Kazuo awoke in a thin-cushioned cot serving as a gurney in the 4th Division's Hospital sector of Seireitei. His head was fuzzy, his vision swam, and the nearby presence of his zanpakutō, Fukuzai Kaimei, buzzed thrillingly in the back of his subconscious.
"What...happened?" he thought to himself, blinking his eyes and taking in a deep breath that threatened to be a yawn. As he began to move, he realized he was tied down.
"He's awake!" cried a voice... familiar and yet Kazuo's mind could not grasp on to a face to remember it by. There was the sound of shoeless footpads running down a hardwood-floored hallway, and Kazuo snapped jerkily into sobriety.
An alarm rose around Sereitei, the Vizor traitor Kazuo had escaped from his prison cell in the fourth Division's hospital sector. No injuries or deaths had been confirmed, but he had swiftly and silently managed to leave his cell with all the walls and doorways intact. Rumors flew hard and fast, and doubtless the previous captain's successor and best friend, Kuroi, had an inkling of where to find the fugitive.
Kazuo fled past the Seretei's sixth Gate, along secret corridors known to precious few. His life as a Shinigami had always been full of secrets like these. His former rank, his standing, his power, all kept in the shadows, to keep the element of surprise should the need arise.
He mused to himself silently as he leapt into the treeline, his feet falling upon the branches of the thick canopy. Therough the darkness, his path was clear. He'd travelled this path for so long, he would know it with his eyes closed, though his sight pierced the darkness like a hot knife. The wind cooled his flushed cheeks as he sped along. He was almost there.
Then it happened.
A rush of powerful Reiatsu washed over him, breaking his subconscious concentration and nearly sending him tumbling out of the trees. He had arrived, and there was no mistaking who was there to meet him.
He leapt from the trees and into a clearing, cleaved in two by the path of a clear, blue stream. He'd sat at his banks for hours on end over the years, with the very man who stood before him.
Kuroi smiled at him from under his wide brimmed bamboo shade. He stood, leaned against the trunk of a birch tree, his bare arms folded nonchalantly across his compactly muscled chest. Some people found it disrespectful when Kuroi would acknowledge their presence without turning to face them, but it had never bothered Kaz. He didn't mind at all. That was just Kuroi's way. In fact, he found this intimate knowledge soothing. Without so much as the drawing of breath, Kuroi spoke, his tone calm...soothing.
"Well, you sure managed to **** Soi-Fon off. She never knew about your Shadow Step, did she?"
Kuroi scoffed, his eye wandered subconsciously toward the glint of Bakudai Moui, Kuroi's silvery Zampakuto, hanging loosely at his hip. He'd seen demons of unfathomable power felled at the tip of that sword. As he spoke, Kasuo wondered if it was now his turn to face it. He would, if it came to it, but not without regret.
"Soi-Fon seems to be the least of my worries today, old friend."
Kuroi's lips turned upward in another half-smile.
"Seems like it. You shouldn't have run Kaz. It looks bad. If you go fugitive, who else is gonna take that ****ed Captain's Coat from me? Vizard or no, you're the one supposed to be wearin it."
Kaz chuckled. Kuroi had never cared much for rank. Kaz had been the one who saw the Master's vision, and Kuroi, as good and trustworthy as he was, as worthy as he was of the title of Captain, never cared for anything beyond exacting his revenge upon the Hollows who'd taken so very much from him. Kaz never did quite understand why Kuroi had stayed in the 14th squad, given his personal mission, but Kaz had always been grateful for his aid, and his council.
Kuroi hefted himself from the treetrunk, as if it had been a great effort to do so. Lazily, his palm settled upon Bakudai Moui's leather-wrapped handle. As if Kaz would fail to notice. Kuroi turned to his centuries old friend, his smile fading.
"You know I won't let them hurt you, as long as I wear the Coat, my word counts for something with them, and I'll use anything I must to see you unharmed. Just come in Kaz. Come in with me before Soi-Fon and the others make a bunch of blasted trouble. Whaddya say?"
Kazuo looked puzzled. “Kuroi, how could you say that at a time like this?” he asked, his look scathing. “Byakuya's sister has been given the death penalty, we can't afford to sit around. I don't have time to spend on your 'Vizard' thing, whatever that is.”
