Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 11, 2018 0:07:42 GMT -5
“I tend to be rather busy while in Seireitei. So rarely do I have the opportunity to spend time on personal endeavors like the clinic. Probably explains why I have yet to make significant progress.” Though he had scouted a few potential sites for his two underground laboratories, only the former required the clinic as a cover. In the deep Rukongai outskirts, he suspected that prying eyes would be minimal to nonexistent. Out of sight, out of mind was his thinking.
When Machie suggested that they begin walking, his first thought was having to weave in and out of the afternoon crowds. He could already feel the headache forming. Then the female Shinigami stepped to the roof’s edge, looking out across the sky. “Ah yes. No time to waste if we want to make full use of our three days of independent study.” Jumping from the roof, he began to expel minute amounts of reiryoku from the soles of his feet, hardening the reishi beneath them as he landed.
“Not that I mind walking of course, but I do hope that we are able to pick up the pace before too long.” Merrick had an almost innate need to always be occupied which wasn't being satisfied by walking unless he was also doing something else. Often times, thinking could be enough, but even then, he was usually multitasking. “How long has it been since our paths crossed for the first time at Third Division? Much has probably happened for you in that time. Do you have any interesting stories to tell which could appease a curious mind?”
The female shinigami followed Merrick off the edge of the roof, carefully focusing the reishi beneath her feet.
“Well, we can sight see on our way to see to this disturbance.”
Once she was sure her feet were steady, Machie began to follow her acquaintance. She didn't answer his questions about the time between their last meeting and now. She glanced below admiring the way the buildings still seemed so tall despite their height advantage. She'd spent much of the few weeks since meeting the medic in the library tending to the hell butterflies. Their seemingly random flight patterns soothed her and inspired a meditative peace within the feline woman. The greenhouses had become one of Machie's favorite places. The warmth, relative quiet, and entrancing dance of the jigokuchō seemed to please Nasima as well. The zanpakutō spirit felt more present in these times, radiating contentedness.
“It's been a few weeks, hasn't it?” Machie asked aloud after a time. “I meditated, I suppose. I sought rapport with my zanpakutō spirit. She seems to like butterflies.” A shrug followed. “Nasima is rather withdrawn, but perhaps it is because she believes I am headed down the wrong path. However, I may convince her to help me with my goal despite her misgivings.”
Vague as the answer was, it still was far more informative than the dark skinned woman would have been when they first met. For whatever reason, Nasima waited to speak until she was with Merrick. If getting to know him had anything to do with going down the path Nasima wanted, then Machie would try it. If she could do some things right in Nasima’s eyes, the cat might be more willing to help her.
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 14, 2018 15:25:40 GMT -5
“Sightseeing, but with a purpose.” Though he described it as recreation, he didn’t have enjoyment or diversion from work in mind. The aim was strictly to acquire knowledge in pursuit of his underground laboratory. However, as far as Machie was concerned, she would only need to know about the clinic. Merrick didn’t really trust the woman, at least where his personal matters were concerned. Still, the need for assistance had become a growing reality in recent weeks. As such, this business with the upside cross would serve as a dry run to determine if the female Shinigami could be trusted with something more important, and vastly more secretive.
“You will need to trust someone eventually.” Aleith’Sor’s boisterous voice rang in his head.
I trust you. Although when he thought about it, he knew exactly what she would say. “Trust is easy when one’s confidant is unable to betray you.” It would have been hard for him to argue with such a statement which was why he was appreciative for the silence. And yet at the same time, he was mildly disappointed when the woman failed to shower him with some of her usual pearls of wisdom.
When Machie finally saw fit to speak, he came to the conclusion that she had no concept of time. “Weeks? Try months.” She must have been in some deep meditative trances if she thought it had been mere weeks since they last met. “Surely you had more to occupy your time than the one task?” When she had turned the question around on him, he pondered what he had done which could be shared without revealing too much on a personal level. “Let me see. Well, you know about my work at the hospital. Eight hours of each day is spent there on a variety of tasks. Then there is the occasional mission, like your hollow hunt, which sends me to the human realm or the deep outskirts of the Rukongai. Lastly, there are the many hours of training to hone my craft in the various arts. I do not know about you, but I have not had the luxury of free time since joining the Gotei.”
“And why is that I wonder.” The zanpakuto spirit had finally decide to chime in once again.
