Anyways, still looking for any comments and feedback you guys want to give, so please leave a comment if you read through the whole thing.
Chapter Three: Love in the Air
After Seth’s first training session and encounter with Brock, a week passed without further incident. However, between schoolwork and training, Seth hadn’t been getting much time to himself. From the moment he awoke in the morning to the moment he passed out at night from pure exhaustion, he was working hard. First he went to school, then immediately afterwards went to train with Jake, did his homework, and spent the evening training with his shikai. By the time each day was over, he was mentally, physically, and spiritually drained.
However, he was showing improvement in both areas of his training, and was managing to maintain his grades. Each morning he felt refreshed, his energies having restored during the night, and with each passing day he was less and less sore. Each session with Jake it was easier to swing the sword and to block Jake’s blows, and each day he unlocked more of the secrets of his zanpakuto. All of this boosted his confidence to the point where he believed wholeheartedly that he would be ready the next time Brock reared his bald head.
And that was when the first girl ended up in the hospital. Her name was Eva Ortiz, and she was a senior at Seth’s school. She was well-liked, pretty, a star soccer player; the kind of girl every guy wanted to date and every girl wanted to be. She was found on a Saturday night, bleeding from numerous cuts. The police were baffled.
That Monday, Seth decided to walk to school, and Jake joined him.
“It’s pretty crazy, huh?” Jake asked as they walked. “Stuff like that never happens around here.”
“I think we might be seeing more and more of it in the coming days,” Seth said grimly.
“You think it’s the work of a zanpakuto user?”
“Seems likely, don’t you think? Maybe Eva had one too, and there was some kind of battle. Why else would someone attack her like that?”
“I don’t know dude, people are crazy. Even the smallest thing could escalate into an attack like that. I think we should just let the police handle it, you know?”
Seth nodded, but he wasn’t convinced. Maybe he was just being paranoid, but his gut was telling him that Eva’s assault was somehow zanpakuto related.
The pair walked on in silence, both lost in their own thoughts. Before they knew it, they had arrived at school. Seth approached the front door, but he hesitated as he reached for the door handle. He sighed.
“Man, this is going to suck,” he said to Jake, anticipating the school’s morale to be low.
“I know,” Jake replied.
Steeling himself, Seth grasped the handle, only to be knocked backwards as the door flew open. He landed hard as a teary-eyed girl sprinted past him, oblivious to his plight. As Seth picked himself up, the girl continued her mad dash, turning left on the road in front of the school.
“Who was that?” Jake asked.
“I think it was that girl Carrie Harmon,” Seth responded.
“You mean Eva’s best friend? Maybe we should go check on her… If I remember correctly she lives just down the road.”
“Yeah, I don’t know her all that well, but she seems like she could use a friend or two right now.”
Jake nodded his assent, and the two headed to Carrie’s house. Her mother answered their knocks, and when they explained that they had seen Carrie rush out of the school crying and come to make sure she was okay, they were ushered inside and sent upstairs.
“It’s so nice to see that there are caring boys out there like yourselves,” Mrs. Harmon said as she watched them ascend. “The second door on the left is Carrie’s. I don’t know that she’ll talk to you, but maybe you can do some good for her.”
“Right, thanks Mrs. Harmon. We’ll do our best,” Seth replied. In the hallway at the top the stairs, he located Carrie’s room and knocked lightly.
“I thought I told you to go away, mom! I don’t want to talk!” Carrie yelled.
“Carrie, it’s, uh, not your mother,” Seth started. “My name’s Seth. I’m here with my friend Jake because we wanted to see if you were okay.”
“...Are you the kid I knocked over?” Carrie inquired, her voice shaky.
“Yeah, I am. I’m okay, but Jake and I were worried that something serious might have happened to you.”
“If you’d like us to leave, we will,” Jake said. “But we’d like to come in and talk, if that’s okay.”
There was a brief pause, then a sigh and the sound of footsteps. The door opened and there stood Carrie. Her cheeks were streaked with mascara, and her hair was a mess. Her eyes were red and swollen. “I guess I at least owe you an explanation, huh?” she said, stepping aside so they could come in. The room was as much as mess as Carrie herself, as if it were reflecting her mood. Dirty clothes were strewn about on the floor, the desk and bureau were covered in an assortment of cosmetics and magazines, the sheets on her bed were all tangled up in one another, and a half empty pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with a spoon sticking out of it rested next to Carrie’s cellphone beside her pillow.
Ignoring the mess as best they could, Seth and Jake turned to Carrie and regarded her expectantly. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared intently at the ground for a few seconds before beginning. “When I found out about Eva, I went immediately to the hospital to be by her side. I was so scared she wouldn’t make it. They had rushed her into an operating room and were doing everything they could, but the wounds were deep and there was a lot of them. She had already lost a lot of blood and… well, things weren’t looking good. They managed to stabilize her, and even let us in to see her, but she was still unconscious.
