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This article, Out On Their Own: The Conflict That Brought Them Together, is property of Rozeluxe.

This article, Out On Their Own: The Conflict That Brought Them Together, is property of Kenji-Taichō. Permission is required to alter its content.

Haruki and Yurei met back up after training in response to losing to Inshu while defending their town.

"Hey man how are ya?" Haruki high fived Yurei as they met up sitting on the river's edge as they warched the water go by during this hot weekend.

"I've been better." Yurei cracked his neck after losing to Tsume not too long ago. "Where's Azami? You two never leave each other's side."

"Well...she fought this guy named Ryu and our Mom found out and is 'dealing with her'." Haruki laughed s looked up at the sky with a wide grin on his face.

Kentaro Hiroshi and Harumi Kazuki walked arm-in-arm, enjoying the warm day and the good, calm breeze. "Its a beautiful day," Harumi said, her smile as radiant as the sun in Kentaro's eyes. "Why couldn't every day be like this?" She rested her head on his shoulder.

Kentaro smiled one of the smiles he showed few others and raised his head to look at the sky. He didn't bother shielding his eyes, instead immersing himself in the warm glow, body and soul. "If only it could," He said quietly. Looking forward, he picked out two figures off in the distance with quite a bit of spiritual energy.

"What have we here?" Harumi said before he could form a sentence. "Let's go talk to them!" She said excitedly, dragging Kentaro off by the arm towards the two. He simply sighed and allowed himself to be led.

"That sucks for her...I told her she need to learn to control that temper of hers." Yurei sighed as he shook his head. "What can you do abo-" Befor ehe could finish his thought he looked over at the smae time as Haruik as they both felt the spiritual energies of the two coming closer.

"Looks like we have some guests." Haruki smiled happily. "She's a cutie but looks like those two are together. Ruiko wouldn't want me talking to other females anyway."

"I'm gonna ignore the fact that there are several flaws with that statement and just let it go. Shall we go greet them?" Yurei picked up Haruki by the collar as he started walking over to the to who were approaching. "Ahoy there. Are we in your special area? If you two are on a date we have no problem leaving."

Harumi blushed so fiercely, that she turned her head away and greeted them with a wave of her hand and a hasty "Hello". Kentaro simply looked at her and laughed as he walked forward and shook hands with the two. "No worries. We're only enjoying a free day and the good weather. I'm Kentaro Hiroshi and she's Harumi Kazuki." He glanced over at her and sighed. "Forgive her. She's a little shy around new people who basically blurt out if we want a room." That made her blush all the more.

Haruki stepped foward smiling. "Excuse my friend. He can be a bit blunt at times but he means well. I'm Haruki Satonaka and this is my frien-" Before he could finish Yurei knocked him on the back of the head.

"I can do that myself you little runt. The name's Yurei Mizuki. Nice to meet you both. You call this heat nice weather? You two certainly are odd. But hey, I can'y complain. You see see the company that I keep around." Yurei smiled as he motioned to Haruki

"Runt? You're not that much better than I am Yurei. Who was it that got thrashed earlier? Hmmm I wonder." Haruki let out a sarcastic laugh as he looked back at Kentaro "So what brings you two over to two complete strangers?"

Harumi walked forward, blush disappearing as she spoke. "That was me! It's not often you find people around with spiritual energy like yourselves," Kentaro watched her as she spoke, "We were curious, weren't we Kentaro?" She nodded her head and knelt down to look at some flowers growing nearby.

"We?" Kentaro said defensively. "I recall you dragging me away. But anyway. Haruki, is your old man called Van?" There was more than question in that. "My old man," He corrected himself when Harumi elbowed him in the ribs, "Kenji, happy?" He directed at her. "Speaks about Van, especially there battles... or wars as he'd tell it. Your his son, aren't you?"

"Er...yea. I try not to let people know of my eccentric father. He has his own ways of doing things. RIght now he's off looking after some kid he met. Hm. Kenji, Kenji, Kenji....I'm not the best with names but I believe that my mom told me about him along with two others and how they all used to fight together. Ha. I wish I could have adventures like that. That's one of the reasons I took up the blade. Well that and to keep my sister safe." Haruki sighed as he looked over at Yurei who was yawning and stretching.

Yurei started walking between Harumi and Kentaro before looking at both and speaking "You both know curiosity killed the cat right? We could've been two sadistic murderers looking for fresh victims for all you knew. Walking up to us wasn't exactly the safest thing to do. But I suppose things couldn't become weirder."

A flash of hollowfied Reiatsu leaked from Kentaro's body as he directed a fierce look at Yurei. He remained silent for a time, simply staring the other down. His eyes flashed a yellow color until Harumi put a hand on his chest. "That's enough, Kentaro." She whispered in his ear, calmly, but fiercely. And the hollow-like Reiatsu vanished as quickly as it appeared. "... Sorry about that," Kentaro said, scratching his head. He nodded to Harumi in thanks before turning back to Yurei. "Sorry. I lose control of my emotions at times and... well, you saw the result."

Harumi nodded and looked around, taking in the nature and the warm weather. "I'm not often the one to suggest this, you know," She began pacing, and when she turned her warm smile took in Kentaro, Yurei and Haruki. "Why not have a little friendly sparring match?" She turned and walked towards the river.

