The pair walked through the gate, and Genpaku was blinded by the light coming from it for a moment. When he opened his eyes again, he laid his sight upon Seireitei for the first time; his eyes followed the line of the giant ivory tower that stood like a crown at the top of a large hill. There was a large jutting outcrop that hung out into thin air. The buildings were all of an older design, reminiscent of ancient times in Japan. He felt a light pressure on his back, and he looked back at Ukitake, who gave him a small smile and directed him forward. He followed along, noting the fact that he was getting strange looks from some of the Shinigami he passed. His hand instinctively curled around one of his Zanpaku-tous, but he continued to follow Ukitake through the twists and turns. He wasn’t entirely sure where he was being led and he didn’t know how he felt about it either. People constantly turned and bowed to Ukitake as he passed them, much to his apparent annoyance as he told them to stop. It wasn’t until someone called out “Ukitake-taicho” that he began to piece things together. He didn’t know exactly where Captains sat in this structure, but the position certainly seemed to command respect.
Finally they came to a stop before a giant door with the symbol for One painted on it.
”This is the Headquarters of the First Division. The So-Taicho(Captain Commander) of the Gotei 13 resides here.” Ukitake spoke up, sensing a question.
”Gotei 13?” Genpaku responded without looking away from the door.
”Think of it as the military of Soul Society.”
That was all he really needed to hear. They proceeded inside, and were led through hallways and rooms, twists and turns, and finally to a large closed door. Ukitake knocked lightly.
”Who is it?” an older voice rang out; it rang clear with the sound of authority and power.
”Captain Ukitake of the Thirteenth Division. I’ve brought the Phantom Shinigami.”
Silence fell upon the area for several moments; long enough to make Genpaku wonder if he had made the correct decision. Could he still run? Where would he go at this point?
”Enter,” the voice commanded, because make no mistake it was an order not a request. The doors opened for a marvelous view of the area, and only now did he have the proper perspective to see the fact that Soul Society was massive; the buildings stretched out to the horizon where they hit a wall, and then continued. Honestly, he could have stood there and just marveled at the view for hours; the sound of someone clearing their throat brought him out of his wonder though, and he turned to find an old man sitting at a desk. Standing a ways back from the old one was another man who looked younger though by no means young; greyed hair and a distinguished appearance hinted at a higher standing, though the absence of the white overcoat meant he might not be as high as the old man and Ukitake?
”This is him?” the old man asked, and Ukitake gave a nod. The old man turned his eyes back to Genpaku, and seemed to appraise him.
The old man’s stare was intense as he studied him, but Genpaku simply looked back and did the same; while the old man didn’t seem that threatening under all of those jackets and such there was a sense of knowledge and power about him that told Genpaku one thing; it would have been a very bad idea to try and attack him or even try and get away.
”You are the boy who mysteriously acquired Shinigami powers, correct?” the man asked. Genpaku responded with a nod.
Genpaku remained silent for a few moments as he thought how to explain it.
”I didn’t want to die, sir,” he finally responded. The So-Taicho raised an eyebrow. ”Explain.”
So Genpaku did. He re-counted the events of the night he would have preferred to forget, explained how the Hollow had used his love ones as a cover to lull him into a false sense of security, and how he had been murdered. He explained how the strange man had appeared as he was dying and offered him a chance to live, and he explained how he took that chance and exacted revenge on that Hollow, and then its kind. By the time he had finished recounting his tale, the sun was low in the sky. He let the room fall into silence after he had finished telling his tale, and waited to see what would come of it. The So-Taicho remained silent for a long time, seeming to mull the details of the story over in his mind for a while. Obviously something didn’t sit well with him about the story, or else his silence would not have dragged on so long.
”And when you came too with your powers, you had two swords at your side?”
The So-Taicho lapsed back into silence again for a few moments before he turned to Ukitake.
”Take him down to the detainment cells, and call Captain Kuchiki here.”
”Detainment? I have-“
”Yes, Yamma-jii. Come along Genpaku.”
”But I hav-“ began, annoyance clear in his voice; he was silence by a pulse of power from the other side of the room. He turned his eyes back to the So-Taicho.
”I am the one in charge here, Arishima Genpaku. I gave an order; you would do well to not resist that order.”
Genpaku bit back his tongue, anger bristling in him like a wild animal. He turned and silently followed Ukitake out of the office. Once they were out of hearing range, Genpaku turned to Ukitake.
”What the hell have I done?!” he blurted out in indignation.
”Nothing. However, you don’t have the most sterling of reputations at the moment; every time someone tried to bring you here you’ve ran away or disappeared. The So-Taicho wishes to discuss what should be done for now, and for the duration of that discussion he’d like to know where you are. That’s all.”
While that made sense, it didn’t sit well with Genpaku. From the way it was put, it sounded like there was the possibility of him being put into even more trouble at the moment. The lack of freedom did not sit well with him. However, the rational part of his brain knew that the less resistance he gave now the better; he would get a chance to speak his piece if it came to it…he hoped. They reached the cells, and he was directed into one of them. The doors were locked behind him, a guard posted, and Ukitake gave one last reassuring smile before he disappeared around a corner.
Genpaku let out a small sigh; he hated this already. He found it strange that he had been allowed to keep his weapons; it seemed like something that he shouldn’t have been allowed if there was the worry that he’d try and escape. Then again, this could be some kind of test; if he did try and escape then he would be in real trouble; that much he could figure out. It made more sense that he was being tested than anything else; he didn’t know the kinds of power that he was dealing with, or the fact that the bars he was behind would absorb energy from his side. This was simply information he was not privy too. He looked at the chair that sat in the room, and decided against sitting in it. He walked over to the far wall and sat back against it, looking out towards the entrance, he Zanpaku-tous leaning against the wall next to him. With nothing else to really occupy his mind or time, he allowed himself to close his eyes for a nap; what else was he really supposed to do at this point after all? Slowly he faded away, sleep claiming the young Shinigami. While he slept, others set about uncovering a history that had become obscure in an effort to answer two questions; why did the boy have two Zanpaku-tous, and what would be done with him?
