing the fleeing Ichigo and the creepily smiling Kisuke.
"Now now Ichigo, don't expect me to go easy on you." Kisuke said, gleefully chasing Ichigo around swiping at him with his sword. Wait, why am I running? I thought only a zanpakuto could hurt soul reapers, and hat'n'clogs pulled that outta his cane, so it can't be one! Confident in his thinking, he stopped and turned to face the madman chasing him….just in time for his sword to swipe down and cut off a small part of the mask left over on his face.
"You let down your guard." Kisuke murmured, suddenly and very scarily serious. "You thought just because I'm not a soul reaper, there was no why I could have a zanpakuto. You are so naïve. Okiro, Benihime." And right in front of the stunned Ichigo, a crimson light appeared over the cane-sword. When it disappeared, a much more dangerous looking one had replaced it. A sleek, medium sized sword with a slant at the edge, Benihime looked beautiful and dangerous at the same time.
"And I can assure you," Kisuke murmured "that this is most definitely a zanpakuto." Suddenly a memory assaulted Ichigo's mind.
"Hoero, Zabimaru" Renji Abarai shouted, his sword also glowing and forming a different weapon. "Ha, I knew it. You don't even know your zanpakuto's name. How pathetic."
"A name….?" Ichigo said quietly, thinking on what he meant.
"Yes that's right." Kisuke said happily, seeing his student understand. "Every zanpakuto has a unique name, and mine is Benihime, the Red Princess. Let us show you." Suddenly he slashed at Ichigo, trying to cut him. Ichigo saw the attacked and rolled to the side to dodge, but Kisuke finished the swing and cut right through a giant boulder where Ichigo was just standing. The explosion sent the orange haired warrior flying, and he landed hard. He recovered just in time to see the crazy candy store owner just about to kill him, but managed to raise his sword in time to block the strike.
"I'll give you credit for not running away and blocking with that stump," Kisuke praised, then smiled in a I-Know-Something-You-Don't kind of way. "but Benihime is much to fierce to let something like that stop her." And suddenly his sword was cut down to the guard right in front of his eyes. Damn it, Ichigo thought, he cut right through my sword like butter!
"Don't you get it Ichigo" Kisuke asked, suddenly appearing behind him. "Your sword has no concentration of spirit energy in it." Ichigo turned and tried to slash at Kisuke, but the revealed deadly warrior dodged it easily "It has size, but that's all. It carries the zanpakuto shape, but has none of the Zanpakuto's internal strength, so I can cut it…" Kisuke stopped and slashed the guard directly in half diagonally "…just like that." The remainder of the guard fell to the ground with a clang "Now you no longer have any sword at all. Do you plan on fighting me with nothing but the hilt? I suppose you could still manage to knock my hat off, but this time Ichigo, you're gonna need a lot more than blind luck or courage. I think it's only fair to warn you" Kisuke continued in a deadly voice as crimson reiatsu suddenly surrounded him "If you try to go against me with that inferior weapon… I will kill you." And so the weaponless red head ran, trying to get as far away as he could from his teacher as he could, dodging the slow and easily read slashes like his life depended on it, because it did.
"There is nothing but fear reflected in your sword. When you dodge, you're afraid of getting killed. When you attack, you're afraid of killing someone. Even when you try to protect someone, you're afraid of letting them die. Yes, your sword speaks to me only of absurd fear. What's necessary in a fight isn't fear. Nothing can be born of that. When you dodge, "I won't let them cut me." If you protect someone, "I won't let them die." If you attack, "I will kill them." Well, can't you see the resolve to kill you in my sword?" Kisuke said, imparting knowledge onto his pupil. It was vital he understood this lesson, because the Sereitei would offer no time to be afraid.
Ichigo's eyes were wide and horrified as he took off running I have to get away; I don't think he's kidding. He's really gonna kill me this time Ichigo realized, right as Kisuke appeared and almost killed him again What am I doing? Is this all the resolve I have? I'm so disgusted with myself. It's pathetic, pathetic… PATHETIC.
"It's not that bad honestly." A familiar voice answered. As Ichigo opened his eyes, finally realizing he closed them in his terror, he found himself face to face with the red haired teen he suddenly realized was his zanpakuto. "I mean, you are just a random teenager, with a few battles against mostly mindless beasts for experience. Unfortunately, our enemies will not allow you the luxury of being afraid. Ichigo, you must find your resolve once more. Why are you doing this? To protect someone precious to you. When you protect someone precious to you Ichigo, that is when you become truly strong. Your resolve will be strong, and through that you gain strength. When you protect someone Ichigo, You cannot fall, because if you do they will fall too!"
