• When he awoke he was once again in the wasteland, but the ground was dry and cracked and the trees were all dead and dry. Do not worry; you are not dead, somehow. “But I might as well be, just because that hollow hasn’t killed me yet doesn’t mean he won’t soon.” Do you know how long you have been out? It has been eight hours. For some reason, I believe that if the hollow was going to eat you it would have done so by now. But before Nikorasu could respond he was back in the world of the living. He tried to sit up, but as soon as he did his body was racked with intense pain. His head began to swim and he cried out hoarsely in agony.
    “Well, waddaya know,” a man’s voice drifted from nearby, “It looks like he’s gonna su'vive after all. Hey, hey, take er easy, those wounds aren’t healed proper yet. Funny, I thought you was gonna take at least a day to wake up. Yer lucky, ya know that? That knife ya threw at the hollow got it right in the forehead. Ya didn’t kill it, but ya right pissed it off 'nuff that it decided to be creative in how to kill ya and didn’t kill ya straight out. Lucky you that I decided to show up and save yer a**.” But Nikorasu heard no more rambling from the stranger as he drifted back to sleep.
    When Nikorasu next awoke he was lying in a soft warm bed. This caught him off guard, but he supposed the person from earlier probably brought him here. He tried to speak, but the only sound he made was a dry, scratchy cough that was more air than anything else. He heard voices coming from nearby and he could clearly make out that it was two women, which confused him. Wasn’t it a guy earlier? “He seems stable, but it’s strange. All his wounds are gone, and his zanpakuto is still in its Shikai form, but with the condition he was brought to us in, there is no way that either of those are possible.” Nikorasu looked to the side, and say Honefenikkusu leaned up against the wall. He reached out for his spear, but not being able to reach it, stretched out further, and abruptly fell to the ground. He felt weak all over, he felt like the wasteland, empty, dry, the skeletal remains of what used to be a man, but even with his body in its weakened condition, he felt his soul and the soul of his zanpakuto stronger than ever. He reached out to the spear and willed it to return to being a dagger, but when he did he noticed that the blade was a full size katana, no longer a foot and a half long dagger. As he heard footsteps approach, he drifted off to sleep again.
    He began to wake more and more frequently, each time with the same women nearby, and each time they gave him food and water until he was strong enough to stay awake long enough to answer questions. “So then what is your name?” asked the first woman. The second woman was nowhere to be seen.
    “Nikorasu Mugentsuki.”
    “Alright Nikorasu, and which division are you a part of?”
    “Your division, every shinigami has a division, and seeing as how you can remember your name you obviously haven’t lost your memory. So what is your division, and what were you doing in the world of the living?”
    Nikorasu’s head began to swim, but suddenly something clicked. ‘What were you doing in the world of the living’ means that he is now somewhere else. “Where am I?”
    “You are in the Life Division healing ward. We need to know your division so we know where to send you and who to bill. But I am curious, why didn’t you return to the soul society to get food when you were hungry instead of torturing yourself like that?”
    “What’s the soul society?”
    By now, the woman was completely blown away. “Um, that would be where we are right now, where you and everybody else realized that they were shinigami. So obviously, if you are a shinigami, you must know what the soul society is.”
    “Where everybody realizes they are shinigami? So I am different. I obtained my abilities in the world of the living not much more than a couple weeks ago.”
    To this, the woman had no response, but right on queue the second woman showed up and sighed, “Well in that case, I guess we have some explaining to do. When people die, they pass on into the soul society, except when they have regrets, in which case they linger on in the world of the living as ghosts. If they continue on with these regrets, they are consumed and become hollows, consumed either by their regrets or by another hollow. However, it appears that there is another fate for ghosts, the same fate that has befallen you; although, seeing as how you are the first in known history to become a shinigami outside of the soul society, I suspect that this fate is rare indeed. But enough about the past, if you wish to survive in this world, there is much that you should know, but much that I cannot teach you. However, what I can teach you is about the divisions.
    “The soul society is in the middle of a civil war. The warring sides are seven factions; the Haburi-seppan is defined by strength. They use little to no kido abilities and focus on attack strategies. The Saterusu-seppan is based more on mercenaries for hire. They specialize in sneak attacks, recon, assassinations, sabotage, and various contract deals. Some argue that they don’t even exist, but they do, I’ve had to treat the wounds of their victims. The Gakuryoku-seppan is based on knowing what you can about your enemy and preparing to face any challenges they could face. They specialize in researching abilities, kido, and science related subjects such as chemistry, anatomy, and botany. The Udemae-seppan is based more on being efficient in as many ways as possible. They specialize in nothing, but instead try to be well rounded; using any ability or tactic to their disposal making them versatile warriors. The Kouketsu-seppan is based on wealth, law, and leadership. They specialize in dictation, general peacekeeping among the innocent and upholding the code of laws. The Jinsei-seppan is based on healing and protecting the wounded, much like being medical mercenaries. We specialize in all types of healing and protection kido. The Gosei-seppan is based on all types of kido abilities. Their zanpakuto abilities are usually more kido based as well. They specialize in hado, kido, and tactical planning.
