After fighting with his old friend, Ray Martinez, Van realized that while he had won the fight, he had also relied too heavily on the power that he had gained from others. Not wanting to continue to use a crutch in his fights sure to come in the future, Van set out on a journey to reclaim what was once his, a journey to reclaim his title as a true Shinigami.

On the windy hill off of the outskirts of Hama Town, Van looked back at his home as the wind blew through his hair causing him to mask his face with his hands. "I'll be back, don't worry about that. Jishaku, Ryoiki take care of my family while I'm gone. I know you'll both treat them well. Hmm..scratch that. I know Ryoiki will at least heh." With that, Van donned his cloak and made his way down a long dusty winding road.

Kei sat crossed legged high atop a rock pillar, apparently meditating. "Inner peace," He murmured. "Inner peace." But every time he tried to concentrate, his mind would wander causing him to break concentration and frustrate Kei. He opened his eyes and sighed, turning his head to observe the landscape before him

Dust flying in his eyes, Van turned to spot a figure off in the distance. "Hmm maybe he has some water. I'm kinda parched. Who would've thought I would pack everything except something to drink." Approaching the man on the pillar, Van shouted out. "Oi! Oi! Hey you up there? You wouldn't happen to hve any water would you?"

Kei noticed a cloak figure had stopped in front of him. He heard his words and gave a slight chuckle as he stood up. "Why yes I do. Here." He bent over and dug into his pack, eventually digging out a bottle. He tossed the bottle to the stranger and smiled.

"WHEW!!!" Van managed to choke out after gulping down the bottle of water. "Thanks. I really needed that. But what about you? Are you sure its safe for someone like you to be sitting out in this kind of weather? I'm sure you have your reasons but een so shouldn't you seek shelter from this heat?"

Kei gave the man a brief smile before razing his left gloved hand to shield himself from the light. His eyebrows arched as if he was thinking and he turned his attention towards the man. "Mmm. I don't think so. I'm just hear enjoying the weather. How about you?" He said, breaking out in a huge grin.

"Well to tell you the truth....I'm on my way to find myself. I relied too much on borrowed power in a few fights of mine and I'm trying to find the way back to utilizing my own abilities. I know that sounds kind of lame and confusing but its the best way I could think to put it." Van laughed as he finished the last of the water

Kei closed his eyes and brought his palm to his chin. "Hmmm. I can see your predicament. I believe something is holding you back and all you really have to do is go through a physically and spiritually demanding act. Through that process, there is a chance, a slight chance, you'll regain your lost powers." He calmly said, squatting on the pillar.

"Hm? You know of a way to go about doing that? I'm game for about everything, bring it on er....wait was your name?" Van questioned as he removed his bag from his side.

"My name is Kei Yume, Van Satonaka." Kei replied, pointing at his gloved hand at him and brushing his brown hair to his side. "Are you sure that you will go through it? There is no going back once it starts."

"Kinda confused on how you know my name but sure, why not strange man sensei. Hahaha. Wait Kei Yume was it? Hmm Nah, I think I 'll stick with strange man sensei. Seems to flow better off of my toungue." Van laughed before doning a serious look upon his face. "But seriously, let's rock this out."

"I've heard of you, lets just leave it at that." Kei said with a smile. "Calling me strange man sensei? Thats very uncalled for. If you call me that, I might as well call you doggy." Kei chuckled as he looked at Van. He stood up on the pillar and beckoned Van to come at him. "Who's going to bring the rock?" Kei continued with a smile.

"Doggy? Only Anna calls me that. Hm, looks like there's a bit more I need to get from you than I expected." Van smiled as he opened a rift appearing at Kei's back. "Hey there."

"And no one has referred to me as strange man sensei." Kei countered with a smile as he looked at the rift.

"Haha, well I'm not what you would call your ordinary fellow. I tend to just give random nicknames, think of it as a sign of respect." Van laughed before continuing "So what's the deal here? How do we go about this?"

"Ahhh. I see. Then I have no objection with your sign of respect. Just don't be going around calling me that when we'ere around everyone." Kei said with a grin, his hands at his sides. "If that's your rift, then you want me to enter?" He asked, giving Van a questioning look.

