Fearsome Hatred! The Arrancar with a GrudgeEdit
Kusaka flashed quickly towards the source of that mixture of shinigami and hollow Reiatsu. His senses couldn't be right, could they? "This guys at least on par with a Lieutenant...Kazuma won't stand much of a chance...unless he uses his head that is. He's good at that." Kusaka steeled himself regardless and ran the possibilities through his head. The Arrancar would sense his approach... but then, Kazuma's energy wasn't as high as his own. "Hey Kazuma, I need you to lower you're energy as much as possible. We're gonna jump this guy...well you are. I'm gonna have him concentrate on me."
Nodding, Kazuma did as he was told, lowering his spiritual energy to the point it could barely even be recognized unless you knew what his energy felt like. Most wouldn't even pay him a second thought and that was exactly what Kusaka was planning on. Kusaka put Kazuma to the back of his mind, however, when he landed upon the sand a few feet from the Arrancar that left quite an indent. Rising slowly, he made himself look pretty angry and serious which wasn't hard. Just looking' at an Arrancar pissed him off."A Shinigami?" He remarked angrily. "Perhaps you can help me then. You will tell me who killed my brother." This fellow had short cut blond hair, a black, intricate gauntlet on either hand and wore a revealing piece of chest armor. He wore a pair of red jeans and had several pieces of red cloth tied on his arms and shoulders.
"Brother?" Kusaka remarked curiously. Images of the Arrancar they killed previously flashed through his mind, but he decided not to speak about that. "I didn't know hollows had brothers...or family for that matter. Now, explain to me why I would know your brother?"
The Arrancar's lip curled up in a snarl. When he spoke, his tone was serious...and dangerous. This guy wasn't playing. "He was killed by Shinigami while attacking the Soul Society. If you know anything about those who killed him...then I will allow you to life in exchange for that information."
Kusaka sighed and drew his zanpakuto. "Sorry, but I know nothing' about your brother." He lied. This guy was Shrieker's older brother. "As you can see, I'm no longer a part of the Soul Society or the Gotei 13. But...I do belong to a certain Agency that dislikes...well, you for lack of a better word." "Show him you know nothing about Arrancar. If he puts 2-and-2 together...!"
The fellow assumed a ready stance with both hands raised to protect his face. "I hate all Shinigami with a passion, but I can be polite when it is needed. My name is Screamer and I'm here to find and kill the ones responsible for killing my brother." Even though he said he was angry, he certainly didn't sound it. The guy sounded as cool as the ice Yoshiro Kazuki made using his zanpakuto.
Kusaka bowed his head in greeting. "My name's Kusaka Kori, wandering Shinigami and Hollow Bounty Hunter. Now, why do you feel like a damn Shinigami to me?" "Make the lie as convincing as possible." He thought as they psyched the other out. For the longest time, the two simply regarded one another, the wind blowing tiny grains of sand every which way. Kusaka slowly reached into his pocket and removed a single, silver coin. "When this hits the ground, we start." Tossing it into the wind, both warriors waited.
One second. Two seconds. The wind blew slowly over each fighter as the coin spun in the air. With a small, metallic-like clink, both fighters shot forward and clashed! Kusaka blocked Screamer's right hand with his zanpakuto's edge acting' as a shield and caught his left punch with his free hand. Screamer, however, just grinned and twisted his body, his hand still gripped by Kusaka's, who he pulled through the air and hurled him down into the sand below!
Recovering as he fell, Kusaka corrected himself and landed lightly as he raised his free hand. He wasn't much good with Kido beyond #31, so anything between 1 and there would have to do. "Hado 20: Kakusu Hando (Hide Hand)!" A wall of shimmering spiritual energy formed before Kusaka and several small, metal, bullet-like objects formed. Flicking several of them towards Screamer, Kusaka grinned as the Arrancar danced.
Screamer either blocked them or avoided them and never once looked like he was in trouble of being' hit. "Can't you do better, Bounty Hunter?" He twisted those last words into an insult before he moved so quickly, Kusaka doubted if he even used Shunpo and punched through the wall of energy and struck Kusaka hard in the chest! As he flew backwards, the Shinigami collided with a dune of sand, kicking up sand, dust and forming a small dust cloud around the point of impact.