Haruki looked at Harumi as a smile took over his face. "Hm? A sparring match? Between who? There are 3 guys and 1 girl. Things would become a bit unfair here pretty quickly." He then sat down on the gound sighing as the heat started to get to him. "I think I'm gonna go take a dip in the water, one sec guys,"

Yurei's eyes were still focused on Kentaro "What was that feeling I had? That was certainly no ordinary energy. More like rage in a contained form." A small smile overcame his face as he began to clutch over his right eye. "Yea. Its fine...Kentaro was it? Everyone loses it every now and then. Sometimes it can't be helped. But for now...I agree to sparring match. If everyone else is in agreement as well that is. And Haruki...just because she's a female doesn't mean that she can't take you in a brawl."

"Heh. I bet. I don't doubt anyone, I'd just prefer not to fight a female if it could be helped." Haruki laughed as he sprung up from the water in front of Harumi. "Hope I didn't scare you."

"Why is he clutching his eye?" Kentaro thought as he looked at Yurei. Pushing it to the back of his mind, he slowly drew his zanpakutō and held it in a reverse-grip style. "No holding back, eh? I'm not the strongest, but I'm not weak either." Waiting for his opponent to draw, Kentaro adopted a defensive stance.

Harumi took a step back and shook her head as she loosened her zanpakutō in its sheath. "No, you didn't," She said calmly, her tone quiet and low. "You may want to give those two a little room. Kentaro can go a little wild some times." She moved back suddenly with a Shunpo and fired off a quick Byakurai from her fingertip!

"BWHAAH!!" Haruki let out a large wail as he dived for his weapon and shirt on the shore in order to escape Harumi's Kido. "We're starting already!?"

"Haruki! No more playtime...get going!" Yurei yelled as he drew his zanpakuto aiming it at Kentaro. "These guys may not look it but they have plenty of skill. If this were drawn out you'd be in serious trouble. Hurry and defeat that one and help me out over here." Yurei then turned back to Kentaro. "Heh. Looks like I have to keep my distance in order to fight someone like you. Oh well." He then smiled as quickly let loose 3 shots of spiritual energy.

Spitting up the water that he had accidentally swallowed Haruki put on his shirt and drew his zanpakuto as he began running toward another location "I really need to learn these high speed movements. -sigh- Oh well...Hey Harumi! Bet you can't get me all the way over here!" Haruki laughed as he pointed to a bridged area on the other side of where they were.

Harumi moved quickly with short Shunpo bursts, all the while firing Kidō shots that just feel short of their mark; her smile never fading. "Don't you know its rude to keep a girl waiting?" She had drawn her zanpakutō in a single, fluid motion; her anticipation and the adrenaline of battle beginning to take hold. Outstretching her free hand as she closed the gap between herself and Haruki, she fired off a Sōkatsui blast without name or incantation.

Kentaro drew a ring with his foot, almost appearing to dance around each individual shot of energy; though the final one did brush his left arm. His next movement was accompanied by a static sound, completely unlike that of Shunpo as he appeared to Yurei's left and brought his sword 'round 180 degrees, still in a reverse grip, down on his foes head! "You'll find I'm no ordinary Shinigami!" For the briefest of seconds, Kentaro saw his father standing before him, and the vision only encouraged him to hit his target!

Yurei smiled as he leaned back dodging the blow "Good thing I looked ahead." Yurei fell back onto the ground as his vision blurred "Not now...." He let off a barrage of shots hoping to hit a target he could barely see.

"Wha--" Haruki turned as the Kido struck him causing him to go flying back several feet before hitting the ground with a hard thud. "Whoa!! You can shoot fire!!? COOOOOLLL!! Tell me how you did that!?" Haruki ignored the obvious pain he was in as he looked back at Harumi with pure curiosity.

Harumi stopped attacking and smiled as she giggled. "Haven't you seen Kidō before?" She asked quizzically, stopping just in front of Haruki. Turning her head, she picked out a distant tree and outstretched her left hand. "Kidō's just you using your spiritual energy to utilize various spells," She said as she created a small, red flame in her hand. "First, you need to concentrate... like this." The flame grew in size, "and then you fire it." The tree burst into flames when the fire struck it. "It might be hard at first, but practice and you will use it in no time."

Kentaro continued moving with sonido, dodging the wayward blasts as they came. "Can he aim them yet? Or is this just a ruse?" Concentrating on caution, Kentaro took to the skies and observed his foe from above intently for a few seconds. What's up with this guy?" Raising his left hand, Kentaro fired off a quick Cero!

"Well my dad uses some Kido as well as some other relatives but their's always seem so much more dangerous." Haruki stopped and pondered as he looked at the flaming tree. "So I just have to be able to focus and project my energy? I can already make small barriers. Hmm..but destruction? I don't know about that, I prefer to keep everything as is if I can." Haruki began clutching his head as a voice inside began to speak "Keep everything as is? I say we rip her apart! This is battle! If you don't do something then I will!"

Yurei looked at Kentaro with his right eye bleeding as it lit up. "Hahaha. I'm in my son's body? I only have a short period of time before his conciousness resurfaces." Yurei seemed to be talking to himself as a large grin covered his face. Before aiming directly at Cero firing through it with a large burst of spiritual energy.

