IT was finally here, the end of the first college semester. Ichigo did not think he would make it, but he did and he managed to pull up his socks and improve his grades. Rukia Kuchiki recovered and managed to sneak out of the hospital and was back to bunking with Ichigo. After being knocked out, Ichigo could not remember anything and woke up in his room. It was two months since then.
Ichigo entered his room and threw himself on the bed.
"Hey, Rukia, I'm back," Ichigo said.
There was no response. Ichigo got up from bed and looked around.
"Rukia, relax, I'm alone here," Ichigo said as he walked up to the wardrobe.
Ichigo opened the wardrobe and looked around the room.
"Are you invisible again?" Ichigo said, afraid to stick his head in and have another awkward incident.
Ichigo stepped back and took a deep breath. Okay, here goes. If she's asleep, I'll wake her up without touching her somewhere inappropriate. I sure hope I don't. Ichigo waved his hand around the wardrobe and his suspicions were confirmed; Rukia was not in the room.
Ichigo looked around the bedroom and knocked on the door of the bathroom. Ichigo covered his eyes with one hand and opened the bathroom door with the other. He expected a scream and possibly a slap, but nothing happened. Ichigo slowly removed his hand from his eyes just in case Rukia was indeed in there, but did not notice him.
As he did this, Rukia entered the room and saw Ichigo slowly entering the bathroom.
"Ha! I knew you were a pervert," Rukia said as she closed the door.
Ichigo nearly jumped out of his skin the second he heard Rukia's voice.
"Oh, it's you, phew ..." Ichigo was relieved ... for a few seconds, "Hey, I'm not a pervert!"
"Oh, yeah, then why were you entering the bathroom like that? You were planning to catch me naked?" Rukia inquired.
"No, no, I was just looking for you and wanted to find out if you were in the bathroom,"
"Why were you looking for me?" Rukia asked.
"Well, I was worried," Ichigo said.
"Well, I wondered where you were since I didn't hear you answer me when I arrived,"
"Aw, you're sweet," Rukia said to spite Ichigo.
Ichigo was infuriated.
"I wasn't trying to be sweet," Ichigo yelled.
"See, pervert!" Rukia yelled back.
Ichigo groaned and Rukia chuckled.
"Well, if so, then why couldn't you just knock?"
"I did, but there was no answer – wait a minute! I'm not the one at fault here, what were you doing out of the room? We agreed to keep you hidden," Ichigo said.
"Well, I got bored and I wanted to stretch my legs. Besides, no one saw me, only Orihime, Tatsuki and Keigo."
Ichigo's worst fears were realized; he'd get kicked out of college in the first year. However, he didn't expect it to be this early in the year. His mind drifted to the first day of the semester, meeting Orihime and then he stared into space.
"Um, Ichigo?" Rukia asked
"Oh, right, right, where was I? Oh, yeah – I'm gonna get kicked out for bringing a non-student into my room," Ichigo said.
"You won't get kicked out,"
"How do you know?" Ichigo asked.
"I just know" Rukia asked.
"I can't be too sure; I didn't bother to check the rules, but I'm sure this isn't allowed," Ichigo said.
"Relax, I did not tell them which room I stay in,"
"Well, in this case, you don't have a room anymore," Ichigo said as he walked up to his wardrobe.
"What are you talking about?" Rukia asked.
"It's the end of the semester and I wanna go home for the holidays," Ichigo said as he pulled a suitcase out of the wardrobe. "You can come over if you want,"
Rukia walked up to the wardrobe and picked up a duffle bag off the floor of it.
"Thanks, but, I think I can take care of myself now," Rukia said.
"But didn't you say that you have nowhere to go?" Ichigo asked.
"Well, yeah, but that was months ago and now, I can make my way back to the Shinigami Station. Urahara helped me locate it,"
"And you're sure you can trust him? For a small shop owner, he knows too much; he is suspicious to me,"
"He's been very helpful," Rukia gestured to the duffle bag, "he even helped me with clothes and stuff. He is the one who helped us resurrect Orihime,"
"Okay, this is goodbye then," Ichigo said. His sadness was evident in his voice, though he tried to hide it.
Rukia saw right through it. Rukia walked up to Ichigo and kissed him deeply.
"What was that for?" Ichigo asked as the kiss took him by surprise.
"You've offered a lot and risked your reputation, your life and place on campus here for me. Thank you," Rukia said.
"Heh, well," Ichigo rubbed his head, tried to hide a blush.
"And besides," Rukia nudged Ichigo, "you impressed me; two months bunking with a girl and you did nothing. You have some restraint,"
"Yeah," Ichigo said uneasily, "let's try not to tell anyone about this,"
"Urahara already knows,"
Rukia walked up to the desk that was across from the bed and inches from the bathroom door. Rukia wrote down something in a book that was on the table.
"Goodbye, Ichigo," Rukia chuckled.
Rukia walked up to the door and opened it.
"Bye, Rukia," Ichigo said.
Rukia smiled warmly and left the room. Ichigo took a look at the book Rukia wrote in. It read, 'This is the number of my pager. You can reach me on this number from anywhere, even if I'm in the Soul Society," and a number was written below it. Ichigo smiled. 'Also, I'm gonna tell everyone I know. Man, you're such a prude.'
"Damn little!" Ichigo yelled as he punched the desk.