Looking behind him Van let out slight chuckle. "Oh that? No I just forgot to close it off." With a swift motioning of his hands, the rift closed as he turned back to face Kei. "So, what is this process of reclaiming my powers that you were referring to? I can't wait to get started."

"Its fairly simple. You will have to fight someone higher or near your caliber to such an extent that your body will merely give out from the sheer exhaustion. Only then will your spirit be forced to regain its former composure. But thats only a chance. Will you do it?" He asked, asking towards Van.

"Oh? Who did you have in mind? There not many people who are on my level. Things aren't as fun for me since I got trapped by this power. Heck while it granted me one of my new favorite skills the resulting power I received isn't as useful as it once was with all these new threats rising about us. So whatever you have in mind bring it on strange man sensei." Van chuckled

"Well for one thing Doggy. You have forgotten me. I could be one of your opponents. And if that doesn't work..we can have someone else have go at you." Kei said, giving Van another of his well-known smiles.

"Oh? You strange man sensei? Haha I like the sound of that, so let's get started. I can't wait to get this underway as I think it's for the best and I'm bound to get even stronger." Van laughed as he covered his eyes from the sun.

"I believe this will be an experience for the both of us. Don't you think?" Kei commented with a laugh as he looked at Van.

"Shall we begin? If its a fight. I think I'll make the first move." Van smiled as he set loose a storm of crystal shards from his palm.

"I see. I suppose I'll make the second move." He replied, extending his left hand. A small glowing orb appeared, eventually materializing into a black sheathe. He looked and smiled at Van as he effectively moved about, easily destroying and dodging the hail storm of crystals.

"Was that the supposed second move?" Van sneered as he tap on the pillar with his heel causing a crystal shard to erupt from beneath Kei. "I certainly hope that the fourth one is something more noteworthy because if you don't take me seriously, you may as well forfeit your life."

The crystal pillar had seemingly struck Kei but the figure faded away into nothing. Kei materialized besides Van, his eyes set into a grim stare at his opponent's face. "You see here my friend, I haven't even initiate the second move at all." He quickly raised the sheath towards the opponent, a white energy forming inside, and fired directly at the man. "I have no intention to forfeit my life. From here on, things will be serious." He uttered, his tone taking on a darker aura.

"Oh? Do you think that'll be enough?" Van shattered into a haze of crystal shards as the real Van appeared above the man sticking his toungue out as he stepped from a rift in space. "Let's get this part rockin' shall we." Van placed his hand on the pillar causing crystalline spikes to protrude toward the man.

"With an ability like that, I had seen that in hindsight." He said as jumped upwards to dodge the shards. He dashed forward Van and gave him a wink as he swung the sheathe full force, creating a shockwave that destroyed the pillar and any shards coming towards him.

Masking his face from the debris, Van laughed. "Oh wooooooow! Not bad good sir. Not bad at all. Looks like you'll be more of challenge than I expected." Slowly pouring crystal particles into the earth below him, Van smiled. "Why don't you show me that trick again? I would love to see how it works up close."

"Of course Van. This stranger has a lot of "tricks" up his sleeves." Kei casually said, noting Van's actions. "Much obliged." He held his sheathe aloft and came to his side, swinging the sheathe once again, creating another shockwave.

"Oh actually did it!" Van laughed as he opened a rift in front of him allowing the blast to be dispersed into another dimension. "Whew. Who knew you were the kind of guy who listens. Hahahaha.' Before Van's laughter was finished, he had already began charging an orb of energy in the palm of his his left hand before discharging the blast toward Kei. "Mekura."

"Of course. I always try to please the other." Kei scoffed, bringing the sheathe up as he deflected the blast away from him as well as firing a beam of concentrated spiritual energy simultaneously before letting it hang at his side.

"Oh? That sheath seems to have some power in itself. Hmm very well, let's see if we can't cause you to feel some discomfort now that its out of the way for a bit." Van then charged up two more balls of enegy into his hands before releasing them both in the form of a large strean of energy.