A Legacy Uncovered
He wasn’t sure how long he had been out, but he was rudely awakened by the pounding of something hard against the wooden bars of his cell. Startled, he opened his eyes as his hands closed around his Zanpaku-tou. The guard from earlier now stood at the bars, looking at him.
”The So-Taicho wishes to speak with you again.”
He gave a disgruntled growl of disapproval; going from being free-wandering to at someone’s beckon call rubbed him the wrong way. All the same, what choice did he really have; he had already walked into this and for the moment a way out had yet to present itself. He released his hold on his Zanpaku-tou, stood up, and walked out of the cell. The guard had already started off, and Genpaku sped up his walk to catch up to him as he followed through the maze-like division office. He stole a glance outside; it was the dead of night. Considering it had been close to evening when he had reached the cell he must have been out for a few hours.
They were heading somewhere different; even having been here only a short time he knew that much. The directions didn’t feel the same in the slightest, and he was catching sight of views he didn’t recognize. They walked in silence till they reached a door, and exited into the outside; the fresh night air was a relief to him, since he had felt pinned up since being put in the cell. He stopped for a moment, taking in a lung-full of air before he turned and continued behind the man. He was led to a large door, where the man stopped and announced their arrival.
”Enter,” the old man’s voice sounded from the other side, and the door opened to allow him. He looked at the man, but when he made no move Genpaku turned and strode inside, ready to deal with whatever awaited him. He found a large empty room, enclosed on all sides unlike the previous room where they had met. The ceiling was high, disappearing into shadow before he found it. There was a large chair on a raised platform at the back center of the room.
Sitting in said chair was the So-Taicho, and standing ahead of it were several people, all of whom were now looking expectantly at him. One of them was Ukitake, the only face he recognized other than the So-Taicho. The other two occupants were a mystery to him; one was a dark haired man who currently wore a strange reed hat you saw in old movies along with a flower overcoat, a regal looking man whose stare made Genpaku bristle slightly because he felt like he was already being looked down upon. He held back his attitude all the same though; he had noted that he was now the only occupant in the room was not wearing one of those white Haori’s; getting on the bad side of anyone in this room would probably not end up being a smart move for him in the end.
”This is Arishima Genpaku, the boy we’ve been discussing. Arishima, you have been called here to discuss something that has come to our attention. Are you aware of any connection between yourself and Soul Society prior to this point that you have not disclosed to me already?”
”No,” was his answer without a moment’s hesitation. The Captains exchanged looks. What exactly had they found while he had been asleep? It was the regal looking man that spoke. His voice was strangely monotone.
”Arishima Genpaku, it has been discovered that you are linked to a dead Noble Family that once lived within Soul Society.”
From the silence that followed it was obvious that this was supposed to mean something to him. He looked between those assembled for a moment.
”I’m sorry. That means absolutely nothing to me,” he finally said though he was pretty sure that much was obvious by now.
”The Royal Families are aristocrats. Depending on the family, they are tasked with different things. The Kuchiki Clan, led by Captain Kuchiki here, is tasked with preserving and protecting the History of Soul Society.”
”Beyond this, the royal families are split between the Noble Houses and the Lesser Families. Currently, Four Noble families exist within Soul Society. At one time, others existed and one of them was the family you belonged too. It was charged with collection and preservation of important spiritual artifacts.” Byakuya said.
Genpaku looked between the old man and the Kuchiki as he now knew him. He let the room fall into silence as he processed the information. They were leading up to something, and they had left out the most important part.
”What happened to it?” he finally asked.
Byakuya looked over to the So-Taicho for a moment before turning back to answer.
”A dispute broke out over the care of several powerful artifacts that had come into the family’s possession. It erupted into a full out war between different sides of the family. For several weeks the family warred with itself before the dispute was forced to rest by the actions of one of its members. They took one of the artifacts that had been corrupted; it drove the man insane and he began to needlessly slaughter the other members of the family. He was only stopped when the last head of the Arishima Family returned from a mission, discovered the atrocity, and slew the man. He took the artifact as well as another one, and fled Soul Society in shame. Because of the artifact, we were unable to find him. That was many centuries ago.”
”I see,” Genpaku responded. He thought this over for a moment, nearly missing the man’s next sentence.
”It is that bloodline that has given you a second Zanpaku-tou as well.”
Genpaku looked back at the man. ”Why do you say that? Is it strange to have two? They both do.” For emphasis, he pointed at the other two Captains in the room who had remained silence up until now.
It was Ukitake who spoke up.
”It is incredibly rare for a Shinigmai to have a dual Zanpaku-tou. We ar-“
”I did not say that he had a dual-type Zanpaku-tou. I said he had a second Zanpaku-tou.”
The room turned to look at Byakuya at this point; Genpaku was more than a little lost at this point.
”The Arishima Family was known for a technique passed down to the Heads of the House; this technique allowed the user to subjugate there Shinigami powers and pass it on to a future generation. However, which generation the powers would appear in was random, and thus the technique was almost never used. It was theorized that after Arishima Maru fled Soul Society that he used the technique to seal away the legacy of his family. With your appearance, that theory has been proven as fact.”
Genpaku just blinked. He understood the words that were being said, but the sheer amount of information to take in was rather large.
”It is not imperative that you understand all of this now, Arishima Genpaku. These are things that you can and will come to understand in the future if you should want too. For now, I have a question for you.”
Genpaku turned to look at the So-Taicho.
”Will you use your powers to serve Soul Society and the greater good?”