Kuroi matched Kazuo's puzzled expression for a few moments, before understanding dawned on his face. Apparently Kazuo couldn't remember anything that had happened in the past year, since Rukia had been imprisoned and sentenced to the death penalty.
“Kazuo... you don't remember? Any of it?” asked Kuroi.
“Huh?” responded Kazuo, even more confused. “What... what are you talking about?”
“Kaz – that was over a year ago. Since then...” he trailed off. Where to begin?
“But Aizen tipped us off, we were to investigate Hitsugaya's conspiracy...”
“Aizen WAS the conspiracy. We were fooled. Since then... a lot has happened, Kaz.”
Kazuo's head swam, and he slumped back against an elm behind him, completely taken aback. Kuroi hopped the river with incredible ease, and sat next to his dear friend, staring off into space.
“Come back with me, Kaz... we'll get this sorted out.” said Kuroi, still staring off. It was not a plea, nor a command... but a suggestion from a good friend.
Kazuo blinked and sat silent for a moment, and then shook his head.
“I'm sorry Kuroi... I can't. I'm no good to anyone in this state, I mean; I don't even know what happened, or what...” he shuddered at the thought, “what I might have done...”
The two shared a moment of quiet thought.
“Hmm?” grunted the captain.
“Help me remember...”
“Help me remember, the old-fashioned way...” begged Kazuo, standing suddenly and gripping the hilt of his zanpakutō. “The same way we fought together to fashion and hone our powers to gain your revenge on the hollow, let our blades clash - and clear the rust from my mind.”
He drew the silvery blade, and held it in ready position, it's edge pointed at his friend.
“Please, friend... I need my blood flowing, my powers awakened... Only you can help me now."
::Kuroi remained silent for a moment. in the years he'd known him, Kaz had never seen Kuroi act rashly, or without thought.::
"I remember those days...looking back...it seems as though the sun hasn't shined since the days we spent here. As though happiness has since lost it's vibrance...."
::Kaz smiled as Kuroi's fingers clenched around Badukai Moui's handle, slowly drawing it. It's silvery blade glistened brightly even in the low light. Kaz remembered how even though his Zampakuto was like everyone else's while not released, it had a silvery aspect that outshined most others. Now, as he stand before it again, drawing his own Zampakuto, a wave of calm washed over him, mirroring Kuroi's relaxed, but ready stance.
"Thank you, my friend, for returning to us. Let's see what we can sort out."
In half an instant, Kuroi had advanced, using Flash Step, and the two Zampakuto sang as they clashed at the level of their chests. Kaz smiled into the shade where Kuroi's hidden eyes must be.
"No...thank you, my friend."
With that, Kuroi smiled, and his Zampakuto lunged upward, bringing Kaz's arms and sword with it. Kaz could feel the top of Kuroi's foot slam into his unprotected side. There hadn't been much force to the blow, just the affirmation that he had indeed landed it. In an instant, Kuroi was slipping to his rear, and Kaz spun to again catch Badukai Mou's downward slash. Kuroi smiled.
"Don't tell me your time away has dulled your speed Kaz...this'd be no fun at all."
“Naah,” sad Kaz, grinning as both blades clashed again. “I just want you to feel you are doing well.”
And with that, Kazuo swung his sword in a large circular motion, flinging aside Kuroi's thrust and creating an opening. He seized this opportunity with a swift snap-kick to his opponent's chest, who let loose a light “Whoop-” as he staggered slightly to regain his balance. Kaz leapt forward into action, diving into the ground and seizing it with both hands, gaining leverage to swing his entire body in a large sweeping parallel the damp forest floor.
His legs clashed against his staggering opponent's ankles, sweeping them smoothly out from beneath him, forcing Kuroi to topple unceremoniously to the ground. His large bamboo hat fluttered off his head and landed a few feet away. With that out of the way, Kazuo's foot drove into the dirt like an anchor, and his leg muscles tightened as he supplied plenty of strength to pounce upward, his Zanpakuto held along his forearm with the blade outward, and in a split second Kuroi lay panting on his back with Fukuzai Kaimei's tip held at his throat. His own sword lay a mere foot from his grasp while Kazuo stood threateningly poised above him.
Kazuo smiled, and offered his companion a hand.
“Are we warmed up yet?” Kaz offered, helping his friend to his feet. “Your smooth head isn't as bright with sweat as I'd prefer...”
