“You are no brother of mine,” Seijuro spat, striding forward, almost knocking Hitsugaya out of the way as he practically charged at the screen. “You killed our mother and left me do die in the middle of a fu
cking war when I was five years old. You have no idea how much I want to kill you, Muyomi
Ryuu stared fixedly at Seijuro, listening as the Squad 7 Captain snarled at this man Muyomi, feeling his reiatsu spike to dangerously high levels, higher even than the levels he had produced earlier before arriving at the meeting. The reiatsu in his body is unsealing itself and being emitted. I didn’t even think that was possible to this extent. I thought that it was because he had released his Bankai earlier, but perhaps it was something else. Hmm…
Muyomi laughed through the screen, his cackles were loud and immoderate, but then his volume dropped to a creepy giggle. “Oh, what’s wrong bro? You mad that I tossed you out like the trash you were?” His eyes glittered with amusement. “Or wait, that’d be the trash that you still are.”
Seijuro’s hands clenched involuntarily, he gnashed his teeth and his shoulders tightened, his aggressive posture only exacerbating the new wave of reiatsu that poured out of him, the force of it beginning to make the floor and ceiling creak
under the strain. Several of the other Captains raised their eyebrows at the unusual amount of power he was displaying. One Captain, however, decided to take action.
Kida stepped forward and clapped a hand on Seijuro’s shoulder, emitting a wave of her own reiatsu to disrupt his. “Calm down, Arashi,” she muttered, making sure they were the only ones who could hear. “You know what could happen if you lose it.”
He tensed, then relaxed as Kida’s reiatsu disrupted his own and broke the spell of his anger. “Thanks,” he grunted, turning his attention back to the screen. “Now I see what you were trying to do, ba
Muyomi’s maddening giggle sent a creepy shiver through the air, anyone with any sort of spiritual senses could tell that he was clearly insane. “Took you long enough, bro.” He giggled again, turning his attention to Kida. “And the little wolf-bi
tch is the one keeping you under control? I thought she’d be the one on a leash.”
Kida, who had been walking back to her spot in the assembly, stopped cold and turned around slowly to face Muyomi. “Wolf-bi
tch?!” she snarled, her ears and tail standing on end as she faced the screen. “You’re one to talk, you mental psycho!”
Senny and Golde both sweatdropped at her quick turnaround, she had just calmed Seijuro down before she flew into a rage. Oh the irony.
Muyomi nodded at her insult, a huge grin adorning his face. “I guess what I heard was right, your bark is worse than your bite.”
Kida growled and took another step towards the screen, but Seijuro blocked her path with an arm. “Move it, Arashi!” she snapped.
“Punching the screen isn’t going to do anything but hurt your hand and stop him from saying what he wanted to,” he reasoned, not facing her. “So take your own advice and chill.” She cast him a withering glare, so he continued. “Just… I don’t want to say let me handle this, but it’s me he wants.” He glared at Muyomi. “Isn’t that right, brother?”
For the first time, some semblance of surprise crossed Muyomi’s face before he reverted to his habitually crazy grin. “Why the sudden shift, bro?” he asked. “You finally accepting the fact that we’re related, or what?”
Seijuro coughed dryly into his sleeve before he stared at him again. “Just ask what you wanted to already. I’ve got work to do before you guys attack.”
The crazed man’s cackling filled the room in response to his brother’s statement. “Oh, that’s rich bro, that’s rich!” he chortled, before staring back into Seijuro’s eyes with his unnerving glare. “You really think you’ll be able to stop us? Let alone that you’ll be able to keep yourself under control?”
Seijuro’s eyes narrowed as he noticed something beneath his brother’s cloak. A ruby-red line, tracing from left to right across his chest from his shoulder to his hip. “I see. You have it too.”
Muyomi’s smile became less crazed and more satisfied, he leaned back in… whatever he was sitting on, it was too dark on the screen to tell, and put his hands behind his head, revealing that it was not one, but three jagged ruby lines across his body. “’Course I do, bro. I was the firstborn, remember?” He smiled casually at Seijuro’s discomfort, his sanity actually seemed to be returning. “How far has yours gotten? 60% completion or something, right?”
