As Ace left his house and went to school, he greeted his two neighbors Nora and Anna. They greeted him as well and Anna was slightly glad that Nora was blind. For she, Anna, looked at Ace with admiration. Nora had made a comment yesterday, how she barely had a scratch on her, ever since she went to Ace’s school. and for the rest of the day she, Nora, hadn’t been asked for help, even though three more hollows had attacked.
Anna had noticed that as well and also knew why that was. yesterday, even though it had been only a few words. he had been glad she had come. he had been glad to see her fight. He had called her power cool. And she had seen it in his face; he had meant every word he had said. Knowing this had given her more confidence. This was also why she was ready for today.
as Ace got to school, he saw two of his new friends; Makoto and Tomoya. Even though he had only been here for a short amount of time, he did consider them his friends. And also, as the two walked there toward the school entrance, he noticed something else. As they got to the lockers and changed their shoes, Ace noticed it again. they also noticed him and greeted him. he smiled and greeted them back, before shifting his look to Tomoya, ‘you okay buddy? You look as if you’re hurt.’ Tomoya looked surprised, stretched and replied, ‘well, maybe I’ve overdone it with the violin practice. Overstretching the arm and all that.’ he finished with a smile and walked away to class.
Ace didn’t smile and saw how his friend walked. Makoto looked at Ace, ‘why did you say he looked hurt?’ Ace shrugged, ‘the way he walks, the way he favors his left side carrying his school bag while he usually crosses it over his right shoulder, the way his left leg drags a bit.’ Makoto looked at Tomoya and, now that she was aware of it, she noticed it as well. it was slight, as if Tomoya was trying to remain strong. She nodded, ‘how did you see that?’ Ace smiled, ‘I’ve trained in sports from a young age. As such, with Kendo, even though I wore armor, I sometimes got injured. With other sports too. And when I saw others hurt they sometimes walked like that.’
Makoto nodded, ‘that’s all well and good. But he’s into music, not into sport. You’d think he’d have a bit more muscle if he did.’ Ace nodded and saw how Tomoya entered the class room. they were about the same size, but he, Ace, had broader shoulders and stronger arms. Tomoya was slender, had a relative good build, but no more than normal muscle. He and Makoto also entered the class and sat down.
Ace left the Issue for what it was until it was time for P.E. and they had to change clothes. As the girls went to another classroom, Ace noticed Tomoya dressed in the corner. As the other boys dressed while talking to each other they stood relatively close together. Ace kept an eye on his friend and noticed the bruises he had. Tomoya had been hit hard by something. Or, more likely; someone. And the fact he was trying to hide it meant he didn’t want to involve others, in case the bully, or bullies, might pick on those helping him as well.
as P.E. progressed, as the boys were running tracks and the girls were practicing jumps, Ace noticed some senior students sitting on the sidelines. They were either shouting to the girls to make their breasts bounce more. And some others asked the boys if they couldn’t run harder. And then there was a particular group of five boys that were jeering and booing Tomoya, who ran behind all the boys. Ace frowned and as he ran by them he replied, ‘if you’re so much better in running, come on down and show us how fast you are!’ the teacher noticed Ace’s speaking up and added, ‘agreed. Either you join the boys in running, or you keep quiet!’ two boys had the gall to run along with them, only to find they weren’t any faster than the other boys. Ace outran both of them, even though they were longer and two years older.
as school ended and clubs started, Ace went to the kendo class, only taking a small break half way through. As he drank some water and went for some fresh air, around the corner he heard something suspicious. As he looked he saw two of the jeering guys holding Tomoya pinned against the wall, while a third used him as a punching bag. One of the two remaining guys acted as if he played Tomoya’s violin, which he held, as a guitar. And the fifth guy laughed about it while making suggestions as he held a baseball bat.
Ace, seeing this, snapped! He put on his kendo mask and came running at the boys, roaring like a wild animal. As the boys heard and saw him coming, seeing him swing his kendo sword, they dropped what they were doing and ran. Ace, in his anger, was still impressed by Tomoya. Even though he was beaten up, he made a nosedive to catch his violin, hurting himself more in the process. As the bullies had fled, Ace walked back to his friend, who was in more pain now than before.
Ace didn’t ask his friend for an explanation, helped him up and walked him to the nurse’s office, explaining to the kendo captain what had happened and why he left early. As the nurse had put ice on Tomoya’s bruises and had put him to rest, she went to get a teacher, who could help identify the bullies. Ace, having taken his mask off, sat next to Tomoya, before Makoto came running in, ‘I just heard Tomoya had been brought to the nurse’s office. What happened?’