The first thing Kentaro did was move farther away to stop any backlash before moving closer in again with a hasty sonido. "Umm... are you crazy, Yurei?" He asked, scratching his chin lazily. "I mean, talking to yourself is usually what we'd deem crazy." Running forward, though, Kentaro quickly found he had no control of his body, nor could he stop his arm rising and falling to deliver a slash aimed for Yurei's skull! "Oh, not again!" He thought.

"Yurei. No munchkin! I am Kanata Yamato, this boy's father. I have taken control for a time while since he failed to realize to limits of this cursed eye." Yurei shot multiple blast of energy into the sky causing them to rain down on the battlefield as he ran foward at Kentaro laughing as he tackled him to the ground resulting in both falling over.

Hitting the floor with a thud, Kentaro rolled and impacted the ground with an incredibly weak, but sustained Cero to propel him into the air. Leveling his zanpakutō, control returned to his limbs, the youngster grinned. "Culminate, Tenchikaimei!" Nothing about his zanpakutō changed, though an aura of misty darkness surrounded his being as he landed lightly on the ground. "His father? This could be bad..."

Harumi looked at Haruki and smiled, admiring his hesitation to cause destruction. "Well, Kidō has three main fields. Destruction, binding and healing. There have been people who have mastered one without the others." She approached him slowly and looked somewhat worried. "Are you alright?"

Yurei let out a barrage of shots before propelling himself toward Kentaro behind the shots laughing the entire time. "No running away boy! This is a fight for your survival!"

Haruki smiled as he started to release the grip on his head "Yea.....I'm fine. We er....I just had a headache. Tell me more about this Kido stuff. How would I go about using it to help? Is there some sort of time frame needed to learn it? Or can anyone learn it at anytime?"

As a demonstration, Harumi cut a small gash into her arm with the point of her zanpakutō. "Anyone can learn Kidō, only a few can truly master it though. Healing is easy enough. Shōsen Hirate." She said clearly, and green energy formed around her hand, healing her wound. "That's the easiest healing spell I know of. All you have to do is focus spiritual energy in your palms, say the name, and hold it over the person your healing. It may take a while, but its quite a effective." She held up her arm for proof, and not a scratch remained.

Kentaro was struck head-on with every single shot fired at him, his body simply refused to move. "Not this... again!" He focused inwardly, wrestling control from his hollow powers instinctively trying to control him. As he neared the ground, he fell into his own shadow and popped out again, avoiding injury from a potential fall. "Kuroienmuryuu" A thin, black serpentine dragon flew from his hand!

"So I could learn that too? I'm sure that it would come in handy with the way things are currently going. Me and Yurei are planning to go to Soul Society to track down Inshu Senshi with Azami in order to get our revenge on him." Haruki scoffed as he remembered the beating he suffered. "What are you talking about? Its cause you always want to hold back. Maybe if you would just set yourself free things wouldn't go so bad."

Yurei was struck by the dragon causing him to crash into the ground with a hard thud. Standing up coughing Yurei smirked "Heh heh heh. I haven't felt a good hit like that in a long time. Looks like I have to use the kid's zanpakuto. Fight, Sodateru" His gun shattered as it reformed into a katana. "Ah. A zanpakuto's strength. been some time since I felt the power in me. Looks like I only have so much time left. Better make this quick."

"... It's a big mistake to underestimate me," Kentaro said, anger entering his tone suddenly. Even his misty black aura seemed to intensify as it took on more of a hollows feel than ever before. "Get ready," A dark aura formed on his sword, and when he moved in front of Yurei's controlled body, he slashed upwards!

"Yup," Harumi said lively. Spinning on one foot, she turned and closed her eyes as the wind hit her. "Why do we have to fight all the time?" She said quietly, almost in a whisper. "Revenge only brings about more conflict and chaos, and there's enough of that in the world as it is." She sounded sadenned, with thoughts of the war with Averian in Soul Society crossing her mind. "I know I can't tell you not to, but be careful." She turned again and smiled warmly.

Yurei took the attack causing him to fall back bleeding heavily from his chest. "Looks like that's the brunt of what I can take right now until my energy fully returns. Kentaro eh? I'll be sure to come ack for you one day. Count on it...remember the name Kanata Yamato." Yurei let out a surge of spiritual energy as he started gathering some energy from the trees around him as he blacked out for a moment "Where a-argh!!!" Yurei let out a sharp scream resulting from the large wound that only began healing.

"Exactly. But it was such an overwhelming victory. It was like we didnt even stand a chance against him and it was three on one. Even Apollo went with him. I can't believe Apollo was even a fighter." Haruki began clutching his head again "Enough of this...Im taking over for a bit." Haruki's hair began to change into a brown color and eyes turned green as he turned to look back at Harumi. "Endure, Kansen Zoshoku!" His sword transformed into a blackened cutlass as he began smiling. "Playtime is over!!!" 'Haruki' shot foward at Harumi pulling his blade back in preparation for a slash at her legs.

Surprise barely had time to register on Harumi's face as she kicked off the ground instinctively, the motion taking her above Haruki's surprise attack. She used shunpo to float for a time, studying him, before she reappeared a short distance away. She had no idea how the change occurred, or how she was to stop it. Reluctantly, she lifted her left hand and sighed. "Hadō 9: Tsurukusa." A multitude of vines began to sprout wildly from the ground, all of them seeking Haruki as one.