    “It will be most important for you, one with shinigami abilities, to choose a division to serve in. Once you step outside these doors you are no longer under our protection.”
    Nikorasu sat in silence, considering the options. Not one of the divisions fit him well enough to interest him, but there was another option that she didn’t mention since she knew it could prove fatal. “Thank you,” he finally responded, “but I think I’ll take my chances.”
    With a sigh she responded, “very well, I had a feeling that you were going to say that, I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
    “But I’m leaving today, so…”
    “I know,” and with that she left. It dawned on Nikorasu what she meant by that last comment.
    Damn it! I’m not that weak! I won’t be back because I’m stronger than that! As he picked up his zanpakuto he heard Honefenikkusu speak to him. You do realize that the path you are choosing is the most difficult? “I understand that, but I can handle it.” Think about it for a moment, you couldn’t even handle a hollow, what makes you think that you can handle a seasoned warrior? Your beginner’s luck has run out, from here on out things are not going to be easy, just try not to bite off more than you can chew. “I’ll take my chances.” Very well, I will continue to help you, just don’t get yourself killed with your foolishness, but don’t think I support this decision, if you die I do as well.
    Nikorasu could not accept defeat so soon, and he left the ward. Well, now what? He didn’t know, and frankly, he didn’t care either. He didn’t know what to do next, so he just wandered, and as luck would have it, his beginner’s luck has indeed worn out. He rounded a corner and bumped right into a large, pissed-off shinigami and knocked what that shinigami was carrying right out of his hands where it shattered on the ground. “Oh, that’s just great! I spent the last two hours haggling a decent price on that thing and now you just go and break it! I sure as hell hope you can pay for it!”
    “Um, well, no, sorry,” Nikorasu stammered, “I don’t have any money, but if there is any other way I can repay you…”
    The shinigami grinned, “Well, it just so happens there is, and I was hoping to vent off some steam,” he cracked his knuckles and chuckled slightly, “now do me a favor and hold still while I beat the crap outta ya!” He leapt forward and swung his massive fist at Nikorasu, who just barely managed to dodge the blow in time. The large shinigami took swing after swing, each time barely missing Nikorasu. Nikorasu, seizing an opening in between punches, kicked the shinigami in the face. “Heh, heh heh ha ha ha ha! Was that supposed to hurt? I didn’t even feel it!” Nikorasu grimaced, it did hurt, only the wrong person. He knew that this was a losing battle, so he swallowed his dignity and pride, turned, and ran… right into another large shinigami behind him.
    “Hey brother, did this guy hurt you?” the second shinigami said mockingly.
    “Yeah. I think he broke my nose! We can’t let him get away that now can we?” Nikorasu was lucky enough to black out after just 30 long seconds of beating. It was ten minutes later that they walked away from his beaten and bloodied body.
    He awoke in a soft bed and heard an elder woman’s voice coming from outside the room, “No! I refuse to see him or treat his wounds until tomorrow, just as I promised him I would. Nobody is to treat his wounds until I say so, and let that be a lesson to him for his foolishness!” Nikorasu sighed and let his head fall back into the soft pillow, and winced in pain, letting out a moan as he did. Pain wracked his entire body, and he swore that his whole body must be black and blue. “Oh, so he is awake? I just heard him. Good, now he can think over what I said an hour ago and maybe this time make a wise decision!”
    Okay, so I screwed up. Big time. You were warned, you know, multiple times. So what do you plan on doing now? Isn’t it obvious? I need to become stronger. Looks like I need to join a faction, and the only one that will help me in that area is the Haburi-seppan. Good, and now that you have made up your mind, release me, because in my Shikai form I have an ability to help regenerate you, and if nothing else the ability to help ease your pain. With this ability you heal at a rate of about ten times faster than regular healing, so a bruise that would normally take a day to heal will instead take around two hours. In your current situation, I estimate about 16 hours are necessary. So why didn’t you tell me of this ability before? I had to make sure you made an intelligent decision, and also I never saw it to be necessary before this moment in time.
    Nikorasu sighed, he was pissed because Honefenikkusu never told him this tidbit of information before, but he had a good point. Then again, he always had a good point. Why does my Zanpakuto have to be so smart? Well at least one of us has to be, but your wisdom will come in time, with a little more experience. Nikorasu, now completely pissed, responded, “Alright know-it-all, you can be quiet now,” and went back to sleep, but not before muttering, “Honefenikkusu.” As sleep took him over he could have sworn that he heard his Zanpakuto quietly laughing at him as it changed into the Shikai form.