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The Eml

Getting Used to the Life of a Shinigami

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Nariko Mizushima wore a standard issue Shihakusho, the average Shinigami outfit that most wore. It remained completely unaltered, as Nariko wasn't really one to change up her style for the sake of standing out. Her Asauchi was worn on the left side of her obi, also a fairly standard way of carrying it. The zanpakuto was an average length katana, with nothing particularly distinguishable on it. Nariko hadn't imprinted her spiritual energy into it much yet, so it remained a simple and weapon with a black saya, circular black tsuba, and the rest was much the same.

Standing at around 5'4", Nariko wasn't tall by any stretch of the imagination. She was on the thinner side, weighing about 120 pounds when all was said and done. With an average sized bust and a cute face, the pale girl looked like just another average person that you could meet anywhere. She had done up her long black hair in a side ponytail to try and give herself some semblance of uniqueness, but it only did so much to make her stand out any. Her eyes were a striking greyish black, piercingly attentive.

Admittedly, the day to day monotony of life wasn't all that fun. As a newer member of the division, Nariko had been mostly stuck on patrol shifts, rather than going out on hollow exterminating excursions. It wasn't quite the glamorous adventure that the young Shinigami had been looking forward to, but it wasn't without its own benefits. Nariko wasn't completely familiar with the Seireitei or the 9th Division's grounds just yet, and patrol duty was simply perfect for getting her introduced to her new surroundings. It worked out fairly well, since it was so new to her that she hadn't grown bored of seeing the same surroundings all the time. There was so much to explore!

She ventured out on patrol with a group of the unseated officers as well. They were technically under her in position, but seeing as they knew all the routes and had more experience in the squad, she felt like they were more in charge at the moment than she was. Until she got the routes and protocols down, she was just a casual observer, eagerly taking in the white walls of the Seireitei and the tiled paving as if it was the most interesting thing in the world.

In the Rukongai districts where she grew up, it was all dirt and shacks, not much to look at. The same could be said about this place too, to be honest. It all looked the same after a while, but the streets, navigating them, figuring out where things were. That was the fun of it. As the patrol unit walked, Nariko listened to the clicks of their sandals on the tiled ground, a pleasant sound that she hadn't heard much of until recently. The odd thing about new places was how much changed. Looks and sounds, it was all new. At the very least it was similar enough to the Academy, but Nariko had only been around that sort of place for about a year.

As she walked, she listened in on some of the gossip that the other patrolmen were talking about. They were, like her, dressed in the same standard uniform that most members of the Gotei 13 donned. The group was a mixture of men and women of varying heights and sizes. Some of them had similar Zanpakuto to hers, basic and plain, but others seemed to be wrapped in different colored cloth, with different tsuba. They had obviously done some work on charging their blades with spiritual energy while meditating. 

 

WC: 609
TWC: 609

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"Did you hear?" A voice from the patrol offered up, unhelpfully. It was always like that, someone asking a question that inevitably would be responded to with... 

"What?" The equally unhelpful reply came. What was the reply supposed to have been? 'Oh yeah, I did hear.' The thought was almost laughable, but Nariko's interest was drawn in despite herself. Like the rest of the group, she too wanted to know what there was to hear. Curiosity always seemed to overtake her, and she did like to be 'in the know'.

"Squad 4's Lieutenant, Kimi Narakote got challenged to a fight for her spot. I guess she must have lost, because they've got a new Vice Captain! He was promoted right after the fight" the man who was speaking said. Nariko was a little impressed, Vice Captaincy was a pretty freaking big deal. For someone to have beat a Lieutenant, they must be pretty good at fighting. Then again, it was squad 4, and from what Nariko understood, they weren't particularly a combat heavy squad in the first place, so maybe she was thinking too much into it.

"Ah, nah, ye gotit all wrong. I 'eard abou' tha' fight as it may be." A thick accented man spoke, barely comprehensible to Nariko. "Tha way I 'ear things went, tha lad wen' an' loss himself tha match. Pretty 'andily too. Right ol' thrashin' he got." This man was a beast of a man, standing right next to Nariko. He was built like a bodybuilder with a head of shaggy red hair and a beard halfway down his chest. He was easily over 6 and a half feet tall, and was one of the few who had an ornamented zanpakuto. "Fact is, Kimi did 'im so dirty, she got herself thrown in tha Maggot's Nest."

Everyone knew what the Maggot's Nest was. It was a place nobody wanted to go, whether visiting or not. Only dangerous people were housed there. The thought of it made Nariko's skin crawl. She piped up with her own interjection, curious about the now former Lieutenant. "Was she really that dangerous? I thought Division 4 wasn't really a combat squad."