Kentaro watched carefully, a little freaked out by the display. "Does he know, I wonder?" He thought suddenly, considering the possibility. If he didn't, best to leave it like that for now to save him from the pain. Besides, he didn't know what Yurei's relationship was like with his father. That was his business. The high-pitched scream dragged him back to reality, though and the youngster slowly began to nod his head, as though finally seeing something he hadn't before. "He doesn't know what he's doing when that happens," Kentaro thought, dropping into a defensive stance, "So he still won't know what my abilities are."

'Haruki' stuck his zanpakuto in the ground as he smiled "Raise, Kami: Kaien " A pillar of water emerged from the ground before it dispersed revealing a black hair shinigami standing with a dead look in his eyes.

"Yes? You called for me?" Kaien spoke as he kneeled before 'Haruki'

"Hm? You can't recognize me as another person can you? Perfect. Cut me free from this mess and destroy that girl over there!" Kaien cut Haruki free as he turned to charge at Harumi with his zanpakuto drawn back realeasing it without any command.

Yurei looked up at Kentaro as he gathered his bearings "Hm? You knocked me out that fast? Ha. Looks like I let my guard down. Trust me it won't be happening again." Yurei reached for his zanpakuto before realizing that it was in its Shikai state "Oh I released? I don't remember doing so but so be it. Time for me to turn this fight around already." Yurei felt the wound his chest strting to patch itself up before he charged at Kentaro slashing at his opponent's eyes.

Kentaro took a quick step back and raised his sword to block the strike! "He really doesn't remember." Sensing the spiritual energy, Kentaro looked to see a man - Kaien - who looked similar to his own father. He knew him from old pictures and stories his father told, and seeing the dead Shinigami behaving like a slave boiled the youngsters blood. "... Be thankful your fights with Harumi." He said, his tone ice cold and intense. Turning back towards Yurei, his Reiatsu suddenly intensified as he repelled him.

Harumi leapt back, surprise clear on her face as she slashed away the man's trident-like zanpakutō. "Where did he come from?" Rolling to the right and then somersaulting over her foe, her spiritual energy rose as she began her release. "It is our illusions that create the world, Kokoro no Dorei!" She landed with her sealed zanpakutō still in her hand, though a dagger attached to the base of her sealed sword via a long chain formed.

Yurei's eyes focused as he looked dead set at Kentaro. "Its not wise to shift your focus in the heat of battle." His spiritual energy shot up as he sprouted a tree behind Kentaro using it to shoot a barrage of large spikes from its trunk in Kentaro's direction as he jumped forward spinning as he landed using an arm and leg as another extension along with his blade in order to damage his opponent.

"Oh you released? Ha interesting. Let's go Kaien!" 'Haruki' charged forward at Harumi as he swung his blade missing her as she ducked rolling out the way allowing Kaien to come from behind swinging his trident but she deflected that as well as kicking Kaien back to the side of his master. "Looks like we have a tougher cookie than I expected."

Harumi took a deep inhalation of air and smiled. "Don't you like it... this scent?" It was too late for her opponent, however, as the sweet scent secreted by her zanpakutō upon release had already filled the area. "Can you track the real me?" Nine duplicates including the real Harumi spoke in unison and each one of those duplicates made the exact same movements. "Which is the real me? Is it me," The right-most Harumi said, "Or me?" The left-most replied. "Or perhaps none?" They giggled at that.

Distracted, Yurei's blade cut into Kentaro's arm and his kick met him in the ribs, driving the air from his lungs and forcing his body back a few meters. Raising his head, rage showing clearly in those crimson eyes, Kentaro entwined the wound with the bandages born from his Shikai and lot the hastily dressed wound alone from there; never once taking his eyes off Yurei. "Your right," Kentaro finally said, "I shouldn't have distracted myself, but I'm glad I did regardless. Now, I have a reason to let my temper run free!" Bending his knees, Kentaro shot forward with a shunpo, flowing through the motions for Kumo O Setsudan, zanpakutō flashing towards Yurei's skull!

"What is this? What am I gonna do!?..Heh. That's what a weakling would say. I'll handle you all!" Haruki charged foward at one of the duplicates swinging his blade "Let's go Kaien!"

"Shirai stop! This isn't going to end well. Its not what you think...you can't win with brute force alone!" The real Haruki was shouting from his mind but to no avail. "Kaien's not moving at all. You don't have the right connection to him at the moment. Why can't you see that?"

Yurei's eyes flashed wide as he saw the blade coming down toward his skull. Instinctively he swung his blade upward in an attempt to block but the force of Kentaro's attack forced Yurei down to his knees and then to his back as he contined to try to block the attack resulting in his hands starting to bleed from the sheer force. "What happened to this eing a friendly sparring match!?"

"Unless you face a life-threatening situation," Kentaro said, voice strained, "you'll never grow stronger!" He kicked off the ground into the sky, twisting in mid-flight so his feet rested on the ground with his back turned to his foe, zanpakutō resting lazily at his waist. His entire demeanor had changed down to the way he held himself. Looking over his shoulder, Kentaro bore a mocking grin, "Shall we continue, Yurei?"

Harumi watched from the cluster of clones as Haruki struck the wrong one. The copies faded, and she moved to his back and poked his shoulder. "Bakudo 32: Mizukeimusho." A sphere of water began to form around Haruki's body. "He's changed so much is so short a time..." She couldn't help but compare him to Kentaro, and when she looked over, her worst fears were realized. Kentaro had been overcome by his hollows instinctual nature.

