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Substitute In Flames arc

Yuriko Tomomi was currently under fire from a barrage of glowing blue arrows; however, she dodged each and every one of them with ease, and raised a thin bow made of pure energy. Yuriko was a Quincy. Pulling, she let loose one simple spirit arrow towards her current opponent, Gaikou Ryuusei, who seemed as if she was rather worse for wear.

"You're not much of a Quincy, are you?" Yuriko was surprisingly serious as she belittled Gaikou. "If our ancestors from 200 years ago could see what you've reduced the Quincy to, they would be ashamed."

Gaikou spat; "Shut it! Like a give a damn about some old farts and their "legacy". I'm here, and that's all that matters. The present is what matters; nobody gives a damn about the past. Move on. Get over it." She stood to her feet, aiming her gauntlet towards Yuriko and firing a powerful blast.

Yuriko dodged with acrobatic ease, before appearing behind Gaikou. "Perhaps that's your problem. You reject everything about the past, and yet, you can't properly look forward either." Her had shrunk, and was pointed towards Gaikou's head. "In a real match, you'd be dead right now."

Kayla was watching all this with curiosity. What was this girl?

"Whatever. The future and present is what's important. I don't give two shits about the past. Nothing's gonna change that." She used Hirenkyaku to reappear behind Yukiko, throwing a powerful punch.

The punch collided, however, Yuriko did not budge. What was this durability? She turned, pointing her shrunken bow at Gaikou. "You're not decisive enough!" She launched a single arrow at the woman from point blank range.

The Castle

"GWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGH!" Ahatake's spiritual pressure only kept increasing as the mask began to form around his face. However, the true Hollowfication had not yet begun, nor had the process even started correctly.

"What's going on?" The bird landed on Entenryū's shoulder. "This doesn't look right."

Entenryuu dusted his clothes off. "It's something new, probably. Usually a soul disperses, and reforms as a Hollow , with the mask forming last. This is...different. I didn't expect it. Either way, it shall be interesting."


"Where....am I?" Ahatake opened his eyes, awakening in what appeared to be a large stone corridor. "What the..." He got up, looking around. He had certainly never seen this place before...had he? "I should walk around..." As he walked, he noticed the entire corridor was lit by torch light. Apparently, electricity was not a thing wherever he was. Was thing one of those old English castles? 

"I think I'm losing my mind." He groaned as he walked over to a window, and was greeted by a breathtaking view. Whever he was, it seemed to be in a valley area — surrounding by a ring of mountains — and from where he was standing, he could see a large forest up ahead, and what looked like the edge of a very large lake. No place like this existed in Japan, certainly. He continued to walk, alone with his own thoughts. He walked past multiple paintings, and he had to commend the artists, the art was wonderful — what surprised him was that the people inside were moving — he flinched for a minute as one of the paintings shouted at him "Stand and fight, you scurvy braggart, you rogue!"   in what sounded like English.

"Damn moonspeak!" Ahatake called back as he continued walking. From what he could tell, he was at one of the higher levels of this building. He moved towards, and descended down, a spiral staircase, and kept moving, switching to a marble staircase, until he reached what he could only assume was the ground floor. How did he know all this? He looked up into the cieling, and saw candles simply floating there. Was this all just because of some acid tablet he'd misplaced, and then swallowed thinking it was aspirin because Gaikou gave him a headache? Was he even real? He was beginning to question the legitimacy of everything as he pushed open two giant oak front doors. 

He stepped out into the cool night air, breathing it in. For air on the outside, it was certainly delicious. As he walked, he spared a look behind him and saw the building he had come from was a truly gargantuan castle, about seven stories high from his own personal guestimate. He turned his back on it as he walked across the castle grounds. Even outside, it was a beautiful sight. He could see the towering trees from the forest, a small wooden hut on the horizon, however, his interest lay in the giant lake, and thus, he turned in that direction, moving south of the castle. He reached the lake, and took a seat for a minute, taking a look at it. The lake was about half a mile in diameter, and he could see the mountains once again in the horizon.