“It sounds as though you’ve been busy,” Machie commented. She wiggled her toes, glad to note that the last of the strange paralysis seemed to have worn off. His disbelief at her abbreviated description of the past few-- months was it?--however long it had been since their last meeting was interesting. It indicated that he had expected to hear more. Was he interested in the more mundane tasks in her day to day life such as training? Or the exercises with her fellow combat specialists? They valued teamwork and camaraderie, though that made life a little difficult for her. She preferred to work through her problems without people asking too many questions or offering unsolicited advice.
“I suppose I trained too,” the feline woman admitted. Her eyes wandered the scenery below. She glanced at Merrick briefly, then followed his gaze. Which parts of the tangle of streets and buildings below interested him most?
“You might not have been entirely wrong to say I am not… well suited for the Fifth.” Machie resisted the urge to sigh at her frustration. “There is an emphasis on integration that just doesn’t…” she trailed off again. Then, remembering her resolution to give making a friend a good faith effort, the dark skinned woman continued, “it doesn’t align with how I prefer to live or train. I know they mean to be kind but I would rather be left alone. The constant pressure to form close bonds so fast and with so many people… it’s overwhelming.” This time, a sigh did escape.
“I think I’m recovered enough to travel at a faster pace now,” she intoned after a short silence, indicating the end of her sharing. The flat monotone had returned to her voice, as if she had not just come close to confiding in another person. In moments, Machie retreated from being a new soldier, uncertain of her place in the Gotei to a two dimensional extra --a face in the crowd with no feelings or memorable traits. She folded inwards, emotionally, stowing away any hints of vulnerability, of personality.
Talking to Merrick was easy, especially now that he was encouraging her to say what was on her mind. He gave her space to talk about herself without asking too much. He was straightforward, for the most part. Even with all of this, Machie was at her limit for opening up and trusting for now. 402/4134
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 17, 2018 0:22:50 GMT -5
How the woman was unable to realize that Fifth was a poor fit until recently, was beyond him. “The Infantry Fighting Force does seem to have a reputation for being a rather boisterous bunch which, in my opinion, is not like you. I believe I may have asked previously, but why did you choose to join them?” If she preferred to be left alone, then any other division would have better. Merrick was often doing his own thing in Third, but he also actively avoided others. Things had worked out well thus far. “Fifth also seems driven by only one thing, combat. I would have said that was unlike you as well, but after witnessing your battle with Pariapsis, I am not so sure.” That revelation had been a minor disappointment for the Shinigami doctor.
When Machie confirmed that she was enough to travel with hoho, Alain offered a nod. Then with a single burst of reiryoku from the soles of his feet, he was soaring through the New York sky. “Regrettably, there are no structures in my preferred style between here and our destination. Thus, there is no need to delay, but stay ready. We will likely encounter spiritually aware humans and Quincy. I am aware of only individual in the group who is at or near my level of strength, but we should still exercise caution by stopping a few blocks away. Then we suppress our reiatsu and approach unnoticed. I trust you are capable of the feat?” It was never going to be the best plan, especially if Machie struggled to hide herself. Though perhaps they could take a wait and see approach. Kyokko spells could hide them while they observed to see if anyone entered or exited the building. If her ability with hado was any indication, then Bakudo #26 was within her capabilities. In any case, he let the question hang in the area as he gave himself another burst of speed as he maneuvered around more skyscrapers.
The combat specialist shrugged at Merrick’s response. She had joined the Fifth in hopes that focusing on her combat skills, primarily her zanjutsu would help her pursue her relationship with her zanpakuto spirit. This was proving to be far less successful than she had hoped and the dark skinned woman didn’t need to be told she didn’t fit in. She had known that the first day. Machie hadn’t tried very hard to fit in, thinking that she could be a part of the Fifth Division yet do things her own way.
However, the time for sharing had passed so Machie prepared herself to follow the medic. To her consternation, Merrick was much faster than her. Machie propelled herself forward with reiryoku and ran as quickly as she could to catch up. When she finally caught up to the medic, it was because he had stopped moving rather than her reaching comparable speed.