Yurei smiled as he shook the blood off his hands and motioned toward one of the trees he created causing a man sized warrior to come from the trunk equipped with a large spined sword. "Hmph. You're right...as much as I hate to admit that. Looks like we'll be starting round 3!" Yurei then charged at Kentaro in conjunction with his creation jumping above his opponent as the wooden warrior swung at Kentaro's legs.

"Dammit! I'll beat her bones into nothingness!!" Shirai shouted out as the water surrounded his body causing him to hold his breath as he continued to swing his blade in an attempt to break free. "I'll get out of here...eventually." Shirai started to lose consciousness as he began to fade slowly.

Harumi, fearing he may drown, released the spell and took a cautious step backward. "Did I...?" She thought, beginning to worry. She took a quick step forward to see if he was still breathing...

Instinct took over and a flood of awareness filled his skull. The wooden warrior ran him through, Kentaro only lessening the damage by stepping aside at the last second so the blade penetrated his ribs. Looking up, he raised his sword in a reverse-grip and blocked Yurei's fierce strike, feeling his feet sink into the ground. Placing his free hand on the wooden warriors chest area, Kentaro muttered "Kuroienmuryuu" and a black, serpentine dragon tore through its body. "And that leaves one," he said, blood dripping from his mouth.

Shirai's presence faded as Haruki came back to his senses. Coughing he struggled to his feet he turned to face Harumi and speak. "Sorry about that...sometimes this happens. We can stop if you want to. You must be upset with me at this point for going all berserk like that."

Yurei smiled as he looked at Kentaro in awe. "Looks like you can take a load of damage. Hm. Very well...I see you handled that with ease so lets give this a go." Yurei motioned his blade toward Kentaro as a mass of wooden tendrils erupted from the ground around him.

Watching the tendrils with a keen eye, Kentaro bent his knees and held his zanpakutō out behind him - still in a reverse grip. "I refuse to die because I've got a goal thats like a force at my back, pushing me forward until I do succeed." Darkness awoke around him, the instinctual movements from before vanished with the resurgence of his own power. Calm set in, as Kentaro severed his emotions at their source, standing emptied and allowing his awareness of the world around him to suddenly increase as though everything became brighter. His vision became clearer, the feel of the wind on his skin heightened and he could hear his own heartbeat. "Lets continue," His voice showed no sign of pain from his injury and neither did his movements. His next set of Sonido cut through the tendrils, though he finished by sinking to his left knee with fatigue before his next sonido took him to Yurei's side, his blade flashing forward!

A warm, soft green light enveloped Harumi's hands as she healed Haruki's fatigue. "No, I'm not upset." She said musically, kneeling over him. "We all have our inner conflicts, and sometimes, it seems difficult to go on." She looked over at Kentaro and sighed. "Some try to fight alone, while others rely on their friends. I'm sure you have your friends who will support you, Haruki... and I think I might consider myself one now." She lowered her head, attempting to hide her sudden blush.

Yurei looked over at Kentaro as he whispered "Do you honestly think Sodateru is this weak?" The tendrils sprung up beside him impeding Kentaro's blade as Yurei sidestepped away breathing a sigh of relief. "What's with this guy. He's ten times the warrior I am. This guy's sword skill is comparable to Atsuya-sensei's. I just have to hold on until one of us tire out; I just fear that one will be me." Yurei turned looking at Haruki as he faced Kentaro again from the other side of the tendrils "Bring it on!"

"A friend? I'm glad I-I-I can count on another." Haruki stuttered as he became nervous "T-t-thanks. I'm not real used to interacting with someone as skilled as you. Once I get greater control of 'him' I'll be more ready to travel to the Soul Society. In fact maybe you and Kentaro can join us. Once all of us are done training of course. We have to find a beat that Inshu guy. I'm sure he's out there waiting for us. We just have to get there." Haruki stood feeling refreshed. "So if you still want to can we continue?"

"No need to be nervous," She said, smiling. "I've spent a great deal of time in the Soul Society, but I've never heard about anyone named Inshu." Harumi said, taking a defensive stance and motioning for Haruki to begin. "I'm afraid Kentaro and I are occupied fighting off Averian's hollow army, though if you need us, all you need to do is call."

Kentaro leapt back and refocused, raising his eyebrow monetarily. "Those tendrils are pretty strong... But it looks similar to Kazuma's ability, so maybe I'll try what I usually try on him." The wound was beginning to give him pause, though and every movement was beginning to show even with his emotions severed. "Here I come, Yurei." He sounded cold and distant as he moved forward, but when he struck the tendrils again, he immediately vanished and two figures bearing Kentaro's exact likeness appeared, one coming from the side while the other came from above, swords at the ready.

"What? No one named Inshu? He was dressed as a shinigami and said to come find him. Hm? I think we will have to see for ourselves." Haruki looked at Harumi as he charged at her restoring contact with Kaien in the process. "Go Kaien!" The body seemingly sprung to life as he spun his zanpakuto creating a surge of water along the ground reminiscent to a fast paced snake.

Yurei caught a glimpse of the Kentaro coming from the side as he looked over creating a set of tendrils that erupted again blocking his path "No matter where you go as long as you are in my field of vision this will always be there to stop you." He smiled as he failed to noticed the blade coming down from above.