Tomoya looked away with a saddened look on his face. Ace sighed, ‘it’s okay Tomoya. You don’t have to tell us why it happened.’ Makoto came to stand next to Ace and Ace answered her, ‘those five guys that jeered and booed him during P.E. were beating him up and mocking his violin. I managed to chase them away.’ Tomoya nodded, ‘you’re lucky you were wearing your mask. If they had seen your face, they would go and pick on you the moment they catch you alone and unarmed.’
Ace grinned, ‘I’d like to see them try! Not to put you down buddy, but I can fight back!’ Ace’s frowned and it soon became an angry glare into empty space, ‘I hate bullies! They pick on people they know they can take. And they always travel in groups to feel safe and powerful. And they always feel good about someone else’s misery! If those bullies try anything, ever again; tell me. you say they’ll get me alone; let them. I’ll beat the living hell out of them!’
Tomoya looked at his friend with a bit of fear, a bit of confusion and a bit of admiration. He sighed, ‘it’s not that easy. Those guys begin with manipulating games, before robbing you and finally they start beating on you.’ Ace’s anger only seemed to increase as he heard this. Makoto looked at Ace with a touch of fear, ‘I know you’re angry. But don’t do anything you’ll regret. If you get suspended or expelled for beating them up,…’ Ace looked at her, ‘than I’d be fine with that! if I don’t do anything to help my friend when he needs it, I’m almost as bad as the punks who beat on him!’
Makoto shook her head and Tomoya added, ‘you’d never be that bad Ace. You’re a good person. Your heart’s in the right place. But please, don’t get mixed in with my problems. I wouldn’t want something to happen to you.’ Ace calmed down some and put a reassuring hand on his friend’s shoulder, ‘I’ll behave. But I’ll also make sure to keep you safe.’ Than the teacher returned with a map of everyone’s photos.
Ace and Tomoya looked through it, to see if they recognized any of the bullies. However, in his Anger, Ace had forgotten their faces and Tomoya claimed they always hid their faces. Ace didn’t remember that,… but he had been enraged, so he couldn’t be sure. that day, after school, he walked Tomoya home, keeping his practice sword with him, just in case. And at certain moments he had a feeling someone was watching them. only after Tomoya had gone through the door of his home and closed it did he go home himself.
Anna was still out in the town, but Nora was still at home, impressed that Anna had lasted that long without her healing. As such, wanting someone to talk to, she came over to Ace when he came home. He put on a fresh pot of tea and told her what had happened at school, the bullies and the fact his friend didn’t want to tell who they were. Nora nodded, ‘I guess your friend’s feeling quite pressured. My guess is; they threatened him. if he told who they were, they know where to find him. it’s a heavy burden for him.’
Ace nodded, ‘I know. I know all about heavy burdens. I’m living on my own, go to school and need to keep myself alive.’ Nora smiled and moved her right hand over her blind eyes, ‘as for me, I’m blind. In the beginning that was quite difficult. But I’ve managed to make the best of it. and you’re trying to make the best out of it as well.’ Ace nodded, ‘I am. But my friend, with bullies, I don’t see how he can make the best of that situation.’
Anna arrived at his home and knocked. Nora told him who it was and he let her in. as she sat down with some minor cuts and bruises and Nora got to work on healing her while Anna seemed rather exhausted. Ace poured her a cup of tea as well and invited the two of them to dinner. Not having any different plans, they both accepted. Anna even helped him with cooking. Ace was surprised she offered, as well as how well she managed in his small kitchen with him there.
as she cooked, he and Nora told her their topic of discussion. Anna nodded with a saddened face, ‘I know all about bullies. In the academy we attended I was also bullied. My kido spells were weak and I was mocked for it. heck, some of the snobs sometimes used me for target practice, not caring if they hurt me. with flash step I was always behind and some people came back, only to remark how slow I was. sometimes they pushed me down, saying; “tag, you’re it!” I hated that. and that went on for six long years! So I just decided to grin and bear it. I was too weak to do anything against it.’
Ace sighed, ‘I hate bullies! They just do it to feel good about themselves. How can causing others pain be considered fun?!’ Anna shrugged, ‘don’t ask me. I never picked on anyone.’ She finished cooking and helped Ace set the table. They sat down and started eating. Ace wasn’t the best cook ever, but he managed normal dishes fine. Yet Anna had managed them better. As he ate the ramen she had prepared he smiled, ‘Anna this is delicious. How are you this good at cooking?’
