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Rash ラシュ

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About Rash ラシュ

  • Rank
    TENGU
  • Birthday 11/13/1993

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Karakura
  • Interests
    Baseball n' Bitches
  • RPG Profile
    P: Ryūnosuke
    [FULLBRINGER]
    S: Gozira
    [HOLLOW]


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  1. 021: Welcome To WILD'S ----- ___________________ ... RYŪNOSUKE crossed his arms and frowned as the Professor stumbled over his words, yet again startled by the teenager's assertive demeanor. The timid middle-aged man now struggled to explain to Ryūnosuke why he couldn't just "sign up" as a member of their organization. "A-again Tamura-kun... we love your energy b-but one doesn't simply 'sign up' as you put it... There is more to it than that. Nuances and such!" Ryūnosuke sighed. "Well, why not?", he argued. "There is a Hollow problem, right? You guys are tackling it and I want to help. What about all that stuff you said before? I'm not seeing what's so complicated about it." Kiyoku stepped between Ryūnosuke and the Professor and addressed the teenager. "The honest truth is, you aren't ready. Not yet.", she explained bluntly. Ryūnosuke was caught off guard by the sharpness of Kiyoku's comment. Judging by how they had so highly regarded his battle with Baron Quadhorn, he'd mistakenly thought he was fit to take on Hollows as he was. If he knew what he was up against from the start, he might have even won, or so he'd led himself to believe. "You need a lot of training before you're ready to go out on missions with our team or even strike out on your own should you choose to do so... I hate to shut you down but as things stand, you go out there you'll just get yourself killed and most likely innocent bystanders killed as well in the process." Ryūnosuke remained silent, if there was an angle to argue against the points Kiyoku was making, he was unaware of it. Besides, the Manager had given him no reason to distrust her or her judgement. "Should you decide to join our organization and if we decide to accept you, our first priority would be to train you to get your Reiatsu under control and to properly manifest your Fullbring. In addition to that we need to see how well you fit in with the team and decide who to pair you with in the field." Kiyoku continued. Ryūnosuke saw no reason to oppose anything she said, it all made perfect sense but there was one aspect of what he was being told that he knew would present a personal issue. "How much time are we talking?", he asked flatly as he again faced the "X"s on the map of Karakura and anticipated the worst answer. Kiyoku sighed once more, crossed her arms, and faced the map with the teenager. "That honestly depends on you, but a couple months if we're being reasonable." Ryūnosuke scoffed disapprovingly. A couple of months was way too long for him to just be sitting around while he knew people were out there being hunted in basically his own backyard. "A couple of months... Great, someone want to call a time-out with Baron Quadhorn so he knows not to kill anyone until I'm ready!" Ryūnosuke muttered in frustration. Kiyoku pinched the bridge of her nose. "We know it isn't ideal, but there is no other way. Our goal isn't just to kill Hollows, we have to protect and save lives first and foremost. You will do more harm than good if you go out there before you're ready." Kiyoku place her hand firmly on Ryūnosuke's left shoulder. "It's for the best." ----- ... IWA was still a bit rattled even an hour after his little disagreement with Chizuru. It wasn't that she pushed him, Iwa knew not to take that personally. His concern was that Chizuru's argument might not have been as far out of the realm of possibilities as he calculated. Iwa had done his research, he'd crunched the numbers over and over in his mind and on paper. Trusting the new guy was the right move anyway he looked at it. This was the way to move WILD'S forwards regardless of whatever feelings the others had about it positive or otherwise. Still, there were variables he couldn't account for yet, the biggest one of all being that the new guy was at the end of the day a complete stranger. A wildcard so to speak-- a "WILD'S card" rather. There were the overwhelming facts in which Iwa placed his confidence completely and then there were the things still left to be determined and therein Chizuru had sowed the seeds of doubt. Blind faith in something or someone wasn't Iwa's style --it wasn't good detective work. Intuition and deduction, those were one thing but this was different. Iwa sucked his teeth as he mopped the floor behind the register. He looked to his left, across the store, and spotted Juri entering the employee entrance to the Dango shop next door. Chizuru passed her on her way back into the gift shop and paused as she made eye-contact with him. Iwa nodded and Chizuru put her hands in her pocket before she made her way towards him. Iwa sighed and lifted the mop from the ground. As he did the excess water still on the tiles appeared to sucked back into the mop head as if by magnetism. Chizuru arrived at the register just as Iwa dropped the mop back into its bucket. "Hey.", Chizuru greeted. "Hey back at you." "You seen Kanako-chan?" "She's in the back doing inventory... or she might be working on the webpage. She mentioned something about the order feature being buggy.", Iwa answered as her started to wheel the mop bucket from behind the register counter. He knew Chizuru only asked about Kanako to open up a conversation and had a decent idea of what she really wanted to say. "Before you say anything-" "I'm sorry I shoved you before." Chizuru cut him off. She sighed after. "That was wrong of me and I shouldn't have. I was just a little worked up --but that's no excuse!" Iwa chuckled. "I know, Chizuru-chan, relax.", he paused and smiled. "Apology accepted." Chizuru looked relieved. It was obvious that the incident was something she wanted to move pass as well and she wholeheartedly welcomed Iwa's offer to do just that. "Thank you." "You weren't completely wrong, by the way... Your skepticism is valid, given everything we've been through. I know you're just trying to keep us all safe.", Iwa admitted. It was important that he communicated to Chizuru that her concerns were valid and that he understood her heart was in the right place; even if he didn't fully agree with her. Chizuru nodded, "I know you're doing the same... the Iwa way.", she chuckled. "Fair enough. I don't know, there's just something there... when I saw him I just knew and the more I thought about it the more and more sense it made. All the pieces fell into place.", Iwa explained. He wasn't sure if Chizuru would understand. He didn't know how to put what he meant in words without coming out and directly admitting that this time --this one time-- he was prepared to bet everything on "faith" alone. Because if he did he would also have to admit that even if he had no evidence at all they'd be in this exact position anyway. He would have given the stranger the invitation regardless. He knew that the moment he first laid eyes on him. "Well, whatever happens. We have your back, and we'll get through it together... somehow.", Chizuru proclaimed. For now, at least, she chose to rely on a faith of her own. For now, at least, having faith that things would be fine was an option favorable to the alternative. ----- ... RYŪNOSUKE was finally seeing reason after Kiyoku further elaborated on the importance of adequate training and the potential risk of him striking out to fight Hollows alone without it. As much as he agonized over it and hated it he ultimately accepted that there really was no other way. After everyone returned to their seats the Professor went into more detail about the daily operations in WILD'S. A lot of things the teenager pretty much surmised on his own, but there was plenty of information he was completely unaware of. He knew that WILD'S was obviously a secret organization, based in the underground head-quarters beneath the gift shop, but he didn't know that the gift shop was a family business owned by Ms Sato. He also confirmed that she and Iwa were siblings. The Professor eventually brought up WILD'S status with law-enforcement, basically saying that the police force did not view WILD'S in a favorable light, them being a self-accountable vigilante group and all. However, the teenager had not expected to hear that the Karakura Police had their own secret task-force of spiritually aware officers and detectives. That put into perspective just how prevalent supernatural affairs were in modern society. Particularly in Karakura; the current Jūreichi, the geographical area with the highest concentration of spiritual beings. In fact, the Professor theorized that a combination of Ryūnosuke's move to Karakura and his exposure to Baron Quadhorn's Reiatsu were what triggered the awakening of the teenager's powers. If not for that unique set of circumstances it was possible that Ryūnosuke might have lived his life without ever realizing the powers he possessed, although the intensity of his Spiritual Power suggested that the teenager was bound to awaken it eventually. Ryūnosuke sat silently as he reflected again on all the events that played out over the pass few months. All the things that had to go wrong --terribly wrong-- and the