ICHIGO sat in the back seat of a cab. He looked at his watch and wondered how long it would take to arrive at home. He had only spent ten minutes driving and yet he was so anxious. He missed his family, though he wouldn't describe himself as homesick.
He had two fraternal twin siblings, six years his junior; Yuzu, a chirpy brunette girl, and Karin, a blasé, cynical raven haired girl. They lived with their father, Isshin, who ran a private hospital near their house Since Ichigo's mother's death, his father put a lot of effort into spending time at home. When Ichigo was in his senior year of school however, Isshin became very distant, spending more time on work and was not home as much. It took a very long time for Isshin to let go of Masaki's death, but Ichigo did. He was still reminded of it on the anniversary of her death which happened to be today.
"How long now?" Ichigo asked.
"Ten minutes, sir," the taxi driver said.
Ichigo checked his pocket for his phone. Since he has ten minutes left, it wouldn't hurt to listen to some music. Suddenly a Hollow smashed into the car, toppling it. The taxi driver died instantly as the force of the airbag snapped his neck. Ichigo dangled upside down from his seatbelt. He tried to reach for the door to his left, but his arm was in pain. He was seated next to that door and it was the one the Hollow smashed into. Ichigo unfastened his seatbelt and he fell onto the car's roof. Ichigo grunted in pain and the car started rattling. The Hollow was hitting the car. Ichigo adjusted his position so he could kick the door open. The car flipped over to an upright position and Ichigo was slammed against the opposite door. The taxi driver's head smashed through the car door window. Ichigo's right arm started to bleed and he feared he may have broken a bone. Despite the pain, Ichigo prepared to kick the door, but the Hollow ran toward the car from that direction. Ichigo turned to the door he was leaning on and tried to open it. He failed as the car was pressed against a wall. The Hollow ripped the car's roof off and Ichigo was cornered. Wait a minute, what am I doing?
Ichigo summoned his Zanpakutou and blocked the Hollow's paw with it. He transformed into his Shinigami form. Ichigo strained and withdrew his right arm which was still bleeding. The Hollow overpowered Ichigo and began to pin him down. Ichigo kicked the Hollow and sliced its torso.
Ichigo climbed out of the car and sliced the Hollow's torso again. People ran away and a police squad car came nearby. Ichigo took a look at the Hollow and he was shocked.
"What the hell," Ichigo said
The Hollow stood on its hind legs; its body was covered in brown fur with its front legs sticking out of it. Its skull had purple spots running vertically on its cheeks and the portion around its teeth was bright red like lipstick.
"You, you're the Hollow that killed my mother," Ichigo said.
The Hollow growled and roared at Ichigo.
ASHIDO and Takeshi jumped onto a treetop. Ashido had the skull of the Hollow he killed strapped to his back.
"What are we doing on a tree?" Takeshi asked.
"We're here to do recon, not extermination. If we kill all the Hollows like the ones that were talking to each other, we won't get any real Intel," Ashido said.
"And we can't just turn invisible?"
"That only works on humans, clairvoyant or not,"
Ashido pulled a tablet from his jacket.
"What's that for?" Takeshi asked.
"This is recon, we need to document our discoveries," Ashido said.
"That makes sense, sir,"
Ashido did some typing on the screen and turned the tablet to the corpses of the Hollows that were talking. He slid his finger upward on the screen and another screen of the same size slid up from the tablet. The screen was see-through and had slid up from the middle of the tablet. Ashido took several photos. The tablet's tech was even able to take pictures from different viewpoints even though Ashido was stationary.
Ashido slid the secondary screen back into the tablet and moved all the pictures into a folder he named Adjuchas. He added a document to it that explained that the Hollows were intelligent, could talk and fought like human beings. He named this species of Hollows Adjuchas.
"Are you allowed to name them, sir?" Takeshi asked.
"Yeah, when you're the first to study a type of Hollow, you name it. I was the one to name the Menos Grande," Ashido explained.
"Okay, then why Spanish, sir?" Takeshi asked.
"Because it sounds cool," Ashido explained, "and besides, I think I was spot on in picking Spanish. Its quite a coincidence, isn't it? I had the screener record what the Hollows were saying and it was able to translate only two words; 'subjugate' and 'Espada'. The Espada must be some type of Hollow and the word is the Spanish word for sword. The screener's translation program will take a few hours to translate everything they were saying, you know, since the language is an undiscovered one,"
"Yeah, Twelve Division's technological advancements are pretty impressive,"
A Hollow walked on all-fours like a mammal and wondered around the area Ashido and Takeshi were in. Ashido started a video recording when another Hollow came and attacked it.
"What's going on?" Ashido said.
The two Hollows battled each other, biting flesh off one another's bodies. The battle was vicious and bloody.
"Why in the world are Hollows fighting each other and trying to eat each other?" Ashido wondered.
"They're carnivores, right? Maybe the two had a beef or something," Takeshi asked.
"Heh, meat pun" Ashido chuckled, "but no; lions don't just start fighting and eating each other. They are carnivores, not cannibals,"
"What if its part of a hierarchy thing? You know, animals fighting to prove who the alpha male is," Takeshi asked.
"Sure, strong Hollows subjugate weaker ones, but Hollows don't eat Hollows; it's inconceivable and they are too mindless to follow a leader," Ashido explained.