And so the loaded question that they had been sitting on was finally given. He thought for a few moments, weighing his options.
”I have nowhere to return to. I have no one else to go to. Where else can I go but here?” he answered, each word carefully selected. It was enough for them. The So-Taicho gave a nod.
”Good. Then we will have you enter the Shino Academy for formal training. You have talent, but you understand only a small piece of what it means to be a Shinigami. For now, you will have to sleep within the division barracks until a housing arrangement can be reached.”
Genpaku agreed; there wasn’t much else he could do. Someone was summoned, and he was led away from the room while the Captains discussed something. He was led to an empty room that he would use for the night; inside was a bed, a small table, and some food that had laid out for him. He ate the food slowly, looking out the window at the buildings. Whatever he had gotten himself into, it didn’t seem as bad as he had feared originally. There was a great deal to learn here he figured, and his brief span with Ukitake had reminded him that he enjoyed the company of others rather than the solitude of the past twenty years. He kicked off his shoes and laid down in the bed. Slowly, sleep overtook him and the voice from earlier returned.
”Of what use is your power? What will you do with it?”
And again, Genpaku had no answer.
Formal Training: The Shino Academy
There was little delay between the meeting and Genpaku’s induction to the Shino Academy; the new term started three weeks after he had arrived in Soul Society. During the time between his arrival and the beginning of the school he sought out information, concerning his family, concerning Seireitei and Soul Society as a whole, and about the things he had no knowledge of; Kidō, Zanpaku-tous, and so forth. The information he could find was limited though; most of it seemed to be locked away in private library’s or the sealed off library that Captains had access too but most others didn’t without special permissions. He decided it was not a wise idea to seek out that permission just yet; he was new to this world, and he knew he was being observed and evaluated. This didn’t bug him as much as he thought it should have really. He’d have probably done the same thing to himself in this situation. His housing situation was resolved when a small house became available within Seireitei.
The Shino Academy was similar to schools on earth, with the exception being that on Earth you didn’t learn to swordfight or throw fireballs. He had to adjust quickly; his natural talent and power put him into the top class before he had realized that there was a top class; this earned him no small amount of animosity from some of the other students, particularly those from the “Noble Houses” who didn’t seem to approve of his presence. While he was wary of them, he paid them little attention otherwise; honestly he had better things to invest his time with rather than squabbling with a bunch of stuck up aristocratic pushovers. He listened well though to the stories he heard from some students about how some of the Nobility used their influence to either make the school harder for some students, or simply ganged up on the person to bully them out. He promptly decided he wasn’t going to have any of that.
Here he learned of the minor stardom he had enjoyed as the “Phantom Shinigami”; he didn’t mind it too much. It was interesting to hear how some of the things he did were blown out of proportion, and how stories had grown. One story pegged him as wielding thirteen Zanpaku-tous and being void of color. He noted that he was one of the few students who carried their Zanpaku-tous; he also noted that he was the ONLY one who had two. He had begun to piece together the significance of that through his own research, and through the discovery of how Shinigami powers worked. He made sure to take careful notes during classes that explained the basics of Shinigami powers and history; he was assigned a strange mixture of beginner and advanced classes both to bring him up to speed on the knowledge most of the other students had gotten over the course of 5 years or so and to challenge him and force him to learn the things he needed.
He excelled in Zanjutsu and Hakudo, but found Kidō to be something of a challenge. He understood the premise of how to use it, but the beginning of the class started out rocky. He had a great deal of reiatsu and up until this point he had controlled it by instinct for the purposes of unarmed combat or swordplay. Taking forceful control of his power and shaping it was a new concept to him, and it would take him until he made a kind of friendship to learn the trick of it. The first couple of months had been rocky for him, as he had needed to get acclimated to being in this type of environment, surrounded by so many people after so many years of solitude. Once he had managed to get past that though, his personality returned to what he had been like back when he had been of the living world; kind, happy, funny, and outgoing. He made friends with anyone who didn’t hold some kind of grudge against him, and anyone who didn’t throw harsh words or looks at him. It was the first step to returning to the person he had been before his death.
He was walking down one of the hallways on his way from class about three and a half months into the school term when he heard the sounds of someone in one of the empty rooms he was passing. His natural curiosity got the better of him, and he peaked into the room; there was a young man inside swinging his blade at the air in frustration. Genpaku knew him as Iraiken Shirou; he was also one of the weakest Shinigami in terms of Zanjutsu and Hakudo that Genpaku had seen.
”You’re too tense,” he called out into the room, startling the young man. He spun on his heel, and grimaced when he saw who it was.
”Whatever. Speaking like you kno-“ Shirou began.
”I know that you stance is too short, your arms too tense, and your grade in danger of holding you back behind the rest of your friends,” he cut him off, walking into the room, setting his bag down at the door. He pulled the wooden boken out of the bag, testing the weight of it a moment before he continued into the rom.
”I didn’t ask for your help ya know.” the young man countered, pride ripe in his voice.
Genpaku simply took a stance a little ways away from the man.
”I know; doesn’t mean I won’t give it all the same. Tell ya what; if you can land a blow, I’ll take you to earth and show you earth food.”
The young man looked at the young boy a moment before smirking.
”Easy.” He took a stance as well, and the two stared one another down a moment; Shirou moved first, charging straight in towards him. He brought the wooden blade above his head before slashing down; Genpaku took a single step in, his boken clashing with the other a moment before he pushed Shirou’s aside and with a quick flick of the wrist and twist of the blade he brought his own wooden blade down into the older male’s right shoulder. Genpaku jumped to the left, regaining distance again and resetting his stance. Shirou clutched his shoulder with his free hand a moment.
”You’re too tense. Loosen up,” Genpaku repeated.
After two hours of similar scenes playing out, Shirou sat down.