little silver-linings when things went right. Hina, Akane, the move to Karakura, his pain and guilt, the fight with his mom, almost running away from home, even his battle with Baron Quadhorn and nearly dying; they all led him here to WILD'S. The teenager exhaled sharply and nodded. "Professor... you asked me about religion before and I'll admit the question seemed a bit strange. In the broader sense, I guess you wanted to know if I believed in a higher-power or the supernatural... To be honest, until recently I didn't give much thought to things like that but I've found myself in the mix of a lot of craziness and uncertainty." Ryūnosuke chuckled, "I know right, the whole troubled teenager backstory. I'll spare you both the shitty details but suffice to say I've been off my a-game for what feels like forever now. I've broken things I don't know if I can fix or how to fix them in the first place. I don't even know if they can be fixed at all and now I find out I've got super-powers and my question isn't even why me of all people... so strange. I guess I've convinced myself that it's destiny or something... Like all that terrible crap happened for a reason. It all led me here to your secret bunker under a gift shop." Ryūnosuke snickered and then turned to Kiyoku and nodded. "That's all just to say, it took a lot to get me here, maybe even a little divine intervention, and the end result is that I'm certain this is where I belong right now. Right here is where I take my life back into my own hands. So, what the Hell, if a couple of months of training is what it'll take so be it.", the teenager affirmed. Kiyoku smiled at him and returned the nod as the Professor spoke up from the side, "So, that means you'll-" "Yes." Ryūnosuke looked at the Professor, "I'll do the training." "Excellent, Tamura-kun! That is wonderful. Now, there remains one more order of business, but this is where I will take my leave and let Manager Sato take over.", the Professor stood and shuffled quickly to the the door. Ryūnosuke watched the man leave and shut the door before he turned back to Kiyoku. "So, what's this last order of business." Kiyoku smiled, "You'll see.", she answered. Ryūnosuke raised his brow curiously. "But for now-" Kiyoku walked around the opposite side of the desk and produced a binder. From the binder she extracted a paper document which she placed in from of the teenager. "This is your contract, as you've heard, members of WILD'S get a paying job at the gift shop. One of the perks, it also helps cover up our covert operations." She'd barely finished her explanation before Ryūnosuke was reaching for a pen to sign. "Wait, you aren't going to read it first?", Kiyoku interrupted him. Ryūnosuke paused to consider it, "Do I need to?", he asked innocently. Kiyoku signed, "I swear you teenagers are something else, not a care in the world.", she murmured. "Yes, Tamura-kun. General rule of thumb, never sign your name on anything until you've read it. Okay?" "Sure.", Ryūnosuke shrugged as he lowered the pen and started to read the contract. Kiyoku scoffed in disbelief and then waited in silence. The two page document had all the beats of a normal job contract; it listed the job description, work hours (which were flexible to Ryūnosuke's needs as a student), a few miscellaneous benefits, and of course a decent wage. Ryūnosuke wasn't particularly interested in anything related to the gift shop, but understood how and --more importantly-- why the two were connected. He also couldn't deny that the job tied things up neatly as he'd already promised his mother that he'd get a job to help around the house. On a more personal level, this would be his first job independent of his father's influence. There were no downsides to accepting the offer, there was nothing more to think over. Ryūnosuke again lifted the pen and quickly signed the contract. "You read everything, was it all clear?", Kiyoku asked, her voice pitched to stress her skepticism. "Yeah, and don't worry I could read it a dozen times and it wouldn't change my decision." Ryūnosuke replied as he set the pen down on the desk and handed the contract back to the Manager. "Here." Kiyoku chuckled as she received the contract from the teenager, "Alright, I'll make a copy of this-" A sudden knock on the office door turned both their heads Ryūnosuke more so out of curiosity but Kiyoku looked as if she'd been expecting it. "In the meantime-" she continued without missing a beat, "Follow me." Kiyoku approached the door and Ryūnosuke followed after her. He didn't know what to expect next, he wasn't even sure if he'd been accepted into WILD'S yet or when he was supposed to start his training. Nevertheless, he figured they would get the answers to those eventually. Ryūnosuke stood behind Kiyoku as she cracked the door. "Now, about that last order of business-" The manager began as she pulled the door open, "time for you to officially meet the rest of the gang." On the other side of the door stood the Professor with the other four members of WILD'S all in their mask. To the right of the Professor stood Iwa in his Kappa mask. Beside Iwa was a young woman with the fierce White Tiger mask; she had long dark-blue hair that was up in a pony tail and reached down to the middle of her back. Ryūnosuke's eyes were immediately drawn to her admirable physical build which could be appreciated even through the folds of her comfy-fit clothing. She was as tall as him and bigger as well. It was an instant and embarrassing reality check for the teenager as he realized he'd "let himself go" as some would same in the months since the incident. Looking at the Byakko-masked member Ryūnosuke suddenly felt pudgy around the sides and shrimpy in his arms. He nervously veered his attention to the the Professor's left where the Kitsune-masked member who was a bit shorter and much thinner than Ryūnosuke stood. At first glance "trendy" was the word Ryūnosuke would use to describe Kitsune based on her clothing alone. She was fashionable but with the urban flare that seemed indicative of Karakura. Two bangs of wavy sky-blue hair framed the sides of her mask and went down to her shoulders. Lastly, to Ryūnosuke's far right and just a few inches away from him (close enough for him to pick up the faint scent of mint-chocolate perfume) was the Pheonix-masked girl. Of all the masks Ryūnosuke recognized hers the most. Her mask was the last thing he saw before he succumbed to his injuries and thought he died. At that time the voice of the girl in the Pheonix-mask promised she would save him and it was obvious that she had. To his surprise she was much shorter than he pictured. The top of her head of long, silky, and pure-white hair came up just to his chest. Ryūnosuke thought she could pass for a twelve year old. She wore a baggy white hoodie that looked like it was two sizes too big for her, but it was adorable on her. It warmed his heart to see her little fingers poking out from the furrowed folds of her sleeves. Ryūnosuke realized that he was at a loss for words in a dazed stupor at the sight of his saviors-turned-allies from the night before. This was the gang, this was WILD'S. "I'm in!", the realization hit but his instincts denied it. "Nah, no way I'm in." The teenager didn't know what to believe or what was to be inferred from the reception until at last Kiyoku stepped forward, turned to face Ryūnosuke and uttered the one phase to dispel all his doubts and state the facts with no uncertainty. "Tamura Ryūnosuke," she beckoned proudly and smiled, "Welcome To WILD'S." To Be Continued... [Left Thread] [Continues In: WILD'S Card] ______________________________ WC|2,940 ----- OOC|Unlocked Achievements RT#3 [Welcome To WILD'S (2): [Tamura Ryūnosuke★ Exclusive] - Become an official member of WILD'S. [Expires: 04/01/2020]
  2. 002: The Titan Part 2 ----- ____________________ ... GOZIRA remained still with the passage of the days. Generally dismissive --not so entirely by choice-- of the trivial happenings of the hundreds of tiny critters that surrounded him. "Dismissive" but not unaware. Although, if Gozira was being entirely forthright his cavalier attitude towards the creatures that took temporary and in some cases permanent abode on his his back, in the obsidian canyons and valleys of his dorsal plates, was rooted more in his own inability to stop the critters in any meaningful manner. The titan Hollow was unconcerned because as far as he was concerned there was nothing he could about the fact. He could roar loud enough the tremble a continent, that would surely scare them off, or perhaps simply rolling over and crushing them all would do the trick. Dramatic solutions indeed but worse yet they were terribly temporary. Gozira could roar or roll over, but then he'd be exhausted and have to sleep and how long would he sleep then a decade, a century, a millennium? The specific duration didn't matter. What mattered was that however long the time he spent it slumber it would surely be long enough for the white sands to semi-submerge him and for the hundreds of critters to make a habitat out of his colossal being. Admittedly, it wasn't entirely bad. On the contrary, Gozira understood that he'd so far avoided regression from his Adjuchas form almost entirely thanks to the smaller and weaker Hollows that unbeknownst to themselves provided the black mountain with the bare minimum of Reiatsu needed to maintain his evolution. In