“I told her I wouldn’t leave her, that I’d be with her until she woke up, but on Sunday night, when she still hadn’t recovered, my mom forced me to come home to rest so I could go to school today. I told her that it would be too much for me to handle, but she thought I needed to be around other students who were going through the same thing. She thought we’d all ‘give each other comfort in this trying time.’ Part of me thought she might be right, which is why I ended up going, but when I got there it was… weird. I thought everybody would be depressed and gloomy--and all of the girls were!-- but most of the guys were acting like nothing happened. Even Andrew, Eva’s boyfriend, didn’t seem concerned, and I hadn’t seen him at the hospital, so I confronted him. He told me he didn’t care about her any more, that there was a new girl in his life that was way better than her and… and…” Carrie’s voice began to waver, and her eyes brimmed over with fresh tears.
“Hey now…” Jake said stepping forward and reaching out for her. Before he made contact, however, a huge crash came from downstairs, followed by a scream that was quickly silenced. Carrie looked fearfully at Seth, then dived onto her bed in an attempt to grab her cellphone and call for help, only to cause it bounce away from her and into the crack between the bed and the wall. Carrie looked desperately at Seth and Jake, but their expressions were grim. Neither had a cellphone; Seth because he didn’t want to pay the bills, and Jake because his mother didn’t feel that someone his age needed one.
Seth could hear heavy footsteps rapidly ascending the front staircase, and moved purposefully towards the door to the room to confront the whoever the intruder was. With luck, it would be the same person who attacked Eva and he could wrap up this whole ugly business here and now. Carrie, meanwhile, dropped to the floor and slid under the bed to retrieve her phone, and Jake placed himself between the door and her in case the enemy got past Seth.
Seth’s muscles tensed as he gripped the door handle. His training recently may have been in sword play, but he hoped that it would translate to hand-to-hand combat as well, as he didn’t want to draw his sword unless absolutely necessary. Taking a deep breath, he yanked open the door and rushed out into the hallway. Standing at the top of the stairwell, a look of surprise on his face and a gun in his hand, was Andrew.
One thing Seth had learned from his training was that hesitation could be fatal, and as such this was his perfect moment to attack, but he found that he was just as shocked to see Andrew (and with a gun, no less!) as Andrew was to see him. Unfortunately, it was Andrew who recovered first, snapping his arm up to point his gun at Seth.
“What are you doing here, freshman?” Andrew spat.
“I’m checking up on the girl that you sent running from the school in tears. What are you doing here?” Seth retorted.
“I think that’s pretty obvious, wouldn’t you say? My love has ordered me to get rid of Carrie.” As soon as he said this, the air around Seth seemed to compress. Gravity increased around him, and his heart began to beat faster and faster. His words confirmed what the gun already stated: this was life or death.
“So then you were the one that attacked Eva too,” Seth said.
“No, my love did that herself. This is a test of loyalty that she’s given me, however. One that she’s given to all of us.”
“All of you? What are you talking about? Who is this girl?”
“That’s enough questions out of you, freshman. There’s no reason for you to be involved in this, so move aside or I’ll have to end you as well.”
“Not gonna happen,” Seth replied, his hand wrapping around the hilt of his zanpakuto. “Sink Below the Horizon, Nichibotsu!” No sooner had he said the words and pulled forth his sword than a black orb appeared around Andrew’s head, blinding him and knocking him off balance. He stumbled to his left and tripped, tumbling down the stairs and coming to rest at the bottom in a broken heap. It was over before Nichibotsu had even completed its transformation.
Seth smirked, proud of himself, and moved to sheath his sword. As he turned back to the bedroom, however, he realized his mistake: Carrie was staring at him, mouth agape. Her cellphone had fallen from her hands, and the police operator on the line was frantically trying to get ahold of her, likely assuming the worst.
“Well, I guess I’ve got some explaining to do, don’t I?” Seth said, rubbing the back of his head.
Outside the house, from behind a tree on the other side of the street, a young girl watched events unfold. First Andrew knocked on the door, but when it was immediately answered he kicked it in to find Mrs. Harmon’s mother just a few feet away. She screamed, he backhanded her, knocking her out, and then he headed upstairs. The girl had smiled, looking forward to hearing the gunshots that were sure to follow, the first of many she would hear this day, but instead her champion came crashing down the stairs with a strange black ball on his head, followed a minute later by a young a boy that she recognized from school. The red hair was unmistakable.
The boy checked the mother’s pulse, then waved a hand at the dark ball, which promptly dissipated, before checking Andrew’s pulse as well. Satisfied, he yelled something up the stairs, and the %@!#? Carrie appeared, led by the school’s resident cripple who, the girl remembered, was named Jake. The first boy, Seth, she believed, glanced around outside, forcing the girl to sink back to conceal herself behind the tree’s thick trunk. When she looked back, the trio was running down the street away from the house. Obviously Andrew had revealed something to them that made them believe they might be in further danger.
The girl was furious. Carrie was only the day’s first target, and already her plan had fallen apart. Seth had to be a zanpakuto wielder, like herself, but what were the chances that he’d be in the exact location of her target? Her grip tightened on her sword hilt, her fury threatening to consume her, but a voice of reason broke through the cloud of anger, whispering dark plans. She smiled wickedly, and relayed a series of commands through her zanpakuto to her captive thralls. Those three wouldn’t be able to hide for long.
Translations: Nichibotsu: Sunest.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.