The Hollows continued their fight and one smacked the other against a tree.
ICHIGO blocked a hit from the Hollow and kicked it so hard that it hurled into the air and smashed through the squad car. Ichigo charged at the Hollow, wildly screaming in anger. A SWAT officer fired an RPG at the Hollow, knocking him some feet back. Ichigo ran up to the Hollow who suddenly retreated.
"Get back here!" Ichigo yelled as he chased after him.
Pink tentacles emerge from the Hollow's back and its speed increases as it retreats. Why is he running? Ichigo chased after the Hollow who was now heading out of town.
Ichigo chased the Hollow and accidentally pulled off the vanishing trick he did when he chased Uryu, but still failed to stop it. The Hollow entered a forest and ran up a slope, knocking trees down with its tentacles. Ichigo jumped over each of the trees and nearly tripped at times. Ichigo turned and ran around the Hollow, hoping to cut him off from in font. The Hollow reached the end of the slope and Ichigo cut him off, slicing off one of its tentacles.
Ichigo ran up to the Hollow when all of a sudden, Masaki Kurosaki appeared to him. Ichigo stopped in his tracks.
"M-Mum?" Ichigo said in shock.
Masaki stood around Ichigo's height, sporting long flowing blonde hair and wore a sundress. No, it can't be her; my mind must be playing tricks on me.
"Ichigo, dear, it's been so long," Masaki said.
"No, you died; I saw that Hollow kill you," Ichigo said, stepping away from her.
"Don't you see me, Ichigo? I'm right here,"
Ichigo shook his head and charged toward Masaki. Ichigo swung the Zanpakutou at her and she screamed, nearly falling back.
"Ichigo, what are you doing?"
Ichigo stepped back, reluctant to move on. Wait a minute the Hollow stopped attacking me. Ichigo looked over Masaki's shoulder and studied the Hollow. His eyes were pure white.
"I knew it,"
Ichigo ran up to Masaki and slashed her across her arm. Masaki fell to the ground, crying and holding her wound in pain. Ichigo stood back, dumbstruck. He thought Masaki would simply disappear after cutting her since he thought she was an illusion.
"Ichigo, why've you cut me?" Masaki asked, looking into his eyes pleadingly.
Ichigo failed to utter anything. He dropped the Zanpakutou and he reverted to human form. Tears welled up in his eyes.
"Mum, I-I..."The Hollow sent a tentacle toward Ichigo. It came close to hitting Ichigo when Urahara stepped in and blocked it with a katana.
"Mr. Hat n Clogs," Ichigo asked, confused.
Ichigo looked at Urahara's katana; it was white on the bladed edge and black on the blunt edge like his Zanpakutou. Its hilt was the end of his cane with the curved handle.
"Ichigo," Urahara said.
Urahara sliced the tentacle and turned to Ichigo.
"Go and help Rukia,"
"What do you mean?" Ichigo asked.
Urahara placed a small tracking device in Ichigo's hand.
"I was waiting for Rukia at my shop," Urahara said and he cut down two tentacles, "but she didn't show up. Her reiatsu signature showed that she suddenly stopped for no reason and I've been waiting for her since."
Masaki started wailing.
"Ichigo, why have you done this to me?" Masaki asked.
"Mum," Ichigo said as he ran toward her.
Urahara shot a red beam from his index finger at Masaki, killing her.
"You son of a –" Ichigo yelled angrily as he summoned his Zanpakutou.
"Look, Ichigo," Urahara said, pointing him to Masaki.
Masaki's skin suddenly started turning white and it pealed off, revealing a mannequin her size underneath. It was covered in tattoos and had black eyes. Ichigo stepped back.
"I was right, it was an illusion," Ichigo said, "dirt bag!"
The Hollow shot taentacles at Ichigo and he cut them up.
"Go and help Rukia, Ichigo; I'll deal with this," Urahara said.
Ichigo left the scene and Urahara faced off against the Hollow. Urahara walked up to the Hollow, walking right through the mannequin which vanished as he did.
"Sing, Benihime!" Urahara yelled as she swung his sword upward.
A red beam shot out of the blade and grazed on the ground as it sped toward the Hollow. The Hollow dodged the blast and Urahara fired a beam into its chest with his finger. Urahara vanished and appeared behind the Hollow, slicing its head off. Urahara shook the blood of his katana, sheathed it and walked away. The Hollow's corpse fell on the ground.
"Consider that a gift, Ichigo," Urahara said.
ICHIGO ran down a sidewalk across town. He looked at the tracking device and he was a kilometre away. He started sprinting.
A Shinigami walked in a forest with an unconscious Rukia in one hand and her duffle bag in the other. He had several tattoos on his neck, had spiky red hair tied into a ponytail and had black shades over his forehead. He was the sixth Division Lieutenant, Renji Abarai.
Renji placed Rukia on the ground and started searching her duffle bag. He unpacked some clothes, perfumes and toiletries, looking for something. He pulled the syringe Rukia used to resurrect Orihime from the bag and pulled on the shades. In the shade's vision, scans showed that the syringe contained a lot of reiatsu. He looked at the bag and its contents and there was no reiatsu. He looked at Rukia and she had low reiatsu, even lower than the syringe had. Renji frowned.
Ichigo ran up to Renji and kicked him, knocking him off his feet.