”I’m done with this,” he declared, tossing the boken away from him. Genpaku gave a small smile.
”Too bad, you were getting better.”
”Shut up. You’re just lucky I couldn’t use Kidō. I’d wipe the floor with ya.” Shirou said, no small amount of pride in his voice.
”So you say,” Genpaku chided.
”So I know. I’m the best Kidō wielder in the advanced Kidō class for Class 1,” the other student stated, shooting Genpaku a smirk of confidence.
He was silent for a few moments as he thought about that. Kidō was by far his weakest area thus far; naturally that was the place he spent the most time practicing on then, though he still had problems getting his head around it. Something was missing, but he had yet to figure out what that something was. He saw a chance to remedy that situation.
”Alright Irakien-san. How about I make you a deal?”
The other student turned to look at the young boy.
”Kidō is my weakest field. I’d appreciate any help you’d be willing to give me. In return, I’ll help you with Zanjutsu and Hakudo. I’m top in those classes.”
The offer certainly seemed to be tempting to the man, as he went silent and considered the option. Genpaku stood up and walked over to his bag, sliding the boken back into it as he patiently waited for the answer.
”You are aware we’re competing right?”
Genpaku looked back and gave a nod; beyond the simple competition for top grades and bragging rights, the marks would determine placement within the Gotei 13. This was information he had come across himself, as no one had yet to volunteer it.
”I don’t care about that really. Frankly, I’m more interested in learning everything I can, regardless of who I have to ask for help or what steps I have to take. I have no interest in being weak anymore,” was the young boy’s response. The man stood in silence for a few moments. Then he started to chuckle.
”Load of bullshit. All the same, I could use the help. I’d like to put my friend’s in their places.”
They struck the deal then and there; they would meet in that room for the remainder of their time at the school to practice Hakudo and Zanjutsu. Not just them; eventually other students heard about this and joined in as well. In return, Genpaku got the chance to practice with many other students, taking the chance to learn as much as he could from a wide pool of knowledge. He had many years’ worth of information to catch up on, and there was no time like the present to get as much of it as he could. In return, he assisted anyone who had the ability to swallow their pride and ask for it in anything he could. Slowly, he began to build relationships with these people, to break further out of the shell of solitude that had enveloped him for twenty years. For now, he was cordial and happy, but he preferred the solitude of the nights in Soul Society. With a plain nearly infinite in size, there was always somewhere secluded to go for him to think, train, or simply go for the hell of it. The views of Seireitei were calming in a way; they reminded him of the cities of japan, which had been his only companion for years.
The time passed by, and the day for the graduation exams appeared without warning. Genpaku opted…to not take them. Many were confused about this choice; he didn’t feel ready, and he didn’t feel he had learned everything he could from this place just yet. While he had made immense strides in his Kidō control, the ability to practice in this place free of the duties that the Gotei would come to expect, because make no mistake that was where he had decided he would go, would provide him with greater challenges but less time to perfect the skills they expected him to come in with. He bid farewell to Shirou and many others he had trained with as they graduated and move along into the Gotei, Kidō Corps, or the Omnitsukido. It was no secret however that if he had gone for it, he probably would have completed the test and passed. Genpaku would remain in the Shino Academy for another half a year before asking and receiving an exception to the academy’s policy and taking the exit exam then. His acceptance to the Gotei did not take long; he was acquired by the Fifth Division only a few hours out of the examination. He was happy to be accepted into any of the divisions so quickly, regardless of its number. He was also astonished when he was handed a seated position at the twelfth seat. For Genpaku, this was where his life as a Shinigami truly began.
The Early Divisions
Aizen Sousuke was still the captain of the Fifth Division at this time. Genpaku had seen the man around the academy a few times during his year and a half stay there; the man had taught a Calligraphy course that had been incredibly popular, and though he did not sign up for the class he did attend the course once to see what all the talk was about. He had to admit that the man gave a good talk; he might have enjoyed the class enough to stay if it did not bring back unsettling memories of his mother, who had practiced calligraphy at home and often tried to instruct him and his brother. There were more important things to attend to anyway; he made it a point to not return to that class for the remainder of his time at the Shino Academy. He harbored no animosity towards the teacher for his subject matter, but he wasn’t interested in having it come up again.
It had been nearly a week since he had been accepted in; Genpaku walked down the wooden pathway towards the Divisional Office of the Fifth Division. Today he was meeting his Captain for the first time since he had joined the division, and he had a few questions to pose already. Since he had joined, he had come to find out that holding a seat in a division came with its own set of challenges; he had already been challenged once for his seat, and he had barely gotten into the place. He had held his own in the fight all the same, but it had made him wonder why he had been given the seat in the first place. He approached the office, coming to a stop outside; there were voices inside, so he took a seat on the wooden deck, slipping his legs through the railing as he and decided to wait until whoever Aizen-Taicho was talking to had left so that he could have his discussion. For now, he looked out and over Seireitei towards the wall that separated it from the rest of Soul Society; there was a calm breeze blowing today, and the clouds were making a slow voyage across the sky.
He lost track of how long exactly he had been sitting there, staring off into the distance; he also hadn’t noticed when someone had taken a seat next to him. He jumped slightly, turning to look at the young looking man that had sat down next to him. He had simple brown hair that hung down quietly about his head, handsome features, and glasses. This was all sitting on top of his Shinigami uniform and captain’s Haori that he was now able to recognize from a mile off.
”Good afternoon, Arishima-kun,” Aizen said kindly, a smile playing across his features. Genpaku studied him a moment.
”You’re good at sneaking up on people like that, aren’t you?”
Aizen gave a small chuckle and nod at that. Genpaku was taking his chance to size up this captain; he wasn’t even sure if this man WAS a captain. He seemed so lax, and gave off so little power; then again, he remembered his first meeting with Ukitake. Appearances could be deceiving, and he made a mental note to keep that in mind. For now though, he needed to focus on the matter at hand.