In the real world, Ichigo had stopped running and became still. Kisuke stopped being a maniac and stood and watched the orange haired warrior as the wind picked up, then readied his sword for another attack.
"Now Ichigo, stop running, focus on your resolve, find the will to protect, and cry out my name…!" His Zanpakuto cried out.
"Trace On! Nisemono!" Ichigo shouted, releasing a giant burst of silver colored reiatsu in a torrent around himself, completely covering him from view. The room shook from the massive release of pent up power, and after a few seconds the room stopped shaking and Ichigo came into view, but what they saw confused them. Ichigo looked exactly the same, the only difference being the hilt of his sword was gone.
"What kinda release was that? There isn't even a weapon or anything." Jinta complained after overcoming the shock of the release of power. It was true, Tessai noted, but he knew better than to judge something he had no idea of.
"Hey…Hat'n'Clogs.." Ichigo said quietly. Kisuke perked up, wondering what was going on. His instincts were screaming something was amiss, and he knew it was best to stay on guard.
"You better dodge this" the weaponless teen said "because I have no idea what's gonna happen here." And as he spoke he thrust his right arm out to the side. Reiryoku began gathering, starting at his fingertips and traveling outwards, forming the shape of a western long sword. The silver reiryoku started becoming solid, from the hilt to the blade, and formed a stunning blade. The hilt was wrapped in blue cloth, the guard was gold and the blade a shining silver, the sword was a masterpiece that any craftsman would ency. Ichigo raised it above his head, gripping with both hands, then swung downward at full force whilst screaming the name of the blade itself. "Caliburn!" A shining golden light appeared at the tip of the sword, and the beam of light swung out in an extension of the swing towards Kisuke.
Kisuke, knowing he definitely did not want to get hit by that, but not knowing if Benihime's shield would be enough to block, he hesitated for a second. Unfortunately, he ran out of time to run, so he raised his Crimson Shield and hoped it would be enough to block the powerful energy. His eyes widened as the shield in front of him cracked, and he braced himself.
As the dust cleared in front of where Kisuke stood, it revealed to everyone the shop owner being covered by a high level kido that was cracked and almost broken. The blond man sighed, and nodded his thanks to the heavily panting Tessai for saving his skin. As he looked towards where Ichigo stood, he was just in time to see the teen collapse from the loss of adrenaline and the use of such a large power for the first time. Kisuke smiled to himself and shook his head, then called out for Ururu and Jinta to go get Ichigo as he went to check on Tessai. Ichigo, you just keep on surprising me. But still, I wonder, what is the true power of your shikai? He wondered to himself.
Later that day, the blonde haired shop owner sat in his store, pondering his plan for Ichigo and his friends. A black cat approached and jumped on the table and sat on the table watching him. After a few seconds of not being noticed, the cat started hissing, obviously wishing for the man to pay attention to it. When he still failed to respond, the cat pulled out its claws, and stuck them straight into the stomach of the man. Crying out in pain, Kisuke started and fell backwards dragging the cat with him. Looking up and noticing the cat on top of him for the first time, he sighed and sat back up as the cat returned to the table and lied down.
"Owww….Jeez Yoruichi, did you have to do that?" Kisuke whined, questioning the cat. The cat made a 'humph' sound and looked away, obviously not liking being ignored. "Well whatever. Will you at least tell me how Chad and Orihime's training is going?"
"They are advancing adequately for your plan Kisuke" A very deep and masculine voice sounded out, coming from the cat. "They will be ready in time. Besides that, how is Ichigo improving?"
"Ichigo hmm? Well, he has been training nonstop the last three days, and his rate of progress is outstanding. Far better than I originally imagined. At this point they might actually have a chance at rescuing Rukia." He answered, sounding very proud of his pupil.
"Oh? Sounds interesting. I can't wait to view it for myself." The cat commented, sounding very interested in something that garnered even Kisuke's praise. "Well, there are only seven more days until we send them off, so I had better go back to help them along. I will see you in seven days Kisuke."
"Yes, I should probably go back to training Ichigo as well. Ja ne, Yoruichi." The blond answered, already heading back down to the training room where Ichigo was. The cat watched as the man disappeared down the secret trap door, and then walked off to find its own pupils before they destroyed something important.