"That's what you think Van. The sheathe is just an accessory in my opinion and I'll give it a short rest," Kei raised his hands forward, creating an eerie glow from his palms. As the two streams of energy came at him, he clapped them together and quietly whispered an incantation and then made several swirling motions and brought them at his sides. He let it sit there for a quick moment before releasing it at Van's direction.

"Heh. Oh? Let's see if that's all you have for me. Well...I should say if that's what you yourself can handle." Van smiled as he opened a rift in front of himself causing the two streams of energy to be sucked in before he opened another rift behind Kei allowing the energy to escape the prison of space.

"Not really Van. I've handled more." Kei replied, suddenly appearing behind himself to meet the streams of energy. He raised his palm forward and moved it in a sweeping motion, causing it to dissipate into harmless spiritual particles. Kei then turned to face Van and stretched his hand out, an orb of forming within the palm. In a matter of moments, a Zanpakutō in his midst.

"Two can play at that gam --tch." Van reched down for Jihaku in vain as he left him in Hama Town. "No matter, I'll handle this myself." Tapping his foot on the ground, Van created a large series of crystal spires that surged toward Kei. "Haha. I'm not just some worthless child, y'kno."

"I didn't call you a child nor say you were worthless." He commented, moving out of the way of the crystal spires. Up in the air, he brought his Zanpakutō in front of him and immediately went down, slicing one spire in half and made a sweeping motion at the others, causing them to crumble into the ground.

"Hm? I never said you did. I just wanted you to know that you're in for a great fight." Van smiled as he launched consecutive crystal spears toward Kei before opening a rift behind himslf and stepping inside before re-appearing above Kei and creating a crystal maw that he rode downward.

"I proudly accept the good fight that you are about to give me." Kei replied, dodging the crystals at an extremely fast rate. As Van was riding the crystal maw towards the man, several probable outcomes were already forming in his head, with the most simplest one being the better suited solution. He stood his ground and as it edged dangerously closer, he pointed his Zanpakutō and an orb of white energy immediately formed. "Yume No Piasu Nami!" He yelled out as a stream of white energy flew at Van.

Unprepared for the sudden attack, Van was sent crashing to the ground as the crystal maw shattered into a rain around Kei. Thumping the dirt and sliding to a stop Van quickly recovered himself as he charged back into the foray clasping his hands together causing the crystal rain to come together in the form of several large sword-like kunai. "Let's do this right then." Making a punching motion, Van's kunai aimed to pierce through Kei's body from multiple angles.

Kei moved back and brought his sword up once again, standing firmly on the ground. He moved his arm in a fast motion and several orbs of white energy formed directly in front of him. Multiple streams of energy charged forward to meet the onslaught of crystal rain. And in order to face the full force of the crystal kunais, the energy split into many arcs in hoping and countering them. But that wasn't enough as several made it past his energy arcs and hit him, passing through his right arm and creating an indent in the ground.

"Heh. Looks like that got ya. But I can't let up just yet." Van formed his hand into the form of a pyramid as he continued running back toward Kei. Forming the shattered crystal back into several spheres that he dropped down with tremendous force.

"Same here," Kei agreed with a fast nod, jumping forward to meet the crystal shards head on with his Zanpakutō. He brought up his blade and it glowed with a whitish glow of energy.

"What's this?" Van smirked as he opened a rift to meet Kei head on with a storm of crystal swords at his side in an attempt to strike his opponent down with numbers alone.

"Nothing," Kei replied. "I could do the same thing." Kei swept his blade from the side, creating a multitude of white spheres that immediately became streams of white energy.

"Hahaha. Im enjoying this." Van smiled as he caused the crystal to shatter over and around Kei as the beams of light struck him repeatedly. Pivoting on his right leg, Van formed a large hammer and began to bring it down upon Kei's skull

"I see. This is how you play things, quite fun actually. But you think that hammer can do harm to me? I think not!" Kei hurriedly said as he glanced at Van before reflexively bringing his sword up to reject the blow, causing a large clanging noise and forcing the two back. "I do admit, nice call on shattering those crystals. Never would have seen that myself." He added with a grin.