Someone, Nariko didn't catch who replied from the front of the patrol. The voice carried back to them all. "Uh, yeah, she's pretty dangerous. From the rumors I've heard, she is actually in Squad 11, but she went over to Squad 4 and decided she was the Vice Captain and nobody wanted to tell her no. The rest of their division were too much of pushovers." That elicited a few laughs from the patrol, who continued to gossip more and more about Kimi Narakote. The conspiracy theories were starting to become pretty bizarre at a certain point, before the truth inevitably came out.

A bookish looking guy, probably the type who aced all his classes in the academy when it came to the written portions of anything, was of course the one that knew exactly what happened. "No, no. You've all got it wrong. My old classmate is in the 4th Division, and he was there. You see, this man, Casper, wanted to take the Vice Captain's spot, and Kimi.... well, she's a lot like you've all said. She put him through her... tests, and was rather rude, as usual. Injuring her subordinates, and she never fills out the reports like she's supposed to. I mean really, where does she-" Someone coughed, purposefully, as if to tell him to speed it up. It was obvious nobody really wanted to hear him speak. "-uh, right, sorry. Well, he failed, but she challenged him to a fight. He lost, but she'd been reported for her abusive tendencies without properly giving compensation to her officers. She got arrested, and that left the spot vacant, and since nobody else wanted it... well Casper got it."

Someone patted him on the back with a lot of force. "You really need to work on your story telling abilities. Way to kill the mood.

Nariko hid a smile. She felt bad, but agreed at the same time. At least she knew what actually happened in Division 4 now though.

 

WC: 694
TWC: 1303

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Throughout the rest of the patrol, things were mostly quiet, in terms of incidents anyhow. Plenty of talking, gossip, joking, and the like happened, as it was a good way to pass the time. From what she'd gathered, most of the captains and vice captains of the various squads were pretty useless, didn't really do anything, or squabbled amongst each other. One thing led to another and eventually, someone in the patrol suggested that they could probably beat a captain, or a vice captain. The patrol had ended a few minutes before, but the conversation continued, people not wanting to head back and do nothing. 

It was inevitable, then, that people would continue their posturing, and then it shifted into a question of 'who is the strongest one here'.

Naturally, the attention shifted to Nariko, who was the only one present who actually had achieved an actual position in the squad, instead of just being an unseated officer. Putting her hands up, Nariko shook her head. "Oh no, I'm definitely not the strongest here!" she protested. She wasn't quite sure whether or not she was, so she didn't want to say definitively one way or another, nor did she really like to be the center of attention. The entire situation made her feel a little uncomfortable.

The large red-head spoke up then, pointing to her. "Now now, no need ta be bashful. I 'eard you got through tha 'cademy in a year. Direc' placement ta our 'vision in the 19th seat. Tha's worthy of praise." Patting his sword's hilt, he grinned in her direction. "'Ow 'bout it? Wanna give it a go? See 'ow you stack up." Their patrol had officially ended, so there wasn't any real way for her to back down.

In truth, she didn't really want to say no either. Fighting was actually pretty fun, and it was a nice little thing to either get her blood pumping or get her some more experience. One day she wanted to get out and go on a full adventure and have some fun, but she needed to be strong to do that, otherwise she wasn't going to last long if something went horribly wrong. Hollows were dangerous, and there were worse things out there than just some hollows as well. 

"Uhm.... yeah, sure, why not? Don't hold back on me." Nariko said, unsheathing her Asauchi. A few of the people who had been on the patrol moved around to form a wide circle around the two shinigami, but a couple had decided to walk off at this point. There were other things to do after a shift, like drinking, since not everyone enjoyed fighting. There was paperwork to file, reports to make, things like that. 

Her opponent pulled out his own zanpakutou, moving to a proper, aggressive stance. "Name's Kobata Sojiro." Nariko nodded. She'd already introduced herself earlier, so there wasn't much reason to do so now. He knew who she was, but she wasn't necessarily the best at remembering every single person, having been around Squad 9 for such a short amount of time.

 

WC: 516
TWC: 1819

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Kobata and Nariko both squared off, with the much smaller girl analyzing the situation. She knew that most larger and stronger fighters weren't very fast or mobile, and she herself was a lot smaller, which meant she could probably use her smaller size to her advantage. Nariko was much more maneuverable, so as long as she didn't have to take a direct attack from him, assuming they had the same amount of combat skill, then she should be able to whittle him down. Now, it was just a spar, but in her experience, they could be pretty brutal, with the average spar leaving someone needing to go to the Medical Bay for healing. While not as brutal as Squad 11 when it came to fights, Squad 9 wasn't exactly a pushover when it came to combat.

Kobata was actually fairly close to being a seated officer, not far behind Nariko in terms of rank and prestige in the division. Many people knew him, and he was fairly respected, so he wasn't exactly expecting to lose to Nariko. In all honesty, he had been the previous Seat #20, but Nariko's promotion to Seat #19 had bumped him back as the previous 19 was shoved to 20. It wasn't projected to last all that long, and he was going to challenge the current 20 for his seat back, but he wasn't too concerned. The point was, Kobata wasn't the average Shinigami fighter.