“I'd almost forgotten,” said Kuroi as he picked his blade up, “How freely you dance about when you're just yourself.”
Kazuo blinked, and his eyebrows twitched. “Wha-?”
Kuroi's arms stretched at his sides, and in one hand, Badukai Moui's handle slipped, and into the other fled the brim of his bamboo shade, which he smoothly reapplied to his head with a snort and a smile, bringing the unsharpened back of the blade to rest against his shoulder, the tip pointed toward the heavens.
"Nevermind for now, let's just dance some more."
With that, Kuroi's Zampakuto whirled at furious speed with his advance, it's sparkling essence a spiralling blur which Kaz could barely see correctly. A horizontal swipe came from the whirling pattern, and though Kaz could feel the absence of weight put into the strike, he hadn't time to counter as Kuroi let his leverage slip and, sliding his foot behind Kazuo's ankle, sent a swift elbow into his abdomen. The blow combined with a sweeping of Kuroi's foot sent Kaz spinning in midair, barely able to parry the three diagonal slices sent his way. It took precise concentration to land again on his feet, and seeking a moment to reorient himself, Kaz stepped back a few feet, holding a hand out to ahlt his friend while he took a breath.
Kuroi chuckled and with his free hand resecured his shade under his chin.
"There now...that's the dancer I remember."
[COLOR="Navy"]Kazuo staggered, for in the instant that Kuroi had caught him off-guard, something sparked in his mind. A memory, the clouds of Hueco-Mundo dark and writhing overhead, and Kuroi, in that same stance, standing opposite him. But his face was not smiling as it was under the trees just a moment before. It was deeply afflicted, darkened with sadness, and grim with determination.
[color="lightgreen"]"There now...that's the dancer I remember."[/COLOR] These words brought him back to reality.
[COLOR="lightgreen"]"You're wearing the captain... wait... you found your bankai?"[/COLOR]
Wasting no more time with words, and convinced that this was the true path to his memories of what had happened, Kazuo flung himself back into the fray. He sprinted at his opponent, hand at his zanpakuto's hilt in a drawing position. Kuroi settled his stance firmly, sword held at the ready as his former captain advanced. Here it was, Kazuo's favorite opening attack, the Ghost Flicker.
Kuroi watched carefully, wanting to judge his own growth in his ability to see the move he had never been able to read. Adrenaline pumped coarsely through him, his heart beating faster with anticipation. This was an opportunity, something that brought a fire into his limbs and excitement to his face. Kazuo was going to take this seriously, and Kuroi was thrilled.
"Here it comes,"[/COLOR] he thought, as Kazuo stepped, then vanished. Kuroi turned, slashing out horizontally to the left. But too late. Kazuo's blade, Fukizai Kurayami, had released into it's true form, and Kazuo, after a quick goose-step in his sprint, had melted into darkness.
[COLOR="red"]"Still not fast enough!"[/COLOR] the voice came from behind Kuroi, and as he spun around to react, Kazuo's right foot clashed with the side of his left knee, jolting Kuroi into a twisted sideways position toward Kazuo. But Kazuo didn't stop with just one kick, leveraging his weight against Kuroi he ran up Kuroi's stomach and chest, smashing his shoulder-blades down in a crushing double-booted kick that sent him sailing into the air.
As Kuroi crumpled downward from the attack, still not hitting the ground, Kazuo spun into a somersault in mid-air, his zanpakuto materializing in his fists as he brought them down in a full-strength slash upon Kuroi's left shoulder. It cut deep, cleaving past the collar bone and damaging the top part of his rib cage. Blood flowed freely as Kazuo kicked at Kuroi's chest, his body unsticking from and sliding off the blade to slump to the ground.[/COLOR]
[COLOR="Cyan"]::Kuroi hadn't so much as breathed the entire time. All his focus bieng in the moment, in the pain, in the thrillin pleasure of it all. As Fukizai Kurayami cane crashing through his shoulder from above, Kaz could almost hear a hint of glee in Kuroi's breath as his mungs evacuated. And, much more telling, he could feel Kuroi jutting his shoulder upward, into the blow. Kaz kicked hard, wary of an immediate rebuttal, but apparently he'd done enough to stun his friend and oponent, who fell through the air to the rear.::
::Just before he would have hit the ground, however, Kuroi's left fist slammed hard intop the grass, rattling the landscape and bringing him upright again as quickly as he had fallen, leaving an arcing trail of blood in his wake. Kuroi grinned, his teeth seeming sharper. He chuckled, his voice taking on a hint of ruddy whisky and deepening in tone.::
"Who said anything about...cough..bieng fast? Fast is a very relative term, my Captain!"