fact, Gozira was simultaneously annoyed and appreciative of the tiny avian Hollow that insisted on repeatedly blasting Cero at one of his dorsal fins. Despite her intentions, she likely failed to realize her attack was having the opposite effect now. It was much easier to weaken Gozira's dorsal plates while he was unconscious, but while he was awake the unique energy-absorption properties and innate healing factor in the obsidian plates was active. It would take the little Hollow years to even leave a scratch on the dorsal plates, that was to say nothing of the time it would take for her to break a shard of it off. A much more peculiar occurrence was the small Hollow making the exhausting and very dangerous journey up his back for no obvious reason. Initially, she'd been on the run from a band of larger Hollows that sought to make a meal of her. However the prolonged proximity to Gozira combined with the physical exhaustion of chasing the little nimble Hollow had left the band drained as the fell unconscious in their tracks it was clear to Gozira that they would not wake again. The black mountain was a harsh and unforgiving terrain that only the strongest survived. Gozira was certain of their fate, he'd seen it play count countless hundreds of times before. Their bodies would become the sustenance of other nearby Hollows that found them, if not, their Spiritual essence would be absorbed into Gozira himself. The Titan Hollow was curious, he wondered why the tiny Hollow had not taken the opportunity to feed on the larger Hollows itself. Instead it choose to abandon an invaluable meal to in favor of the nigh impossible endeavor to summit his back. He imagined that something must be odd about the little frosty critter, at the very least it seemed motivated by something besides the overwhelming and insatiable need to consume. Utter madness! What other purpose could there be to this wretched existence besides voracious consumption? "Snow-runner", Gozira would call the most strange critter for now. A fitting name given the Hollow's bizarre ability to trail frost and pure white snow in her speedy path. "What are you thinking little Snow-runner? How far will you go?", the Titan wondered curiously. As Snow-runner traversed up Gozira's back she would begin to feel the pull of the dorsal fins with increasing severity the higher and farther she climbed. Like a magnetic force the dorsal fins would pull at her from every direction. Gozira silently and motionlessly observed Snow-runner's struggle in astonishment. He abandoned thought of all other aspects of the world and focused entirely on the little Hollow that would dare march proudly towards certain death. He wondered if Snow-runner would succeed but was more convinced of and anticipating Snow-runner's failure and demise. ___________________________ WC| 730
  3. Live Changes 03/28/2020 - STFAH Update: In light of all the crazy stuff going on (we hope you all are staying safe and indoors) figured it was as good a time as any to make the grind a bit easier and promote some activity with all the time being spent in quarantine. What better way to spend your time than RP'ing, amirite. Also, huge welcome to all the newcomers, we're glad to have you! STFAH Reiatsu Gaining Rates: Legendary Reiatsu Tier: Weekly Reiastu Cap: 2k | WC Requirement: 1,700 WC STFAH Rate: 1,275 WC Immense Reiatsu Tier: Weekly Reiatsu Cap: 2k | WC Requirement: 1,500 WC STFAH Rate: 1,125 WC Great Reiatsu Tier: Weekly Reiatsu Cap: 6k | WC Requirement: 1,200 WC STFAH Rate: 900 WC High Reiatsu Tier: Weekly Reiatsu Cap: 10k | WC Requirement: 1,000 WC STFAH Rate: 750 WC Legend Points: Legend Points WC Requirement: 1,000 WC STFAH Rate: 800 WC STFAH Race Technique Learning Limitations: 1 Technique every 3 days (irl days). 1 Technique Daily If your character has the Reiatsu Specialist Trait 2 Techniques Daily with a bonus 30% WC slash if you're teaching/learning the technique in a Co-op thread. - Quincy Race Update: Kaeru and Rash are currently working on the long-awaited and overdue Quincy Update. Expect everyone's favorite Destruction Monks to be very destructive. If you're learning the currently available Quincy Race Techniques and you're worried about them being shifted/removed rest assured your work isn't going to waste. Keep learning those techniques for now and the you'll have access to the new ones based on how they translate over with the updates. - Personal Abilities: Rash will be working on Personal Abilities for new characters when he gets the time. Don't forget to post a request to have your stuff looked at [Here].
  4. Happy Birthday, boomer!

    1. Molestia

      Molestia

      thanks buttface! >:3

  5. 001: The Titan ----- ____________________ ... GOZIRA could feel everything in his surrounding. Most prominently, the irritating and repeated assault of a no doubt ill-informed pest upon a dorsal fin of his lower-back. He was no stranger to the vandals, who sought to damage portions of his dorsal fins in order to devour them, mistaking the organic matter to be some nature of Reiatsu-rich ore to be mined from a black mountain for their nourishment. It was a pointless endeavor that only served to increase the frequency in which Gozira was forced the shed and regrow the abused dorsal plates. While the assaults were common, presently the titan Hollow detected only a single offender. There was a greater number of Hollows in the area and more incoming. Still, the black mountain remained motionless. It was important that he conserved his energy... ___________________________ WC| 135
  6. 000: Black Mountain Cove ____________________ ... BARON QUADHORN emerged regally from the blackened void that was the path between the Living World and the Hollow realm of Hueco Mundo. Fresh off of yet another successful hunt, the blood of his latest prey still clung, warm and slickly, to the surface of the pale green whip-like appendage that serviced as his left arm. Quadhorn lifted the soaked tentacle to his serrated maw and lick it clean. It was not good to waste. His compliments were to the "chef" a young woman who had in her ignorance practically served herself to the Hollow. The cunning hunter set his feet upon the pure white sand of the endless desert wasteland and smiled. He knew all too well of the countless cretins that dwell below the desolation, the ones that saw not the light of its moon. The small monsters --not all necessarily small in size but certainly small in character-- that tugged themselves under the rug. The self-proclaimed baron took another step, and and asserted his superiority. He was after all, above the rug, he trampled over it and by extension he was above and trampled over every being beneath it. The Forest of Menos or as the Baron dubbed it, "the forest of aimless failures". He'd sooner die a horrible death than ever descend to that level. The Baron Hollow traversed the wasteland with no particular direction, though the insatiability of his unique hunger assured his thoughts remained almost universally focused on the prospect of his next hunt. He imagined in what perverse manners he would stalk and terrify his next prey. What flavors of misery and suffering he would marinate their psyches. He imagined the satisfying crushing of bone, the tantalizing tear of flesh, and the intoxicating sweetness of warm blood as it flooded his mouth. The Hollow's mouth was agape as he drooled across the white sand. The intense hunger was mind-numbing, it was terrible, and it was maddening. Complete insanity was staved only by Quadhorn's confidence that a temporary satisfaction was never too far from his grasp. In that sense the hunger was great. The hungrier he was, that better the meal when he finally had it. Quadhorn wandered for days in hunger-induced stupor, he'd begun the proactive planning of his next expedition to the Living World. His abstinence had begin gone beyond the the point of voluntary fasting and into the territory of self-starvation, which in the Baron's opinion was the prime time to hunt. The starvation brought about the perfect amount of urgency and savagery. Never blind savagery, that was barbaric. Baron Quadhorn was no barbarian. Refined, focused savagery was the aim and the mastery. It was a large part of what set the Baron Hollow apart from the others, his inferiors. The Baron Hollow spotted a strange anomaly far in the distance. He'd seen all manners of strange phenomenon over the centuries, rarely were they anything worth delaying his next meal. Still, Quadhorn was curious, so he approached the anomaly, cautiously. He did not realize its true magnitude until he was closer and able to accurately discern what he was observing; a mountain cove valley in the heart of Hueco Mundo. Mountains of sand were nothing unusual in the wasteland and neither were valleys, but this one was different. This mountain was monumental on a level that the Baron had never seen. The jagged peaks of the mountain cove were tipped with rows of pointed obsidian stone plates that butchered the wind which wailed and howled terribly in its passage over the monolithic terrain. A perpetual darkness was cast in the basin of the cove, produced by the valley's shade. Quadhorn noted that the area encompassed by the mountain cove was large enough to host several palaces of the Las Noches fortress. In fact, the Baron Hollow reckoned the space could host an entire new fortress of his own design if he