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Substitute In Flames arc

What's In A Name?

"Son of a...!" Ahatake was reeling from the huge physical blow Entenryū had delivered to his person. Such strength in a human....what the hell was this man? "What the hell are you?"

Entenryū spun around by the ball of his foot, swinging his other leg into Ahatake's body, knocking the young man tumbling to the ground. "I have trained my body to its utmost limits. I'm actually impressed that you managed to survive that." It was obvious, through his shadowed eyes, that he was hiding something.

Ahatake was sent barreling into a large tree, which snapped in half upon his own impact with a large crash. However, he stood back up, but instead of making a foolish move like attacking, he ran, running into the trees and away from Entenryū. "This insane bastard! He's trying to kill me!"

"Oh my..." The bird was watching as Ahatake fled. "I think he's gotten scared."

Entenryū ignored Ahatake's foolish attempts at running away, merely translocating through sheer speed in his direction, swinging his fist towards him. "This isn't a test. It's a survival. Until you gain a portion of your power, then I'll smack the soul out of you, boy."

Ahatake jerked his hand over towards his body. "It's a bit late for that you jerk!" He barely managed to duck the physical assault, however, the air pressure sent him crashing to the ground. "Son...of...a..."

Entenryū swung his free foot upwards; aiming a powerful high kick at Ahatake's face the moment that he ducked. "Foolish! One should always analyze the opponent's movements in a battle."

Ahatake felt the blow collect with his head; the crushing force rushing through his body as he crashed through the forest. By now, he was nothing but a ragdoll, and could barely feel his own body. He gripped his sword, however, standing up. "I'm...not done..." Ahatake ran weakly at Entenryū, swinging his blade at the man's head.

Entenryū shouted at him while catching his blade, "Call it's name, Ahatake Kurosaki!" With a single powerful movement, the man unleashed a strong downwards chop, breaking Ahatake's blade in half easily. "Interesting. The blade's technically false. Truly an interesting turnout."

"Wait...it's what?" Ahatake looked perplexed, almost forgetting his blade was chopped right in half. "It's fake? What do you mean?"

Entenryū immediately pointed out, "The Zanpakuto you're using is nothing but a mass of reiatsu acting a sword, that's why it was so easy to break, there's no substance to it. You need a new sword. Your true blade."

Ahatake looked at his sword, confused more still. "My....true....okay, what?" He twirled this blade around his hands. "I thought this was."

Entenryū paused momentarily, holding his hand up to say "stop". "Can you hold on a minute? I've got something to remedy this problem. However, I have to retrieve it first."

Ahatake sighed. "If it will further this, sure." Entenryū walked off as he looked at his broken sword. This sword, the one he'd used for a few months by now, had been fake? It wasn't a huge shock, it was just a sword, right? He waited patiently for Entenryū to return with this supposed "real" sword. In fact, he wanted to know now, what made this sword "fake"?

Moments later, the owner of the Green Dragon Shop returned; holding a silver blade. "Normally, one would need to bond with their sword, and slowly add their reiatsu to it. Not this time. Such a task is too arduous; so this will enable you to bypass such a heavy limitation."

Ahatake looked at it curiously, the boy's eyes alight. "Explain it to me then. What makes my sword a "fake"? This is just a sword, right? I mean, aside from sending people to the afterlife and purifying Hollows, what the hell is it good for anyway?"

Entenryuu immediately pointed out, "That sword is a mass of spiritual power put into the form of a katana. Considering it's Shinigami reiryoku, I suppose it has the ability to use Konsou as well. However, because it's simply reiryoku, and not an actual sword which can resonate with the soul, it has no release or spirit within it."

The boy was only getting more confused as this went on. "What's so special about a Shinigami's sword anyway? Aren't you just supposed to hack away like a dimwit?" The bird, from a distance, laughed.

The Green Dragon assured him, "A Shinigami's sword can evoke its full powers. That mere fabrication cannot. With a mere replica, you will never achieve your full power, Ahatake Kurosaki." His words were sharp, yet truthful.

"...sounds really unnecessary, but, alright." He extended his hand. "I'll take this blade, and see what happens. Whoever came up with this system must have been an idiot."

Entenryū snarked, "No, the person who doesn't understand the system is an idiot. There's nothing wrong with the system itself- it is easy once you get the hang of it."

"I never claimed to be smart." Ahatake's head was still extended. "Fork the thing over already."

The Green Dragon sighed. "Haven't kids heard about respecting their elders these days?" Calmly, he threw the sword towards Ahatake.

Ahatake caught it, panicking for a minute. "What the friggin' heck, you just throw an unsheathed blade at me!? What the he-!" His arm suddenly rose as the blade itself exploded with reiatsu. He stared at it, confused. In his hand, this blade felt like it belonged there. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Entenryū smirk. "So...I suppose now we're back to me running?"

Entenryū laughed for a moment. "Eyup." He was so nonchalant about the whole thing. "So, at least, you're half-way there." His spiritual pressure surged outwards; as he took up a fighting stance. While the exertion of his pressure was faint, it was significant enough to make Ahatake stagger. "You'll try and land a proper hit on me with that sword now."