::Kuroi lifted his left arm, his shoulder popping and oozing blood, all seemingly to Kuroi's delight. As Kaz remembered, Kuori could give Captain Kenpachi lessons in true sadomasochism. This, was what his friend lived for. A laughing Kuroi tossed Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui lightly into the air, it's black-steel blade glistening in the midday sun. Kazuo's eyes went wide. No real time to charge. He knew exactly what was coming.::
[COLOR="Magenta"]Oh ****, Sankonpaku...!"[/COLOR]
"Split! Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui!"
::At his words, Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui rent itself into three separate blades, each interlocking at it's ringed pommel with it's counterparts. All three weapons became one, spinning like a humongous black shuriken. This came crashing into Kazuo's waiting defenses like a hurricane. He'd had to put up a concerted amount of effort to halt it's spin, but kept an eye warily upon Kuroi, who controlled it's movements with his hands. With a flick of his wrist, Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui's spin immediately reversed, throwing Kaz's defenses to the heavens and slicing through his right shoulder. It rocketed away and crashed once again through the soft tissues of his right side before zipping toward Kuroi, who effortlessly caught the weapon at it's center.::
"Just remember Kaz, you're the one who upped the anty...and yes...I do have Bankai now."
::With that, Kuroi tossed Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui once again into the air and let it sail several yards above them, before slicing downward again toward Kaz, it's high pitched whirring a signal of impending doom.::[/COLOR]
Kazuo swiftly thrust his sword downward, temporarily abandoning his guard. The sword's tip grazed the ground lightly, and immediately he was sucked downward as if into the forest floor, and came up simultaneously behind Kuroi. Kurayami sang upward in an arc that clung to Kuroi's spine and lifted him from the ground. Kazuo spun sideways and lifted Kuroi with him on his blade, swinging his comrade over his head and down into the ground, face-first. A long, gaping gash was left across Kuroi's back, from left shoulder blade to lower right hip, his kimono now a pathetic ragged result of the damage.
The large shurikan-like weapon flung through the air at Kazuo, but struck nothing as he vanished into the ground again. He materialized once again in Kuroi's shadow as he attempted to rise. Kazuo fluidly shot out of the shadow like a bat from hell, his knee rocketing into Kuroi's temple. Before Kuroi could fall, Kazuo spun quickly, slamming the side of his leg into Kuroi's cheek with a powerful roundhouse that sent him smashing uncerimoniously sideways into a tree.
[COLOR="lightgreen"]"Speed IS power, my friend." [/COLOR]said Kaz as he casually ducked beneath the flying shurikan-swords. [COLOR="lightgreen"]"Thus came the age-old meaning of the word, 'quickening'. And speaking of quickenings, I suggest you bust out your bankai if you don't plan on occupying the hospital bed I just broke out of."[/COLOR]
[COLOR="Cyan"]::Kuroi's body sang through the air with the speed of a rocket, and the great trunk of the tree he made impact with buckled with the force of the blow, teetering heavily before fallong backward, clattering and crashing upon it's neighbors. Kuroi fell from the impact onto the ground, left shoulder first, and Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui fell from the air, it's leading edge sinking into the ground with a thud. Kuroi turned onto his back, coughing blood and gore. Kaz, feeling a twich of regret, stepped forward, allbeit tentatively. His face quickly tightened, however, as Kuroi's death-rattle intensified into a sickening, sinister laughter, filled with feral, guttoral glee. Her hoisted himself up on hands and knees, blood dribbling from his mouth, his laughter doubling him over as if he were retching.::
"Oh Kaz, so much has changed since you left...Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui and I have grown so much. My Zampakuto and I have taught each other so many things! For instance..."
::Kaz puzzled as his old friend spoke, one eyebrow raised with curiosity until suddenly a geyser of pure agony erupted at the small of his back, feeling as though his spine were bieng pulled through his navel.::
"...I didn't know until recently that my Sankonpaku attack can produce more than three blades at a time."