"Hm? Well I would hope not. I tend to think of myself as being an unique individual." Quickly regaining his footing, Van began changing the crystals into large copies of the four great cardinal beasts. "Heh. Time to really, finally, and truly get things started." Van jumped up and began staring down at Kei from atop his crystal phoenix ready for the fight to continue.

"Aren't we all unique individuals? If we didn't have something to define us, then we would absurdly boring, don't you agree?" He said, composing himself. "To simply say short. Its time to play!" Kei yelled as he suddenly appeared in front of Van, along with two copies of himself, already swinging their blades.

"Heh. Too slow." Van muttered as he stepped from inside the tortoise's shell with a crystal javelin in tow, quickly multiplying them as he threw them at Kei before the 'Van' that was targetted shattered with a smile upon its face causing the crystal shards to begin raining over Kei.

"Actually, I wasn't." Kei uttered as he stood next to Van, his blade pointed at his back. "Just look." He said as he casually pointed at himself. The Kei getting hit by crystal shards reeled in imaginary pain as it slowly disappeared into nothing. "Gaki Rekkō."

"Byakko." Van muttered with a smile on his face as he turned to look back at the large crystal tiger to begin jumping down in order to maul Kei as Van himself began motioning for the loose crystal particles in the air to begin swirling about his opponent as it began encasing his blade in a light layer of a red substance.

"I think not. " Kei said with a slow murmur. He outstretched his hand and a glowing orb of yellow energy flew out to intercept the tiger. He brought up his blade and stared at it intently. "What are you doing doggy? Unless its a secret." dictated Kei.

"What am I doing? Well....having fun of course? Though...." Van smiled as the crystal shattered upon meeting the energy orb and began raining over Kei. "Why don't you actully start taking me more seriously?"

"I am taking you seriously. Are you taking me seriously as well?" He responded back as he spun his Zanpakuto in a circular motion, blocking the crystal shards. Kei took a step back and outstretched his Zanpakutō in a vertical position. He closed his eyes and muttered "Remember Me, Wasurete Shimatta No Ishiki!" while he moved his hand across the blade. The katana was suddenly enveloped in a red aura, dissipating several seconds later, revealing a large sword with a blood red blade. "Is that more serious for you?" He said, eyeing Raze with a large grin.

"Very much so. In fact I think I will eve--tch." Van stopped as he reached for Ryoiki to no avail. "Heh. I never knew how much I relied on her in battle. No matter." He then crystallizing the air around him forming a elaborate spear in his hand with a tube like shaft. "I still have this."

"Say what you will Doggy." Kei bluntly said, appearing right in front of Van and poised for the strike.

Jousting foward, Van thrusted the crystal spear toward Kei while focusing his weight upon the shaft in order to further the strength behind the maneuver.

Caught by surprise with Van's attack, Kei attempted to deflect with the base of his blade but it only provided momentary protection as it caused him to move backward. At the same time, a sliver of the spear made it past his defense and cut him on the shoulder, much to the Captain's chagrin. "Shit." He huffed before jumping back, clutching the wound.

"Heh. Looks like someone just gon infected." Van muttered during an increasing smirk across his face. "You've finally fallen into my grasp."

"I don't get your meaning. What do you mean by that?" Kei said, turning his head to look at the wound on his shoulder. His facial expression turned into a small scowl, unsure of what the Dog had meant by "infected". "I'll see. And if I'm not infected, I'll wipe that dirty smirk off your face." He ended, with a false sense of security.

"Well, then. I suppose I should get this party started right then." Clasping his hands together then thrusting his right fist toward the Captain, Van caused the remnants of crystal located in the wound to begin growing and flowing over his arm as if his very flesh acted as its fuel.

"What?!" Kei cried out with a gasp, looking at the growing plethora of crystals with horror. He scowled with distaste at the current turn of events and he scratched at the crystals in an attempt to get rid of it. If it used his flesh as a fuel, Kei started to fear for the worst. Thinking quickly on his feet, he placed his free hand on the wound and it started to glow a bright green, using a healing kido to see if it could fix the damage.