willed it. His own kingdom in the heart of the Hueco Mundo. Baron Quadhorn snorted, "what imaginations and fictions he conjured when beset with hunger." ----- [176 Years Later] ...LUFTTRAP flapped her vermilion wings vigorously as she climbed in altitude, higher and higher along the face of the mountain. She marveled at her shadow as it mimicked her movement on the white surface of the sand. She watched it closely, it was the perfect distraction. The alternative was to look down and the thought of doing that was terrifying. Though she was a Hollow of flight, Lufttrap much preferred the ground and after ascending for what felt like an eternity, who knew how far down it was to that security. Looking of was also of no utility to her. The physical limitations of her unique anatomy --namely her wings, which she had in two pairs-- meant she conserved the most energy and flew most effectively when her head was held upright in a neutral position or when she looked straight down. And, as mentioned before, looking down was not an option. Lufttrap's primary pair of wings were larger, spanning five feet each from her hips. The second pair, the minor pair of wings, where half the size and span of their counterparts and protruded outwards from the sides of her head and doubled as her ears. When she wasn't using the minor wings, Lufttrap would wrap them downwards around her head to cover her face and the soft, exposed pale flesh of her neck and chest. Presently, the task upon which she had embarked required the use of all her wings as well as all her other physical and mental focus. She could control the direction of her minor wings, although to a limited degree, but while facing upwards she could only do so in a many that would propel her downwards. Which was counterproductive to her current goal. There was additional assurance in looking straight ahead, her shadow and by extension, the surface of the black mountain --the close relative "ground"-- was well within the reach of her razor-sharp talons. Should she need to stop, should her wings give out suddenly, she could always grab onto the mountain and prevent herself from plummeting many frontiers down to her death. Though she dared not look, Lufttrap knew what awaited her at the ground, her companion Hollows. She pictured them in her head, all encouraging her to flying higher, cheering her on even now, long after she could no longer hear their voices --they were too far down now. Still, they clamored on in her mind and heart, reminding her of her purpose. The reason of her struggle and why she fought on and ascended higher. Higher! as her sharp and heavy breathes tore her throat raw. Higher! as her wings grew ever-heavier as if each feather possessed the weight of a boulder. Higher! as ever the air itself seemed to fight against her. "Higher!" the little avian Hollow exclaimed mentally, repeated with every beat of her wings and she watched her shadow against the white surface of the sand until it disappeared suddenly. Vanished into the blackness of a new backdrop. "Where was the sand?" She wondered and then gasped as the realization hit her. "AH!" Lufttrap beat her wings forward no long propelling upwards, but straight ahead-- she'd reached her goal. She'd succeeded. Lufttrap looked down at the black surface that was barely inches beneath her talons and in that very moment of confirmation her wings gave out of their own accord. The victorious little avian Hollow collapsed on the hard obsidian surface of the mountain ridge, her aching wings convulsed numbly at her sides. Lufttrap chuckled, pleased with her accomplishment. Lufttrap knew she was not the first Hollow to ascend the black mountain nor would she be the last. She'd heard the stories of over avian Hollows that made the journey to the mountaintop and made it their permanent residence. She saw no signs of these Hollow communities but she also hadn't looked very hard for them. She could likely spend years looking and never find them. Besides that wasn't her objective. After a brief rest, Lufttrap rolled over the her back and looked up, the white moon that illuminated Hueco Mundo seemed a bit closer at the at this altitude. She rested for a bit longer before she stood up, prepared to do what she'd come for. Her goal had not been to merely reach the mountain top, and certainly not to summit the black mountain --Lufttrap was no where near the summit. The summit was on the East side of the cove valley. She'd ascended the halfway point along the closed-off curve of the valley, which were where the obsidian caps started to emerge from the white sand. She'd have to fly three times her current altitude to reach the mountain peak. Lufttrap observed her surrounds, mainly the massive black walls at bother her sides. She was in the center of what could have been a valley on its own; between two colossal slabs of pointed mineral. On the ground below her she could see fragments of the mineral that had splintered apart from the greater mass. Lufttrap smiled triumphantly. That, was what she came for! The fragments on the ground were no use it her, any energy they might have contained was drained out long ago. But the fragments were not completely useless, they were a good indication of of where the obsidian mineral was weakest and most likely to break. They fragments indicated where she should strike. Lufttrap was exhausted, but her task was still only half down. The next part was certain to prove just as physically and mentally draining as the flying. The harpy-like Hollow concentrated her spiritual energy into the tip of her short white beak. The energy gather there as a crimson orb; a tiny sun that she held just long enough to aim at the edge of the black wall in front of her. Lufttrap released the Cero, it collided instantly with the black wall and exploded in a brilliant red flash. A flicking glint from the perspective of her companions thousands of meters below. As the first flicker of red light faded a second followed, then came a third, and then a fourth and then a fifth. Lufttrap relentlessly blasted the black wall with Cero after Cero, hoping the break off a chunk of it to return to her companions below. She suffered further exhaustion with each blast, but the motivated little avian Hollow did not give up. A sizable enough fragment could sustain them for months, a little fatigue was a small price to pay for such a valuable prize. To Be Continued... [Left Thread] [Continues In ] ___________________________ WC| 2,915
  7. ENCORE: After-life, Not Quite Death ----- ____________________ ... NAKAJIMA was, for an unknown matter of time, trapped in the state of being he dreaded more than anything; a self-conscious state of being. One of countless other selves in a chaotic collective. It became abundantly clear to Nakajima that although he'd escaped the horrors of his own human life, death had not been the escape from self-conscious existence that he believed it to be. Worst of all, he had not only his own consciousness to resent but also the countless thousands of others to contend with in an endless battle for dominance over the prime real estate he'd come to know as his shared body. However, the consciousness that was Nakajima (no longer so in name but merely in the essence of what made the man once named Nakajima) understood that this new existence was not really life, nor had he truly died. This was another plain, something between life and death. The grey unknown; the chaos. Nakajima came to understand that he himself had become an agent of chaos, if not chaos itself. He instinctively realized that life was off the table for him, which was fine, he'd reject life and all its terribleness anyway --he'd do so most vehemently and a thousand times over. But, Nakajima felt slighted. He felt lied to and cheated out of his peace. He'd rejected life in favor of death only to now be rejected by death itself. This made Nakajima furious and resentful. How could he stand for such an insult? He could have easily submitted and allowed himself to be devoured; become an eternal fragment of another's whole. He might have even done so, but Nakajima was too angry to submit. He was hurt, so now he needed to make others hurt. He was miserable, so he needed to make others miserable with him. One by one, Nakajima devoured the consciousness of the collection. Fulfilling the rational and all too human role of terrible, schizophrenic, mass-murdering monster. Countless collective egos became thousands, the thousands dwindled to hundreds, one hundred became a dozen. The dozen became four. Finally the four became just the one... GOZIRA