"Hey, what the hell!" Renji said as he got to his feet.
Ichigo drew his Zanpakutou and swung at him. Renji blocked the attack with his and they locked blades. Renji pushed Ichigo back and swung his Zanpakutou. Ichigo blocked. Ichigo and Renji exchanged slashes, each one blocking the next. Renji slashed Ichigo's gut, his arm and kicked him back. Ichigo fell on the ground and struggled to get up. Renji stabbed at Ichigo and he rolled out of the way, letting him lodge his Zanpakutou into the ground. Ichigo sheathed his Zanpakutou and punched Renji, making him leave his Zanpakutou lodged in the ground. Ichigo threw a kick, Renji blocked, Ichigo swung a punch, Renji blocked, Ichigo backhanded and Renji held his bleeding arm. Renji squeezed it and Ichigo screamed in pain. Renji punched Ichigo in the gut and head butted him. Ichigo stepped back, groggily. Ichigo elbowed at Renji who pushed his arm away and dropkicked him. Ichigo fell back, smashing through several branches. Ichigo fell on the ground and struggled to get to his feet.
Ichigo began to realize that the man he was fighting had more training than he did. He needed to put in his best to win.
Renji dislodged his Zanpakutou from the ground and swung his Zanpakutou at Ichigo as he came. Ichigo dodged and kneed Renji in the gut. Renji swung his Zanpakutou down and Ichigo dodged. Renji kicked Ichigo in the arm and he fell to his knees. Renji kicked Ichigo in the head, sending him into the air. Ichigo fell limp on the ground. Renji looked at Ichigo and he was motionless.
Renji walked up to Rukia. He picked her and the syringe and a white portal opened before them. Renji walked through the portal and it closed behind him.
Rain began to pour and Ichigo was soon drenched. His wounds bled and mixed with the rainwater.
ICHIGO awoke on a bed in an empty room. He sat up and looked around, not recognising his surroundings. He looked at his arms and they were healed without a scratch left. He looked to his right and his Zanpakutou was leaning against the wall.
"How?" Ichigo exclaimed.
Ichigo looked at himself and realized that he was still in Shinigami form. Didn't Rukia say that Zanpakutou enter pocket dimensions when we let go of them and since I'm part human, my attire also enters the dimension. If so, why am I still in Shinigami form? Ichigo was speechless. Urahara entered the room. He grabbed the Zanpakutou and threw it. The Zanpakutou vanished and Ichigo turned back into a human.
"Where am I?" Ichigo asked.
"You're in my shop. Yeah, I know it's a little small, but," Urahara said
"Small? I didn't think this place had room in the first place,"
"I actually didn't want to let more people know about this place, but it seems that I have no choice,"
Urahara stepped on a tile on the floor and a chair popped from the floor. He sat on the chair.
"Look, Ichigo," Urahara said as he leaned on his cane, "that Shinigami took Rukia to the Sereitei,"
"Wait, you knew about him and did nothing? Why didn't you help me?" Ichigo asked.
"I thought I'd deal with the Hollow instead –"
"Who cares about a stupid Hollow?"
"I was thinking about the people. If I left it, people would die,"
"And what about Rukia!" Ichigo yelled.
"What about her? She's back in the Sereitei where she belongs. Isn't that a good thing?" Urahara asked.
Ichigo turned away from Urahara, frowning.
Urahara sat back and smirked.
"Well, it seems you've fallen for her, haven't you?" Urahara said in a smug tone.
Ichigo tried to respond, but he didn't. He kept quiet.
"I thought you could handle it, but I overestimated you; you've still got a lot to learn," Urahara said.
"About what?" Ichigo asked.
"There are four fighting styles Shinigami use in battle. Zanjutsu, which is Zanpakutou combat, Hakuda, which is hand-to-hand combat, Hohou, which are manoeuvring methods and finally Kidou, which are special attacks activated by key words, phrases and gestures. Since you learned martial arts, I will exclude Hakuda, but you need to at least know the basics of the remaining three." Urahara said.
"What will I be fighting for?"
"Rukia has been arrested. The Sereitei must have detected Orihime's resurrection and have taken her since she had the syringe."
"Wait a minute, it's your fault she's in the mess!" Ichigo yelled as he sat up.
"Stop, Ichigo. You don't want to fight me" Urahara said smugly.
"Why not?" Ichigo said, seething.
'Because I won't need to stand for me to kill you where you stand,"
Ichigo's eyes widened with shock. He had no idea why, but he believed Urahara. If it has been anyone else, he would have attacked him anyway, but not this time. Ichigo sat back on the bed.
"I will send you to the Sereitei to bust Rukia out of prison,"
"I'll do it!" Ichigo said excitedly.
"Hold on, Ichigo,"
"Why, what's wrong?"
"Don't accept things so lightly. I'm not gonna hold back when training you, because you will fight people aiming to kill you. You have to really think before you throw your life away for someone who've only known for a couple of months,"
Ichigo looked Urahara dead in the eye. At least he thought he did. Urahara always had an unnatural shadow over his eyes so thick one would wonder if he even had eyes. Ichigo kept a straight face still.
"I've always wanted to protect people since I was a child. I tried to protect my mother and I failed, but now I have a better chance of doing so. I won't let someone die when there's something I can do about it. I've made up my mind," Ichigo said.