"Wasn't I suppose to be doing something?" Were his thoughts as he looked into the calm waters. He looked into the waters for a minute, and what surprised him was the sight that greeted his eyes. A young woman with long black hair, pale skin, and black eyes looking back at him. He rubbed his eyes for a minute, and looked again. His reflection was back to normal. "Mother?" The reflection reminded him of her, so much, though it had looked like her younger years. What the hell was this place? "Whatever it is, I get a feeling the answer is in the castle."

He strode back across the grounds, opening the great oak doors once more as he stepped into the grandeur of the castle. Something, he didn't know what, told him to head towards the third floor, and he followed this instinct. He was soon confronted by a gargoyle, whose menacing expression seem to put him off for a minute. 

"Password?"

"Oh you've got to be kidding me." Ahatake groaned in exasperation, but started to think. Suddenly, he felt a jolt, like an earthquake. "What the...!?" He turned around for a minute, as if expecting to see something, but the shaking did not stop, in fact, it intensified, and he could now hear cracking. Was this place falling apart? He knew, however, that he needed to get past this gargoyle. "I don't know! Bacon! Lemon pledge! Immigration reform! Blaze!" The gargoyle seemed to register with the rambling of nonsense, or perhaps it had been the last word that did it, but it soon revealed to him a spiralling staircase, and he ran towards it. He began to ascend, impatiently tapping his foot as if trying to make the staircase spiral faster, and, impatiently, open the door he was greeted with.

The Blade and Me

It was here where Ahatake stopped dead, distracted by his panic at the crumbling building when he saw this room in particular. Out of everything he'd seen in this mysterious castle, this was by far the most interesting sight. The room was large, circular and beautiful, and he could hear odd noises. He could see several silver instruments standing atop tables, emitting noises and strange puffs of smoke. As with the rest of the castle, he saw painting and portraits in here, which had moving individuals, though they happened to be asleep, not that he cared. In the center appeared to be a large desk with a shelf behind it, as well as a large chair which seemed to be turned away from him.

"What....is this place?"

"Your core." A female voice. Coming from the chair. "This room, here, is your core. You could consider it the center of this world."

"This world?" Ahatake looked curious. "I wasn't aware I was in a new world."

"You also aren't aware of how to solve basic high school algebra, but that's no fault of mine." So the voice was a smartass. Ahatake was quickly reawakened by another jolting feeling, the quaking intensifies.

"Oh that's right, death is upon us." The chair spun around, revealing a woman clad in only loose bandages with pale skin, a moderate chest, and dark hair. Ahatake blinked. This looked an awful lot like the reflection he saw in the waters of the lake. "It's nice to meet you face to face, bōya. My name is —."

Ahatake blinked again. Whatever she said, he had missed it. The woman sighed. "So you still can't hear it. Understandable I suppose. With this world falling apart, it is only natural your ears would be plugged from me."

"Fa-falling apart!?" Ahatake's eyes widened at this statement. "What the....!?"

"Oh stop with the whining." She stood up for a moment, and Ahatake almost covered his eyes. Certainly the loose bandages she wore would fall off, and the last thing he needed was so unfamiliar girl killing him for seeing her nude in a unfamiliar place. "And stop that." She ordered, and he removed his hands from his eyes. Well, her "clothing" was intact. "Your task is simple. Find your Shinigami powers, and do it now, before this world falls apart."

"What happens when it does?"

"You will become a Hollow." Her answer was grave, but blunt, as if this didn't affect her at all. "Every Shinigami has a world like this, deep within their soul. It is part of your consciousness, and contains the secrets your soul holds from you. You could even consider it part of your true instincts. A Hollow, however, who wear their instincts as a mask, cannot possess a world like this. When you hollowfy, you will lose everything — this world, your individuality, everything that makes you who you are." She started to fade, and Ahatake felt a jolt, larger than before. He looked outside, and saw everything was quickly collapsing, fading, falling into blackness.