  8. There is a popular saying, one that in so few words describes the terrible nature of being. "Life sucks... and then you die.", it goes. What a tragic and furthermore tragically true saying! Life sucks it is terrifying and terrible in every sense. That is as long as you're living at all. As long as you have an eye for all it's imperfections and dangers. Its bold and ever-present monsters and the lurking ones. Life is filled with disappointment, tragedy, hurt, suffering, pain, malevolence, deceit, and fear --all matters of terrible things self-inflicted and also inflicted by the world and inflicted by others. Even the capacity to think, the human self-conscious is an instrument of our own ruin. In fact, it is our capacity to think; to see good from evil and order from chaos, that causes us the greatest pain and suffering. It is a tool of the greatest evils ever committed by our species. It is not that we are all mass-murdering dictators, or genociding warmongering fascist in our own actions. It isn't that we all bear arms in vengeful fury and seek revenge for our cursed existence against the world. We don't all pull the trigger or give the order for the trigger to be pulled. Rather, it is that in each of us is the capacity to do it. In each of us is the capacity, under the right circumstances, to be the mass-murder, the dictator, the warmonger, or the school shooter. Picture every terrible monster in human history. Now remember that they were also all terribly human. When you consider that and you consider the true fragility of the things that separate us from the monsters of humankind how can one not live in absolute dread. How can we trust? Who and what do we trust? Things go wrong, they go wrong all the time --yet another spectacular punchline in the terrible joke that is human existence. Even when things seem great (only to those who aren't truly perceiving the world as it is) the question is never "how" things will go wrong, the question is "when". When will my car break down? When will my roof cave in? When will my dog die? When will I die? What is the point of it if all things end, if nothing is of meaning in the grand scheme of it? The meaning cannot be goodness. The meaning cannot be happiness, it cannot even be the illusion of happiness. Illusions require blindness or ignorance. There is fear in blindness and even greater evil in ignorance. Is the purpose of life then to make the best of it? Maybe, but that's not good enough! The best of something terrible is still something terrible. To make the best of suffering is still suffering. "Enough, Nakajima!", his peers and relatives --all wretched in their own regards and still all blind or willfully ignorant as to the degree of their own blindness-- would tell him. "You're depressing and useless! Of course we have to make the best of life because what is the alternative?!" They argued. To Nakajima the alternative was simple. The alternative to suffering was to not suffer all. The alternative to existence was simply to not! "Life sucks, but then at least you die." Alas, Nakajima did not take his own life, though he'd considered it countless times. In the end he did not have the courage for it. He recognized, with intense and endless bitterness, his own cowardice. A fact that only fueled the flame of his resentment further. In the end, it was organ failure brought on by severe malnutrition, brought on by prolonged self-starvation, that took him. A very slow and painful death up to the very end when he died in his sleep. He hardly weighed fifteen kilograms when they found him. There was barely a liter of blood in his body. His skin was pale and cracked terribly, his eyes were sunk deep into the abyssal pits of his eye sockets. His hair had fallen already by that point. The authorities said Nakajima was as good as dead at least months before he finally had his last breath. What a shame; they were only twenty-seven or so years behind Nakajima's own estimation. In his opinion he'd been as good as dead the moment he was born. Miraculously, he was smiling when they found him. Of course he was! In death there was solace. In death there was at least a conclusion. Death was the silence after the joke, after everyone had their laughs and claps. The ultimate peace after the violent and terrifying, ravaging storm. Death was the finale. "Close curtains!" Death was the end. It was the end... until it wasn't.
  9. Happy Birthday, dude. Stay healthy!

  10. Happy Birthday, Draka! Have a great one!

    1. Draka

      Draka

      Thanks, it was a good day

  11. Live Changes 02/15/2020 - Visionary "Mind's Eye" Update: Mind's Eye Strike is still a bit on the weaker side because it's so hard to set up and there is no guarantee it will succeed. So, these changes should help it out a bit. Visionary are also expected to have an advantage in countering Seals/Grapples so look out for that whenever it goes up. "Mind's Eye Strike": "After Landing Three Critical Hits the Visionary can attempt a Mind's Eye Strike. Mind's Eye Strike Hits For Attack Value (x8)." Allows the user to execute a single Empowered Critical Hit after landing 3 Direct Hits on a target within 4 turns. The Visionary gains access to Mind's Eye Strike which is a Critical Hit that does x8 Attack Value. Mind's Eye Strike cannot be Dodged. Cosmetics is left to the discretion of the RP'er. - Seals & Grappling: General outline for both is set up but I still need some time to iron it out. I'll mostly be working on Ability Kits this week. So if you need something looked at get yourself on the Ability Approval List if you aren't on there already.
  12. 020: On The Crucible Of Fate PRT 2 ----- ___________________ ... RYŪNOSUKE watched the man who identified himself as "The Professor" sit in the leather chair behind the desk. Just as he'd noted the man's outward appearance, the teenager also remarked the Professor's dull manner of speech and even his posture. It was all very pedestrian. A complete contrast to Ms Sato. Admittedly, Ryūnosuke's first impression of the Professor was unflattering, but the teenager was conscious not to judge too harshly. He simply thought the man was average and uninteresting, not the kind of person he'd expect to be at the helm of a secret supernatural organization. He didn't believe his opinion to be defamatory but the fact that it was an unfair assumption to make was not completely lost on the teenager. "Please, have a seat.", the Professor insisted with an open hand gesture towards the chair opposite to his own. "Thank you." Ryūnosuke responded as he sat down again and faced the man directly. The Professor gave an unassuming smile as he did what Ryūnosuke guessed was a brief study of his appearance and demeanor. Intriguingly, the duration of the man's stare seemed meticulous and calculated. It lasted long enough for his intentions to be obvious and short enough to not be awkward. Whether or not that had been intentional or purely a coincidence the teenager would never know. The Professor interlocked his fingers over his desk and finally broke the silence. "So, Tamura-kun. I can only imagine how many questions you must have, before we go any further I want to assure you we're prepared to answer all of them for you to the best of our ability.", the Professor explained warmly. "Thanks, I'd appreciate that." Ryūnosuke acknowledged with a bow of his head. Based on the man's tone, Ryūnosuke intuited that that was merely the Professor's opening statement, so the teenager left his response at that and allowed the Professor to continue. "Oh, certainly... and we appreciate you coming, really." The Professor nodded and glanced at Kiyoku who smiled in agreement. "So..." The professor addressed the teenager again, "I guess our first question for you is why did you come?", he asked. Ryūnosuke paused and reflected on the question. It wasn't that he didn't know or was unsure of his answer, he simply found it odd that the Professor was asking for it. He thought his reasons were obvious, the Professor had basically stated them himself just seconds before. Ryūnosuke chuckled nervously, he figured maybe the question was rhetorical but the moment of silence and the still gaze of the Professor upon him alerted the teenager that the Professor was in fact expecting an answer. "Uh-" Ryūnosuke blinked with a light shake of his head and cleared his throat. "Well, it's like you said, I have a lot of questions and... and the note-", he started to reach into his pocket, "The note I got from your guys.. I guess... It said to come here if I wanted answers." Ryūnosuke chuckled again. "So, here I am... because I want answers." The Professor's gaze remained fixed on the teenager before he responded with a monotone, "I see." Ryūnosuke wasn't clear on what to think of that response and he was beginning to suspect the Professor perhaps harbored some suspicions of his own. "I don't understand. Is that a problem?", the teenager questioned. There was a sharpness in his tone that he saw the Professor no doubt noted. He watched the man lean back in his seat and wave his right palm dismissively as Kiyoku sighed. Ryūnosuke would later recall the interaction followed as the exact instant he began to warm up to the Professor, perhaps out of a sense of sympathy --maybe even pity. As the Professor waved his hand and practically folded upon himself in his chair. His entire facade cracked like an egg shell and the Professor's true personally poured out a spilled in the leather seat. "No, no. It not a problem at all!" , he animatedly assured, his voice hit an unusually high pitch. The reaction had the teenager on high alert as he looked to Kiyoku --still a complete stranger to him-- for reassurance. The manager simply shook her tilted head and rolled her eyes; it seemed this was nothing out of the usual. "What just happened?" The teenager whispered nervously. "I apologize... not trying to put you on the spot... w-we just have some concerns-" "Alright!" Kiyoku interjected. She stepped forward and slammed her right palm assertively on the Professor's desk. "I think, I'll take over for the time being, Professor. If you don't mind." The Professor shifted back into a natural posture in his seat and straightened the lapels of his