"Hmm, fine, you're choice," Urahara got to his feet, "let's get busy,"
ASHIDO and Takeshi watched the battle between the two Hollows grow into a brawl as multiple Hollows amassed. Corpses lay scattered on the ground and blood was spilt. Takeshi grew bored and had nodded off. Ashido was still awake, recording every moment.
"Takeshi, look at this!" Ashido said.
"Huh, what is it?" Takeshi asked drowsily.
One Hollow remained standing as its last opponent fell and died. The Hollow's eyes turned white and the Hollow's corpses disintegrated into little black insects that resembled ants. The insects ran up to the Hollow and covered it. The insect pile grew larger and larger and stood as a large 200 foot pillar.
"Wait a minute, is that what I think it is?" Ashido said.
The insect pile flattened, moulded and became skin with a leathery texture. At the top of the pile, a large skull with a long pointed nose formed and popped out. Limbs formed, but were camouflaged in the same colour as the rest of its body. The pile had turned into a Menos Grande.
Some insects were still on the Menos' skin and began to fall of it. The insects moved away and began to form another pile. The insect pile formed into a tree. The Menos Grande howled and began to sink into the ground. The Menos Grande disappeared into the ground.
URAHARA and Ichigo walked down a hallway, up to a door without a handle. Urahara typed in codes on a keypad beside the door and it slid upward. Urahara and Ichigo entered an elevator and it started moving.
"No music?" Ichigo asked.
"I didn't find it necessary," Urahara asked.
"Wait, I thought this place had only the ground floor?" Urahara said.
"Then were else are we going? You'll see," Urahara said.
The elevator stopped and the door slid up. Ichigo's mouth fell agape as he walked out of the elevator.
"What is this? This is not how the outside is," Ichigo asked.
Ichigo and Urahara stood in a large empty mountainous field. The bright sun was scorching hot and there was nothing but dust and rock for miles.
"Whoa, this place is hot," Ichigo said as he blocked the sun with his arm. He looked at Urahara who was unfazed, "Hey, how are you managing this?"
"I've trained like this for a long time. I've enabled myself to withstand the hottest hot and the coldest cold by training here day and night" Urahara explained.
Urahara walked onward and Ichigo removed his shirt.
"Summon your Zanpakutou," Urahara said.
"And put on that black kimono? I'll roast in here," Ichigo said.
"Summon your Zanpakutou! When you're here, you'll do what I say, got it?"
The days returned, Ichigo thought as he summoned his Zanpakutou, the days of taking orders – the days of the military training. Here we go again. Ichigo started sweating.
"The point in any battle is not to wait for the opponent to use all the tricks in the bag; that will get you killed. The quickest kill is the best, but don't finish all your energy in any one attack either unless it is your trump card. Fastest, quickest and easiest wins are best, got it?" Urahara asked and Ichigo nodded, "Good. I will teach you the basics in Shinigami combat in order for you to carry out this rescue operation. They are all you will need. The more elaborate things will take too long for you to master since we have only a few days,"
"A few days for what?" Ichigo asked.
"They may execute Rukia and if so, it will be in a month's time,"
"Only a month?"
"Or maybe she is just going to stay in prison, who knows; I haven't been there for a while so laws may have changed. The best thing to do is not to waste time,"
Ichigo drew his sword. Urahara drew his katana.
"Hey, I have a question; is that katana a Zanpakutou?," Ichigo asked.
"Find out," Urahara said.
Urahara swung his katana at Ichigo who blocked it with his Zanpakutou. Urahara swung the katana at Ichigo's feet. Ichigo jumped and collided in midair with a palm thrust from Urahara. Ichigo rolled to his feet as Urahara swung his katana at his head. Urahara swung his katana at Ichigo who blocked. The two locked blades.
"I've fought many times before; how should this teach me anything?" Ichigo asked.
"Not against a person who has honed his reiatsu," Urahara said.
Urahara kicked Ichigo's leg and pushed him back. Urahara frowned and Ichigo's arms suddenly buckled. Ichigo tried to move, but failed as Urahara drew closer. Urahara swung his katana at Ichigo's head and he quickly rolled out of the way.
"Good. We're making progress. You're a quick learner," Urahara said.
Ichigo got to his feet, panting.
"That is what I like to call a reiatsu grip. It is a Kidou; Bakudo number 1, Sai. If you have honed your reiatsu, you can put someone into this grip or full-on paralysis just by looking at him or her with or without the Kidou. Shinigami transform kinetic energy into reiatsu as they battle. Those of us who have battled long enough have some left over that we can access without moving. Think of the electrical energy humans contain in their nervous systems, untapped. That is what enables them to do extraordinary things at times when under attack or stress," Urahara explained, "Battling me will force your body to draw out your latent reiatsu,"
"Okay," Ichigo said.
"Just be sure not to die too quickly,"
Urahara lunged at Ichigo, swinging his katana at his head. Ichigo smacked the katana away with his Zanpakutou and swung it at Urahara who caught the blade with his bare hand. Ichigo kicked Urahara, punched him and jumped back. Urahara was unfazed.
"Whoa, how can you hold my Zanpakutou like that?" Ichigo asked.