::Writhing with pain, Kaz looked down, and saw a single blade from Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui jutting from his belly. Instinctively his eyes leapt to where the original Sankonpaku had buried itself, all three interlocking blades intact. It was then that the blade impaling him began to twist, rending a hole through his midsection as it retreated the way it had come, transposing it's spin and slamming itself flatly against Kaz's temple, sending him violently aground before leaping to and interlocking with it's fellows, seemingly bringing life back to the entire weapon. As it rose and positioned itself between himself and Kuroi, Kaz couldn't help but feel amazed. Kuroi had never put much thought into masking his reiatsu, but this attack had truly come from nowhere. Kuroi surely had grown. But within himself, Kaz could feel his own soul trembling with power, and thirsting for blood.::
:As Kuroi stumbled weakly to his feet, his wounds positively pouring blood. The expression on his face matched the vicious roaring Kaz could feel resonating from his own spirit. This was what Kuroi lived for. He wouldn't have it any other way. And Kaz could tell he was going full-bore. there would be no mercy.::
"I hope you start remembering things soon, there wont be much of you left after much more of this Kaz. Even Ikaku had to yield after I did that to him."[/COLOR]
[COLOR="Navy"]Kazuo was indeed impressed. A year had most certainly gone by, and if anything had been evidence, this was it. And even so, this year had marked much more than a year's growth in Kuroi's power. And yet, Kazuo smiled as his left hand clutched at his open stomach wound.
[COLOR="lightgreen"]"Good thing you've got more to show me, my friend, or I'd feel too bad about not holding back."[/COLOR]
Kazuo pointed Fukizai at Kuroi's chest, and the silvery blade was overcome with a shadow deeper than the black of both warriors' shinigami uniforms. Tendrils of inky black smoke wafted from the blade, coiling about Kazuo's arms and drifting about his limbs toward the ground, like the steamy smoke from a bucket of dry ice in water.
Kazuo began to shake with anticipation and excitement. As both warriors stood, bleeding from their wounds, not a grimace of pain remained on either face. Only fascination and determination towards the battle which had just begun to awaken.
A hand of black energy shot out, seeping deep into Kuroi's flesh. Jolts of purplish lightning coiled about him, wrapping him entirely as they flicked between his limbs in an exciting dance of death. From the inside, his flesh began to deteriorate at the wound in his chest, dead from contact with the anti-energy.
Muscles twitched and flexed involuntarily from electric shock, and he collapsed to the ground. But before he hit it, Kuroi materialized beneath him once more, his fist rocketing in a high uppercut. It caught Kuroi in the chin, smashing him upwards in a ridiculous spinning motion. One Ghost-flicker later, Kazuo was above Kuroi, a good twenty feet above ground, spinning like a top. He thrust his leg out in a brutal kick that, with the aid of gravity, sent Kuroi from the apex of his arc into the air in a straight line into the dirt, head-first.
Kazuo landed lightly four feet away. Kuroi writhed in pain that came from something other than the awful melee that had formed the crater in which he now lay. The inky blackness that had shot into his chest had coarsed all through his veins, contaminating flesh as it went. And now it materialized as Kazuo's zanpakuto once more, the hilt jutting from the wound in Kuroi's flesh.
Kazuo stumbled from the weakness of his own wounds, combined with the output of energy. He fell to one knee, gripped the hilt with both hands, and wrenched it from his companion's chest. It was coated in both slick and congealed blood, but he held it aloft. Once upon a time he would never have gone this far out against his training companion, but these times called for greater measures - he knew Kuroi would take it, and in order to reach greater heights, sacrifices must be made.
[COLOR="lightgreen"]"Show it to me,"[/COLOR] whispered Kazuo under his breath, [COLOR="lightgreen"]"Your... bankai..." [/COLOR][/COLOR]
[COLOR="MediumTurquoise"]::Kuroi, thoroughly devastated by his Captain's unorthodox attack, was likewise thoroughly thrilled, his hoarse laughter echoing among the trees around them. He hefted himself onto all fours, vomiting blood and bile onto the ground.::
"Oh...my dear Kaz....I didn't need Bankai to...kick Kenpachi's ***...and I won't need it to beat...you!"
