Anyways, this marks the conclusion of our little arc here, and next chapter we will be moving on to another one.
Important: If you are a fan of this story and want a chance to create your own character with his or her very own zanpakuto, please let me know, either in PM or in the comments. If there is enough interest, we will have our own little Custom Character Contest, voted on by you guys.
Here's the showcase for those who haven't read past chapters: Showcase
Chapter Five: Love and War
As chaos reigned in the world beyond, Jessica waited patiently in the school gym, which she had selected as her base of operations. She lounged casually on a couch that he she had commanded her minions to steal from one of the classrooms above. One such minions sat next to her now, feeding her grapes that he had scavenged from the kitchen above. Jessica had always dreamed of having a guy feed her grapes, just like in the movies, and now her fantasy had come true. If there had been any palm fronds around, she would have had one of her thralls fanning her too, despite the chilly air in the basement gym.
A few members of her army--her personal guard, as she had taken to calling them--waited with her, but most of them were out looking for Seth and Carrie, just in case her ingenious plan failed her. She didn't think that likely, but she was prepared for every eventuality. She refused to let them escape her.
All her contingencies proved moot, however, when Andrew and Jake entered the room, dragging their captives along by the arms. As they approached Jessica, they roughly shoved Seth and Carrie to their knees and beamed proudly. Jessica could not help but smile herself as she stood to regard the two upstarts that had thrown her revenge plans into disarray earlier that day. The fools had fallen right into her trap.
“At long last, Mr. Jennings, we meet,” Jessica declared dramatically.
“With lines like that, you must be a Bond villain,” Seth spat. He glared at her defiantly, but she simply smirked back at him. Soon he would be madly in love with her, just like the rest of the guys she’d gotten her hands on.
“Do you not see all of these adoring men?” Jessica inquired. “If anything, I’m a Bond girl, not a villain. Isn’t that right, Jake?”
“Of course, Mistress!” Jake exclaimed enthusiastically. “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world!”
“How would you know, idiot? You’re blind,” Jessica replied skeptically.
“You don’t need eyes to see your beauty, my queen.”
“Aww, aren’t you cute,” Jessica purred, stroking his face. She leaned in and kissed him deeply, then pulled quickly away, a lascivious smile on her face. “That was for bringing these two into me.”
“I helped too Mistress!” Andrew cried out.
“Oh shut it,” Jessica said. “You’d never have pulled it off without Jake, and your success here merely balances out your failure from earlier. You don’t deserve a kiss.”
Andrew quickly deflated, casting his eyes away from Jessica and muttering “Yes Mistress.”
“You say you’re not a villain,” Seth interjected, bringing Jessica’s focus back to him. “But I’ve never known a hero to attack innocent people. What did Eva and Carrie ever do to you, anyways?”
“What did they do?” Jessica asked incredulously. “Why, they existed of course. That was all they had to do. Them and all the other beautiful girls of the world. What chance is there for a plain Jane such as myself? Tell me, Seth, honestly, do you think me attractive?”
Seth looked Jessica up and down, and couldn’t disagree with her assessment. There was nothing especially pleasing about her figure. She wore glasses, had a flat chest, no curves, and clothes that likely came from the local thrift shop. She wasn’t the least attractive girl Seth had ever seen, but compared to girls like Eva and Carrie, he likely wouldn’t even have noticed her on a day to day basis. In fact, he clearly had not, because he found he could not put a name to the face as he could with most of the people in the school.
“You’re silence speaks volumes, Seth,” Jessica sneered.
“You know, you’ve got me at a bit of disadvantage here,” Seth said, hoping to steer the conversation away from Jessica’s looks. “You know my name, but I’ve got no idea who you are.”
“Yet again you prove my point,” Jessica said, smirking. “Jessica Erin Monroe, at your service.” She gave an exaggerated bow, then straightened and added, “Or, more accurately, you’ll be at my service.”
“Wait a minute,” Carrie said, speaking up for the first time since they’d arrived. “That last name sounds familiar to me…”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Seth agreed. “Didn’t someone with that last name die in a car accident recently? Was he related to you?”
Jessica snorted. “That bastard. Yeah, he was my brother. I’m glad he’s dead, he was a complete scumbag. Unfortunately, he was the only guy to ever take an interest in me. Something about accessibility, I suppose, but regardless, the day he died was the happiest day of my life. Not only was I rid of him and his wandering hands once and for all, but that was the day that my wonderful sword came into my posession.” Jessica reached down to her side and pulled forth her zanpakuto, caressing the blade as it slide from its sheath.