Kazuma watched the battle with surprise, awe and a little fear. That Arrancar had just sent Kusaka flying as though he were a rag doll! It was uncanny to think of anyone being able to do that to either of his mentors, but here he had seen it with his own eyes. Flashing to the Arrancar's back, Kazuma struck down, but hit empty air instead. "W-what the...?"
"Hmph! Another worthless Shinigami flea? Pathetic..." Screamer re-appeared beside Kazuma and laid his hand on the youngster's shoulder. Kazuma attempted to fight back, but Screamer avoided every one of his strikes and made it look easy as he did so. "Fleas should know there place." But Kazuma kept striking, no matter how futile the action was. "You are beginning to bore me, flea."
"Then try this on for size!" Screamer looked to the heavens as Kusaka descended to strike him with enough force to send him trailing backwards a good twenty feet. "You call my friend a "flea" one more time, and I'll-"
"Do what? You're still just a flea compared to my power. You're stronger than the flea behind you, but you're still a flea." Screamer interjected quickly.
"As I was saying," Kusaka replied, completely calm. "You call him a flea one more time and the gloves come of. How idiotic of you to even believe that I'm fighting' you even half-seriously. It's insulting." Kusaka's eyes were hard and angry, his Reiatsu as firm as his tone. "You're choice, scumbag."
Screamer chuckled below his breathe and began walking slowly towards the two Shinigami. "Please, you have no idea how powerful I am. Arrancar's are more powerful than the hollow you hunt for a living. The difference in our power is like the gap between heaven and earth. Just like the gap between your power and my own. No matter how much you bark or claw at the moon's reflection, the moon will always be out of your reach."
Kusaka laughed at that himself. "My zanpakuto might disagree. You wanna find out, Arrancar? I didn't know they gave names to glorified hollow." Kusaka's sudden increase in spiritual energy was accompanied by a pitch black aura that emanated from his entire being. "I should probably tell you that I ain't a normal Shinigami. Tell me how much you know about the Gotei 13's ranks."
Screamer wasn't amused by the question, but played along anyway. "I know that you consider your strongest fleas to be Captains and lesser fleas to be Lieutenants. Why, which level of flea were you?" His tone was mocking.
"I'd be considered sorta a halfway kinda guy...and I believe I warned you..." Kusaka flowed through such a complex mixture of flash steps, that Kazuma could barely even guess what they all where let alone follow it. "Senka." Was the only word Kusaka spoke.
Screamer, apart from being physically surprised, turned and somehow managed to throw the slash that would have sealed away his powers and instead forced Kusaka's blade to pierce through the right side of his chest instead. "Miserable Shinigami worm!" Screamer said as blood came from his mouth and chest. "How dare you injure me!?"
Kusaka simply smirked. "Oh, I'm a worm, now? Hey Kazuma, I'm evolving, watch me grow!" He laughed, but in seconds was back to his previous serious self. "You're a fool, Screamer. Never underestimate your opponent. That's one of the iron-clad rules of battle."
"Another is that you don't stand there flapping your gums!" Shrieker swiped his hand and sent Kusaka flying into another dune, but he simply stopped himself mid-flight and stood tall.
Kusaka whipped the blood from his mouth and stared Screamer down. "Kazuma...stand back."
"No chance! I can't let you fight him alone! C'mon, I'm stronger since my last fight. Please, Kusaka, let me fight." Kazuma's eyes were intent, his aura steady. He was ready for this, no matter how much Kusaka didn't think so. "...Fine, but you'd better be careful, kid. Don't worry about how strong he is, just focus on avoiding him. Think about how hard he hit ya after ya get hit." Kusaka said simply.
"Okay, I'm gonna lay us down some cover. Remember the Kidō trick?" Kazuma made water using Hado 5: Ryuusai and super-boiled it with a Shakkahō spell to create the necessary moisture in the air to create misty conditions. "We're in a desert, though, so that won't last long."
Kusaka nodded, thankful for any advantage. "Just keep enough moisture about the place and we'll do fine. Here he comes!" Kusaka palm-thrusted Kazuma gently to the side and clashed fiercely with Screamer! Knocking Kusaka's zanpakuto downwards with a kick, Screamer prepared a point-blank Cero! Kazuma, however, forced the beam-attack to shot away from his mentor when he kicked Screamer's arm. The blast was enough to reduce a sand dune to nothing more than a crater.