::With a speed even Kaz wouldn't have expected him still to possess, Kuroi's hand leapt before him, and Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui's four blades parted, swirling around one another in a violently spinning cyclone of black steel. This fled toward Kaz like a rocket, enveloping him in a whirlwind of swinging swords. Neither flash step, nor finely tuned reflexes could keep time with the onslought, and the tips of Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui's blades licked at his shoulders, his chest, his legs, each successive blow seeming to dig deeper into his flesh. The speed and momentum of the attack seemed to carry him into the air, as he struggled to stem the tides of pain wracking his legs, his arms, his entire body.::
::Then, suddenly, all four blades fled toward one target, entangling the blade of his own Zampakuto, and in one wrenching motion, flung the blade from his hand, and immediately spun tip-over-pommel at him, slicing deeply into his fully exposed chest with a force that cleaved flesh and bone alike, and sent him rocketing to earth with a resounding boom, and obscuring him in a thick brown cloud of dust. Kuroi struggled to take a knee, and bade the blades at his command to settle into a defensive pattern between himself and Kaz. He watched warily with his one good eye for any sign of stirring, and wondered absently, hoping against hope that this might be the end. Though, if Kaz wanted to see his Bankai, he would have to work for it.::[/COLOR]
[COLOR="Navy"]Vomit and blood spattered across the cratered ground as the captain raised himself. A thin smile lit his face after he retched, wiping the blood from his lips.
[COLOR="lightgreen"]"Well, technically, Kenpachi wasn't even a captain at the time... that was long before his eyepatch days. And besides, it's thanks to me he doesn't even remember that fight, otherwise he'd know the person who caused the desire for bloodlust and revenge in his mind."[/COLOR]
Kazuo clutched his knee and stood, his bleeding stopping. As he spoke, he felt about his body with his reiatsu, testing for weak links and fusing gaps with spiritual pressure.
[COLOR="lightgreen"]"I'm not going to rush this because I wouldn't want it to be boring... but before long, you'll show me your bankai. You won't have much choice."[/COLOR]
A shot of dark kidou sprang once again from Kazuo's blade, leaving just the hilt in his grasp. This time, instead of shooting into him, it bound his arms and legs and head, wrenching him back and pulling him down into a kneeling position. Kumori clattered uselessly against the ground, all the pieces of it, it's connection with the wielder severed by the energy that bound his mind. Kuroi groaned in pain from his afflicted wounds, and Kazuo approached him slowly.
The thin smile on Kazuo's features widened maniacally into a grin. As he did so, darkness spread from his chest and face and covered him totally, leaving the strange set of pearly whites to glisten in darkness. Kazuo's reiatsu and body converted into total darkness, and set upon Kuroi in a whirlwind of pain.
Kazuo became one with shadow, one with darkness, and set upon Kuroi's mind and spirit with a deadly force. The darkness now scratched against his open wounds, scratched at the memories of his mind, and scratched at the wounds in his heart, digging up horrors only dreams and the past could contain. Pain racked Kuroi's many already-existing wounds, widening them, causing them to bleed freely in the exposure, the attack being directly upon Kazuo's mind, his heart, and his reiatsu.
[COLOR="lightgreen"]"Not only the power to maneuver in darkness, and not only the power to become one with darkness... but the power to cast that darkness upon the minds of others..."[/COLOR]
Kuroi shuddered, flickers of memory beyond retention, painful ones buried both in his past earthly life, and that of the seireitei.
[COLOR="lightgreen"]"This is my zanpakuto. Fukizai Kurayami's true power."[/COLOR]
His body collapsed uselessly, though the black bands of Kazuo's zanpakuto stretched him taut in a twisted backward motion. The onslaught lifted him into the air, white bands of lightning twisting across the anti-light and causing physical pain that racked his body. The black energies twisted and wrenched, slashed and constricted, entering through his wounds and coarsing through his blood stream.