Down in the training room, Ichigo and his sword spirit were having a little one-on-one inside their soul as they waited for Kisuke to finish his business to begin training them again. Inside the field of flame and sword, Ichigo walked around examining all the blades as Nisemono followed and took the time to explain his abilities to his wielder.
"So basically, every weapon I have ever either seen, or heard and/or read about in enough detail appears here?" Ichigo questioned, wondering if he understood his partner correctly.
"That is the gist of it yes. Of course, there are many limitations. The first is having enough information on the weapon you wish to wield. You must learn the type of weapon, its shape, and any powers while hopefully seeing an image of it. The second is wielding the weapon. Every weapon is different, and has a different feel to it. While some, such as these common swords and spears are basic and can be wielded without too much difficulty, the legendary ones you must take the time to master individually. Any time you wish to do so, just tell me and I will pull you in here to let you train instead of going through the trouble of unleashing your shikai. You may come in your sleep as well, if you wish. The last limitation is the amount of Reiryoku, Spiritual energy, you must use to form and maintain the weapon. The more legendary and powerful the weapon, the more energy it costs. And just in case you are wondering, no, you cannot materialize other zanpakuto outside this realm in battle." His orange haired partner told him. Ichigo looked sad at the last bit of information for a second, but shrugged it off. He had enough powerful weapon as is anyway.
"Even swords I've seen in manga and video games are here." Ichigo noted, seeing a favorite weapon of his from a movie based off a game he played. He hefted it, testing its weight and balance and finding it to his liking. He mentally noted its name so he could call it out against Kisuke in their next battle.
"Yes. These swords are in your soul, and created from your imagination, spiritual energy, and me. Of course, you can't just create a sword out of nothing. Perhaps if you drew one in detail, and made its attributes realistic and such it would appear here, but this is one detail I do not know. Now, about your vast spiritual energy. It provides many complications." His partner said, looking on as Ichigo swung his chosen weapon around.
"Complications? Isn't more power a good thing?" Ichigo questioned, taking a break from his weapons for a little bit.
"Usually yes, but if you can't control it it's the same as if you don't have it all." He explained. "Right now your energy is just pouring out, because instead of training it from a small amount and becoming bigger, you started off with a vast amount. This will make it harder to control, but that is something you are going to have to train yourself in. As you have noticed, our Shikai has no visible weapon. While this is useful in some instances, surprising your opponent with a weapon you didn't have a second ago, it can also be a detriment. Sometimes, you need a visible weapon, to inspire your allies or to strike fear in your opponent. To do this, you must revert back into your sealed state." Nisemono explained.
"I can forcefully revert you back into your sealed state for the time being, but it is in our best interest for you to learn this ability on your own. You should ask Kisuke for tips, and also learn to fight in your sealed state, as you will find the blade has changed."
"Huh? Why can't I just make a blade and have it on me the whole time?" Ichigo questioned, confused as to why he needed to train in something else when he needed his attention on becoming stronger for the moment.
"Because Ichigo, keeping a blade out while in your shikai costs spirit energy. While you have enough that you have not been able to feel the difference in your fights with Kisuke so far, this is mostly because you have not been using your abilities, just learning the feel of the weapon. However, it could become the difference between life and death later on. In a battle that lasts longer than a couple minutes while utilizing your abilities, even you will feel the drain. You must learn to regulate your energy. To leave it as is, is simply sloppy." He stated, looking serious.
"Is it really that draining? I haven't felt it at all though…" Ichigo wondered, understanding what his sword was saying. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
"Well, I'm probably exaggerating a bit. Unless you spammed your weapons abilities all over, you'd still be fine. I'm just playing it safe. Of course, if you materialized, say Caliburn, and kept it out permanently you wouldn't be able to fight at your strongest, which you need where you are going. You can not underestimate these people Ichigo." His weapon warned.
An image of Byakuya passed through his mind, and he murmured "Ya, I know. Don't worry Nisemono, I'll get in, kick ass and protect Rukia at all costs!" He said, promising to both himself and his weapon that they would just that.
"And I'll be with you every step of the way partner." Nisemono said, smiling at the resolve his partner had found in protecting his precious people.
"Wouldn't have it any other way, partner." Ichigo said, smiling at his newest friend. Both of them felt Kisuke approaching, and grinned at each other, ready to keep on learning to work together.