The feline shinigami took controlled breaths in through her nose and released the air in soft huffs through her mouth while she recovered from their accelerated travel. Glancing around their new surroundings, Machie waited for Merrick to speak. This unofficial mission was more his than hers, and it was time to fall back again. Breathing calmed, the dark skinned woman began stretching her senses, trying to get her bearings. The familiar purple-tipped cat ears appeared above her heads and an ethereal tail curled around her feet while she crouched. 241/4375
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 18, 2018 23:12:50 GMT -5
Glancing over his shoulder from time to time, it was clear that Machie needed to work on her hoho technique. The Shinigami doctor had been traveling half speed at best and she was still lagging behind. When the pair finally arrived about three blocks from the office building, the young woman was struggling for breath. Perhaps that explained why she had fallen silent yet again, but he suspected that there was more to it. In any case, the silence was golden. Now if she would only maintain it should he decide to pursue Amara and her group.
As he waited for Machie to regain her composure, his sky blue eyes drifted towards their destination. Rising above all of the nearby structures, the office building was easy to pick out from a distance. Nevertheless, the decision to make this little detour before returning Soul Society had left him unprepared. Normally, he would have taken the time to peruse blueprints of an unknown location. Likewise, he would have spent hours if not days, simply observing a prospective target. Unfortunately, the pair were working with limited freedom.
Alain lifted his right arm and pointed with index and middle fingers pressed together. “That is the building and judging from the others nearby, we are looking at ten floors.” The man didn’t like to guess, but he would know for certain upon arrival. “I think that we should split up when we get there. One will enter via the top floor, the other, the first. Which would you prefer?” Merrick preferred the roof, but he was flexible. It just seemed like the most likely choice for a quick escape was the roof and he was the faster of the two. “I trust that you will be capable of handling a few wayward humans or Quincy?”
He took a moment to stretch his arms high overhead before adjusting the glasses upon his face. It wasn’t going to be much of a plan, but what other choice did he have besides walking away. “Do you have any questions or suggestions before we begin? Be quick. If we wait too long, we will be contending with the darkness as well.” In all likelihood, the interior of the building would be well-lit, but he preferred to expect the unexpected. “If there is nothing else, we can suppress our reiatsu and scramble across roofs for the last few blocks. Then we use the parking garage to get in position.”
Machie observed the building, eyes narrowed. She could hear hints of something inside; there were spiritually aware beings inside. “If they are not unusually strong I will be alright.” The dark skinned woman frowned, but the expression disappeared quickly. She glanced at the sky, taking note of the sun’s position. “Let’s go. I’ll take the bottom.”
Another glance towards the building.
“When should we meet up? A couple of hours?” She pulled her denreishinki from her pocket and flipped it open. “It’s about five thirty now.” Machie flipped the phone closed and then slipped it back into a pocket in her uniform. Her hand brushed against one of the rips in her uniform. Inwardly, the feline woman regretted the damage done to her clothing. She would have to take some time to repair it. It was a shame she hadn’t thought to bring extra clothes. 145/4520
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 20, 2018 0:20:54 GMT -5
Hopefully, the woman had the good sense to retreat if she confronted trouble which she couldn't handle. “Then I shall enter via the roof and work my way down.” Once again, he questioned Machie’s concept of time. “Hours? How long does it take you walk up five flights of stairs? I do not see this taking more than ten minutes. Twenty at the most. Unless we do find something.” If this turned out to be a simple gathering of Quincy or spiritually aware humans, then there was nothing for them to do. Without evidence of experimentation being perpetrated, no one was going to willingly talk to a pair of Shinigami. Nor would they have the authority to do anything beyond ask a few questions. “We will meet on the Fifth floor. Depending on our speed, maybe that shifts up or down a floor. Remember, we are only interested in crime of a spiritual nature. Human matters are not our concern.” He looked the woman up and down briefly. She seemed ready. “Let us go.”
Merrick suppressed his reiatsu to the best of his ability and began sprinting across rooftops for the next three blocks. When they reached the building opposite their destination, he stopped momentarily. “I will see you there.” Then he jumped across the gulf between the buildings, landing atop the office complex. Leaning over the roof’s edge, he watched Machie enter the turnstile on the first floor. Alain followed suit, using the roof access door to slip inside. As he suspected, the halls were well-lit. The tenth floor was completely empty. When he descended to the ninth, he began to notice fluctuations in reiatsu signatures. He could distinguish three spiritually aware humans, close to ground level. At first, he thought that they might be suppressing their reiatsu like him, but then one of the signatures vanished completely. “Hmm.” Potentially concerning, but Machie’s energy remained clear as day. As he continued to methodically work his way down to the fifth floor, he wondered if Adrian’s information had been correct after all. He didn't know what was going on just yet, but something didn't seem quite right.