lab coat. "Yes, Manager Sato. That may be for the best." "Aahh, this guy is a total wimp." The realization sparked in Ryūnosuke head. "Wait, did I just scare the shit out of a grown man?...That's... kinda sad.", he wondered with a frown. "Look, I don't want any problems." Ryūnosuke stated reassuringly. "Neither do we." Kiyoku returned. The Professor nodded in agreement. "You have to excuse the Professor, while he oversees operations here, he isn't exactly a 'people's person' and it sometimes leads to awkward misunderstandings." The teenager could understand that, he was quiet familiar with the type. It was quite common in the high-school setting. No one was completely free of social ineptitude or awkwardness --not even himself. Like most things, some people just suffered it more than others. "Yeah, that's cool. I get it. No worries, Professor." Ryūnosuke replied sympathetically. He thought he'd successfully pulled off his attempt at appearing less confrontational. That usually helped. The Professor gave no discernible reaction, although it was now obvious that he was postured with his shoulders conspicuously squared and what little he had to pass as chest muscles were puffed out. "Eehh?! A defensive pose!", he shouted internally as he coughed into his left fist and stealthily snuffed an involuntary cackle. "What the Professor was very poorly leading to, was the fact that there is something peculiar about your case." Kiyoku explained. "A few things aren't added up. Now, one of our own vouched for you, he's the reason you received an invitation at all-" Kiyoku sighed and Ryūnosuke remembered the young man with the green trench coat. "But, he sometimes jumps the gun and its our-", the Manager pointed to herself and the Professor. "responsibility to protect our team and our operation. You understand, Tamura-kun?" "I do." The teenager answered with hesitation and then reaffirmed, "I get that completely." His eye-contact drifted from Kiyoku to the Professor and then back to the former. "I'm just not understanding what that has to do with me. You said something isn't adding up..? I'm not sure I know what that means." Ryūnosuke explained. "We'll get to it." Kiyoku assured. "But first, tell us a little bit about yourself." Ryūnosuke leaned back in his seat and thought about how he wanted to answer. He'd never liked that request. 'Tell us about yourself'. Perhaps it wasn't so much that he disliked the question itself, rather he detested having to answer it. Talking about one's self; he found it pretentious. Furthermore, it was his personal understanding that when people asked that question there was usually a specific piece of information they were fishing for and not a monologue of someone's autobiography. He often wondered why people didn't just ask for the information they wanted directly. The obvious answer was that they probably made the ambiguous inquiry out of politeness. If that was the case he could understand it, but it didn't make the answer seem any less self-important. Fortunately, Ryūnosuke did see a possible compromise. Perhaps by inviting the direct question he could get the Manager or the Professor to just come out with what they had to say without tip-toeing around the subject. At the very least, he figured the Manager wasn't the type to pass on the opportunity. "Is there anything specific you'd like to know?" Kiyoku smirked. "Yeah, sure.", she agreed as she walked around the desk, sat in the chair beside the teenager and faced him. The Professor now seemed isolated on the opposite side of the desk, but Ryūnosuke could tell he was following the conversation from the sidelines. "So, Tamura-kun, how long have you been in town for?" "Just a few days. We moved from-" "Wait.", Kiyoku interjected. "Let me guess... Osaka?" "Yeah, something gave it away?" "Your dialect." "My dialect?" Ryūnosuke retorted with a raised brow. "Oi, you're all tough sounding, yo! Real intimidatin', we better not mess with you!" Kiyoku explained with a few brash swings and signs with her hands while doing what the teenager could only assume was an intentionally dramatic rendition of a gangster. His first and instinctual answer to the performance was to firmly establish that he didn't sound that ridiculous, but ultimately he didn't say anything at all. The reaction from both Kiyoku and surprisingly the Professor as well were looks of mild disappointment. The teenager couldn't imagine why; but this was the beginning of a long-running gag of Ryūnosuke missing what were, in the eyes of his Karakuran comrades, obvious setups for a counter-punches. The eulogy of Kiyoku's joke was a soft sigh. "Anyway. Is Karakura a long-term thing for you or what, you just visiting?" "Long-term, I think. We have a house here." "The Black Box, right? That's what we call it." "We call it that too, my mom and I." "Is there a story there?" Kiyoku asked curiously and Ryūnosuke scoffed before offering his answer with a dismissive chuckle. "Yeah, the story there is my dad." There was an involuntary iciness in his tone, Ryūnosuke noticed it only as the words left his mouth and then he noticed Kiyoku and the Professor notice it. "Okay then." Kiyoku responded flatly. Ryūnosuke started to worry they might ask him to elaborate on that more and make a conversation out of his family issues. Thankfully, the Manager showed no interest in pursuing the topic further. "And what's the story with the Baseball bat? Iwa-kun said you fended off Baron Quadhorn with it but I assume that's not usually the case. Do you play?" "Iwa-kun." The teenager thought, again remembering the young man with the green trench coat. Ryūnosuke nodded emphatically. "I play a lot.", he affirmed. "Interesting... are you any good?" Kiyoku followed up. Ryūnosuke hesitated. He was uncertain of how to answer. Again not wanting to come across as presumptuous, but the obvious and honest answer in his mind was a resounding "Hell yeah!". Ryūnosuke was just "good" he was one of the best players he knew. A rising star. An ace player with the road to a professional career in the Sport all but laid out before him. No doubt seeing the resistance in his answer Kiyoku continued, "No need to be modest, give us your honest opinion of yourself... or if it helps, just tell us what your friends and coaches say about you." Ryūnosuke took a moment to collect his thoughts and then nodded. "I guess -and I don't mean to brag-" He felt the need to make that point clear. "I'm pretty damn good." "As in-" "Freakishly good, for my age." Ryūnosuke added, quoting his high-school coaches and teammates. "That's what the coaches say, at least... on the school team. I was the Captain until the move here." He ended with no intention of elaborating on the circumstances of his departure from his old team. It wasn't information he was prepared to disclose to anyone yet, least of all strangers he'd just met. "Freakishly good..." Kiyoku repeated, facing the Professor who grinned confidently. Ryūnosuke identified it as the face scientists made when they had a breakthrough or had proven a hypothesis. He recognized the face in both his father but more often in Akane's father and midst their teams of lab coats. "Anything else, Tamura-kun. Anything you can gives us... like incredible feats of physical strength or agility?", asked the Professor. Ryūnosuke's eyes widened. He thought the inquiry was oddly specific, but now that the Professor mentioned it he did have something possibly relevant to add. "Well, I always ace the school fitness tests, but come on... it's not that difficult." "And when you say 'ace' you mean-?" "Top in the prefecture. There is this other guy... he and I always come out on top, but he wasn't from my school." Ryūnosuke elaborated and watched skeptically as the Professor yelped and practically glowed up like a light-bulb. Kiyoku also appeared relieved as the teenager gave his answer. "Okay, that just leave one more thing to get out of the way from our side." Ryūnosuke leaned upright again and held the arm of his seat, "finally", he thought. "Sure, ask away." "Tamura-kun." Kiyoku stared directly at him. Her tone had shifted to one that was markedly more serious than before and it gave the teenager the sense that this was the most important question, the one of greatest consequence in the eyes of the Manager and the Professor. "When did you first start seeing monsters and spirits?" Simple enough. "Last night." Ryūnosuke responded without hesitation. "Before last night I've never seen anything like that. I didn't even believe stuff like that existed!" He paused then and recounted his near-death encounter with Baron Quadhorn. "I... I almost died last night. If it wasn't for your guys in the masks I wouldn't even be here right now." Ryūnosuke hunched forward as the gravity of that realization hit him again. He'd thought he was pass it, but clearly not. He needed a moment and both the Professor and Ms. Sato seemed clued in on that fact and let him have it. "I can't..." Ryūnosuke forcibly stopped himself, he felt his words weren't forming correctly. He was speaking before he had the chance to fully organize his thoughts. He took a deep breath and faced Ms. Sato sternly. "I can't 'almost die' in the middle of a street again. So, I need to know what's going on out there, what that monster was and if there are more of them... I need to know why it attacked me! What the Hell was that energy stuff and what was that stupid