"Find me, and pull me out!" Her voice sounded throughout the area.

Ahatake groaned. "How the hell am I supposed to find my "power" in a place like this!?" His eyes traveled across the circular room, from the desk to the perch that was obviously meant for a bird that wasn't here. "Where....where....where!?" And then it hit him....he could still feel for spiritual energy. All of his power wasn't gone, he had that basic ability left. He closed his eyes, breathing, and working to calm his speeding heart rate and pulse. He wouldn't be able to feel anything if he wasn't at peace inside his own head. "Where...." He expanded his senses across the room, and he felt something from behind the desk, int he shelf. Quickly, he ran over to it, and reached for what appeared to be a large stone basin — how it fit into a shelf was beyond him — and placed it on the table. It was filled with a silvery substance that could be either liquid or gas, Ahatake couldn't tell, and at this point, didn't care. He thrust his arm into the basin, surprised that it went farther in than such a thing should allow, and he felt his hand close around a hilt.

"Allons-y!" He cried, and wrenched his sword from the depths of this container. The woman appeared before him again, and there was a soft smile on her face. "I must say I'm surprised. You didn't screw this up at all. Now! Go! Before it's too late!" Ahatake nodded, and he felt himself began to vanish, but not before something caught his attention within the office — the basin, from which he just pulled the blade, it appeared to be a glowing, as if calling to him. Before he could do anything about it, however, he felt himself pushed from his world.

Back in Black

The bird was still resting on top of Entenryū's shoulders, and it cast an eye on Ahatake, whose Hollowfication seemed to be nearing completion. "The dimwit is failing, Entenryū. You put too much stock in someone like him."

Entenryū smirked wily. "Aha, but you see, it's yet to begin. My faith was never given out to Ahatake Kurosaki in vain."

"He's fully Hollowfying, Entenryū." The bird seemed a bit worried at this point. The huge increase in spiritual pressure....what was he about to become? "What will you do if it's too late?"

Just watch. This is the moment, where everything goes all according to plan." Entenryuu did nothing to prevent Hollowification; merely watching. "...You will be surprised. Amazed, even. It's about to get good."

"GWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGH!" With one final shout, there was a massive explosion, erasing a small part of the forest as the spiritual column rose, and the bird's eyes widened. "What the ...?"

A flaming figure jumped out of the column, landing close to Entenryū and the bird. As the flames died down, Ahatake was revealed with his Zanpakutō holstered on his shoulder, clad in his shihakushō — and wearing a pure white Hollow's mask.

Entenryū clapped his hands, impressed by Ahatake's result. "Hahahaha." Uncharacteristically, he laughed; though it was subdued. "Very nice, very nice indeed. I'm amazed, Ahatake."

Ahatake raised a hand to his face, removing the mask that he was wearing. He cast an glance toward it as he cast it away, before turning towards Entenryū. "So....I'm a Shinigami again..." He grasped the hilt of his Zanpakutō. "So....you set a wild beast on me...then nearly turn me into one myself....while I certainly grateful that I have my own powers back, you know I can't exactly let you off the hook?"

Entenryuu smirked and threatened in a seemingly serious tone "Hehe. You know, that even with your new power, I can break you like a worthless matchstick? Place one hand on me, the shoulder of the Green Dragon, and you shall know true suffering. However, I am a merciful man."

Ahatake flinched for a minute. He had a feeling the man wasn't kidding, and resolved to beat his face in when he became stronger instead. "Fine, fine, what's next then?"

"So, he's not as much of a dimwit as I thought..." The bird's eyes were focused on him as it's thoughts flashed. Whatever it thought of Ahatake, it didn't seem to like him.

"The first stage is complete. Now!" He raised his arm. "Onto the second stage. Your sword has a second form. What you have now is the basic form. To use its power, you must go higher! And before you ask, "how do I do that?"..." WHAM! The Green Dragon slammed his fist into Ahatake's face, bowling him over. "I think you know what to do."

END

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