This new revelation did conjure up a bit of pity within Seth, but it still didn’t excuse her actions. He also got the strangest feeling that something was off… “Hold on, your sword isn’t even released right now,” he realized. “How are you controlling these people? The powers of the zanpakuto should not be active when it’s sealed.”
“I guess mine is just more powerful than yours, Seth.”
“Oh yeah? How about you fight me and we find out for sure, huh?”
“I know what you’re trying to do Seth. You think that if I agree to fight you, you’ll have a chance to defeat me. I’ll agree, however, because I already know there’s no way you can win. If you suffer even one cut, this battle will be over. If you still think you can win, then I’d be happy to take you on.”
“Seth…” Carrie started, a worried look on her face.
“Carrie, this is our only chance. If I don’t fight, she’ll just cut me anyways and I’ll become one of her slaves. At least this way I have a chance.”
“I know, it’s just… In case you don’t win, I want to say thank you. For everything. Without you and Jake, I never would have stood a chance. Even if we lose here, at least we can say we didn’t go down without a fight.”
Seth smiled and nodded, and then rose to his feet to face Jessica. “Let’s do this,” he said.
“Fine, but let’s move over to where there’s more space. I don’t want to put you at a further disadvantage by having you too confined,” Jessica replied.
Jessica led the way over to the middle of the gym floor, away from the other people and the couch. Seth faced Jessica and drew out his zanpakuto. They regarded each other for a moment, then as one called out their release commands.
“Sink Below the Horizon, Nichibotsu!”
“Fall in Love, Botan Inko!”
Both of their zanpakutos began to glow, and the combined light was enough to temporarily blind everyone in the darkened gym. When the light faded, eight heart-shaped metal blades orbited Jessica’s body. Seth’s zanpakuto, too, had assumed its shikai form, that of a straight sword with a half sun blade at the end. It was time to begin.
Jessica made the first move, sending her blades flying right at Seth. he rolled to the side and all eight sailed harmlessly by, but by the time Seth got back to his feet, they had turned back towards him and were coming in again. As the approached this time, they all split off in different directions, some circling around to attack him from behind, others going out to either side, and two coming straight at him. So began the dance.
Seth ducked and wove, zigged and zagged, swung his sword again and again to deflect the flying blades, but every time he avoided one or knocked one away, it simply turned around and came back to attack him from a new angle. He barely had time to think of some way to counterattack. All he could do was rely on his senses and focus on dodging or parrying every attack. As Jessica had pointed out, one cut would be his downfall.
Looks like she’s been training with these things quite a bit, Seth thought. To control all eight of these things so precisely… It can’t possibly be easy.
Fortunately for him, she wasn’t the only one who had been training, for it was all those afternoon sessions with Jake that were keeping him in the fight, if only for the moment. Jake had focused one or two whole training sessions on dodging attacks. When facing a strong opponent, like Brock, blocking could do as much harm as good, and so dodging was imperative. Of course, it was even more important for Seth, who would very likely find himself up against opponents who could unleash devastating magical attacks. Seth figured this counted as such.
Even with all his training, Seth was having some close calls. He already had some tears in his clothing where a blade had come that close to hitting skin. The more time went on, the wearier Seth became and the more frequent these close calls became. Seth knew it was only a matter of time before he was cut, but he couldn’t think of anything to do! Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jessica sit down and cross her legs. She faked a yawn and looked down at her wrist as if checking the time.
Infuriated that he was being so thoroughly beaten, Seth made one last, desperate attempt to win. He dived forward and tucked into a tight roll, praying that he managed to dodge all the blades in the process. When he came up out of the roll, he pointed Nichibotsu at Jessica and conjured a globe of darkness around her head. Instantly, the blades dropped to the ground.
“It’s over, Jessica,” Seth called. “I won. You can’t fight what you can’t see.”
“You’re partially right, Seth,” Jessica responded. “It is over, but I think you’ll find that I’m the winner.”
It was then that Seth felt the liquid dripping down his chest. Already knowing what he would find, he slowly brought his gaze to his right shoulder. He had been cut. He hadn’t managed to dodge all the blades after all. His last ditch effort had failed. Already he could feel Jessica’s zanpakuto going to work, its power seeping slowly into his mind. He conjured up all his willpower and resolve and pushed back against the encroaching power, and he managed to slow it down even more, but he knew it would soon overpower his defenses.
“Well, that’s that, I guess. It was fun while it lasted,” Jessica said, getting to her feet again. “Andrew honey, do me a favor and shoot Carrie in the head.”