thing that was talking to me." Kiyoku pressed her lips and nodded, apparently satisfied with the teenager's response. "I think we've confirmed what we needed to, Professor. Don't you agree.", she stated to her colleague. "Yes, I believe so, Manager Sato.", replied the Professor before he rolled his leather chair closer to the desk and addressed Ryūnosuke. "Tamura-kun. We will explain everything to you now, as promised. But I must warn you it is a lot to take in. I'm afraid if you're going to accept the answers we have to offer you'll have to leave any preconceived notions of what you think you know about reality at the door. The answers we have require that you reexamine the parameters of what you might have previously believed to be impossible or unnatural. Make no mistake, the concepts we're exploring fall well within the realms of the supernatural... with a heavy emphasis on spirituality." The Professor paused briefly, giving his words to moment to seep in. "Are you a religious person, Tamura-kun?" "What?", Ryūnosuke stammered. He heard the question but was unsure of the relevance or if he fully understood its meaning. "Do you believe in the human soul, that people live and when we die we are judged by our character and actions... The afterlife and such, perhaps reincarnation?" The question reminded Ryūnosuke of all his past mistakes and regrets and he wondered if what tormented him was a fear of some divine punishment after death. He preferred to believe it was more than that but he couldn't deny his belief in a divine power played it's part. "I-I guess so.", he replied. "Good, people of faith usually have an easier time accepting what you're about to hear-" "But-" Kiyoku interrupted. "If you ever feel like it's too much and you need a break or want to stop, just let us know." The sincerity in her voice was unmistakable, it reminded him of his mother and how she spoke when she was concerned for him. For better or worse Ryūnosuke appreciated the familiarity and warmth of it, it gave him a bit more confidence that he was prepared and could handle whatever was thrown at him. "I'll be fine. Please, don't hold back.", that seemed to get an approving smile from both Kiyoku and the Professor. The latter spoke again as he interlocked his fingers over the table once more. "Then, let's begin." ----- ... JURI felt the Reiatsu of the strange boy she'd saved the night before radiating from the gift shop long before she and Kanako arrived and from practically a half-mile away. She gasped upon the realization and turned to Kanako (AKA Kitsune), suspecting that she too had felt it. "Kanako-chan, Iwa-kun was right, he must have accepted the invitation!" The soft-spoken Juri noted gaily to her friend and housemate. "Yeah, looks like it." Kanako gave a soft smile, the sincerity of it however extended no further than acknowledging Juri's excitement. "C'mon, Kanako we have to hurry. Move your butt!", Juri exclaimed excitedly as she took Kanako's hand and started to run towards the gift shop. ----- ... KANAKO whined, "Hold on, Juriii!", but allowed herself to be pulled along. She was happy to see Juri happy but, if Kitsune was being completely forthcoming, she hadn't taken any particular interest or liking to the stranger. In fact, as she looked at the long silky strands of Juri's now snow-white hair, Kanako's doubts were only further confirmed and exasperated. It would forever be a reminder of what the stranger had taken from Juri and the potential threat he represented to them all, whether he knew it or not. Nevertheless, she also understood Juri's feelings. Juri was a pure-hearted and innocent and had no ulterior motives at the time she decided to save the stranger. She saved him because she could and it was the right thing to do. They all thought they knew the risk --Juri herself most of all-- but none of them had could have truly anticipated what happened. The cost of saving the stranger's life. They were extremely fortunate things played out the way they did and Kanako feared that cost had caused Juri and Iwa to be more invested in the stranger than they ever should be. ----- ... IWA met Juri and Kanako at the gift shop entrance and invited them inside, tossing them both their aprons as they entered. "Morning, Juri-chan, Kanako-chan... Guess what!", he stated cheerfully. "He's here!" Juri replied and raced into the shop. "Yup, he came right over. Just like I said he would. You must have left quite the impression, Juri-chan!", Iwa jested. Juri took a sarcastic bow and the two shared a laugh. "It's not that big a deal, you two." Kanako muttered and then frowned as her comment seemed to go ignored. Lost to the combined fawning of her two friends. "Do you think he'll join the team?" Juri whispered excitedly. Iwa smiled confidently and gave a thumbs up. "I'm optimistic. Big Sis and the Professor are interviewing him now, so we have to wait and see." "So, does our mystery guy even have a name.", Kanako asked flatly. It was clear she inquired not in any cordial capacity, but simply out of her desire to run a background check later. "Ah!", Iwa exclaimed. Stunned in place before he sighed and rubbed the nape of his neck. "Heheh... I forgot to ask, sorry.", he murmured sheepishly. "Baka." Kanako flatly. "Iwa-kuuun!", Juri pouted. The door of the gift shop swung open behind them with the jingle of a bell. "Morning.", called a familiar voice as Iwa, Juri, and Kanako all half-turned to face the door. ----- ... CHIZURU looked between her three comrades with her right brow raised with curiosity. "Why are you all standing so close to the doorway?" She asked bluntly. She noted the confusion on the faces of all three of her teammates, even Kanako who'd seemed to be slightly annoyed as opposed to ecstatic like Iwa and Juri were. "Morning, Chizuru-chan, have you noticed the guy from last night is here, the one Juri saved!", Iwa exclaimed. "Yeah." Chizuru pressed her lips and tilted her slightly to the side, "Pretty hard to miss." "Morning, Chizuru-chan!", Juri replied cheerfully. "Hey, Chizuru.", Kanako right after her. She'd barely finished before Iwa continued their conversation. "Are you saying you're not the least bit excited by the prospect of having a strong new member on the team? The guy nearly beat Baron Quadhorn!" "No, actually, he nearly got killed by Baron Quadhorn. Remember, we were all there. C'mon, it's not that serious." Chizuru corrected. She didn't believe there was any malice in her statement; but, for reasons that were not entirely different from Kanako's, Chizuru was also somewhat opposed to the ardor with which the others seemed ready to embrace the stranger. As far as she was concerned having a ridiculous amount of Reiatsu alone wasn't of itself grounds to invite anyone into WILD'S and past experience had taught her not to trust so soon. "Thank you!" Kanako interjected with a gasp. "He'd be dead if it wasn't for us showing up and mainly Juri risking her life to save him." Chizuru looked at Juri directly and could see that the fourteen year old was now frowning. Chizuru held her shoulder tenderly. "How are you feeling, Juri-chan." "I'm fine, thank you, Chizu-chan.", she replied softly and sniffled. "That's good... by the way white hair looks just as pretty on you." Chizuru then addressed Iwa who also appeared to slightly disappointed with her lack of enthusiasm and furthermore her lack of acceptance. Chizuru sighed, "Look, I hate to be the buzz kill, but we don't even know this guy. He's clearly pretty powerful, I won't take that from him, but you're putting a lot of trust in a guy we don't even know-" Chizuru caught herself there. She imagined the other would find it ironic that she was making that argument after what she'd done in the past. "I now realize how rich that must sound, coming from me of all people." "No." Iwa replied sharply. "Objectively speaking, you have a point. Besides, we all trusted-" Iwa sighed, he likely wanted to get back on point. Chizuru appreciated it. "Listen, team. All I'm saying is we give this guy a chance. I'm pretty sure he's not secretly working for the police if that's what you're worried about. He nearly died in my arms and no one was coming to help him. I'm not denying there is a slim chance, a very slim chance in my opinion, that we get burned again but what we stand to gain here if this guy is the real deal..." Iwa scoffed and Chizuru could see the gears rapidly turning in his head. No matter how greatly he might have been overlooking the potential risks, she had no doubt that Iwa had thought of all the possible ways having the stranger on the team would benefit WILD'S because that was how Iwa was. Everything he did was for WILD'S first and foremost. "Chizuru, we simply can't pass this up. Big sis and the Professor are vetting the guy as we speak, and this time he's my guy and my burden." Chizuru frowned, she'd almost been convinced but she knew that Iwa knew the reality. "Don't say it.", she thought. "If he burns us, it's on me and I'll handle it.", Iwa declared confidently. Chizuru couldn't resist, she wouldn't hear another word of it. She reached out and grabbed the chest of Iwa's apron and hissed sternly. "Iwa-kun! If he burns us neither of us will be able to handle him... That's it! WILD'S will be done for!" With the last word, she shoved Iwa back. Iwa balled his fist and glanced at both Juri and Kanako, who were both paralyzed with shock. Chizuru regretted