"The end is near, my friend. Though you be troubled now in body, mind, and spirit... yet rest is so close... so close... you won't have to take much more."[/COLOR][/COLOR]
[COLOR="DeepSkyBlue"]:: Kuroi, his body, mind and soul beset, could not help but feel a twisting of guilt and sorrow, along with masochistic glee. He lived for moments like this. Let his friend do his worst. The pain, this tortuous pain was his reason to live, the reason he fought.::
::Kazuo's decidedly unique attack left very little of Kuroi, as it wracked his body and mind, and working tirelessly to close him off from reality itself. To envelope him in the total and complete oblivion of the negative. But he'd learned long ago, after countless tortures, to section himself off. To keep a portion of himself distended, removed from hatever torture he endured. Such was Kuroi's strength. All the same, Kuroi lingered, savoring the exquisite agony, and lending his opponent, his Captain, time to underestimate him.::
::And now, within himself, Kuroi stood before that very partition. A young woman with a dress nearly as black as her onyx eyes, stood between him, and the doorway to the rest of his being. Kuroi's manner reflected a great reverence for her. She was yet another part of himself. She was as important to him as anything he had ever valued in his life.::
[COLOR="black"]"Has the time come, Kuroi Kurosawa? Shall we finally reveal our true power, our true worth to the world?"[/COLOR]
::Kuroi smiled his signature half-smile, and shook his head.::
"When you showed me your true power, you made me swear to utilise it only with the keenest reverence. At the very least, Kumori, I will make him work harder than he has already, if that is what he's after."
[COLOR="Black"]"I see, so be it. You know I cannot stand to see you in pain. The only reason I let it pass is because you seem to love it so much. Very well, Kuroi, exceed your common bounds, and revel in the agony you crave so badly."[/COLOR]
::With that, Kumori Sanjakunoshuusui vanished, manifesting herself once again as his Zanpakuto. Kuroi took her in hand, and brought her above his head, and with a rebel yell, brought her crashing down against the granite separating him from his true potential, and blinding light flooded even the darkest corners of his weathered psyche.::
[CENTER]* * *[/CENTER]
::Kaz felt the resounding explosion of internal reiatsu almost instantly, even before Kuroi's tortured scream boomed from his throat, bringing with it a wave of pure energetic force, and shattering the hold that Fukizai Kurayami was pressing upon him. As it vaporised, Kaz gathered again in the form of his blade, and brought it between him and his opponent, his eye keenly searching for the vector from which this new devilry would accost him. Though it would seem like an impossibility, Kuroi stood before his opponent, straight and strong, though someone as observant as Kaz could see the many silvery threads of reiatsu binding his wounds and augmenting his ability to move. Indeed, he was now a veritable torrent of pure, untamed reiatsu. Kuroi smiled to his age old friend, a toothy, malicious smile.::
"You want my bankai Kaz? Then prove you're worth it! This fight's only just begun!"
::If kuroi had been trying to distract him, it had only half-worked. Kaz leapt out of the path of Kumori's four distended blades as they darted at his from random angles, spinning like saw blades and shooting straight as arrows. Kumori was a powerful weapon, and Kuroi's control over the blades would put even Byakuya's Senbonsakura to shame. And that was a year ago. Now the blades slashed with deadly accuracy, with a speed Kaz had never seen before. His nible feet and agile form kept his just shy of death as he danced with Kumori, trying desperately to make his way toward Kaz, even utilising shadow step. But each time he lunged, Kuroi seemed just out of his reach, and one of Kunori's floating blades always managed to be between him and his target.::
::Meanwhile, Kuroi's reatsu had seemingly stopped flooding the atmosphere. Indeed, now he had it under control, focused. His hands had commenced to dancing with one another in several meditative forms. Knowing all too well Kuroi's mastery of Kidou, Kaz leapt in one last desperate attempt to take Kuroi before he could complete whatever spekk it was he was trying to cats, but this time Kumori's blades swept around him and clamped together, holding him as effectively as any Way of Binding. The world seemed to go dark, bereft of sunlight, and Kuroi smiled, pushing his palms toward Kaz.::
"Way of Destruction number 96: White Sol Cannon!"
::With that, a vast, torrential blast of highly focused light slammed around Kaz from above, shattering the ground for yards in every direction. The wind howled and the light scorched everything it touched. Kaz's eyes burned even undreneath his eyelids as his skin began to scorch and peel, and the sting was nigh unbearable as Kumori shone white hot against his skin. The effect only lasted a few seconds, and as the sky turned blue again, the wooded landscape for miles around was either charred, or steaming with the vast outpouring of heat.::
"The white Sol Cannon. It spreads a "lens" of reiatsu over several square miles, gathering the sun's light into one focused beam. Impressive huh? Funny enough, Captain Tousen taught me that one, before he...betrayed us. *** Kaz...can you remember anything? About what happened to you?" [/COLOR]
Here it is..left out the damage, figured you might want to call that one on your own, it's true extent.