“With pleasure, Mistress,” Andrew said, reaching back and pulling out a gun from the waistband of his pants. He aimed it at Carrie’s head and was just about to pull the trigger when Jake pivoted and lashed out with his foot, kicking the gun from Andrew’s hand. After the gun clattered to the ground, there was a moment of stunned silence.
Jake used his enemy’s surprise to his advantage. He stepped up to Andrew and jabbed him hard in the throat, which sent the bigger guy stumbling backwards clutching at his neck. Then, he charged in, leaped into the air, and kicked Andrew full force in the chest with both feet. Jake and Andrew both hit the floor hard, but Jake was prepared and had braced for the impact, whereas Andrew had not. Jake immediately leaped back to his feet, but Andrew was out cold.
“What the hell is going on over there?!” Jessica shouted. “What just happened? Who went rogue? And how? Somebody answer me!”
Using the sound of her voice as a guide, Jake now charged at Jessica. Unfortunately, her lackey’s had had time to recover, and they intercepted him. Two blocked him from reaching Jessica, and the remaining three fanned out to surround him.
“Dammit, not this situation again,” Jake growled. As good a fighter as he was, he already knew he couldn’t take on five of Jessica’s thugs all by himself. Despite everything, they were still going to lose.
It was then that Seth let out a huge roar. As Jake had been fighting Andrew, Seth has been waging his own battle internally. His mental defenses weren’t strong enough to overcome Botan Inko’s powers, but with one last, giant push, he managed throw off the mind control for just long enough to conjure up some power to his zanpakuto. He didn’t know what he was gonna do with said power, but he had to try.
Luckily, Nichibotsu came through. As Botan Inko’s power invaded his mind, the rays of the half sun at the end of his sword turned into shadow versions of themselves and extended from the blade. As one, all six shot out at Jessica. Still blinded by the globe of darkness, Jessica never knew what hit her. The shadows pierced through her body in six different places, arms, legs, a couple in her torso. So sudden was the attack that she didn’t even cry out. As the shadows and the globe of darkness faded away, she fell to the ground, defeated. The eight blades flew back to the hilt of her sword and returned to their original form. Once it was resealed, a single black spark emerged from its tip and fizzled out in the air.
When Jessica fell, so did all her thralls. The five in the gym all collapsed at once, and Seth experienced a brief moment of darkness before coming to his senses.
It appears the the longer you’re under Jessica’s control, the more severe the consequences are when you’re released, Seth thought as he strolled over to examine the unconscious boys.
“I wonder what they’ll remember when they wake up,” Seth wondered aloud.
“If my experience is anything to go by, I’d say nothing,” Jake replied.
Seth looked up at him curiously, prepared to ask how Jake had managed to break the spell, when Carrie came running up and practically tackled Jake with a huge hug. He was so unprepared for this that he almost lost his footing and fell to the ground, but he managed, just barely, to stay upright.
“You saved my life back there!” Carrie exclaimed, pulling away enough that she could see Jake’s face.
“Aw, it was nothing, really,” Jake said. “What was I gonna do, just let you die?”
“Not every guy is as brave as you, Jake. Not every guy would have done that. So thank you, really. I’ll never be able to repay you.” With that, she leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips, and when he kissed her back, she pressed in and kissed him more deeply.
“Hey, I helped to you know,” Seth said, standing up and rubbing the back of his head.
Carrie broke away from Jake and laughed. “Sorry Seth, unlike Jessica over there, I only kiss one guy per day.”
“Actually, I think I might have been the only one she kissed,” Jake said, suddenly serious. “I think that’s what broke her spell. I don’t think she knew that it would, but it seems if she gives her love slaves what they want, the power of her zanpakuto is broken.”
“Speaking of Jessica…” Carrie started.
“Yes?” Seth asked.
“We should save her. If we just leave her, she’ll bleed out and die. I know she tried to kill me, and to turn you guys into love slaves, but if we let her die… doesn’t that kind of make us just like her?”
Seth sighed. “Much as I hate to admit it, you’re right. Despite what she put us through, letting her die would be wrong. Besides, I don’t know if you guys saw that black spark that came out of her zanpakuto, but something about it felt… I don’t know, evil. Maybe… maybe the people that she controlled weren’t the only ones that weren’t acting like themselves.”
Jake agreed as well, and after binding Jessica up with the shadows from Seth’s new ability, which he had decided to call Shadow Stitching, the three left the school, found the nearest pay phone, and called in an ambulance.
Translations: Nichibotsu: Sunset; Botan Inko: Lovebird.
Next time: A sinister threat stalks the streets of Seth's hometown, killing those who possess zanpakuto. Who might his next target be? Find out next time in Chapter Six: Best Served Cold.
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.