I had tried washing my hands for at least an hour but the stupid stink would never leave. I sniffed them at the same time that Mia appeared a few metres away. It was dark again once more.
"How was cleaning duty?" Mia suppressed a smile, "it was so brave of you to take the fall for me like that, I am ever so grateful," this time she burst into laughter, rolling along the floor till tears were coming out of her eyes.
"Don't be ridiculous!" I shouted, my cheeks burning slightly, "I took the punishment so you could follow him fool," I muttered and placed my hands fixedly at my sides. She got up and withdrew her Zanpaku-to. It was small, maybe three feet tall and as dark as the night sky so that it was difficult to see, especially when held still. It was just so difficult to focus on. "So you found something out did you, what was it?"
"I did find something out and I used my time to double check. He wasn't in his chambers so I had some time. However he soon returned and was very worn out also. I would assume maybe he's being trained-"
"By a Captain?" I knew the shock was evident on my face. It wasn't often I allowed my true emotions to show. Emotions were signs of weakness, it told everybody that the emotion had defeated you when you allowed them to be seen. Another thing my father taught me.
"Possibly, if you couple it with what I found. But I find it hard to believe that a Captain would have time to teach an academy student, especially a head of the mobile corps and punishment force, so probably one of Soi Fon's officers. Now about what I found, of course I'm going to make you fight it out of me. As I do every night," she winked before disappearing.
I barely had time to turn around before she attacked with her sword. I caught the attack and pushed her back.
"I expected that. You're falling on the same old tricks," I mocked. She leapt into the air and somersaulted till she was above me. With one foot she kicked the back of my head. Mia kicked me in the back with her other foot, landing nimbly on the ground. She lunged with her sword but I rolled out of the way. "That's more like it," I coughed and drew my Zanpaku-to. I charged her this time, my sword behind me. I pulled it up into an upwards strike with as much strength as I could. She tried to parry it but she couldn't keep hold of her Zanpaku-to which flew back into the air. My swipte caught her chin as she backflipped away and caught her sword mid-air.
I heard her mutter "shunpo" right before she appeared before me. She went to stab me in the stomach but the blade met an invisible barrier. She pushed and pushed and I felt our spiritual pressure rise higher. Eventually the sword broke through my hierro and stabbed my gut. It took only a second but the drain on our spiritual pressure made it feel longer. I smiled.
"Excellent, you're determined to kill me," I raised my Zanpaku-to as Mia retracted her blade and went to strike again. I went for her head but she just managed to dodge the attack before slicing my arm, rolling around my back and stabbing my shoulder. I felt my stronger arm go numb at this. I switched my blade to my right arm and turned around, spinning it in a 360 degree turn. It caught her stomach, just cutting her. Her face lit up in surprise as I grabbed her neck and went to stab her back.
She raised a finger, "Hadō #1. Shō" she whispered hoarsly and I felt myself pushed backwards. Before I could think of moving she was on top of me. I flipped her over my head but she landed on one foot, skidding backwards. Quickly she leapt into the air, attempting a flying kick as I got up. I grabbed her foot and slammed her to the ground. I raised my Zanpaku-to above my head and struck down. She raised her wakizashi to deflect the attack and push me away. She place both hands on the ground at her head and flipped herself up.
I raised my Zanpaku-to so it was horizontal before me, "this is why I learned Eishōhaki," I sniggered, "because saying an incantation is far too slow for you," the space in front of my blade became yellow, "you'd cut me to pieces before the first word came out," she frowned and braced herself, "but my Kidō spells became weak because of it," my mouth twitched into a smile, "not only am I slowly overtaking you in speed, my use of Eishōhaki is starting to show less effect on my Kidō," she raised her eyebrows in shock, "Hadō #32. Ōkasen!" the words burst out of my mouth. She placed her hands to her chest and leapt into the air. The attack caught her foot but it didn't stop her. She landed on the ground beside the ray of burning Ōkasen. I saw it graze her arm too but she didn't show any pain. As she had been dodging the attack however I had already drawn the symbol for my next move. She saw my body blow with an eerie red light, "Bakudō # 9. Geki" immediately a faint red light permeated from her body. She was paralysed.
I felt my spiritual pressure beginning to drop now finally. I was sweating as I ran towards her. This wasn't good, that meant maybe the paralysis wouldn't hold for very long. I raised my Zanpaku-to, ready to jab her. The blade caught her shoulder and she flew backwards, the red light disappearing. Mia fell face down to the ground. I went to follow up with another strike but she had already flipped herself up. Without hesitation, Mia slashed at me several times whilst landing, cutting my arms and ripping my Shihakushō to pieces. I felt anger fill me. I raised my hand and caught her blade in it. Blood trickled from where the metal touched my skin but I ignored all pain. She was shocked again. I plunged my Zanpaku-to into her chest and kicked her off the blade. She hit the floor and bounced, hitting it a few more times before skidding to a halt. She didn't move.
I'd done it, I'd finally beaten her, truly. Momentary relief and triumph was suddenly overshadowed by a flickering fear. I looked to the sidelines where my 4th squad friend stood waiting.
"Hanatoro, help her," he nodded and rushed to her side. Gently, he rolled her over. Blood soaked her Shihakushō, her face was sweating and there she was clearly in great pain. I moved to her other side as Hanatoro slowly checked her for other injuries. Hanatoro looked up, his jaw dropped as he saw my own injuries.
"What about you?" he shouted.
"Forget about me," I snapped, annoyed, "I'll be fine for the moment, what about her?"
"With a little help, she'll be ok but she may be disabled for a day. I think you went a little rough on her Takeshi-"
"DON'T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT!" I roared, he jumped in fear for a moment. Then he saw me sigh, and look down at her. He could see my worry, "sorry, I'm lucky you spotted us all those years ago, lucky you agreed to watch us fight so that we could get stronger," I quickly glanced at him, "we're lucky we can call you friend," again he nodded.
I heard a noise from Mia's mouth, "G-good fight," she coughed a little blood, "K-Kiyoshi - in his room - a sky-walker cloak - with crest."
"Shh," I whispered, "conserve your strength, tell me some other time!" I ordered.
"I t-told you - not the boss of me - we're different." She laid her head to one side then. For a moment I was scared she died but Hanatoro checked.
"She just fell asleep," he said.
Good. It wouldn't do for my true sparring partner to die on me.