”So, Arishima-kun, what do you think so far of life within the Gotei 13?
Aizen asked, looking out over Seireitei.
”It’s been interesting enough getting used to the barracks; I don’t head out on my first actual patrol until later this week though. That’s probably the part I’m looking forward to the most,” he responded, shifting slightly so that he could better face his captain; his dad had always been big on looking at a person when you spoke to them.
”Thinking of running off again are we?” Aizen asked; there was subtle sarcasm in his voice, so Genpaku decided to play along.
”Oh, of course. I’ve learned absolutely everything I would ever need from here, so its time to move on.”
The two of them chuckled for a moment.
”No. Its more that I…well I was running around the real world for twenty years straight slaying Hollows. Being here for as long as I have…feel weird.”
Aizen nodded a few times. Then he turned and looked the young boy over for a few moments.
”You came here with some questions of your own, didn’t you?”
”A few yeah,” Genpaku responded.
”Then get to them,” Aizen pressed.
”Why did you accept me into the division when I had just passed the exam and left the academy? And why did you give me a seat so quickly?
Aizen blinked, apparently surprised by the directness of the questions.
”Simply put, you were the Phantom Shinigami. You are the last known member of a dead Noble House. Beyond those things, you display incredible skill for someone so young. In you, there is a lot of potential. I placed you where I did because I figured the only way to begin to draw out that potential was to put you in a position where you would be constantly challenged.”
It was those sentences that made Genpaku revise his assessment of Aizen Sousuke; the man was far smarter than he let out.
”You have yet to discover the name of your Zanpaku-tous, correct?”
”Y-yes. How did you….?” he began, but Aizen simply smiled in response to the question he had not yet finished. He had kept the information about his family’s technique more or less to himself since he had discovered it, and especially after he had discovered what it implied. It implied that he did not simply have a dual Zanpaku-tou; he had two distinct Zanpaku-tous, and two sets of Shinigami powers to go with them.
”You will soon enough I’m sure. For now, I have another meeting I should attend to. You can check in with Hinamori-kun about anything else you need to know about the division.”
”Hai, Aizen Taicho.”
Aizen was on his feet and headed down the pathway by the time he had gotten the words out of his mouth. It was true; he had yet to learn the names of his Zanpaku-tous, but this was something he did plan on having remain true for much longer. He pushed himself back up to his feet; with enough time on his hands and nothing to do, he started off towards the training grounds for the division.
Genpaku set about training with his division members on a regular basis, but unlike many Shinigami he did not stick to his division alone for training. He ventured out to the other divisions and looked up those that he had made connections with back during his days in the Shino Academy. He asked them for help with training, and participated in any training event going on that he heard about and was free for. If he didn’t know anyone in a division, he simply walked in and asked around, making himself known. Slowly, he began to pick up pieces of things he had not gotten enough of in the Shino Academy; he began to train with people who were far more skilled at Kidō than Shirou had been and swordsman far more capable them himself, and so forth. Put simply, he started to get his ass handed to him, and he would get back up to try again.
One thing had not changed; Genpaku desired power. More importantly he had begun to formulate an answer to the question that still haunted him from night to night. He had begun to understand why he desired power. He wanted to protect something, and to do that he needed power. So he trained with the other divisions and soaked up any and all the knowledge he could to benefit his ambition. He concentrated on Kidō with the Sixth Division with Shirou the most, as he felt that was the area he still lacked in the most. One of the other top Swordsman from Class 1 his first year had gone to the Eleventh Division, and he trained with them from time to time as well; their methods of rather aggressive training interested him but made him wary at the same time. He was not in a great hurry to get injured in his training when there was still so much to do.
His branching did not go unnoticed; he had discussions with his Captain from time to time about it, and eventually explained it as best he could at the time. His Captain didn’t seem to have a real problem with it, which was reassuring. After a while though, Genpaku was moved out of the division and to the Sixth Division; Aizen explained that if he thought his weakest field was Kidō, than working in that division would provide the best results. It made sense, so he went with it but continued to train with the other divisions to continue to hone his skills. He remained in the sixth Division for a little over a year, picking up the fundamental knowledge he felt he was lacking in that field. He then requested a transfer to the Eleventh Division to work on more intensive training with his Zanjutsu and Hakudo.
During this time he focused on one other thing as well; his Zanpaku-tous. During his years in the Shino Academy and especially since he had joined the Gotei 13 he had discovered the knowledge of the released states of Zanpaku-tous. While he displayed considerable natural skill, he had yet to make any real progress toward the discovery of his Zanpaku-tous yet. There was something blocking him from finding them, and it was beginning to aggravate him. However, he now had thousands of years to live out; he knew he could afford a little patience. He didn’t know that he would not need much patience before he made a breakthrough.
Home, Duty, and Friends 1930 - 1977
Genpaku walked down the halls of the Eighth Division Headquarters; he had recently transferred into the division mainly because he had noted that the Eighth Division had a good standing with almost ever division save for the Twelfth. Then again, he had not determined whether or not ANYONE got along with the Twelfth Division and its captain. He had made it a point up till now to more or less avoid that man; he got a strange vibe from him. Beyond that, he had heard horror stories of the things the man did both to his division members, other division’s members, and any enemies that were unfortunate enough to be caught by him. He wanted nothing to do with that man’s lab as long as he was the subject of study. All the same, the Eighth Division seemed to get along with almost everyone, and so he had decided it would be the best Division to continue his cross-training from. Also, the members of the Division had seemed nice enough whenever he had come over to train with people.