Smirking, Kusaka drew his left arm back and hardened the spiritual energy around it before slamming it into Screamer's chest with concussive force! Reaching out, he grabbed Kazuma's hand and spinned him 'round thrice before releasing him towards the still stunned Arrancar. Kazuma, using the momentum from Kusaka's spin, performed the swordsmanship skill Saidanodori to make multiple small lacerations on Screamer's hardened skin. Rolling to a halt, Kazuma turned and grinned. Drawing a triangle with his finger, Kazuma spoke, "Bakudo 31: Shitotsu Sansen!" Three pins of light shot from the triangle and pinned Screamer to the Kidō barrier Kusaka just formed.
Kusaka grinned and readied his zanpakuto. Feeding his spiritual energy into the tip, Kusaka prepared his Rei Furashuu! Screamer, however, was far from done. But he had the disadvantage of numbers. Releasing a powerful Cero with enough strength to completely blow away Kusaka's Kidō wall, Screamer flicked the sky and opened a Garganta to absorb Kusaka's Rei Furashuu. As the attack dissipated in the blackness of the tunnel, Screamer moved into it and fired a good-bye Cero to prevent the Shinigami from following him. He departed with the words, "I'll make all Shinigami pay."
Kusaka kept his gaze fixed on the Garganta, even when he grabbed Kazuma by the scarf to pull him out of the way. "...Well that didn't exactly go well."
Kazuma sighed as Kusaka held him by the scarf. "You can let go now, Kusaka." And he did. "That's better. But now what? Kenji ain't gonna be too happy when we tell him we ran into an Arrancar, will he?"
"No, he won't." Kusaka answered truthfully. "Who the Arrancar was is what troubles me, kid. Shrieker had allies, and I'm starting' to think Screamer's just the tip of the iceberg."
On the MoveEdit
The house the three Shinigami shared was a descent sized building with two bedrooms and a spacious sitting room with a few cushioned wooden chairs. The window was closed to stop folks listening'. "Okay let's get this straight," Kenji said dryly and with some annoyance. "You both ran into the older brother of the Arrancar I turned to a smoldering' pile of ash?"
Kusaka and Kazuma nodded a little pathetically.
"Perfect!" He exclaimed, raising his arms to the sky. "We've got a bloody Arrancar after us. And he could be scouring the Soul Society as well. Yoshiro could be in trouble, guys, but there ain't a big lot we can do to help him..."
Kusaka leaned off the wall and slapped Kenji on the shoulder. "Yoshiro's strong, Kenji. Screamer didn't use his full power, but neither did I. I never once released and I very nearly landed a Senka on 'im. And the last time I saw Yoshi, the only one stronger than him was you."
Kazuma made a mental note of that. "So, Kenji was the strongest among them...But I can't believe Yoshiro is stronger than Kusaka!" Walking to stand beside his mentor, Kazuma spoke. "And we didn't even get the mark..."
Kenji smiled and shared an amused look with Kusaka. Kneeling in front of Kazuma, Kenji grinned and made himself look unconcerned. "We can get that blighter as we pass through the desert again. We're leaving first thing in the morning, to try an' keep ahead of this Screamer character. Does he know we're the one's?" He asked Kusaka.
"Naw, I lied through my front teeth and made it look like I was the curious Shinigami runnin' into a hollow with Shinigami powers." He dropped onto one of the wooden chairs and rocked on it like a big kid. "Any idea's where we're going next?"
The door opened to reveal Ino Choyo, a backpack slung over her right shoulder. But there was something strange about her... She was holding a bloody Zanpakuto! Three confused faces regarded her in silence.
"What? Never seen a female Shinigami before?" She said in rhythmical tones. "Kenji, do close your mouth. You'll catch flies if you keep that up."
His mouth closed and opened again, but the words wouldn't form. So Kusaka done it for 'im. "You're a Shinigami?" He looked at a still gawking Kazuma and tapped his chin to close his mouth. "Kenji... you told her she could come with us, didn't you?" A mixture of annoyance and understanding entered his tone.
"...Yup. And boy am I glad I did." He got to his feet and pulled Kusaka to the back of the room. "Okay dude, listen to me here-"
"Listen to ya? You were gonna bring a human along! Were ya planning on turning her into a bloody Shinigami along the way? Not that we need to, now, Kenji." Kusaka whispered back.