Anna smiled, ‘my mother instructed me how to cook while I was a child. She said a young woman should always be able to prepare good food. I practiced and managed to get better.’ She sighed, ‘my father called it a waste of time though.’ Ace shook his head, ‘being able to cook something this good while you have little to work with is impressive. And hey, with that weapon of yours, knowing how to prepare food also means you know how to prepare those monsters.’ Anna thought about that statement, that made sense in a way.
after dinner they cleaned the dishes and relaxed for a moment. Anna told Nora about the hollows she had faced today, as well as a certain theory she had. Ace went to work on his homework. After an hour, the three of them went to the dojo, for some training. Anna wanted to become a better fighter, Nora wanted to keep up her training and Ace was happy to be able to help. As he sparred with both women, he was impressed Nora fought so well, even though she was blind. Anna had improved slightly since their first encounter. She wasn’t as brash and reckless as before. in return for his help in swordsmanship training, they helped him to better focus his spirit energy, to create the same, or more powerful effects, with less amounts of spirit energy.
the next morning Ace woke up earlier and went by Tomoya’s house to walk him to school, as a friend and a bodyguard. As Tomoya came out, he said goodbye to his mother and his little sister. Ace looked at the little girl, who looked like she was eight. A cute and happy girl with lots of energy. as she was walked to school by her mother, Tomoya walked with Ace, who once again had his practice sword with him. as they were halfway to school, a single senior blocked their path and Tomoya had fear in his eyes as he saw this man.
the senior stepped up to Tomoya, leaned over to him and whispered, ‘I hope for you that you didn’t say a word. If you did and I find out, just know that me and the guys know where your sister goes to school. we can give her the same pain as you. even worse!’ he stood up and walked to school, shooting back a dark look. Ace frowned, as he also saw a dark aura surrounding this senior. Tomoya’s expression of fear and his trembling made it hard for him to keep walking.
as they got to school, Ac kept a constant eye on his friend, who seemed to remain afraid for the rest of the day. However, during lunch break, as Tomoya didn’t eat a single thing, Ace had seen his friend suffer enough. he slammed his hand down on his friend’s desk, drawing Makoto’s attention, ‘okay buddy, I don’t want you to suffer like this any further! Tell me the name of this guy? What’s his secret?!’ Tomoya shook his head and tried to get away, only to find Ace’s other hand pinning him down. Ace shook his head, ‘I’ve seen this happen before. a group of bullies picked on one of my friends and I turned a blind eye to it! that friend committed suicide! I’ll do anything to stop that from happening! Name! Secret! Now!’
Tomoya seemed rather shocked by his friend’s outburst and confession and replied, ‘Shinichi Noda, I’ve seen him go into a love hotel three times with a first year. Each time another girl.’ Ace nodded, ‘thanks buddy. Now, stay in class and don’t leave the room.’ Ace stood up but Tomoya grabbed his arm, ‘what are you going to do?’ Ace smiled back to Tomoya, ‘I’m going to remove this heavy weight from your shoulders.’ He walked out of class and walked to the broadcasting room.
Ace turned on the system, connected to the entire school, ‘hello, attention, everybody. I hope you can all hear me. I just wanted to share something with you; fourth year student Shinichi Noda has been seen going into a love hotel with several different first year girls. When someone saw this, he was threatened that Shinichi Noda and his bully friends would beat up his sister! In return for keeping quiet, they beat him up!’
security came into the room shortly after he had started, but they remained and listened to what he had said. After he left the broadcasting room, an enormous commotion broke out in the entire school. Shinichi Noda and his bully friends had run out of class, as many people knew who those bully friends were. But as Ace returned to his class, he noticed Tomoya and Makoto were missing. Just as he was about to ask what had happened, another broadcasting went through the school, ‘hello, second year shit stain and pain in the ass Ace Okunote! You have balls to pull something like that, blabbing my secret out to everyone! But you didn’t guard your friends well. come to the roof if you want to see them, alive!’
Ace’s frown turned into a scowl and he went to the roof, where Shinichi and his four bully friends stood. Two of them held Tomoya and Makoto, while the other two held knives at their throats. Shinichi took out a kendo sword. The teachers had also come. but the guys with the knives yelled that if they came closer, those two were going to die. Ace’s rage had reached its boiling point. It wouldn’t take long for his anger to boil over!
Shinichi stepped forward with a sinister grin, ‘I’ve seen you like to use that sword of yours. So how about this! we fight! If you beat me, your friends go free. If you lose; you become my hitting dummy! Oh and one more thing; beating me means knocking me out. And any place on my body you hit, my boys will cut! So I hope you know what you must do!’