The crystal reacted to the kido almost as if it were about to encase it before it suddelly cracked away. "What in the world just happened?" The crystal seemed like it wanted to eat the kido spell." Van thought to himself, momentartily stunned by what had just occurred.

Kei blinked in disbelief at what just happened, giving off the same expression as Van. He then furrowed his brow and stared at the man in front him, slitting his eyes. "...Quite interesting. It seems like the Crystal reactively responds to the spiritual energy of the Kido. " As such, he continued to use the Healing Kido, to see if his theory worked. If that hypothesis was correct, Kei had found a way around Van's crystal manipulation, if that was even possible.

Looking at his crystal for a moment, Van smirked as he tried to crystallize the spell again in order to prevent Kei's healing. "Got you this time!" As he spoke those words, the crystal shattered once more just as it began to reach Kei's spell. "What is going on here?!" Van exclaimed, confused as to why this was occurring. "No matter! Seiryu!" Van's dragon formed behind him and allowed Van to jump aboard before charging toward Kei, crystallizing all in its path as its mouth to gape wider and wider.

"A damn beautiful and mighty dragon you got there Doggy. Its a shame..that I have to destroy it! Kei exclaimed as he charged forward, sword in hand. "I wonder, if it only responds to Healing Kido, or just my spiritual energy." He thought to him as he made it atop of Seiryu. With a downward motion, he thrusted his Shikai into the very being of the crystal creation and ran forward to his opponent, all the while making deep slashing marks on the Dragon. As he reached his target, Kei immediately let go and made a punch aimed directly at Van's face.

Caught off guard by Kei's maneuvers and ease of evading his crystal dragon, Van was stunned allowing the punch to completely overtake him and send him flying off of his crystal construct and into the ground below.. As he rolled on the ground, Van pulled his hand along the earth creating a small spire that he grabbed onto in order to stop his tumbling. "Tch. I'm running out of options, he's learning my tricks and I don't have Ryoiki or Jishaku with me. How in the world am I supposed to beat this guy!?" Van said before spitting out a bit of blood caused by the punch to the face.

"You can't! YOU have to give me everything you have to warrant the necessary changes you wish to see!" Kei said, now louder than before, as he was coming closer and closer to Van. "Manifest! Howaito-Enjeru! His voice echoed across the battlefield as three hulking forms shimmered into existence besides him. Armoured beings they were, adorned with plated wings and they carried a large and dangerous looking lance. Kei pointed his finger at Van and they nodded in response.

Getting visibly angered, Van raised his hands toward the heavens calling many of the crystal particles he had spread around the area to his hand forming a large bisento. "Fine then. Bring it on." Charging toward, the knight-looking warriors, Van parried each blade with his own causing a small portion of each strike to crystallize its target. Flipping through the flurry of strikes toward his body, Van ducked and weaved as he struck one of the armored beings in the torso, crystallizing a portion of it in the process. Facing Kei and the three large beings behind him, Van smiled as he jumped up and formed three javelins in his hands before launching them to pierce the armored attackers through the head.

The armoured attackers came close to each other and brought their hands forward, immediately erecting a large light barrier around them, forestalling the crystal javelins' movement tremendously. However, the damaged figure couldn't stand for long and collapsed, disappearing in a flurry of spiritual particles. The barrier they created became smaller. Kei turned around and with a slash of his blade, a gap appeared. He entered almost immediately and disappeared and was immediately upon Van from the side. His Zanpakuto constantly glowed with a reddish hue and it even became brighter as Kei continued with his attack.

Opening a rift of his own at his side, Van displaced Kei's attack as well as moved the Shinigami away from his position before throwing several crystal javelins after the Captain. "Heh. You aren't too bad. Making me actually work for my win." Van chuckled before charging toward Kei's position himself with crystal broadsword in hand.

As the crystal javelins breezed through the air towards the Kei, they were intercepted by the armoured figures, collapsing onto the ground from the sheer impact. They attempted to stand up but were ultimately consumed by the constantly growing crystal shards. "DAMN STRAIGHT," Kei said aloud as he returned Van's charge. He roared in anticipation, running forward towards Van with his Shikai glowing a bright red.

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