OOC: Sorry it's taken so long, it's harder for me to sim as a shinigami then as my main character, since I don't have that catalogue of familiar pre-used spells and techniques in my head.
The Hougyoku. Urahara had pulled Kazuo aside personally, summoning him to the world of the living, in order to tell him about it. It was dangerous, in the wrong hands, and somehow, someone had discovered it, and was even now trying to get their own on the Hougyoku.
Kazuo sprang to reality, gasping in pain. Agony was his only sense to the world around him. With some difficulty, he partitioned it away, melted amidst the darkness. Now aware of himself, he found his skin to be lobster red and cracked in many places. Gathering his reiatsu, he directed some of it to sealing and moisturizing his skin, and more to the accelleration of his own natural healing process. As he moved, his muscles gave in, but eventually he stood, clutching his head with his free hand, Fukizai once again unreleased in his sword-arm's clutches.
[color=lightgreen]“There was a secret mission...” Kuroi nodded the affirmative.
“The Ousho...?” it was a question, an inquiry for Kazuo's severed memory. Kaz shook his head.
“No... no bells... seems I need more reminding. But this is working.”
“As you say, 'Z'” said Kuroi.
“It's not 'Z' it's KAZUO!!!”
Kazuo looked up at his partner for the first time since waking, who stood frozen and sweating. (easily indicated by his slick bald scalp) It was then that Kazuo realized that he had done nothing to mask his own spiritual pressure since he had awoken. In fact, pressure was just the wrong word for it anymore. His reiatsu washed over the entire area, pinning down every living thing (I use this term loosely) for miles – and the pressure of Kazuo's slammed against Kuroi, who was showing signs of wear from the struggle.
“Now back to your bankai. Despite your verbal thrashings and dodgings on the issue, I'm not concerned with whether or not I deserve to see it.” The atmosphere cleared as Kazuo's reiatsu once again was funneled, concentrated on it's next task, and Kazuo's stance loosened as a result.
“I simply would think it common courtesy between friends for you to show me; as well as protocol for a captain to know his own division's capacities so he can best know how to direct the assets of the group as a whole.” His arms extended, palms facing his companion. Even as he did so, Kuroi's eyes widened.
“But if your pride requires me to beat you to near death before you'll show me,” a soft white effigy engulfed Kazuo's palms, tinted in the vaguest blue. Kazuo dashed forward, seeking to strike down his opponent before the spell could be cast.
“SO BE IT! Way of Protection #3! Light of the crescent moon!”
Now first of all, it would be prudent to mention that almost no shinigami in history has mastered any protection spells. Only the rare up-and-coming master captain of Division 4 have ever been known to cast any such spell. Secondly, as a way of warning if you ever come to fight a highly-offensive (in smell and looks as much as battle-style) man like Kuroi, a magical shield is infallible much in the way a pawn is an infallible wall against the enemy queen. She will only make brief pause to mercilessly bash her way through. But given the right timing and placement, the pawn's aid could be the keystone in a strategy to take her down; it was much the same way in this case.
The light upon Kazuo's palms spread outward in a crecent shape, and all of Kuroi's blades thudded harmlessly into the kidou shield. This was all simultaneous, as Kazuo immediately followed with his next spell.
“Way of Destruction number 492! As the cookie softens in a cup of milk, even the drinking of strawberry milk will not save you from my wrath!!!”
Need I mention that Kazuo invented this spell?
A white circle of runes materialized at Kuroi's feet, following his every movement in order to keep him restrained within it. The pentacle rose from the ground, glowing more and more intensely by the second, splitting into many more pentacles which began to spin. A white shaft of light slammed down from the sky, through the cylinder of runes. It washed over Kuroi in a torrent of searing brilliance, burning at him much in the same way as his spell had burned Kazuo. The runes exploded, their two-dimensional shards of light slicing clean through him, peppering him in many new, small wounds like bullet holes. These wound bled freely, and then cauterized instantly in the intense heat of the energy which churned about him.
From there the spell dissipated, and Kuroi fell (or rather, plopped) to his knees, scorched like the blackened earth on which he stood.
"The white milk cannon. It hurts my enemies." said Kazuo, in crude, if not utterly corny, imitation of his opponent.[/color]
Bump - just post your bankai, so I can post mine, and we can end this having developed our characters fully. PLEASE?