Ahatake looked at this sword. It felt like it was meant for him, he could feel his reiatsu seeping into the blade as he held it, as if his own power was imprinting upon it. Was this was a Zanpakutō was for? To become an extension of the wielder? He actually had not heard a word Entenryū said; focusing on the blade.

Entenryū sighed. "Are you even listening to me?" Before Ahatake could react- due to focusing on his cool new sword- the Green Dragon kicked off; swinging a powerful haymaker towards the boy's head. "Focus on the battle, not on your new toy."

The blow hit Ahatake square in the jaw, and sent him careening across the forest once more. He grabbed onto a passing tree, which stopped his motion, and rubbed his jaw. "This guy...he's not human...no human punches like a fucking freight."

The Green Dragon leapt back momentarily- analyzing the surroundings for the briefest of moments, figuring out an appropriate course of action. Zipping behind Ahatake, the man swung his leg towards Ahatake's back with a hurricane kick. "Too slow!"

"Dwoh!" Ahatake felt the kick slam him into the ground, and the ground split as the boy actually was forced a few feet under, creating a giant crate, the shockwave of which ripped trees apart. Inside the crater, he was beginning to feel a bit of panic. "What...what the hell am I doing wrong..." He groaned. "What was that he said? Call it's name? What name?"

The Green Dragon paused for a moment. "...What. How do you not know it's name? It's your sword. It should tell you it's name." He actually stopped attacking Ahatake, waiting for him to listen.

"A...name..." Ahatake frowned.

"That's right." A voice resounded throughout his head, and before long he was suddenly immersed in shadows, finding himself standing once again in the grounds of the large castle. He looked around, relieved. "So...everything got fixed."

"You're correct." The voice was familiar and he soon saw that it belonged to the woman he had met just recently, standing before him once again in nothing but loose bandages. "I think you'll be more receptive now."

"Receptive...? To what?" Ahatake was confused for probably the fifth time in a day.

"It would appear my owner really is an idiot." She sighed. "The sword you hold now. It's been filled with your reiatsu. While the process is much quicker than before, you are now holding your genuine Zanpakutō. I think you will be able to hear my name now."

"Your na-what the hell?"

"I'll explain it later. The man is coming for you. He will kill you if you cannot heed my words."

Ahatake's conciousness suddenly snapped right back into the real world, in time to see Entenryū, whose patience had waned, lunging for him. He gripped his sword, making a stance, and felt a hand on his shoulder. "Say it. Now."

Focusing, Ahatake breathed in, and felt the words he needed come to his mind. "Blaze! Katenare!" With a massive surge of flaming reiatsu, Entenryū himself had to stop short before he got caught up in it, eyes wide as the reiatsu formed a massive pillar which shot into the artificial sky, shattering it to a degree as several trees caught flame. In his hand was a blade, glowing orange with flames flickering off of it gently. He looked at it, surprised by what this was.

Entenryū stood back, impressed. "Brave, kiddo. The last horse crosses the finish line." Taking a few more steps back, the Green Dragon disengaged his spiritual pressure- which no longer emitted a suffocating feeling. "You passed the test."

"So...ignoring the flaming forest for a minute..." He gestured around to the trees now burning and crumbling around him. "What did I just do?"

Entenryū explained simply, "You unleashed the first stage of your sealed power. Right now...you have the strength to save that person. However...perhaps it may not be enough. Maybe you want to unlock your full power?"

Ahatake shook his head. "I think this should be enough for the moment. I'm on even terms now with that dude who took me down." He breathed in for a minute. "Let's move onto what's next, right?"


Yuriko collapsed on the ground, exhausted and breathing heavily. She cast a weary eye at Gaikou and Kayla, who both looked equally exhausted. "I think, for today, we're done here. You both actually aren't bad for such young people."

Gaikou glared at Yuriko, thouroughly irked. "She looks about one third my damn age and she just ran circles around me...how the hell is that possible!?" She hissed to herself, as her body returned to being limp after such rigorous training.

Kayla groaned, unable to move. "I feel tired....I just want to collapse...." She hadn't even taken note of the fact that this girl who looked about as young as the rest of them had called them "young people", never mind the fact that she herself was about 50.

Gaikou struggled to stand up- repeatedly falling over. "Damn it all..." It seemed that neither of them were learning at all from this experience. "...It seems that we're stuck in the cannon fodder folder, huh? So soon, too. That's kinda sad."

"Not at all." Yuriko smiled. "This training will help you keep up with everyone." Her smile softened. "It's so nice, to see youngsters like yourself really pull your own weight..."

Gaikou gave her a half-hearted smile. "...Blaah. I've never been a fan of training. It's so much easier to get power when you're sitting on your ass and getting pestered by stupid women who snort crack."

"The world doesn't work like that." The Quincy woman stood up again, dusting herself off before manifesting her bow once more. "Even if life gives you the lemons, to make the lemonade you'll need to get the sugar and water yourself." She raised her bow up at her new protégés. It was going to be a brutal training session.

END

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