Their captain was a strange one as well though. The general push to recruit female Shinigami did not go amiss with Genpaku. He had little doubt that he had been accepted only because he was a small-time celebrity within Seireitei, which in turn attracted attention. He didn’t question it further or argue with it; it had gotten him where he had wanted to be so he would take it. He turned a corner and exited the building, walking into the training courtyard of the Eighth Division. It was dark out, late autumn at this time, and was rather comfortable out actually. He took a lung full of air and gave a small smile at the silence in the courtyard. Though he was learning to enjoy the company of others, he still much enjoyed solitude; the chance to organize his thoughts, listen to the sounds, and generally be calm was something he was finding less and less time to enjoy.
He strode out into the courtyard, his Zanpaku-tous at his side. He had yet to grasp either of their names which irritated him; he had made great progress up until this point. He had flown through what many others would have taken three times what he took to get down. And now he had hit a stone wall; something was holding him back, and his inability to figure it out was what infuriated him more than anything at the moment. He was able to fight on an even level with some of the people who had managed to learn the name of their Zanpaku-tou, but it was a large obstacle between where he was and where he wanted to be. He came to a stop in the center of the empty courtyard as he thought about that. He reached down and drew one of his Zanpaku-tous, looking at the blade.
He heard footsteps somewhere behind him, and sheathed the blade as he looked back. A group of division members were walking out of the Divisional Headquarters. Where they were heading he didn’t know, nor did he particularly care. He turned and started forward to head somewhere else in case the group decided to stop there and talk.
”Hey!” one of them called out, breaking the relative quiet of the area. Genpaku came to a stop, looking back at the woman that had just called out to him. The woman in question was already halfway across the courtyard. Even in the dark he could make out the beaming smiles directed at him. Now that he got a look at her, he didn’t recognize her from their division.
”You’re Arishima Genpaku, aren’t you?” the woman asked, stopping only a few feet away from him, still smiling.
”Yeah…why?” he asked cautiously. He had done his best to not make enemies, but no one was perfect.
”Wow! I’ve heard about you. You should come drinking with us!”
And that was about the extent of choice he had on that particular decision. The woman had grabbed his arm before he had realized she’d made the move, and the next thing he knew he was being dragged as the woman made her way back to the rest of the group.
The other members of the group were people he recognized, even in the dim light, as people from the division; people he had trained with or spoken too at one point or another. It didn’t seem that they had a great deal of choice either as the strange woman led the way out of the Divisional Headquarters. He wasn’t entirely sure how long he was dragged along, but they arrived at a different Divisional Barracks and were led into a room; they weren’t the only ones there either. Genpaku noted several members from the Eleventh Division in attendance as well as several members of other Divisions. He even noted the Third Division Vice Captain mopping around somewhere in the background.
It was only now that he got a real look at the woman who had dragged him there; she was about the average height for Shinigami(since he had died so young he was still a bit shorter than the average) with long blonde hair. The other thing that stood out to the young boy was the more than ample bosom that she seemed more than delighted to, tastefully, showcase for everyone in sight. Those physical features combined with the bubbly nature and the nature of the gathering he had been dragged too informed him of the woman’s identity. He had just been dragged to one of the Tenth Division’s Vice Captain’s, Matsumoto Rangiku, infamous drinking parties. Upon this realization, he covered his face with his palm; partly because he had allowed himself to be dragged to this, and partly because of immature embarrassment at Rangiku’s appearance.
”Alright! Now that everyone is here, let the party begin!” Rangiku called out from the center of the room. And with that, the alcohol seemed to appear from everyone and everywhere. Before he had a chance to deny the offers let alone leave, he was given a glass of alcohol and dragged deeper into the room. After one or two attempts to slip out, he gave up and took a seat near several people he at least recognized from the different divisions. He kept quiet for the most part as the conversation ranged between multiple topics. Soon enough though, his silence was noted by some of the other members.
”Hey, you haven’t said a thing. No use being shy here,” one of his division members said. All eyes were suddenly on Genpaku, and he looked around in silence for a few moments.
”I like to listen?” he answered weakly.
”Well too fucking back; time to talk. You’re the kid from Earth right? The one that just kinda got Shinigami Powers and all. Graduated the academy in a year and a half or something like that?”
”I kinda had a head start…” Genpaku muttered.
”Speak up!” the group yelled as a whole.
So Genpaku did; he recounted how he hunted down the Hollows, though he left out the real reason why. He glossed over the reason for getting his powers and why he started his personal crusade against Hollows; part of it was because he didn’t want their pity, but mostly he didn’t want to remember that particular day in more detail then he had too. They weren’t interested in that anyway; they wanted to know about the years he spent evading capture and slaying Hollows. He explained how that gave him an inherit advantage in the Shino Academy, since he had gotten a chance to develop his skills and such. Somewhere along the way, he had begun to drink the alcohol since it had just been sitting in his hand. The rest of the night slowly faded into a blur.
When he woke up, he was in a room full of people, all passed out on the floor, couches, desks, and so on. Several of them were…strangely missing pants. He stood up uneasily, collecting his things and making his way out of the building. The morning air was crisp; he must have passed out early on in the party. The rest of them wouldn’t be up for hours yet. He started the long walk back to his division’s barracks, chuckling at the thought of the party he had been dragged too the previous night. It had been…entertaining from what he remembered of the night. He had learned more about some of the people from his division then he had expected; he had enjoyed himself. Beyond that, he had enjoyed the company of those around him from what he remembered. The gathering had been a lot more fun than he had expected it to be; it may have actually been worth the night of training he had missed out on in retrospect. The best part was that it wasn’t anything he couldn’t make up for on this day.
Genpaku had gained something else from that party, however; he had gained a tentative friendship with the members of his division. While he had made a great many steps already to break out of the shell of solitude that surrounded him, this was yet another. More importantly, it was a step towards his own growth as he was suddenly given something else to work for. He needed to be stronger so he could continue to survive in the world he now lived in. He had yet to achieved either of the names of his Zanpaku-tous, however, which would prove to be a real limiting factor in his strength in the oncoming years. It would take him far more years than he had ever expected to make the progress he sought, despite all of his work. And yet, it was only another step on his path to power.