Machie shrugged. “I thought it might take some time to search each floor for evidence. I suppose we can skip floors if we sense no one present.” She turned to examine the building once more, taking note of the numerous windows and slightly rundown walls.
Upon Merrick’s declaration, the feline woman nodded before descending towards the ground. If the combat specialist and the medic were to search the building and meet in the middle before the remaining daylight faded, they couldn’t dawdle. Machie dropped onto the ground softly. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes to focus. Instead of searching for other presences around her, she focused on her own reiatsu --urging it to quiet down and settle.
She breathed slowly and evenly, as she drew her reiatsu within the confines of her physical form slowly, but surely. It took her about two minutes, but her spiritual pressure dampened. Pleased with her success, the dark skinned woman approached the building. The doors were locked, but a swift kick rendered that measure fairly useless. Brute force wasn’t her favored way of doing anything, but the Fifth focused on direct confrontations, not subtlety.
Machie waited, but no one came to investigate the disturbance. The empty anteroom lead to the first level. Bland walls, a fine layer of dust, and an abandoned receptionist desk greeted the feline woman. Nothing seemed out of place. This was floor, as far as her senses told her, was empty and rarely used. Nevertheless, Machie closed her eyes and began to focus, trying to seek any spiritual presences nearby.
At first, she could only detect the vaguest hint that someone spiritually aware was in the building. Seconds dragged by, bringing clarity. There were at least one or two spiritually aware beings below her.
Careful, Nasima warned, licking her paw.
Machie stiffened. Her zanpakuto spirit was getting more and more chatty. The unusual behavior on the spirit’s part made her uneasy.
She spent another minute suppressing her reiatsu before continuing. The female shinigami took light steps just above the ground to avoid leaving footprints in the dust and turned a corner that lead to a stairwell. Anxiety gnawing at the pit of her stomach, Machie descended the stairs soundlessly stopping just short of the bottom and crouching.
The feline woman slipped out her denreishinki and flipped it open to tap out a quick message to the medic.
‘Multiple spiritually aware beings. Not much else in lower levels.’
Shouts and crashes made Machie wince. She added, ‘Engaged in conflict,’ before hitting send. 424/4994
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 23, 2018 13:43:08 GMT -5
Retrieving the vibrating denreishinki from his pocket, he flipped it open and read Machie’s messages. As he suspected, the woman had also noticed the spiritual signatures. This came as no surprise since she was closer to the source. However, her other message was vague. “Engaged in conflict.” Was she engaged in conflict? Did she see others engaged in combat? Was she actually seeing anything at all or merely making an assumption? In any case, she hadn’t asked for help. Therefore, he proceeded with his hasty room to room searches as he continued to work his way downward to the fifth floor.
The tenth, ninth and eighth held nothing of significance, but he wasn’t spending an inordinate amount of time in any of the rooms. Once they had cleared the building of any potential trouble, he and Machie could make a more thorough examination of the premises. This was looking unnecessary until he exited the stairwell to the seventh floor. As he marched along the main corridor, the stench of death began to wash over him. Following his nose, he was led to a pair of adjoining rooms near the end of the hall. The partially opened door seemed to indicate that no attempt had been made to hide the bodies. Using his sheathed zanpakuto, he pushed the wooden barrier open and stepped inside to find a pair of dead humans splayed on the floor.
As soon as he entered the room, Alain could detect the remnants of hollow reiatsu. He didn’t need his medical expertise to determine cause of death. Both bodies had their throats torn open. Upon close inspection of the wound sites, the hollow energy was present. The humans were otherwise unmarred. Even defensive wounds were lacking, but that was small consolation for them. Nothing could be done for the dead, so he turned his attention to the tainted reiatsu. At the current rate of dissipation, it was likely that death occurred recently, meaning that the culprit could still be around. However, he could not sense their presence. Either they could hide well or they were long gone. Regardless, he figured he should inform Machie. He texted the following message.
Two dead humans on seventh floor. Killed by a hollow breed. May still be in the building. Cannot sense them.
The feline shinigami frowned at Merrick's reply. She closed her eyes briefly, face scrunching up in discomfort. She quickly typed another message and sent it to her comrade, wincing at another shriek.