"Well, we have been pretty busy," Harumi said, surprised by the large man moving towards her. She thought him defeated. The water struck her head on and washed her away, forcing her against a nearby tree with enough force to snap the trunk! Rising slowly, she held her bloodied ribs and grimaced. Looking at Haruki and Kaien in turn, she made her move quickly. Golden chains threatened to ensnare Kaien and a hastily drew triangle fired three pointed projectiles at Haruki as she worked her Kidō without incantation.

The clone vanished as it struck the barrier of tendrils. "Gyoukou." Was all the real Kentaro said as he shifted his stance to accommodate for the Yuengiri styles. He began spinning as he descended, becoming a small tornado of slashing steel, hoping that Yurei didn't look up.

The Kido struck Haruki as he was unprepared for it. "Kaein!"

The large man turned as he acknowledged Haruki "Danku!" The chains collided with the barrier causing an explosion sending Kaein crashing into the ground as he sent another wave of water surging toward Harumi as he hit the ground.

"Kaien! No!" Haruki looked on as his partner fell to the ground unable to do a thing to help.

Yurei smiled as he saw the tendrils take the clone but then his face gained a perplexed look as he saw the clone vanish "What!?" He turned to look up as Kentaro's blade down tearing him asunder as he received multiple wonds across his body. Falling to the ground coughing up blood Yurei motioned a hand toward Kentaro. "I-i-its not.....o..ver...yet."

Kentaro swung his blade clear of blood and sheathed the blade quietly. Pain washed over him as his emotions returned in a flash. Staggering forward, he placed a hand on Yurei's shoulder and grinned. "Yurei, you really are something." Pain laced his tone, though he spoke the truth. He stepped back and sank to the floor exhausted. "Lets take a break, eh? Before we both end up dead."

Again the water struck Harumi, though this time she prepared herself for it. She rode the waves on a yellow Kidō barrier, using the time gained to hastily repair some of the damage done to her ribs in the previous attack. Leaping from the platform, she floated in the air with shunpo and looked down at both Kaien and Haruki. Haruki was still bound, so she turned her attention to Kaien and the area seemed to shift, hiding her behind a wall of mist.

Yurei looked up at Kentaro from the ground giving him a thumbs up before droping back down. His zanpakuto rverted to his sealed form as he grasped it "You know....I could've had...yo..u. Dumb luck. That's all you had." He laughed as he tried to roll his battered body over.

Haruki looked around for Kaien and couldn't spot him clearly. "Kaien! Follow my voice. Find where I am." Kaien stopped as he looked around lost as he tried running from one area to another only to end up in the very same location as before.

Kentaro grinned and lay down to stare up at the sky, shading his eyes with a raised hand. "Dumb luck?" He said quietly. "Luck had nothing to do with it," He replied, "It was all skill." He sounded boastful, and only laughed when he seen Yurei's expression.

The mist only got thicker, and when Harumi spoke her voice seemed to come from everywhere. "Can you stop it?" She asked calmly before an apparition moved through Kaien's body, slashing as it went, though no damage was done. Three figures bearing Harumi's exact likeness stepped forward, and each had eyes that shone like fire and in their hands were lightning.

"Skill huh? One of these day's I'll come back stronger than ever and defeat you. Just you wait...That's a promise I intend to keep." Yurei smiled as he stared up at the sky.

"If I resort to using another there's a chance I won't remain in control. Hm. What to do?" Haruki struggled as he was still locked in the Kido. "Wait a sec. I know." Haruki channeled his spiritual energy creating a barrier around Kaien. "Just stay there. I'll think of something else. Just wait."

Laughing, Kentaro tapped Yurei lightly on the shoulder in a friendly manner. "Then I guess I'll have to get stronger," His smile vanished, as thoughts of his father filled his mind. "No... No! I won't think about my goal... not today, anyway." He took comfort in the passing clouds and simply allowed himself to stare up at them without a care. "Besides," He said finally, "everyone needs someone else to help keep them sharp, or there's no fun it. My old man's got two people like that, and I'm kind of envious..."

Harumi decided to watch and wait, while increasing the number of clones by ussing diffused reflections of water and mist. "Shall I try something else?" A continual, annoyingly high pitched sound broke through the mist.

"Heh. The stronger you get the stronger I'll get in to compliment that. I guess my goal now is just to surpass you in order to be known as one of the strongest." Yurei sat up looking at Kentaro. "You know....there are few people that may give you a run for your money. But I have a feeling with spiritually energy such as yours, they'll find you before you know it."

Haruki began to panic as Shirai spoke in his head "Haruki! Stop thinking so much. Look at Kaien. You're fine. As much as I hate to say this cause I would love to rip that girl to pieces but, this is a simple decision." Looking up at Kaien, Haruki began to tear up as he saw his friend smiling at him. Both nodding in agreement Haruki dropped his blade. "I....surrender. Tch....I'm still not strong enough!" Haruki began biting his bottom lip so hard that it began to bleed.

Kentaro grinned at that and nodded his head in anticipation. "Kazuma told me to set myself goals that lead up to my main goal, which is to better my old man, by the way and make his achievements look like dirt compared to mine. I think keeping ahead of you will be good training, but there's no reason we can't be friends either," Kentaro stood and held out his hand, "is there?"

The illusions died and Harumi walked forward without a word, until she stood in front of Haruki. "You going to be okay?" She titled her head as she looked at him, trying to cheer him up with a smile.