Blade of Ancestors; Raiden 1977
Mostly though, he sought his Zanpaku-tou spirits. It had been well over a fourth of a century now since he had communicated with the strange man that had appeared to him and given him his Shinigami powers in the first place; he was sure this was the spirit of one of his Zanpaku-tous, specifically the one that was passed on to him from his ancestor. His other blade, however, he had yet to have any form of contact with. He got what he was searching after two years within the Eighth Division.
It had been a quiet night for Genpaku as he sat on top of a large building in a city he had never heard of. Cities had begun to spring up more and more around the world as it moved into a more prosperous time. There were a few clouds that crawled across the sky as the moon shone bright, just over halfway towards being full. He sat, enjoying the silence of the night and relative calm. He certainly enjoyed being on duty the most of any of the duties he was given in the division. Thus far tonight no Hollows had been spotted, nor demons or anything else for that matter. Back roughly ten years ago, he would have been angry about a night like this. Now though, he appreciated it for what it was worth; a break from the chaos of what his life had become. He didn’t mind; in a way he felt like he was doing some real good now in the world, ridding it of monsters and demons. Particularly, he felt like he was doing his part to prevent what happened to him from happening to anyone else. Regardless of how he had grown from the experience, it was not a fate he wished on anyone else.
The moonlight dimed as a cloud moved in front of it, breaking him out of his thought. He felt something behind him, and jumped off of the building just in time as something crashed into where he had been sitting, causing the roof to explode into debris, bits of stone flying all over. Genpaku landed heavily on a lower roof, his gaze shooting up to the edge of the room. Looming on the edge of the roof was the form of a large hunched being, which came into full view as the clouds peeled away from the moon; the creature’s skin was the color of mud, hunched onto all fours as it glared down at him. Both its body and mask reminded him of a frog as it sat there.
”Oooh. So you sensed me coming, eh Shini?”
Genpaku’s only form of answer was drawing a blade from its sheath; the Hollow’s rebuttal was to throw itself off the edge and open its mouth. A strange spike like protrusion stuck out a moment before it suddenly launched at him, propelled by a tongue like appendage.
He charged forward, deflecting the strike with his blade; he noted the small amount of weight behind the spear-like object, and pulled back on his blade as he tried to cut the tongue off. However, he felt a great deal of resistance to his strike and only managed a small laceration before the creature retracted it, and let out another cackle.
”Oh-ho? So you can actually cut meh tongue eh? Too bad it dun mean shit, Shinigami!” the Hollow bellowed, revealing his tongue once more which already was healing over. It must have been an ability of the saliva in his mouth that was causing the regeneration. Before he had a chance to ponder on this ability more, the Hollow landed heavily upon the roof nearby, the spike shooting out towards him one more. Genpaku continued to press forward, deflecting the barb once more; something slammed into his back left shoulder, sending jagged pain through him and bringing him to a halt. Looking over his shoulder he found that the tongue had apparently recovered and lodged the barb into his shoulder; a moment later it detached from the tongue, which returned to the Hollow.
The Hollow cackled again.
”Come on now Shini, is dis all ya got?”
It launched the tongue which was once more armed with another barb. Genpaku shot backwards away from the projectile; as it closed he touched down on another roof and shot straight up to get up and over the tongue. He nearly got impaled once more as the tongue changed directions immediately after him, only just managing to escape what would have been a far more devastation wound. However, as the tongue missed it corrected itself, coming back around to him. He shot backwards again, trying to put distance between himself and the appendage; he suddenly stopped, and lashed out with his Zanpaku-tou to cleave the tongue in two; the tongue separated itself from the barb and retracted to avoid the strike. Given a spare moment, Genpaku wrapped a hand around the barb and yanked it free, wincing as he did so. He flung the spearhead down towards the ground; the Hollow had already reloaded and launched a new spearhead towards him. He shot backwards again, changing directions several times as the tongue followed him. The suddenly, the tongue went taunt a few feet away from him before retracting to the Hollow.
He made a mental note of this; he had determined the maximum length of the Hollow’s main form of attack, but it wasn’t exactly great news. The tongue reached roughly sixty feet after him, and it had access to every angle within each foot to attack and maneuver through. He took a stance again as the Hollow eyed him, before shooting forward at great speed. The Hollow shot its tongue out once more, which shot straight for Genpaku. He changed direction, diving down till he hit a roof, at which point he shot forward once more; he heard the tongue slam into the building a moment behind him. He could out speed the tongue; a smirk crossed his features for a moment. As he closed however, the Hollow jumped, avoiding his blade as he came within striking distance; it had retracted its tongue while Genpaku had rushed it, and now fired at near point blank range. He felt the barb skin his right shoulder as he rushed back and away. While he could out speed the tongue, the ability for the Hollow to reach every place within that sixty foot dome was an issue. It was time to change up tactics; he held up a hand as the Hollow’s tongue rushed towards him.
The crimson fireball shot out towards the tongue, which he hoped would be either hindered or destroyed by the spell. However, the tongue suddenly twisted and rammed the barb straight into the Kidō, which fizzled into nothing! He jumped up as the tongue closed on him, narrowly dodging the attack as he slashed at the appendage with his blade; it moved, just barely avoiding the tip of his Zanpaku-tou. In turn, he felt another grazing as the barb passed just a few feet over his shoulders. He shot backwards and away from the Hollow once more; he pointed a finger at the Hollow as he retreated.