“It was at 75% before you pi
ssed me off,” he muttered, shifting his back uncomfortably. “It’s probably closer to 80% now.”
Muyomi raised an eyebrow, his smile actually disappearing from his face. “This could turn out better than I thought,” he murmured, less for secrecy and more for dramatic effect. “Well, for what it’s worth, don’t get yourself killed.” His grin reappeared on his face in its full creepy glory. “Because I want to be the one to do it.”
Seijuro put a grin on his face to match that of his brother’s, and for the first time, most of the Captains noticed that it wasn’t just in looks that they were alike. “Feeling’s mutual, bro,” he said with a laugh, reaching down for the controls on the screen. “See ya.” He terminated the connection, erasing the grin from his face, turning and facing his fellow Captains and the Lieutenants, noticing that most of them were staring at him, some with looks of distrust, others with question marks practically painted on their foreheads. He sighed, he felt ages older than his seventeen year old appearance would indicate. “I’m guessing you guys have a lot of questions,” he grumbled, rubbing his back of his head in annoyance. “This is going to eat up another meeting and a half worth of time, so sit down, please.”
“That long?” Cameron whined. “It’s so damn borin’! It’s time fer me t’kill, dammit.”
“You can leave, Cameron,” Seijuro said coldly. “If you’re not going to take this business more seriously, then you have no place in this meeting.” How I was the only Captain to end up with a "Special Needs" Lieutenant, I'll never know. Meh, at least he does his job well.
“Alright, alright,” he grumbled, sitting still.
“And what exactly are you going to tell us?” Hitsugaya asked Seijuro. His voice was level and calm, but as the temperature in the room had dropped a few degrees at the words, it was plainly obvious that he was just about ready to turn the entire Seireitei into a skating rink.
Seijuro grimaced, tugging the bloodied Captain’s haori off of his shoulder and sitting on the ground, his legs crossed under him. “How about this?” he offered, tilting his head towards his superior. “You give me a starting point, I’ll answer you and take it from there. If I’m losing focus, you pull me back. That work for you, Head Captain?”
“Fair enough,” Hitsugaya grunted, walking across to room to sit opposite Seijuro. The other Captains and Lieutenants also moved, forming a ring of sorts as they sat.
Seijuro turned, noticing that Kida was still seated on his left. “Kida, you’ll have to help me fill in some bits,” he told her. She nodded grimly, but said nothing. Her eyes were seeping with some emotion he couldn’t place. Was it anger? Sorrow? He couldn’t read the expression on her face.
“Alright Captain Arashi,” Hitsugaya started. “Let’s begin. How about with what you and your brother were talking about?”
“You mean those marks,” Seijuro said grimly. Hitsugaya inclined his head, so Seijuro turned to Kida. “Can you show them? Mine are on my back, so it’s kinda akward.”
She smirked at him. “Never thought you’d be the type to mind taking your clothes off in public,” she said, her voice practically dripping with sarcasm. Most of those present chuckled.
He glared back. “Please, Kida. Normally I’d laugh like the rest of you, but today I’ve had my subordinates murdered, my arm nearly amputated, the person I hate the most show up and taunt me, and we’ve got an army full of Captain-class fighters hiding in the shadows waiting to strike and butcher us all. It’s not a good day for laughter. Not to mention that you’re sinking to Dauc’s level of humor, which is irritating.”
“And that in itself says something,” she replied in annoyance, gripping her left sleeve roughly with her other hand. “I’m as pi
ssed off as you are right now.” She rolled up her sleeve, and the room drew a collective breath.
Three jagged lines, almost looking like sword wounds, ran down her arm. They were turquoise blue, but they glittered with a lilac sheen when the light hit them. “This mark is known as the Kizuato Toorima, the Phantom Scar,” she explained, raising her voice slightly to override the murmuring between several others in the room. “This is the same mark that Arashi and his brother both have.”
“So what does it do?” Golde asked, his curiosity unabated by the sudden turn of events.