'They’re here. In the basement’
Machie tried to suppress her reiatsu even more. She had no intentions of fighting an unknown enemy on her own. The pulsing in her forehead and ears intensified. A slender hand reached up, fingers sliding between braids and clenching around the hair. Machie bit her lower lip and tried to stay quiet and still. The enemies nearby were stronger than her.
Unfortunately, the next scream cut off suddenly. Machie began to back away as quietly as possible, but a white mask with red markings smeared across it like a clown's smile peered around the corner. The hulking, black neck and shoulders attached to it confirmed her fears. It was a hollow.
The feline shinigami gasped and then fled, using shunpo.
The hollow let out a roar and lunged after her.
Machie cried out and fell, her body tumbling down the stairs.
The monster followed, hungry for the soul.
Another hollow appeared at the bottom of the staircase, trapping Machie between them.
Head pounding, Machie whispered to her zanpakutō spirit for help.
A sudden burst followed the increase in spiritual pressure caused by her shikai.
The pain in her skull only intensified.
Both hollows posed to attack.
Machie dashed straight at the clown-masked hollow closest to the top of the stairs and lashed out at it with her released zanpakutō, a chain whip. Tears blurred her vision, but the shinigami tried to ignore it, mumbling the words to her favored hado.
The physical blow had little effect on the hollow, but the blast of energy that followed unbalanced it.
Machie attempted to dart past it using shunpo, but the hollow snatched the back of her robes and began to run, with the feline woman in tow.
The clown-masked hollow fled with its prize, pursued by the other hollow-- a spindly beast with a blue butterfly on its mask.
Machie flared her reiatsu as hard as possible, hoping Merrick wasn't too distracted. She struggled in the clown Arrancar’s grip, ripping the fabric of her shihakusho in an attempt to escape.
She fell, the top of her uniform sliding down, leaving her back and chest wrap bare. Before Machie could even attempt another shunpo, the hollow's hand closed around her torso. Desperate, the combat specialist rushed through the kido verse again, but the red beam of energy only irritated the hollow. It slammed her into the ground in annoyance and then began to run again, the butterfly hollow having gained on it.
Machie's vision exploded in a combination of darkness and flashes of color. The pressure became unbearable and the dark skinned woman began to lose consciousness. The fear she felt was almost paralyzing, but the sense of familiarity disturbed her more. She had no time to consider it before her eyes rolled upwards in their sockets and the lids slid shut. 506/5500
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 29, 2018 14:58:05 GMT -5
Machie responded with a text that they were in the basement. Unfortunately, she didn’t indicate who “they” were. It was likely a reference to the killers, but he preferred not to make assumptions. Rising to his feet and exiting the room, he began the trek to the lower floors of the office building. Along the way, he continued to passively scan for additional reiatsu signatures, but nothing else was apparent. Content to continue marching towards his destination floor by floor, his demeanor changed upon detecting a rise in Machie’s spiritual pressure. Most likely a function of releasing her zanpakuto, the act coincided with discovery of hollow signatures which had previously gone unnoticed. Hmm.
“What are you waiting for?” Aleith’Sor rarely spoke to him in situations like this. She had always seemed content to let him carry out his duties as he saw fit. For her to speak up in this instance, made him wonder what it might mean. “Go!” Her urging was a clear indication that those thoughts would have to wait. After a slight roll of the eyes, he ran to the end of the hallway and leapt through the closed window, breaking both glass and wooden frame alike. As he hung in the air outside the property, he caught sight of Machie and two hollows, one of which was dragging the Fifth Division Shinigami like a rag doll.
Whether they were unable to sense his presence or were merely uninterested, neither even turned to look in his direction. How foolish of them. Despite the woman’s best efforts to break free, she could do little more than delay her captors who subsequently tore her robes when they slammed her into the pavement. Fortunately for Machie, the delay was enough for Merrick who was already on the move. He had to admit that the lack of sonido was also a plus. In the past, far weaker enemies had been able to escape him due to a difference in speed. Refined though his hoho technique might be, it was still a weakness that he needed to overcome.