Haruki fell to the ground in sorrow "I'm still so weak! I couldn't even find a way out of that illusion. Its no wonder how Inshu defeated us all so easily. There's no way I'm ready to face him again, I must find somewhere that makes people stronger."

"Surpass your old man huh? If he's stronger than you are now then there's no way I want to face off against him." Yurei smiled as he grasped Kentaro's hand. "Yea you got it. There's no reason not to have more allies. Who knows, after today our paths may converge once more."

Kentaro nodded and dropped his arms by his side as he turned, looking towards Haruki and Harumi. "My old man isn't just strong, but courageous, kind, generous and everything that makes people worship the ground he walks on." A hint of scorn entered the youngsters tone. "I've been compared to him my whole life, "your just like your father", and "Kenji was the same". Most would be happy to know they're like their dads, but when your dads a hero who knows the future before it happens, people tend to see the son and not who I really am." He suddenly stopped and turned, "Yet here I am going on about it." He laughed, but it was forced.

Harumi knelt in front of him and absently fingered some flowers at her feet. "What is strength?" She asked, tone still carefree. "Is it simply the power to destroy, or can it protect others? Here's what I think," She stood and looked into the horizon, "Strength doesn't come from the physical. It comes from an indomitable will and from your friends and allies who trust in you. Giving up is the easiest thing in the world to do, but standing up and moving on when others think your broken is strength. If Inshu broke your will, you wouldn't be standing here today." She dragged Haruki to his feet, "so no more sulking, okay?" Again, her smile was true.

Shirai began speaking in his Haruki's mind once more "I'm taking a nap. This girl's happiness is grinding my gears. I say you rip apart right now while her guard is down." Haruki wiped his face as a smile overcame his face "You're right. I can't let all of this get to me. I will defeat him one of these days. And when I do....well we just have to wait to see what happens. Thank you Harumi. You really know what to say to pick someone up."

"So I'm guessing you haven't bested your father either? Don't worry so much about it. If someone compares you to your father just ignore it. I've dealt with the same thing in my life so I know where you're coming from. Except people expect me to be hostile and evil just like he was. I suppose I can't blame them seeing as how he did some evil things." Yurei laughed as he patted Kentaro on the back

"... Maybe..." Kentaro said, with a sigh. "I guess I'll give it a try and see how things go." Rubbing his aching muscles, Kentaro dropped down to the ground again and took a seat with a fool grin on his face. "Its good to get that off my chest," He felt lighter, too. "I will beat him, though..." He whispered.

"No problem," Harumi caught Haruki by the hand and dragged him over to the others. "We're finished!" She flashed Yurei and Kentaro a smile that soon faded when she saw their wounds. "And here I thought it was a sparring match. Did you two attempt to kill each other? Kentaro, you should know better by now... What would your mother say?" He didn't have an answer for that.

"Yurei. You got bested again? Twice in one day? Ha! Looks like we aren't as battle ready as we thought. And here we were thinking we could just charge into Soul Society and make out unharmed while defeating Inshu.There are so many other possible problems that could arise when we get there." Haruki began pulling out a notepad as he made a list of what was needed.

Spitting on the ground Yurei turned to look at Haruki "Really? You do realize that I could see you lose from here right? " Yurei laughed as he pointed to his eye. "But you're right we do have more training to do. We can't let ourselves be defeated so easily anymore. We will find find Inshu as well as Apollo in order to bring him back to his senses."

Harumi smiled at their determination and looked up at Kentaro who she was currently healing and noticed his smile. "I believe you," She said softly. She returned her concentration to Kentaro's wound, though he bean to stir before she was even halfway done.

The youngster looked up at his new friends and nodded his head before slowly rising, despite Harumi's protests that he shouldn't really be standing until she finished. "I'll be fine," He reassured her before rounding on Yurei and Haruki, "but what about you guys?" He sounded genuinely concerned, something that nearly knocked Harumi for six. "Will you two be alright? You'll have more than Inshu to deal with if your still planning to go to the Soul Society after him," He looked at both in turn and took a serious look, "There's a war being fought against Averian, so getting in, killing Inshu and getting out again won't be easy."

Haruki smiled "We'll be fine. We are already fully aware of the dangers that will be coming our way. Its not just me and Yurei going. There's a whole squadron of us going so to speak." Haruki smiled triumphantly as he looked up at the sky. "You know...there's still more space for a few more friends to come along. Maybe since you already know some of the way you could guide the rest of us."

Kentaro glanced at Harumi and nodded. "And I know two others who'd be willing to lend a hand," He said, turning his grin towards Yurei and Haruki. "Jinta Kanō and Riki Nagakura." Were the only names he uttered, but Harumi's smile only deepened at their mention. "As for me," He continued, "I'd be able to do far more than show you the way."

Harumi shoved forward and nodded, her blue eyes shining. "We know the defenses and how to sneak past them. Besides, If we are caught, my dads the leader of the defenses anyway," Kentaro grunted and rolled his eyes. "Ignore Kentaro. But we'll definitely help you out." Kentaro's reply was a nod that shouted volumes. "We'll be there, all right." He thought.

Haruki and Yurei hid their smiles at the thought of not only ganing two but four new allies. "If your dad is a leader do you think he has any info on Inshu?" Haruki looked at Harumi as he began to ponder possible scenarios.