The lightning bolt shot out towards the Hollow as he stopped and changed direction once more, rushing to the right. He unleashed another blast of red Kidō fire towards the Hollow as the tongue slammed into the lightning bolt, canceling it out. He had hoped to catch the Hollow off guard by drawing its fire towards the first Kidō, but mentally cursed as the tongue retracted partially and slammed into the fireball before it had reached the Hollow.
The Hollow decided that now was the time to go on the offensive; it surged forward as it retracted its tongue, closing distance with him before opening his mouth and shooting off several of the barbs on their own at him. Genpaku deflected one of them before he jumped back to avoid the rest. The Hollow was there, slamming a fist into the young Shinigami and sending him sliding along the rooftops and off said roof, falling to the street below. He rolled along the ground a moment before recovering; the Hollow was directly above him already, and fired its tongue like appendage down upon him; he shot to the left, but the tongue was already following him. Suddenly the tongue disengaged from the barb, allowing it to fly after him. The Hollow landed heavily behind him, and as he looked back over his shoulder it launched its tongue once more, the two barbs closing on him rapidly. Funny, they seemed to almost slow down as they closed on him. In fact…everything seemed to be slowing down. Then he was no longer on Earth.
He found himself standing in the middle of a large, worn stone arena. Hanging overhead was a mass of storm clouds, the low rumble of thunder somewhere in the distance; he recognized the place instantly, though now the place seemed infinitely calmer than when he had been here and had been on the verge of death and oblivion. And just as last time, he was not alone; the man he had not seen now in at least thirty years. Genpaku cracked a smile.
”For someone facing an almost certain fatal blow outside, you seem rather calm.”
Genpaku gave a small shrug. The man frowned.
”Should I be screaming? Running around like a chicken that was recently decapitated? I’ll think of something. Besides, I’ve got more pressing business to attend to at the moment.”
”Yes; I’m curious as to why you’ve decided to show yourself once more after all of these years. Why now?”
”Because you’ve been searching for me,” the man responded.
”Both of you, actually.”
A gust of wind kicked up at that. The sound of a small, light laugh reached his ear and he turned to look around a moment.
”For now, Genpaku, you have me.”
Genpaku turned back to look at the man; he was suddenly much closer, only a few feet away at this point. He hadn’t realized that the man literally towered over him; he had to be nearly seven feet in height. The man glared down at him, scrutinizing the young Shinigami; Genpaku stared right back at him, unflinching under the man’s gaze. They stood there, the landscape silent save for the rumble of distant thunder.
”You have calmed much since last we saw one another,” the man said. Genpaku raised an eyebrow questioningly.
”When last we spoke, your heart was consumed in sorrow and hatred. You hungered for vengeance, not only for yourself but for your family. Have you quieted the screams for retribution that blocked your ears?”
Genpaku was silent for a moment as he thought about the question.
”I’ve struck down over a thousand Hollows now. While I started out doing so to avenge my family, now I’m just seeking to stop what happened to me from happening to anyone else.”
”Yet you face death outside of here, at the hands of a Hollow once more,” the man taunted, a small smirk curling his features. Genpaku gave a small shrug.
”I’m not invincible. I’m not the strongest. I still have a great deal to learn and strength to gain.” he responded carefully.
”Then what do you seek power for, Genpaku Arishima?” the man questioned, and the arena fell silent once more.
Genpaku pondered on the question for half a minute more on the question that he had thought on for the past few years. They were separate questions though, and he realized that quickly; what use his power served and why he sought it were two very different things, and it made the answer stupidly simple to him.
”I seek power so that I may know my own limits, so that I can continue to grow, and so that I may come to an answer for the question I’ve yet to answer.”
The man gave a small nod and a hint of a smile.
”That will suffice, Genpaku Arishima,” the man said as he took another step forward towards Genpaku. ”What once veiled by name from your ears was worthless sorrow and vengeance; you should be able to hear it now.”
The man held out a hand to Genpaku. ”I am but a piece of your soul, and part of your power; use it to protect yourself and to survive. Strike down your enemy. My name is…”
Back in the real world, the Hollow’s attacks closed in.
”Raiden!” the boy called out and his reiatsu exploded, kicking up the wind about him; the two spikes slammed into the wall of reiatsu , being forced back and away from the young Shinigami as the dirt flew up from the street and debris around him. The Hollow stumbled back a few steps as it began to retract its tongue; something flashed out of the cloud of dust and it let out a yell as the end of its tongue hit the ground. It jumped back as the flash came again; it let out a howl of pain as it landed several feet away as a piece of its mask hit the ground and shattered. The blade Genpaku now hold radiated with power much as how he now did. The reiatsu that surrounded him was no longer emerald in color, but white and crackled with electricity. The blade had changed its shape now; it had lengthened slightly while the crossguard had all but vanished. A section of the blade jutted down and back, covering the hilt of the blade in the front with a new blade. Another section jutted up and forward, following the blade of the Zanpaku-tou a short ways before ending.
Genpaku tested the grip on Raiden; it fit comfortably into his hand. He turned his attention back to the Hollow; given enough time it would probably regrow the lost tongue. He shot forward once more, coming to a stop just before the creature and slashed it across the chest and forearms, drawing blood and another scream from the monster. He vanished from the creature’s sight, stopping just above the creature in the air. He lashed out with the blade, cleaving clean through the creature’s mask. The creature’s death knell melted into the night as it dissipated, and Genpaku landed heavily upon the ground. The wound in his shoulder still hurt, as did the scrapes and more minor wounds he had suffered during the fight. These could not dampen his spirits, however. He opened a portal to Seireitei, resealing Raiden as he walked into the light. He had discovered the name of his first Zanpaku-tou, the one passed down from his ancestor, in the heat of battle much how he had attained his Shinigami powers. It was a crucial step for him, and his wounds would not take that feeling of accomplishment from him. He returned to Soul Society and sought out the Fourth Division to check the wounds.