"Shinigami have naturally thick skin. Leftover reiatsu becomes an extra layer of skin and thus becomes a defence. If you are very powerful, some people cannot even touch you unless you suppress your reiatsu. If you don't and a weak person touches you, well think of it as touching a live wire," Urahara explained and Ichigo's donned a shocked expression, "Yeah, exactly. You will need to hone your reiatsu to maintain the leftover reiatsu to a point where you can do it subconsciously,"
Ichigo stared at Urahara, confused.
"Could you simplify that? I can't remember all of that," Ichigo said.
"Okay. The more you hone in your reiatsu, the thicker your skin becomes because reiatsu is concentrated in your body," Urahara said.
"So, my reiatsu concentration is too low," Ichigo asked.
"Actually, you have no reiatsu concentration,"
"Your reiatsu is all over the place. You need to make it concentrated in order to hone in on it and perfect your abilities. Don't worry though, it is a process that happens gradually and naturally as you fight. There is training of course, but it will take too long,"
Ichigo's arms buckled and Urahara walked up to him.
"I'll increase my reiatsu grip on you the more times you break it until I deem you strong enough to move on to the next lesson. Breaking a reiatsu grip, I have proven, is the fastest way to draw out reiatsu. There are other ways, but let's just stick to the simplest," Urahara said.
"You know," Ichigo frowned, "I feel like I'm getting the cheapskate Shinigami training package here,"
"Exactly right!" Urahara grinned.
"Fine then," Ichigo groaned
Ichigo struggled to break free. Urahara swung his katana down on Ichigo. Ichigo lifted his Zanpakutou, using only his wrists and blocked Urahara's katana.
"You won't be able to hold me off,"
Urahara pushed down on Ichigo. Ichigo broke free and kicked Urahara away. Urahara stabbed at Ichigo who sidestepped, hit his katana down and punched him. Urahara stepped back, still unfazed.
"You're skilled, but you need reiatsu to back up your attacks!" Urahara said as he punched Ichigo.
The punch was so hard that Ichigo hurled through the air and fell metres away. Ichigo got to his feet, wiping the blood from his mouth.
"See what I mean," Urahara said.
"Yes, I –"
Ichigo's arms buckled and Urahara charged at him. Ichigo tried desperately to move his arms, but Urahara seemed to move faster than he could. Urahara swung his katana at Ichigo's head. Ichigo quickly rolled backward, avoiding the hit. Ichigo broke free and his eyes glowed blue.
"What!?" Urahara said, taken aback.
Ichigo slowly got to his feet, clenching his Zanpakutou.
"Well, my, my, I'm surprised," Urahara said as he withdrew his Zanpakutou, "I didn't think it'd be so easy for a newbie Shinigami to tap into their reiatsu,"
"Just because I have tapped into my reiatsu doesn't mean I'm able to fight effectively, does it?" Ichigo asked.
"Not completely, but as I said; honing reiatsu is a process that happens naturally as you fight. You're in danger and your body has to pull out all the stops to assure that you survive. Just like the way humans run extremely fast when being chased by an animal when they are naturally slow runners." Urahara explained.
Ichigo was a little unsure. He laughed uneasily.
"Are you sure? Don't I need a little more training, because, you're pretty tough and they'll be more like you in the Sereitei." Ichigo said.
"Don't worry, you'll be fine," Urahara said
Urahara pulled out an A5 paged book from his jacket and walked up to Ichigo.
"This book contains the list of Kidou I have mastered over the years. You should have it," Urahara said.
"Isn't it yours?" Ichigo asked.
"Don't worry, I have a spare. It will take too long for me to teach you how to use every Kidou attack in that book, but you'll find using them easier once I help you use reiatsu through your Zanpakutou," Urahara said
"What the sword? It has attacks?" Ichigo asked.
"Yeah and also, you use your Zanpakutou as a conduit for your reiatsu. The attack released by your Zanpakutou all depends on your reiatsu signature. Think of Zanpakutou attacks as a manifestation of your power," Urahara explained.
Ichigo placed the book in his kimono.
"Okay, then how do I do this?" Ichigo asked.
"You will first need to learn the name of your Zanpakutou," Urahara said.
"A sword has a name?"
"Yes. It is written on the blade,"
Urahara walked up to Ichigo and pointed at his blade.
"There is Ancient Japanese text on the blade of every Zanpakutou that only graduates of the Shinigami Academy are taught to read. Mine's name is Benihime!" Urahara yelled.
Urahara's Zanpakutou hilt transformed into a real sword hilt with a small red cloth attacked to its end.
"Whoa" Ichigo said.
"I will translate one for you and it enable you to understand the rest," Urahara said.
Ichigo nodded and Urahara began studying the text on the blade. He stopped on text written on the black half of the blade that was closest to the hilt.
"This is word is Zangetsu. Me saying it will not do anything, but you should say it and mean it," Urahara said.
Ichigo clenched his Zanpakutou and said with all his might:
The text on the Zanpakutou glowed a little then returned to normal.
"Whoa, I... I understand the text now!" Ichigo said elatedly.
"Okay, show me what you know," Urahara said as he stepped back.
Ichigo pointed Zangetsu forward.
"Getsugatenshou!" Ichigo yelled.
A beam of white energy with a blue trim exploded out of the tip of Zangetsu's blade. It covered 10 metres the exploded in midair.
"Whoa, impressive," Urahara said as he looked at the aftermath of the energy release.
The ground that the Getsugatenshou went over was charred and starting to set on fire.