Flash stepping to a position above the pair of fleeing hollows, he prepared to strike. “Bakudo #9 Horin.” Leaving his zanpakuto sheathed for the time being, he formed tendrils of bluish-white reiryoku in each hand. Then as the energy ropes began to grow in length, he directed them at the two hollows. In the case of the leader with his clown-like appearance, the binding strand wrapped about its waist and then snaked up the body around the torso and arms, pinning them together. Its movement was immediately halted as Machie was dumped unceremoniously on the ground.
Nothing quite so extensive was necessary for the smaller butterfly hollow as the second energy string wrapped around its neck. Alain merely gave the binding a yank, pulling the beast off of the ground and sending it soaring towards him. As the creature flew through the air, he smoothly unsheathed his zanpakuto and waited. When the fiend was within striking distance, he delivered a clean horizontal cut that severed head from body. Then his attention turned to the clown who was bound to the top of a black panel van. Alain really didn’t care for this part of the job, but it was what it was. Letting himself drop forcefully onto the hollow breed’s chest, he reversed his one-handed grip and stabbed the bound monster through the face. And now Machie. Leaping from the vehicle, he marched over to his colleague to check her physical condition.
"Seems like you could work a bit faster." Apparently, everyone was a critic.
With a groan, the female shinigami began to stir. Her eyelids scrunched and her lips twisted into a frown, the most expressive she had ever been in front of Merrick. The back of her head head throbbed where it had collided with the concrete, but the overwhelming pressure from earlier was gone. The sting of scrapes on the back of her shoulders and lacerations from the hollow's claws on her arms assured Machie that she was more or less alive.
“¿Qué pasó?” she mumbled, squinting her eyes open.
The blurry form above her was probably… Machie struggled to sit up, but a wave of dizziness kept her down. Who was that? The dark skinned woman tried to concentrate on the reiatsu of the person before her. From what she could tell, they were likely assessing her injuries.
No, this wasn't the right reiatsu. Machie managed to pry her eyes open and observe the slightly sharper figure before her. Moments later, his face was clear.
“Merrick. Did you find what you needed?”
They had been searching for something, but the ache in the back of her head kept her from focusing long enough to recall what that had been.
I feel like I've been hit by a car.
“Me ha dado golpes un coche…” she said aloud to herself.
No, that wasn't right. She didn't remember any headlights.
“Did I get hit by a car?”
She squinted, struggling to focus on the other shinigami's face. With more effort than it should have taken, Machie pushed herself into a seated position. The cool air made her shiver, bringing attention to the state of her robes. However, it was difficult to be embarrassed while feeling so roughed up.
One hand splayed against the ground behind her for support, the feline shinigami reached up touch the back of her head. She winced and withdrew her hand. Looking down, Machie noticed her fingers were red. 321/5821
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 29, 2018 21:10:10 GMT -5
As he stood over the Shinigami female, his initial impression was that her injuries could have been far more severe. He wasn’t asking for thanks, but she was fortunate that he was with her rather than the two division mates who had been injured during sparring. Nevertheless, the woman was doing a fair bit of mumbling. He suspected that she was feeling the effects of a concussion, but it was nothing which he couldn’t handle. As he waited for her eyes to focus, she began speaking a different language. “I did not know that you spoke Spanish.” Merrick knew a little of the language himself. She wanted to know what happened. “I cannot speak to the specifics of what happened before my arrival, but it appears that you were attacked by two hollows while inside the office building.”
Alain tapped an index finger to his lips and then raised one eyebrow when she called him by the wrong name. “No. My name is Merrick.” Clearly the woman was confused. “And who is this Ren person?” Her next questions were equally puzzling. Had he found what he needed? Alain hadn’t really been looking for anything. He simply wanted to delay their return to Soul Society. Machie was probably regretting that decision or at least the choice not to sightsee instead. “Hollows killed a pair of humans, but nothing else of significance was found on floors six through ten. We can pass along a report and maybe the Gotei will send someone to follow up.” There were no indications that this was an Amara operation.
“And no. You were not hit by a car. Again, I cannot speak to what happened inside the building, but outside, you were slammed into the pavement by one of the hollows. You likely have a concussion as well as some minor cuts and scrapes. Now that you are sitting up, I can deal with those.” Merrick walked behind her and dropped to one knee. Then he coated his right hand in a thin layer of bluish-white reiryoku which he used to make a series of brush passes over her back, shoulders and arms. The concussion warranted extra attention and so he let his hand rest on the back of her head as he checked for any internal swelling, hemorrhaging or skull fractures. Within moments, she was as good as new.