“Simply put, it’s a mark from a certain Zanpaktou, and its effects mess with any spiritual entity’s powers, abilities, and even their mental state,” Seijuro clarified.
“You wouldn’t happen to know the name of this Zanpaktou, would you?” Senny asked casually.
Seijuro couldn’t help but chuckle. Senny was like that, always calm and good-natured, and even in the darkest of times he could still bring some semblance of normality. Many times, he’d been the one to keep Seijuro going while they were both training under Captain Infernou almost two decades ago. “Yeah, I do.” Kida gave him a bit of a surprised glance, but didn’t say anything. “It’s known as Ojiki no Tsume.”
“The claw of fear,” Jin muttered. “How appropriate.”
“Quite so,” Hanatarou replied. “Seijuro, can you clarify what you meant earlier when you said it ‘messes with’ spiritual entities?”
“Yeah, if the mark activates, then they have a huge burst of power and sometimes new abilities, at the cost of their reason,” he explained. “And when I say huge, I mean enough power to take a barely trained Shinigami and make him a match for a seated officer. Or, to put it another way, enough power to make a Lieutenant a Captain-class, or a Captain a match for the Head Captain.”
The room grew quiet at the explanation, until Dre raised the question that had been on everyone’s minds. “So, this is a war now?”
“Of course it is,” Kida snapped. “These guys are nothing to scoff at, they’re probably more dangerous than the Espada were.”
“Surely the leader can’t be as dangerous as Aizen was,” Arc commented.
“Dead wrong, Arc,” Seijuro said flatly. “The leader of this group is the wielder of Ojiki no Tsume.” This time, surprise manifested itself in the form of dead silence. “I recognize it from when I did some research to find out what gave me the mark. If just its mark can make an unseated Shinigami a match for a seated officer, I shudder to think at what the sword itself is capable of.”
“And you didn’t see fit to share this information with us?” Luppi hissed.
“I just did.” Seijuro shook his head. “It’s not like you guys would’ve given me time or a spare thought.”
“You should have more faith in your fellow Captains,” she interjected.
“Really?” Seijuro asked with a glare. “Because, from where I’m sitting, it doesn’t look like you guys have all that much faith in me.”
His words sent a cold shiver through the room; even the ice wielders who were present felt the full sting of his statement. “That was uncalled for, Seijuro,” Jordan said, his voice low. “I get that you’re frustrated, but don’t take it out on us. We’re worried about all this too.”
Seijuro sighed. “You’re right, sorry Jordan.” He glanced up. “I think we’re losing focus, so does somebody want to pose a question to get us back on track?”
Nobody spoke, until Rukia broke in. “How did you and your brother get the marks?” she asked, the she nodded towards Kida. “Captain Ookami, you as well.”
“I’ve had the marks for as long as I can remember,” Seijuro said with a shrug. “Muyomi too, although since he’s older, he probably had his before me.”
Kida stayed quiet when her turn came, but eventually she spoke. “I was… created with these powers.”
“You were created with
your powers?” Toshirou asked, his eyebrow raised in suspicion. “Explain.”
Kida scowled, but Ryuu butted in. “Would you rather that I explain?” he asked. Kida nodded gratefully, having enough stress to deal with already.
“Division 12 created Test Subjects 041 and 042, Chii and Kida Ookami, as subjects for an experimental program known as Pale Claw,” the researcher intoned. “This was before I was a member of Division 12, under the command of Mayuri Kurotsuchi. Both Ookami sisters were created to mimic the effects of an unnamed Zanpaktou, which we now know as Ojiki no Tsume. Both experiments succeeded to a certain extent, although the wolf ears, tail, fangs, and other attributes were unintended side effects.” He gestured to Kida, on whom all the supposed “side effects” were clearly visible. “Kurotsuchi proceeded to test their abilities under various conditions. The tests were… extreme and inhumane at times, and so a young unseated researcher in 12th Division, Dauc Narcisse, took action and told Head Captain Hitsugaya after the Winter War ended.”
“That’s not what he told me the experiments were, though,” Hitsugaya muttered. “Considering the amount of misinformation I seem to be getting today, it’s not altogether surprising.
