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Kentaro awoke to a scene of complete and utter devastation, his mind whirling and his vision blurred somewhat; though clear enough to pick up on his immediate environment. The wall of the room with the window was completely blown open, with the mattresses of their beds upturned. Feathers from the pillows filled the air still and the clear rays of first light were blinding him at present. Darkness returned momentarily as a figure - big, Kentaro noted - loomed above him. A mass of white hair stuck out beneath his arm and all fear left Kentaro's body in a single breathe, the feeling replaced by rage. Akiye lay limp, obviously unconscious, with a smear of blood above her right eye and a cut above the eye of the man holding her. "Iba Ikari..." Kentaro whispered quietly.

The large man didn't seem to notice him, hidden below one of the upturned mattresses, though Kentaro saw him and his hands were fast. His eye caught his sheathed zanpakutō nearby and he pounced into action, a lion making their kill! His zanpakutō flashed. Blood spewed and for a time all that was heard was panicked shouting and screaming as Akiye was released and Kentaro caught her. "Me eye!" The giant cried. "My eye!" Moving through the gap in the wall and out into the street, the youngster finally became aware of his own throbbing head and the blood running down from his left ear, though it was a distant thought. Emotion was distant. Feeling was distant. Instinct was all that remained. Bestial and pure. It was sweetness and life coursing through his veins and he opened himself to the current of power, not caring if it came from his Hollow side or not.

"You little bastard!" Iba burst through the roof, blood falling from an eye that had been cut clean in two across the center. His one good eye narrowed on Kentaro's two and rage passed between the them. "The order this time," He began, "was take the girl and spare the others as long as they got the message. You didn't get the message," He concluded, his zanpakutō coming loose slowly. He knew he should have been scared out of his wits, but the truth of the matter was that he wasn't. Maybe it was the sudden discovery of his friend being held unconscious, or the state of his surroundings when he awoke, or maybe he was acting simply to preserve his own existence. Kentaro didn't care. Right now, his friend was in danger, and somehow he was the only one out of his friends who was there! "Bloody hell," He muttered angrily. "Fine!" He declared challengingly. "Its time to roll the dice!" And he'd need every shred of luck he had.

Even with Akiye under his left arm, the first clash boded well for the youngster. Iba was still struggling from the sudden lose of his left eye, so Kentaro hadn't bore an injury and actually managed to strike a shallow cut across the giants thigh. "Immobilize him," He thought suddenly, but the giant moved as though unphased! His zanpakutō flashed faster and faster, Kentaro's eyes bulging at the sheer strength and speed of them! "How can a foll as big as you move so quickly!?" he exclaimed aloud before he blasted him with a Sōkatsui to give some distance. "At this rate...!" The giant moved forward regardless of the spells strength, his single eye promising a swift death. As his zanpakutō neared, Kentaro felt the same encompassing darkness as before. Foul and deadly. But he reached for it. "Anything to save her," He thought stubbornly and the power filled him. He dropped her then, and his body gave off waves of energy. Shock and surprise made little impression on the giant who attacked regardless, though the white carapace-like armor that suddenly formed around Kentaro's body as he screamed in wild agony was the only result. Iba's strikes didn't do as much as scratch the surface. For a time, the giant delivered strike after useless strike, his anger growing until Kentaro caught his sword with a single hand! White hair with ash-blond ends billowed behind him in the wind and the fierce expression of a more stream-lined facial structure regarded Iba with hollowfied eyes. He let out a sigh that sounded very much like "die" and azure spiritual energy cloaked the Imawashī member completely!

Battle Beyond His Limits! Kentaro Hiroshi vs. Iba Ikari! Edit

Akiye hit the ground, a muffled groan escaping her lips as she rolled over. Her head throbbed and her vision wad blurred, but her finely tuned senses gave her a good grasp of the situation. Naibu Shizuka was off fighting Kyū Senshi, while the other three children were engaging what her senses told her to be Shigeru Yuudai; though that would likely be against the latter's will. What really surprised her was that Kentaro was facing down Iba Ikari alone and winning! "Did he enter that form?" She thought, feeling her way with her senses. His spiritual energy told her all she needed to, and Iba's was rising in challenge.

Vision locking on the two, she could pick out subtle details despite her blurred vision. Kentaro - or at least the force controlling his body - made a deep slash across Iba's chest followed by a kick that put a tremendous amount of distance between the two, only for Iba to counter with a wave of lightning energy that reminded her very much of Hadō 63 in feel. Vision returning, the battle became clearer. Blood trickled from a wound in Kentaro's side, despite the almost unreal Hierro she knew that form to possess, but Iba was in worse shape. He was missing his eye, she noted in shock, and several wounds were deep and potentially fatal if things continued in the vain they were going.

"I will protect her!" She heard Kentaro say and her eyes went wide. In her previous encounter, all he had made was noises befitting an animal, but even then she knew that emotion was a driving factor in the transformation. "He cares for me... that much?" She remembered that Iba had surprised her and defeated her quickly, and then Kentaro had been unconscious. "Did he... sense me in trouble?" She had always though him interesting, she noted with surprise, but never did she think she'd come to like the young man.

An explosion sounded, drawing her attention. Kentaro's figure was moving slowly forward, Iba's left arm torn from his body. "Die... Die... I'll protect her!" Dropping the arm like a piece of rubbish for the skip, Kentaro surged forward. Purple energy surrounded his person, the energy seemingly drawing Iba in. His face was surprised, shocked and frightened for all Akiye could see and she had to admit that she herself was, now to. Even Yajuu had struggled with that form, as powerful as he was, and yet Iba was being overwhelmed in nearly every way possible! But this wasn't right, either. He was loosing himself.

Human speech and intellect gave way to bestial roars and instinctual movements. Tears forming in her eyes, she moved between the two. Her presence seemed to... phase him, was all she could think of. He backed down, but when Iba made a move, he intercepted without hesitation and hurled him through several buildings. "STOP IT!" Miraculously he did just that. Hollowfied eyes regarded her, in pain she noted. "Its alright," She said soothingly. "I'm safe. You beat him. Let it go," His transformation shattered, Kentaro falling forward into her arms. "You were marvelous." His breathing was labored and slow. "Akiye... Get out... of here. Saf...ety... go."

"That won't be... needed." Shigeru said from the sidelines. "Akiye... I can't hold off long. Kōhai Tochi. That's where they plan on... taking you." His Shirushi brand was glowing fiercely, she noted. Dropping down into the wreckage of the room, she writ down the name Shigeru spoke and flashed back beside Kentaro. "He will not die today," Only after Shigeru nodded did he slip the paper into the youngsters pocket. "I'm in no state to fight," She admitted angrily. "Iba's either dead, or close. I'll come quietly." The two vanished, the remnants of their conversation reaching Kentaro's ears. "Akiye..." Darkness overcame him.

Next Story > A Bold Scheme: The Best Laid Plans.

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