“You should have no trouble standing. The only remaining evidence of your ordeal is the torn robes which is beyond my abilities.” Alain rose to his feet and gave the abandoned structure another glance. “I suspect that given the circumstances, you are ready to cut our three day furlough short?” He would just have to find something to occupy his time back home.
The cool relief that came with Merrick's hands elicited a soft sigh from the worn woman. Her shoulders sagged a little deeper with relaxation.
“Thank you, Merrick.”
Then, she glanced down at her shihakusho pooled around her waist.
“My apologies for the indecency,” the feline woman muttered, pulling up the fabric around her chest as best she could, but it did little to hide her moderately endowed chest. Machie took solace in the fact that her chest bindings were intact.
“We should probably return,” the feline shinigami hesitated.
“Would you mind if we took a short detour to get new clothes? I don't want to walk all the way to the Fifth like this.”
Her eyes stayed trained on her lap, too nervous to check the medic’s reaction or lack thereof.
“I don't… I'm not sure who Ren is… I think I used to know someone with that name.”
Carefully, she got to her feet making sure to keep herself covered.
A vague image came to mind, but it was unclear. Perhaps it was the result of hitting her head. It was difficult to concentrate when she felt so exposed. Machie would not have chosen to be so vulnerable twice in the presence of the medic, but he had yet to make her truly regret it.
One hand held together the tattered top half of her robes while the other patted her side, making sure Nasima was still there. The matte grey tanto was at her hip, fortunately. Other than her clothing, everything seemed to be in order. Well, almost everything. 269/6090
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 30, 2018 18:54:48 GMT -5
Merrick wasn’t fond of verbal expressions of gratitude. They always struck him as disingenuous. If someone truly wished to offer thanks, then they should offer tangible compensation, like monetary payments. Nevertheless, he kept silent in Machie’s case and simply responded with a small nod of the head. As he waited for his colleague to fully recover, he used his denreishinki to send a message to his superiors detailing the situation. They could decide how to handle any follow up and determine if other divisions should be contacted.
Upon finishing his text, Machie expressed a desire to acquire new clothes. Until that moment, the state of her attire hadn’t really registered. So that is what she meant by indecent. The woman had made a similar comment earlier in the day when she presented herself in only a robe. Now she was pretty much bare above the waist except for the cloth wrappings that bound her chest. “Does that qualify as indecent?” He didn’t get it. She wasn’t naked and the torn robes weren’t a choice. “Well, your only option in the human world would be a Shinigami listening post. A city this large likely has one, but why does it matter who sees you?” Trying to cover up with her tattered robes just made the woman look foolish.
“Oh, Alain. What an innocent soul you are.” If he was expecting further explanation from his zanpakuto spirit, then he was going to be disappointed. She fell silent after the lone comment.
Alright then. Alain retrieved the denreikshinki a second time and checked to see if there were any nearby listening posts. As he suspected, New York City had one. “There is a Shinigami facility on the other side of the city. It will be a lengthy detour and there is no guarantee that they will have spare uniforms. Do you still want to go?” Machie’s hoho ability was going to slow them down, but they still had three full days before they had to return to Seireitei. This wasn't what had in mind when he decided to remain in the human realm. Still, his Shinigami brethren might have some interesting reports worth reading.
At the medic’s question, the female shinigami looked up, her expression bland once more. Perhaps the man was simply being professional.
“I prefer not to be seen when I'm not properly dressed,” she answered for his benefit. Even if a medic might not care one way or the other what she wore, that did not mean she felt comfortable being exposed in front of even more people.
“Yes,” Machie replied once more, “I would still like to go. Besides, my denreishinki is either lost or broken. There may be a spare in a listening post.”
The female shinigami crossed her arms over her chest, which had the effect of pinning the fabric of her torn uniform against her body. Despite resolving to try to be more friendly with the other shinigami, Machie still had little desire to bare her undergarments to the man whether or not he minded.
“Well, lead the way,” she instructed blandly. “I'm well enough to shunpo even if it is a bit slow.”
Merrick, the feline woman suspected, was a particularly sensitive person and wouldn't find a more detailed description of her embarrassment of interest. If not for his question, she might have assumed he was pretending not to notice her state of undress purely out of politeness. It was a little less clear now. She tried not to focus on the way he didn't avert his eyes, reminding herself that it would have been a pointless measure since he had seen plenty while healing her.