“The experiments ended,” Ryuu droned on tonelessly. “And both sisters were folded into the Shinigami Academy.” He broke out of his daze, tilting his head to the side and looking at Kida curiously. “However, one element still needs to be explained. Kida, how did Chii really die?”
So many shocks had already happened within the last half hour that most expected nothing to faze them. However, the fact that the death of one of their Captains had been covered up was something nobody had expected, save for Seijuro, Ryuu, and Senny, all of which apparently knew this was coming. Several Captains gave cries of shock and outrage, others only shot looks of confusion at those who were unresponsive.
Kida bit her lip, but she nodded. “It’s about time you knew,” she sighed. “Chii and I went out on an inter-squad expeditionary team forty years ago. Arashi, who was an unseated Shinigami in Squad 6 at the time, was to be part of the team. Chii was still the Captain of Squad 3, and I was her Lieutenant.” She cast a somewhat bitter glance at Seijuro before continuing. “We encountered a large group of about 300 Hollows about three days from the Seireitei, and we defeated the majority of them, but there were just too many for our ten-person team to handle. I… sort of blanked out, sometime in the middle of the fight, and when I came back around… everyone but Arashi and I were dead.”
“I got lucky,” Seijuro interjected. “I had been incapacitated by a Hollow just two minutes before everything happened, so I couldn’t get involved.” He looked at Kida, but she was staring straight down at the floor, her eyes practically boring a hole in the wood. “When Kida ‘blanked out’, it was the Kizuato Toorima activating. Chii’s mark activated in response to her sister’s, and all hell broke loose. Together, they decimated not only all 100 Hollows remaining, but also the other seven Shinigami, before turning on each other.”
“Why didn’t yours activate?” Zameric asked.
“Because it was only at about 20% completion,” he answered, drawing a few looks of confusion. “The mark fully activates twice, I believe. Once, when it’s first manifested and the user is pushed to their limit, and another when it’s fully manifested itself under the same conditions. Certain other things, like extreme anger or another mark activating nearby can set off the marks too. After that, the user apparently gains control of it.”
“So, Kida beat Chii? But didn’t both of their marks activate at nearly the same time?” Rotrum wondered aloud.
“I was using Bankai at that point,” Kida muttered. “Chii was still in Shikai.” The fact that she already had Bankai as a Lieutenant didn’t seem to surprise anyone, though with the day they’d had so far, shock was becoming way too common anyway.
“And without either of you having your reason, you couldn’t stop,” Jin surmised, a grim look in his eyes.
Kida nodded again, and the whole room grew silent, as though everyone was paying respect to Chii’s memory. No one spoke, no movement was made, not even a single trace of reiatsu penetrated the air until Kida sighed, and the spell over the room broke. “I think I’m done for the day,” she muttered, running a hand through her hair. “You can handle the rest, Arashi.”
“Fine,” he said with a nod. “You’ve done more than enough.”
“Captain Arashi, considering the danger of the situation, what do you think is the best course of action?” Hitsugaya asked.
Seijuro looked slightly apprehensive at the question, his mouth a thin line. “There’s not much you really can do,” he said, somewhat evasively. “There’s nothing that can stop the mark from activating. Once I enter Wraith state…”
state?” Arc asked. “Wreath state? You’re going to turn into a Christmas decoration?”
All eyes turned to the white-haired Lieutenant, noticing the timid smile adorning his lips, then everyone in the room started laughing like they had forgotten how to laugh. Blue rolled backwards until he literally flopped over, Jordan and Dre guffawed loudly, holding their sides, and even Rukia, who was a living iceberg, still gave a dry chuckle. Seijuro covered his face with his hand, laughing into his palm for a while. After a few minutes of just general laughter on everyone’s part, many people sighed and gulped in air with relief as they collected themselves.
“Thanks for that Arc,” Hitsugaya said, smiling. “I think all of us needed that, after how stressful this has been for all of us.”
Arc beamed at the praise, nodding vigorously. “You’re welcome, anytime,” he laughed. “Seijuro, what were you saying?”