Ace took out his kendo sword and he and Shinichi took their stances. He still saw Shinichi’s dark aura, but it was stronger than this morning. It somehow felt like spirit energy, but far more evil than anything he had felt so far. Outside of the school people gathered as well and people from the school newspaper had seen and heard what was happening and the rumors now flew through the entire school.
Shinichi attacked quickly with fierce strikes. But Ace managed to block him each time. But he didn’t attack either, knowing his friends would get hurt if he did that. unless! He could knock this guy out in one blow and make it to his friends before those knife guys could make a move. but they both were ten meter from the battle and they were five meter apart. Even if he could stop one of them, he couldn’t protect his other friend. And he couldn’t choose a friend.
as the battle continued, Shinichi’s dark aura grew darker and heavier and his attacks became stronger. as such, Ace used the technique the girls had taught him, channeling his spirit energy through his body to increase his own strength in small bursts. Even though he was new at this, he managed to continue to fend of Shinichi’s blows, who now went insane and kept lashing out, almost blindly. Police sirens could be heard and the police entered the building, informed of what was happening.
but they were also kept back with the threats of the guys with the knives. Ace wondered; if he send a lot of his spirit energy into his next blow, knocking Shinichi out, could he use his remaining spirit energy to increase his speed to safe his friends? He had never tried this before, so he was unsure of his actions and what to do, other than keep defending himself.
but as Ace sidestepped a thrust, he saw an opening so obvious he couldn’t help but strike, hitting Shinichi in his stomach. At this point, the guys with the knives went in to make their moves. Ace, in a reflex, reached for his deck and drew two cards, not caring which ones they were. He send bursts of spirit energy into them and threw them at the knife guys. It turned out to be the ace of hearts, giving one guy a none fatal heart attack, causing him to drop, where the other was the two of diamond, causing him to be hit by two spiritual crystals, knocking him out. Both guys were also hit by the cards before they fell down, making it seem to the outsiders as if the cards had knocked the guys out. Well they had, but not physically.
the two guys holding Tomoya and Makoto released their grip somewhat as they saw what had happened. both of their captives escaped and ran. And as those two chased them, Ace got in their way and knocked both of them out with a single swing. As Tomoya and Makoto reached the door, the police stepped out onto the roof. Shinischi’s rage had reached its own boiling point and was boiling over. As this happened, his dark aura was oozing off of him, making a dark pillar in the sky. He turned to Ace and rushed at him, away from the police.
Ace was angry as well. but unlike Shinichi, Ace controlled his anger and directed it. he blocked the incoming attack and countered, hitting Shinichi right in his face, knocking him out in one swing. Ace stepped backwards, slightly exhausted. As the Police arrested Shinichi and his friends, Ace saw how all of the dark aura suddenly disconnected from Shinichi and forming in the sky.
it became a large minotaur like hollow with a bull mask. It had bulls legs and hooves, a massive human male torso and strong arms, with a hole in the middle of its chest. Ace sat down, looking up at the sky. As he had burned through a lot of his spirit energy in this fight, he didn’t have enough to fight a hollow as strong as this one. Now he understood why Shinichi had been that strong. This hollow had possessed him, had latched onto and increased his anger. As such, he had also increased Shinichi’s physical abilities.
Anna and Nora both arrived, seeing the scene, having sensed the battle through the entire town. Anna released her Zanpaktou; Shokuhinheiki and Nora released hers, ‘watch and act; Me Chiyu.’ It was one centre ring, chained to three different eyes. A blue eye, a green eye and a yellow eye. The blue eye had blades attached to it, the green eye had chains attached to it. the yellow eye had long needles attached to it.
Nora nodded, ‘I’ll restrain it, you finish it off!’ Anna nodded and the minotaur hollow came down, both hands burning with spirit energy, roaring like a mad bull. Nora swung her weapon up at the charging hollow; ‘Kinbaku! Hari o Tsukisashi!’ the chains of the green eye grew longer with spirit energy chains, binding the hollow, where the needles of the yellow eye shot out a barrage of spirit energy needles, hitting the hollow, but not doing any damage. But it did slow down, eventually it stopped moving. Anna swung her weapon around as she charged her enemy, bringing up the knife of her weapon, ‘Bunkatsu!’ she dropped down, slicing the hollow and the chains in half. The hollow disappeared and both women sealed and sheathed their swords and left.
Ace was still resting from his battle and Tomoya and Makoto were shocked that they had been held captive and threatened with knives. But the five bullies had now been arrested and had also been expelled from the school. Ace had done what he said he would; he removed the weight from his friend’s shoulders.