"Okay. What else you can you see?" Urahara said as he walked up to him.
Ichigo stared at Zangetsu.
"I can't see the rest of the text," Ichigo said.
Urahara looked at Zangetsu.
"Yeah, neither can I. You will probably see the rest as you tap more into your latent reiatsu," Urahara said.
"Ichigo!" a male voice called.
Ichigo looked around, but no one was there.
"Ichigo Kurosaki!" the voice called again.
Ichigo followed the sound of the voice and looked before him. A black katana was stuck in the ground at the spot where Getsugatenshou exploded. Ichigo watched in shock as a man in a black cloak stood on the katana's hilt. The man had long brown hair and wore sunglasses. A reddish black aura surrounded the man.
"Who are you?" Ichigo asked.
"We will see each other soon, Ichigo," the man said
The man and the katana vanished. Urahara wondered what was going on.
"Ichigo, Ichigo!" Urahara called.
"Huh, what?" Ichigo said as he snapped out of it.
"You were staring into space," Urahara said.
"Huh? You didn't see anything?" Ichigo asked.
"See what?" Urahara asked.
"Oh, yeah, sorry" Ichigo sheathed Zangetsu, "it was nothing, I'm fine,"
"Hmm. Well, that ends this part of the training," Urahara says.
A black cat meowed as it walked up to Urahara and jumped on his shoulder.
"Oh, you have a cat?" Ichigo asked.
"Yeah," Urahara answered.
Ichigo petted the cat.
"Thank you," the cat purred.
Ichigo jumped back.
"Wait, what the hell? Did that cat just talk?" Ichigo asked frightfully.
"Yeah," the cat responded.
"Her name's Yoruichi," Urahara said.
Ichigo was dumbstruck.
"Well, you'd better get used to it because things will get weirder," Urahara said.
"Uh-huh," Ichigo responded, still confused.
"Excuse me," Urahara said as he walked passed Ichigo.
Ichigo nodded and fainted. Urahara walked a few metres away from Ichigo.
"How's his training going?" Yoruichi asked.
"Much faster than I thought it would be," Urahara said.
"You mean you're already finished?"
"That's ridiculous. It's hardly been an hour," Yoruichi said.
"Well, he's tapped into his reiatsu and learnt an attack his Zanpakutou has. He'll be able to understand Kidou now," Urahara explained.
Yoruichi studied Ichigo.
"He cannot be ready to go yet; he's an amateur," Yoruichi said.
"I know that, but at this rate, I know he will learn quickly," Urahara said.
"You should test his limits first, or he will die in the Sereitei," Yoruichi said.
"Yeah, I get you," Urahara said.
Yoruichi jumped off Urahara's shoulder.
"Get going," Yoruichi said.
Urahara walked up to Ichigo.
"Hey, Ichigo," Urahara called.
"Yeah?" Ichigo said, coming to.
Urahara swung his Zanpakutou at Ichigo who jumped out of the way and drew his.
"What is this –" Ichigo tried to say.
Urahara smacked Ichigo's Zanpakutou, knocking Ichigo back.
"Bakudo number 4, Hainawa!" Urahara yelled
Wind rushed around Ichigo and an energy rope formed around his torso. Ichigo was caught off guard and the rope entangled his arms. Urahara charged at Ichigo who broke free and kicked him in the gut. Urahara pushed Ichigo's leg down and gave him an uppercut. Ichigo swung his Zanpakutou at Urahara who held it and kicked him back.
"What was that thing you said? Baku – ah!" Ichigo tried to say when Urahara swung his Zanpakutou at him.
Ichigo blocked with hit Zanpakutou and they locked blades.
"It was Kidou," Urahara said and he pushed Ichigo back, "a Bakudo which is a strategic entrapment and defence type of attack. The other, Hado, is purely offensive,"
Ichigo got to his feet and swung his Zanpakutou down at Urahara who jumped out of the way.
"Bakudo number nine, Geki!" Urahara yelled.
Red smoke came from nowhere and dissipated. Urahara was gone. Ichigo clenched his Zanpakutou, looking around. Ichigo tried to pull out his Kidou book when Urahara kicked him and swung his Zanpakutou at him. Ichigo blocked the attack and struggled to open the book.
"H-Hado number four, b-Byakura!" Ichigo yelled as he pointed at Urahara.
Small sparks appeared from Ichigo's finger and simply fizzled away.
"But how?" Ichigo asked.
"You haven't honed in on your reiatsu enough," Urahara said as he knocked him back.
"Dammit," Ichigo said as he withdrew his Zanpakutou.
"What are you doing?" Urahara asked.
Ichigo smirked and ran up to Urahara. Ichigo threw a punch at Urahara who dodged and swung his Zanpakutou down at him. Ichigo held Urahara's wrist and elbowed Urahara in the gut.
"Hmm, impressive," Urahara said.
Ichigo punched at Urahara's head and he ducked. Ichigo locked blades with Urahara. Ichigo seethed and his eyes glowed. Urahara smirked and knocked Ichigo back. Ichigo retaliated with a punch and a kick to the temple, knocking Urahara off his feet.
"Whoa, that one actually hurt this time," Urahara said as he got up.