“Wraith state,” he chuckled. “Not wreath. Wraith as in spirit or phantom. It’s the state anyone with the Kizuato Toorima enters when the mark activates.” He gave an involuntary shudder. “Creepy stuff. My powers… become darker, I’ll just put it that way. Anyone my sword stabs into loses their life force when I’m in Shikai state. I don’t even know how dangerous it’d be if I was in Bankai state.”
Hitsugaya’s eyes narrowed. “So basically, there’s nothing to do but keep you separate from your Zanpaktou while we wait for the mark to activate. Then we could have a few Captains fight you at intervals inside a Kidou barrier until you calm down.”
Seijuro glanced in Hitsugaya’s direction, a slight shadow lurking in his gaze. “That could work, I guess,” he said, shrugging. “You’ll have to lock me up until then, though. Do you really think that’s wise when we’re at war?”
“If we’re going to have to fight Captain-class enemies, I’d rather we don’t have somebody with the power to kill with a single cut running around unchecked,” Hitsugaya replied, turning to Jin. “Captain Hunter, I believe that you have seki-seki cuffs?”
The Onmitsukidou Commander glanced at his superior with surprise. “I do, but why? Captain Arashi isn’t a criminal.”
Seijuro spoke for the Head Captain. “Jin, please. I’m sure he’s just doing this as a precaution. When you’re dealing with a monster, you can never be too sure.” He said the last sentence like he had a foul taste in his mouth. “Just do it.”
Jin stood, walking over to Seijuro. “You sure?”
“Yeah. I can’t put you guys at risk because of me,” he sighed, standing and tossing his Captain’s Haori to Hitsugaya. “I temporarily resign as Captain of Squad 7 until this crisis is over,” he said, holding out his hands for the cuffs.
Jin fumbled with the cuffs, and Seijuro immediately took advantage. “Bakudou 21: Sekienton!” he shouted, a red smoke bomb going off in his hands, temporarily blinding everyone. He bolted out of the ring of Shinigami, bursting through the door and kicking off the outside railing with shunpou.
Hitsugaya covered his face with his arms, shielding himself from the smoke. He’s making a break for it. That bastard, does he plan on treason?!
“Rotrum, with me!” he shouted, charging for the doors while unsheathing his Zanpaktou.
“Yes sir!” Rotrum cried, rushing forward, but he noticed a flash of black and quickly drew his sword, clashing the blade of a sneering Cameron.
“Yer not goin’ anywhere, Popsicle breath,” Cameron cackled.
“Blue, you son of a-“
Hitsugaya glanced back, realizing what had happened. Lieutenant Blue stopped him, damn. I guess I’ve got to do this by myself.
“Reign Over the Frosted Heavens!” he roared, an icy dragon sprouting from the tip of his blade. “Hyourinmaru!”
Seijuro turned in midair, drawing his hulking tachi and bracing it with both hands just as Hitsugaya swung the ice dragon his way. “Ravage, Garou,” he growled, the blue beam of light reflecting off the approaching dragon’s frozen scales before the shortened silver blade cleaved through it, devouring and absorbing its power.
Hitsugaya charged forward, raising his sword to strike, when a purple bar of energy appeared in Seijuro’s left hand. “Bakudou 62: Hyappo Rankan!” he shouted, whipping the energy rail at Hitsugaya before it split into a hundred rails mid-flight.
Hitsugaya swore under his breath, flashing between the rails three times before he flashed down. His intuition proved correct as he saw the fugitive Captain rushing along the street below him with Shunpou. “Arashi!” he snarled, charging in for another strike.
At the last possible second, Seijuro turned and dove under Hitsugaya, slashing upwards with his blade. Hitsugaya wobbled in midair, realizing belatedly that Arashi had just cut through the spiritual pathway of his shunpou with his sword’s abilities. He crashed to the ground, skidding across the street and smashing into a wall due to his uncontrolled momentum.
Seijuro grimaced, a small cut forming on his shoulder, before turning and rushing down the road again. I don’t want to fight with the Head Captain. Even with my full abilities, I’d be no match for him; I was barely able to dodge that strike. My only chance is to use my lesser reiatsu to my advantage, if I can get enough distance between us, I can hide myself and my spiritual presence with Kidou.