putting her hands on Iwa, but didn't show it. He needed to know how serious this was. "I've calculated all the risk and he's worth it." Iwa replied sharply. He then looked to Juri and smiled. "He's worth it.", he reaffirmed. "Let's go, Juri-chan dango store isn't gonna run itself.", Chizuru ended in passing. ----- ... RYŪNOSUKE sat silently absorbed in his thoughts as he tried to grasp the numerous reality-bending mental curve balls being hurled at him by the Professor. It felt like hours had gone by, when really the Professor had barely spoken for thirty minutes; breezing through what was by his own admission the "crash course in the Spiritual World". A world hidden behind a simple veil of perception and awareness that the teenager had only recently crossed completely. A world full of monsters like Baron Quadhorn; "Hollows" they were called. Corrupt spirits of supernatural power, born of the souls of deceased humans unable to pass on peacefully to the afterlife --known as the Soul Society-- for any myriad of reasons. Trapped in the World of the Living, they lose their hearts to strong negative emotions and eventually become Hollows. As Hollows they are driven by an insatiable hunger to devour the souls of the living and the dead alike. Opposed to the Hollows are the Shinigami. The Professor described them as "shepherds of the dead" tasked with guiding souls to the Soul Society and purifying the souls of Hollows by slaying them with special weapons known as Zanpakutō. He noted that while the effectiveness of Shinigami in recent years could be subject for debate, as the teenager might have no doubt agreed given his own near-death run in with the Baron, the Shinigami had their distinct role within the supernatural ecosystem as the "balancers". The equalizing force keeping the collective realms of the universe from falling into total destruction. Ryūnosuke's next question then was about the role of people like himself; the "Spiritually Aware" and specifically Fullbringers: humans with the ability to not only perceive and interact with other spiritual entities but also possess unique supernatural powers of their own. While the Professor gave no definitive answer he did present a theory. It suggested that Fullbringers were just the next natural evolution of the Human race. Nature's inevitable answer to the growing threat posed to humans by powers and forces beyond what most could even perceive. The Professor added, "And if that's the case, then the only true obligation Fullbringers have is to simply survive and procreate, just like any normal human." Ryūnosuke frowned. Given all he'd learned he didn't find that answer very satisfying. To resign himself to the life of a normal oblivious human after discovering he in fact had the potential to be so much more was contemptible to him. Ryūnosuke had always been ambitious, even long before he ever knew he had supernatural powers. Originally, he'd attributed all the signs of it --his ridiculous athleticism, his above-average physical strength and speed, and his exceptional visual perception-- to just being a genetic edge and his own dedication and skill. Even back then he dreamed of setting himself apart and being more. More than his peers, more than his father, more than everyone --more than just another human. To simply live was the opposite of who he was. ----- ... THE PROFESSOR saw the discontent in Ryūnosuke's eyes, just as he'd seen it in all the others and he noted the cruel irony of it. These children who were so much more than they could know and who outclassed anything that could be quantified as statistically "human" were here now by their own volition driven by the very Human yearning for a higher calling. It was admirable, but like all things human, it was flawed. Therein the Professor believed was his own calling. "But, I suspect that isn't the answer you were hoping to hear." The Professor sighed lowly. "It surely isn't the answer the rest of us have accepted.", he baited and Ryūnosuke took the bite. "So, what is your answer?" The Professor smiled warmly and stood up from his seat. "I started WILD'S precisely for people like you, Tamura-kun. Young people, Fullbringers with incredible powers and a drive to do more, to be more. You asked about our roles. Well, mine is to serve as the mentor to those youths. To guide them and advise them so that they can harness their powers as forces of good and make a difference in the world. But also to cultivate a safe environment where they are understood and can feel safe." "So, just like a school principal?" Ryūnosuke asked. The question seemed straightforwards but the Professor read between the lines and understood what the teenager was really asking and chuckled. "Not exactly, Tamura-kun. My purpose and my goal isn't to control you... It's to train you and provide you and those like you with the tools and experiences you need so that you can control yourselves and hopefully hold each other accountable." The teenager fell silent, seemingly accepting or at the very least willing to consider that alternative perspective. "I want to show you something.", said the Professor with a beckoning swing of his arm as the turned to face the map of Karakura on the back wall on the office. ----- ... RYŪNOSUKE looked first to Kiyoku and stood from his chair only as she nodded approvingly. He walked around the desk and stood beside the Professor who coughed and chuckled nervously as the teen stepped into his proximity. "Yes, that's great.", he murmured giving the teenager an awkward and despicable jab in his shoulder. Ryūnosuke thought it best to disregard the interaction entirely and the Professor spoke no more of it either. "So, here we have a map of Karakura...", he explained. Ryūnosuke nodded. "And here-" The Professor hovered his right palm over the map and Ryūnosuke watched with intrigue as markings began to appear on the map as if drawn out of thin air. "Whoa!", the teenager exclaimed. "How'd you-" "Oh, this is nothing. A simple parlor trick, really." The Professor dismissively. "What's really impressive are all these black dots with the circles around them.", he continued point to one such marking as it inked itself on the face of the map. Ryūnosuke watched the different marking as they appeared. Black dots with circles around them, black dots with "X"s drawn through them, areas segmented off with colored lines that appeared, faded, and then appeared again. Of the black dots with circles around them, the teenager counted at least two dozen, but there were plenty more he missed. "What do they mean." He asked finally. "Those are Hollows WILD'S has neutralized in the past week alone. Thirty-eight so far, if you count them. Now who is to say for certain how many souls were in immediate danger from them but at the very least that's thirty-eight humans and spirits saved." Ryūnosuke could hear the pride in the Professor's voice. He didn't blame him either, thirty-eight lives saved from creatures like Baron Quadhorn, that was a remarkable accomplishment. The Professor then pointed to one marking in particular, not too far North-West of the train station. "Here, this one is your encounter with Baron Quadhorn." Ryūnosuke clenched his jaw as he looked at the marking; a larger black dot about twice the size of the others with a circle around it but also an "X" drawn through it. "Unfortunately, we can't get them all. Sometimes we can't make it in time, maybe our hands are tied elsewhere... Sometimes, like with the Baron, we just don't have the power to take them on. We were extremely lucky to have been able to save you when we did, Tamura-kun. Extremely lucky." "No." Ryūnosuke shook his head as his eyes hovered over the map, this time taking note of all the "X"s. He frowned, unable to make a precise count but knowing for sure that as far as he was concerned the number of victims was "too many". "I'm the one who was lucky." Ryūnosuke could feel his emotions swelling in his chest as he remembered the coldness of the pavement beneath him as he laid broken and battered in a pool of his own blood just seconds from death. The face of Baron Quadhorn, his horrifying grin of serrated jaws, flashed in the teenager's mind. He could hear the sharp whip of the Baron's tentacle as it tore through the air and he recounted the sound of his bones snapping beneath his skin. Ryūnosuke felt his terror reignited, but knowing that there were others out there just like him who also suffered as he had or worst filled him with an even greater anger. Ryūnosuke clenched his fist. "So, is this what WILD'S is about?" Ryūnosuke muttered icily, his eyes focused in on the all the black dots. "This and so much more, truly." The Professor elaborated before clearing his throat. "So, you see, Tamura-kun. I-It's our belief that you can do some real good here. With the proper trai-" "Yes." Kiyoku cut in. "This is WILD'S. This is what we do.", she affirmed with a grin, a part of her understood that was all the teenager needed to hear. "Good." Ryūnosuke replied as he made a silent vow to clear the map in front of him of all the "X"s and to hunt and kill Baron Quadhorn specifically. He felt he finally found the reason for everything that had happened. This was it, this was how he set things right. "Where do I sign up?" To Be Continued... ______________________________ WC|5,615 -----
  13. Happy Birthday, dude! 

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