Ichigo ripped out a page from the Kidou book when Urahara charged at him. Ichigo withdrew the book and blocked Urahara's strike, wielding his Zanpakutou with his right hand. Ichigo read the page and blocked another attack from Urahara. Urahara was shocked as Ichigo blocked a third attack without looking. Ichigo rolled up the page with his left hand and placed it in the inner folds of the arm guard of his right arm.
"Clever. You'd better make sure no one sees you doing that," Urahara said.
"Hado number 11" Ichigo said.
Ichigo grabbed Urahara's Zanpakutou.
"Tsuzuri Raiden!" Ichigo yelled.
Electricity surged from Ichigo's hand through Urahara's Zanpakutou and shocked Urahara, knocking him back.
"Very good, Ichigo," Urahara said as he got to his feet.
Ichigo swung his Zanpakutou at Urahara who blocked and started to push Ichigo whilst locking blades. Urahara ran and pushed Ichigo further and further back. Ichigo fell off his feet and Urahara swung his Zanpakutou at him. Ichigo disappeared and reappeared a few feet behind Urahara. He got to his feet and looked around in shock. Yoruichi's head shot up.
"Bravo, Ichigo," Urahara said.
"What did I just do?" Ichigo asked.
"You performed Shunpo. Shunpo is a form of teleportation that sends your particles into the Zanpakutou dimension and back into ours in the blink of an eye," Urahara explained.
'Zanpakutou dimension?" Ichigo asked.
"Well, it's actually a pocket dimension where we discard our Zanpakutou when they are not in use and it's optional to do so. We Shinigami sometimes call it the Zanpakutou dimension since there is a large number of them stashed in there,"
"If Shunpo involves going into the pocket dimension and back, does it mean that a Shinigami can steal a Zanpakutou from there?" Ichigo asked.
"Theoretically, yes, but nobody has ever done it. We put our Zanpakutou in there and take them out, but actually going there is a difficult thing and someone can be encased in there forever," Urahara said.
"I thought you said it is just a pocket dimension?" Ichigo asked.
"Well, we call it that because it closely resembles one. We do not know everything about it," Urahara explained.
"The best way to do Shunpo is to visualise yourself in the location of your choosing and therefore, you cannot Shunpo to a location you have never been to before," Urahara explained.
"I understand," Ichigo said, clenching his Zanpakutou.
"But you will do so more effectively once you have honed in more of your latent reiatsu," Urahara explained.
Ichigo ran up to Urahara and swung his Zanpakutou at him. Urahara jumped back.
"Hado number 11, Tsuzuri Raiden!" Ichigo yelled.
Nothing happened and Ichigo was shocked.
"You cannot perform Tsuzuri Raiden without being in contact with your opponent or something they are holding," Urahara said.
"Oh, right," Ichigo said.
Ichigo ran up to Urahara.
"Hado number four, Byaku –" Ichigo tried to yell when Urahara tackled him and knocked him back.
"Don't overuse Kidou; it destabilizes your reiatsu concentration. Kidou forcefully draws your reiatsu for an attack. If you do it too often, your reiatsu concentration will be compromised," Urahara said.
"C'mon," Urahara said.
Urahara helped Ichigo up.
"You should really –"
"Hado number 11, Tsuzuri Raiden!" Ichigo yelled as he clenched Urahara's hand.
Electricity surged from Ichigo's hand into Urahara's, shocking him. Ichigo let go of Urahara who fell to his knees.
"Whoa, are you okay?" Ichigo asked.
Urahara did not respond. Ichigo was concerned.
"Mr. Hat n Clogs?" Ichigo asked.
Urahara grabbed Ichigo's neck and lifted him. Ichigo dropped his Zanpakutou and transformed back into a human.
"You should not feel sorry for your opponent. That was smart to trick me," Urahara said, "I'm impressed."
Ichigo tried to break free but failed.
"One other thing, don't always yell your Kidou attacks; that allows your opponents to counter them. Think them in your mind, that conceals your motive and strengthens the potency of the attack. The second thing," Urahara said and he threw Ichigo, "Never let go of your Zanpakutou,"
Ichigo summoned his Zanpakutou in midair and transformed into a Shinigami. Ichigo landed a couple metres away.
"If you do, you will end turn back into a human and the thick reiatsu in the Sereitei's atmosphere will destroy your human body," Urahara explained.
Ichigo got to his feet.
Ichigo swung his Zanpakutou down and energy shot from the tip in a crescent shape and sped toward Urahara. Urahara lifted his Zanpakutou upside down and a red barrier appeared, blocking the shot. Getsugatenshou dissipated and the barrier cracked and broke to Urahara's surprise.
Ichigo stood, panting and Urahara couldn't believe his eyes. Yoruichi got to her feet, shocked as well.
"What?" Ichigo panted, "You scared?"
Urahara stepped back.
"Kisuke!" Yoruichi called, "I think he is ready for the next phase!"
"The next phase of what?" Ichigo asked.
Urahara sheathed his Zanpakutou and began to walk passed Ichigo.
"To learn Bankai," Urahara said.
Ichigo wondered what Urahara was talking about as he sheathed his Zanpakutou as well.
Urahara walked up to Yoruichi who awaited him. Ichigo had more reiatsu than Urahara expected and it was increasing further still. The sample he collected off the lizard Hollow's corpse was very erratic and it baffled him. Urahara believed Ichigo was ready for the next step to become the perfect Shinigami warrior.