“YOU’RE NOT GETTING AWAY! BANKAI!”
Seijuro spun and swung with all his strength, an enraged Hitsugaya clashing headlong into his blade with his own, ice wings enveloping his body and arms. The Head Captain pushed with as much force as he could muster, forcing Seijuro back along the street with his feet tearing up the ground. Hitsugaya snarled, swinging his blade out with an almighty push, hurling Seijuro into the air in an uncontrollable tumbling spin.
He smashed through the wooden door of the West Gate, slamming into Jidanbou’s head and forcing the giant gatekeeper to his knees before hurtling into the ground. He stabbed his blade into the ground to get his balance pulling it out and coughing like an asthmatic.
“It’s over.” Seijuro’s gaze snapped up, Hitsugaya descending in front of him and pointing his sword at the fallen Captain’s face, icicles starting to form on the edge of the blade. “Surrender and-“
Seijuro’s sword hand twitched, and a blue energy wave blossomed from the tip of his blade, burning into Hitsugaya’s chest and throwing him back to the base of the giant wall that surrounded the Seireitei. He ran again, rushing full speed into the Rukon District. If that doesn’t buy me enough time, I’m out of cards that I can play. I just hope I didn’t do any serious damage.
Hitsugaya suddenly rose from the dust cloud at the base of the wall, assuaging one of his fears and piquing another. Shit, I can’t hide. He’ll catch me in no time.
“There you are,” Hitsugaya growled, a storm of various ice shards swirling around him from his intense reiatsu. He raised his sword, preparing to fire all of it at Seijuro, just as a shadow fell across his back.
“Gotcha!” Cameron screamed, slamming his sword into Hitusgaya’s ice wings, cracking them slightly.
He raised his sword to strike again, but Toshirou spun and grabbed him by the throat, freezing him in a sheet of ice from his toes to his neck.
Seijuro, who had flattened himself against the back wall of a nearby building, tightened his grip on his sword. Part of him wanted to go help his Lieutenant, but he knew that if he did, they’d both be accused of treason, and he’d have to take Blue with him, which was not an option. “Bakudou 26: Kyokko,” he muttered, turning slowly invisible and masking his reiatsu. I’m sorry for leaving you guys like this, but as I said, I can’t let you get hurt because of me.
He turned away, walking calmly into the nastiest part of the Rukon District. This is my problem, and I’ll deal with it myself.
He stopped cold, realizing that he needed to let someone in the Seireitei know to do some research on Kizuato Toormia. He focused, calling a Hell Butterfly to his position. The small black insect fluttered down, landing on an invisible finger as though it knew he was there. He held it up to his face, giving it the message he needed it to relay before releasing it into the late afternoon sky, knowing it would take a few hours before his message reached its recipient.
“This has been one hell of a day,” he grumbled, resealing his Shikai and sheathing his sword before dispersing the blade back into his inner world for stealth purposes. And there’s only going to be more to come in the following days.
Kida had just left the final of today’s three Captain’s meetings, and she was tired in every sense of the word. Her blue ears drooped, her eyeballs were dry from too much staring, and her back ached from standing and sitting without proper support. “I just want to go back to the barracks and sleep,” she grumbled to herself. “Hayashi has it right, sometimes just sleeping and putting up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign is the best thing to do.”
She practically stumbled into the barracks, almost bumping literally into the very person she’d just been thinking of, her Lieutenant. “Oops, watch out Captain,” he joked, steadying his Captain with a strong hand on the shoulder. “You look beat.”
Kida glanced over at him with an air fake surprise. “You’re not asleep yet?” she asked mockingly. “And I look beat, hmm… maybe that’s because there were three bloody Captain’s meetings today
Hayashi chuckled. “Definitely would explain why you’re so cranky.” This only got him a very tired deathglare from Kida, so he continued. “Before you rip my head off, is there anything important I should know about?”