Yurei turned his attention to Kentaro. "So are these two others as powerful as you are? I think our little group could take a swing at them in order to become even stronge, even though two of our 'friends' are already quite strong in their own right although you wouldn't think so from looking at them."

Kentaro's grin only grew at the mention of two others he may be fit to test himself against. "Overall, I'm the strongest," And he even managed to say that with a straight face, "though Jinta kicks me outta the water completely in Hakuda, while Riki would go through me for a short cut in terms of speed." He gave Harumi an appraising look that made her blush, "And Harumi's Kidō abilities and figure outshine my own every day of the week." He gave her a playful smile.

Harumi breathed in and thought quietly before spreading her arms wide, hitting Kentaro lightly in the chest, returning his smile. "I wouldn't know unless I asked him," She admitted, "but if anyone has a chance of knowing, its either my dad... or Kenji Hiroshi." Kentaro's head whipped round at his fathers mention, though he tutted and rolled his eyes at the name, muttering "I'll beat him... someday".

Yurei smiled as patted Kentaro on the back. "Someday? Nah...don't just beat your old man. Leave him the dust, surpass him and become even greater. Make YOUR name into a legend." He began laughing as he saw the look on Haruki's face. "Hm? What? I can be kind as well." Turning back to Kentaro he nodded slowly trying to remeber what was said before whispering. "So Jinta and RIki was it? Do you think they would be able to train Haruki in becoming better in speed and hakuda? I think he need's a bit more training in those fields before we begin the march into the Soul Society."

Haruki sighed as he turned away from Yurei. " Kenji? I heard of him from my father. Hm..so If we need info on Inshu I have to ask one of these two? Which wold be a better source of information? In any case, even if we don't find anything thanks in advance. You've given us a huge lead in finding information." He smiled as he went to hug Harumi.

Harumi returned his hug and kissed him on the cheek besides. "For luck," She said, pulling away. She took Haruki off to the side, out of ear-shot of Kentaro and sighed. "He loves his father," She directed a sad look at her friend, "but sometimes, he finds it hard being compared to him all the time. He does great things, but people only ever see his father. But Kenji would be the better source, because he commands the entire Ryu Order.

Kentaro patted Yurei on the chest and grinned without a worry for the first time in a while. "I'll have a word with 'em, so don't worry. They'll agree to most things if you ask right." He laughed at that, but took Yurei's advice to heart. "I'll do more than leave him in the dust, though. Thanks for that Yurei. I needed it." He stood straight and sighed. "When you guys lead the attack, I'll be there. Count on it."

Blushing all the while, Haruki nodded as Harumi spoke "Hmm I can't say I know the feeling cause my dad is sort of a klutz. I hear stories of thing he did but I look at him and I just can see how he's that amazing. But The Ryu Order? Is that some sort of special organization like the Yakuza?"

"Haha no problem. I scratch you back, you tear mine to pieces" Yurei joked as he pointed to the cuts received from Kentaro's blade. "Hm. Here's my number so you can reach me if you find out if they'll be willling to teach him. And of course man...after seeing your skills here today, I don't think there's a single person I would want there besides us when we do break in. Well besides Jikan cause he kinda just forced himself on us but he's skilled."

Dialing the number into his phone, Kentaro nodded and gave over his own. "We'll get this Inshu guy," He said calmly, hand extended. "And tear him limb from limb. Believe me, I'm good at that kinda thing." His smile was wide. "Well, we'll have to be moving on, I suppose. We've still got quite a bit to do."

Laughing, Harumi began explaining. "The Ryu Orders a group that protects the human world and fights against Averian. He's the Arrancar looking to destroy the Soul Society and the world after it." She got a chill just thinking about that. "He's dangerous, but the Order's foiled him at nearly every turn. Some say Kenji can see the future," She did laugh at that.

"Hm...I can't wait to get my hands on that grimey little monkey." Yurei smiled as he extended a fist to Kentaro "Well it was good meeting ya. Can't say I hate you for handing my own hide to me. Maybe we'll see each other around some other time before the Invasion."

Haruki's eyes widened in awe as he looked at Harumi "See the future? Is that even possible? Hm. Averian...yea I heard about him as well. If he's in the soul society then we have more than enough on our hands to contend with." Haruki's face lit up as he thought. "Hm..looks like we all have a reason to become even stronger."

"Heh." Kentaro struck a two-finger salute that made him look the spitting image of his father, before walking towards Harumi and Haruki. "We need to get going, Harumi." He regarded Haruki calmly, catching the last part of his conversation with Harumi. "We all need to get stronger. Not only to deal with Inshu... but other threats as well."

Harumi smiled and waved her new friends goodbye as she and Kentaro walked off into the horizon. "You had fun," She said with a smile. "Yeah, I did... There gonna get stronger... Both of them. That I have no doubt. Yurei!" He called back. "I'll be looking forward to our next bout." They flashed into the distance...

"Time for us to get moving too Haruk-" Looking around Yurei's jaw dropped as he saw Haruki sprinting back toward town

Haruki looking back to see his friend smiled and shouted out with fear in his voice. "Its about time mom got done training Azami. She said if we weren't there when its finished then we would have to endure the same treatment."

"BWHAT!?" Yurei sprinted to catch up to Haruki as they made their way back to town and dissapeared into the busy streets.

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