Spoiler

-Kobata- | -Nariko- (potential still hidden)

Reiatsu: 41k | 70k (40-ish K)
Speed  41 | 104 (50)
Power  46 | 84
Str:  55 | 42 
Reir: 23 | 84 (40)
Stamina 59 | 61
Percept 41 | 85 (50)

Nariko opened up with a cautious approach, sliding forward slowly so that she was approaching him while still able to react to a sudden change. It was good that she did so because he was actually a lot faster than he looked. Kobata lunged forward, bringing his weapon up and around to launch a side strike at Nariko. Shifting her asauchi to her side, to block, she braced the weapon with her forearm near the top, and the two blades clashed. He was quite strong, exactly as she had thought he would be. Skidding to the side from the force of his strike, Nariko tucked into a roll as a second strike came around from the other direction. It zoomed over her, and she stood back up with a counter of her own.

Her blade caught the inside of Kobata's left shin, biting into his skin and forcing him down to a knee as she slashed him. She had some pretty decent force behind her own strike as well. It wasn't necessarily a surprise to the large man that she was fast enough to dodge, but the power in her swing was a bit more than he would have expected for such a new shinigami. Just that initial exchange alone was enough for him to understand why she had been placed so quickly into a squad.

Exiting the roll and rising to her feet, Nariko lunged forward with a quick strike towards Kobata's left shoulder, but he brought up his own blade to meet hers, the resulting clash ringing out as the sound of metal on metal resonated around the area. They then went back and forth while Nariko kept raining down strikes to keep him from standing back up. Unable to give the proper stance and mechanics, his full strength wasn't able to be used. Still, he was plenty able to take the force of her own strikes, and managed to lunge forward and get back up after a few rounds of strikes between them.

The lunge forward forced Nariko to leap backwards, narrowly avoiding taking a stab from her opponent. Besides the slash on his leg, she hadn't managed to penetrate Kobata's defense at all. While she'd come close, her speed certainly giving her an advantage, she didn't have the full form just yet. Her Zanjutsu skills weren't top notch, and her attacks were mostly ad libbed. Her stance wasn't perfect, and there was a lot that she herself left open to attack. While her skills and natural ability were impressive, she was still more or less a novice relying on instinct and basic theory.

 

WC: 677
TWC: 2,496

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Kobata hefted his weapon onto his shoulder pretty casually, eyeing up the woman in front of him. Nariko kept her eyes on him as well, unsure what he was doing. That left him very open, so it could have also been that he was fine with the spar ending as it was. The other patrolmen watched on with eager eyes, waiting to see if it would continue. Truth be told, the two of them were faster and stronger than any of them could individually do, so watching was about as much fun as they would have. Nariko's stance seemed to lessen and Kobata grunted and then laughed, sheathing his sword.

"If tha's wha' yah are like righ' outta tha 'cademy, I can't wait tah see yah once yah've got some actual fuckin' experience girl. Yah're betta than me, 'f only jus' a wee bit. Well, in some ways, at leas'." He conceded the match right there. It was probably more out of respect than anything else. From the showings he'd seen, and her lack of form, a fight to the death probably would have ended in him winning in the end. Kobata had gone through extensive training, and he wasn't a masterful swordsman, but he wasn't a novice who was swinging a stick around by any stretch of the imagination. He'd learned more than just the basics of combat and it was what he specialized in. Given time and his analysis of her weaknesses, he probably could have exploited an opening she'd left at some point.

Nariko sheathed her own weapon, having been doing a bit of thinking herself. She'd noticed during their small exchange that she hadn't been actually running out of energy while doing any of that. She would have thought that a flashy exchange of blows and blocking would usually leave her a little tired. In fact, she felt like she could have pushed a little bit more speed out and still been fine. It was a strange thing to her. Nariko thought back to when she had been told she would be getting advanced training after graduation, to help her focus better on working with her spiritual energy and Reiatsu. Perhaps once she started to do that, she would actually be able to push herself to her actual potential.

"I look forward to our rematch once my formal training is actually completed. I think I'll do much better then." she said. Bowing to Kobata, she waved to the group, who were sad it had come to an end.

"Ah, c'mon, fight some more!" "You gotta actually fight until one of you can't!" "I want my money back" An overlap of voices called out, whining about this and that. Nariko laughed it off, but she was fine with being done. Not that she was being a bitch or anything, but she didn't necessarily want to go to the Medical Bay, nor did she want to send anyone else to the Medical Bay either. It was time for her to head home and get something to eat anyhow.

 

WC: 510
TWC: 3,006

-Exit Thread-

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