"Okay, I admit I F'd up. It was a moment of weakness! Besides, that Arrancar could come back..."
Finally smiling, Kusaka shook his head and glanced at Ino dote on Kazuma like some little brother. "I hear ya... And it'll liven' this group up a little. But Kenji... keep her safe. She's not like the rest of us. She's a human who has a life here."
"I know, pal. And thanks... Now, c'mon. We've got a lot of ground to cover." The two walked back over to Ino and nodded. "We're leaving now, Ino."
She smiled and that smile filled the room. Kazuma was grinning like a chesire cat and Kusaka's eye went wide. Kenji's weren't much better. "Then let's get going. But isn't it a little pathetic to run from a few hollows?"
That was a kick to the groin all right. Kenji shook his head though. "You're traveling with us now, so we don't keep secrets. Long story short, I killed an Arrancar in Soul Society and now his immensely stronger older bros here to do to me what I did to his brother. That's the jist of it, anyway." He said that so casually that Kusaka nearly toppled off his chair. "The jist?" Kazuma replied. "Didn't ya miss a few bit's?"
"You missed the part when we call you an idiot." Kusaka said calmly.
Ino looked at both with a blank expression before closing the door quietly. "What's an Arrancar? And wow, they have brother's?" That made Kusaka nod his head.
Kazuma ran forward and smiled. "I know this one! Arrancar's are hollows who've gone through the Menos-evolutionary line and gained Shinigami-like powers! But instead of having a time limit like Kenji does, they're like that forever!"
Kusaka ran forward and booted Kazuma straight through the wall! "Ya little shit! That's exactly what I told ya! Tryin ta impress the ladies with my knowledge!"
"Hey, forgive me for trying to he helpful!" Kazuma shunpo'd and tackled Kusaka to the floor. "Kick me in the back, will ya!?"
Kusaka laughed like a child and got Kazuma in a headlock. "Say uncle!"
"Never!" The youngster cried.
Sighing, Kenji took Ino by the hand and walked through the gaping hole in the wall and out into the village square. Pointing upwards, both shunpo'd into the sky where Kenji began speaking. "The process works both way's. A hollow becomes an Arrancar and a Shinigami becomes...this." Placing his hand on his face and making a ripping movement, spiritual energy formed and hardened on his face as he finally dragged his hand down to reveal a menacing skull-like mask on his face! "This is called hollowfication."
Ino didn't make any movement to shy away however and hugged him tightly instead. "Did it hurt?" Was all she asked. She could feel his spiritual energy and how thick and expansive it was when compared to how gentle and kind it felt normally.
"At the time...yes, it did." He replied calmly, removing the mask. His eye's returned to their normal aqua green. "Kusaka knocked me out of it..."
She stopped hugging him and smiled warmly. "That's in the past, Kenji. I don't know the details, but I'll help you master this power. Now, we should get going while their's still sunlight. The desert's a dangerous place at night."
Nodding agreement, Kenji descended and dragged Kusaka off the youngster. "We're leaving, so knock each other black and blue when we stop to camp later."
Smiling a truly devious smile, Kusaka patted Kazuma on the head. "~You're gonna die kiddo~"
The older Shinigami was suddenly floored! Smacking into the wall, Kusaka held his right cheek and looked around for the person who'd hit him. Ino stood beside Kazuma with an innocent grin. "Oops. Did I hit you too hard, Kusaka-kun?"
Growling, he got to his feet and walked past her. "Nice hook, Ino. I actually felt that one. Okay Kazuma, you live until Ino's outta the picture." He glanced at Kenji shaking his head and whistled through his teeth. "I see what's goin' on here. Moment of weakness my ass." Kusaka said in a whisper. Leaning over to Kazuma, Kusaka spoke. "That sly dog. He's already goin' out with her!"
"What!?" Kazuma screamed. "Kenji, I'm gonna kill you!"
Both male's took charge after him, as they ran straight toward the desert! "We're gonna kill ya, you pig-headed buffoon!" They shouted together.
"Kusaka," Kenji yelled back. "Ya forgot Porkie. Now who's pig-headed?"
Running back for his pet, the four companions soon disappeared into the horizon, leaving Egypt behind. Where they'd end up next? Who knows?
Next Story > Into The Sunset: A Meeting Pre-determined By Fate