Chagrined, Machie let her gaze drift away from the medic's form. Perhaps if she didn't look at him for a while she could forget about this.
Nasima licked her paws, radiating amusement.
Shut up, Machie thought.
The feline zanpakutō flicked her tail in amusement. 294/6384
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 30, 2018 20:49:39 GMT -5
Machie, like most people, was far too concerned with what others thought. Alain never had that problem. “Very well. Let us be on our way.” He checked his denreishinki one last time for the precise location and then leapt into the sky. As soon as he had reached a suitable height, he began propelling himself forward via small bursts of reiryoku from the soles of his feet. The pace would be kept at a half or a quarter of his maximum speed and the woman would have to keep up. Due to the changing heights of the surrounding structures, he selected a path that followed the streets, only many feet above the ground.
From time to time, he glanced over his shoulder to check Machie’s progress. Foolishly, she continued to try and hold up her robes. “You do realize that humans cannot see us.” Those were his only words for the duration of the trip. Roughly thirty minutes later, they arrived at the outskirts of the city. The Shinigami facility sat at the forest edge, maybe a few hundred yards behind a residential cul-de-sac. Stopping in the air, he could sense the barrier which surrounded the structure and hid it from view. “This is the second listening post that I have seen and neither have been much to look at.” The tiny building couldn’t house many supplies, but a denreishinki was a small item. The robes were probably a different story, but what did he care. His only interest was in recent spiritual activity.
Upon descending to the damp grass, he walked to the barrier and rested his hand on its surface. “Step through slowly and expect to be met by at least one fellow Shinigami.” When he passed through the barrier, Machie and Merrick were met by two of their brethren, one male and one female. Both stood a few inches shy of six foot with short red hair and numerous freckles on their cheeks. The pair must have been twins. Alain offered them a small nod and then stepped aside for his companion. “Feel free to see if they can help. I am going inside to check recent reports.”
Machie followed Merrick, working considerably harder to maintain the pace than the medic. She focused on running across reishi in an attempt to forget her torn uniform, but the medic made that impossible. Her eyebrow twitched in annoyance.
“It's a personal preference,” was the only response she had to offer, having given up on explaining herself. Machie didn't care if anyone could see her or not. The state of her robes was an uncomfortable one regardless.
A dull ache made itself present in her temples as the emotions brought up vague sensations if familiarity. The female shinigami hadn't questioned why she felt so uncomfortable with being exposed, or why Merrick's incapability to understand bothered her so much. All Machie knew was that so much as loosening her grip on the fabric shielding her invited a sense of insecurity and anxiety. These feelings weren't something she could investigate at the moment or with the male shinigami, so the feline woman opted to keep it to herself and remain quiet until they stopped.
The outpost was relatively quiet, with little activity in the surrounding area. Machie felt tension drain away from her back and shoulders at the idea of being able to get some proper clothing in peace (and privacy).
She followed Merrick inside without comment and twitched, resisting the urge to hide behind him when they were greeted by the redheads.
The one on the left clicked his tongue. “Tsk. You've been dragging this lady around in rags. What a slave driver.” He laughed.
Machie walked over to the female twin who escorted her away.
“Boys just don't get it, do they?” The taller woman asked.
Machie shook her head.
“That's alright. Let's get you dressed. I'm Ren by the way.”
The feline shinigami's eyes widened, but she quickly hid the expression.
“Are you a medic, by any chance?” Machie asked as she followed Ren deeper into the complex. 318/6702
Seireitei is crumbling and the Gotei is a shell of its former self. Ravaged by the plague, the surviving Shinigami struggle to maintain the balance, but with so few of them left, the work is taxing and their fortress-city has fallen to neglect. Spread thin across all fronts, their diminished presence has been noted by friend and foe alike.
The Arrancar have rebuilt Las Noches and are rallying. The throne remains empty, but self-styled Espada have risen up from among them and are vying for control, each one endlessly testing the others’ weaknesses. Too evenly matched for any one of them to claim the crown, they bide their time, waiting for the opportune moment.
On Earth, all seems well—but there is a war being fought in the shadows as the mortals find themselves lacking the protection they once had and so sorely need. The Quincy, having realized the oppressive specter of the Shinigami is no more, are flourishing, and are fighting the Hollow-breeds with renewed vigor.