“Captain Arashi defected and is on the run, Lieutenant Blue is being held in the Maggot’s Nest under suspicion of high treason, the Arrancars can’t be reached by our communications, the dead villains of the past are rising from their graves, oh, and did I mention that Arashi’s brother and the person who cursed every Shinigami with a wolf spirit Zanpaktou in the Soul Society are trying to destroy us all?”
Yasushi Hayashi had never gaped as widely as he did at the end of Kida’s statement since Ryuu had given him a lecture on the structure of Rubix Cubes. “That… is certainly a mess,” he said plainly, not much else coming to his mind.
Kida sighed. “Now do you get it?” she grumbled, stumping past him towards her quarters. “I’m going to bed, so to steal your line, ‘Wake me up and you’ll end up as a barbeque’.”
She opened the door to her room, not even taking the time to get into sleep clothing, just slamming her door shut before throwing herself down onto the bed and hoping for sleep to come.
Some twenty minutes of lying aimlessly later, she rolled over, taking in the starry night sky she had painted on her ceiling during a fit of boredom. I’m not going to get any sleep at this rate. Might as well do what I always do when I get bored, make some art.
She rolled herself out of bed and swayed to her feet before walking unsteadily out of her room and across the hall to her art studio.
Inside, cases of every art supply imaginable covered the walls, from oil pastels and paintbrushes, to sidewalk chalk and granite chisels. A battered black artist’s easel stood in the middle of the room, several blank painters’ canvases under the easel just waiting for their turn to become a masterpiece of the famed “Artist of the Wild”. Kida sat down on an equally battered stool, raising her paintbrush to the canvas she had plucked off the floor and just letting go.
Her brushstrokes were fluid and flawless, tracing lines of color across the white emptiness. She snatched up another brush and proceeded to continue while using both hands, crossing and occasionally switching her brushes from hand to hand, dipping for more paint and going back into a steady rhythm as though no interruption had occurred.
After a few minutes, she heard a knock at the door, and noting she was finished (she was just letting her hand move as it pleased), she put her paintbrush back and walked over to the entrance to the room.
She opened the door, finding Hayashi standing there with a Hell Butterfly on his outstretched palm. “There’s a sealed message for you on this,” he said quietly. Kida gave him an odd look, so he elaborated. “It’s from Captain Arashi.”
Kida’s eyes widened. “And you didn’t inform the Head Captain?” she asked.
Hayashi shook his head. “If I did, he’d pull a Yamamoto and start accusing every Squad 3 member of high treason.”
Kida nodded, and took the Hell Butterfly from his hand. “Thanks, Hayashi.” She shut the door behind her, letting her reiatsu flow into the black swallowtail so it would play its message.
Kida, this is Seijuro. I need you to get Dauc on the case of figuring out more about the Kizuato Toorima, and enlist the help of Captains you can trust. Ryuu’s going to be busy with strengthening the Seitreitei’s defenses, so he’s out. If I’m wrong, then I’ve played right into Akumu’s hands, but it’s all we’ve got to go on. Don’t worry, I haven’t committed treason for no reason. Also, keep an eye out for Blue or have someone either you or I trust do it, please. I will come back, and I will have control of the mark when I do. One last thing, now that I’m gone, you can freely enter Wraith State without setting me off, so don’t hesitate to use it if you need to. I'm sorry for dumping this on you on short notice, but you're the only Captain in a position to help with this.
Sincerely, Seijuro Arashi
Kida shook her head, letting the Hell Butterfly back out the door before facing her easel again to see what she’d painted. She gasped, realizing she had painted Ryookami as she would appear in their Wraith State
. Her eyes were pure white, with turquoise and lilac colored energy shining all around her body. The tribal marks all over her body appeared stark black against the harsh light, her back was arched into a predatory stance, and the background of the nighttime sky did nothing to soften the image. Kida backed up into the door, her breath catching in her chest as she bolted out of her studio and rushed into her room, slamming the door loudly behind her.
I can’t believe it… I drew that without thinking… this is too messed up.
She stumbled over to her bed, collapsing into a heap and curling into a ball on the mattress. Ugh… I just hope this mess doesn’t get any worse.
She finally drifted off to sleep, the image of Ryookami’s ferocious gaze burned into the back of her eyelids as she shut down.