DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN BLEACH OR STAR WARS. THEY BELONG TO TITE kUBO AND VIZ MEDIA WHILE STAR WARS BELONG TO DISNEY. THIS IS PURELY A WORK OF FICTION BY A DIE HARD FAN OF BOTH SERIES. I STAND TO GAIN NO FINANCIAL OR OCCUPATIONAL GAIN FROM THIS STORY. PLEASE SUPPORT THE OFFICIAL RELEASE.
Wow, it's definitely been a while. I know I kind of dropped off the radar a bit and it's been five months since I've updated A Brawler's Spirit. Before anyone asks, it hasn't been abandoned but I did lose what I had for the next chapter so I'm a bit hesitant to start over again. Also occupying my time is the fantasy novel I've been trying to write. That's also been taking up my time. I even have one of my protagonist's, Dusk guest starring in a different work of mine that will be posted on here at some point.
I considered making this two separate fanfics but decided to combine two prompts instead. You'll know what the second one is if you stick around until the end. Anyhow, without further ado here is Chapter One of Jedi: Rebirth.
Ichigo's eyes open to an unfamiliar sight. He's lying face down on a cold steel floor that is a far cry from the stony terrain of Urahara's underground training room. He pulls himself to his feet feeling lighter than he has in days. It's easy to see why, the terrible weight of his dissolving soul chain absent from his chest.
Ichigo's face scrunches up in confusion. Did I succeed? I can't remember. All I remember is pain. The encroachment has cursed Ichigo with an agony beyond words. The pain is comparable to being impaled on Grand Fisher's claws again, only the pain is multiplying with every passing minute. A wave of anger consumes Ichigo at the memory of his failure defeat the Hollow and to avenge his mother. The screech of tearing metal shrieks in his ears as the metal walls crumple and the overhead fixtures are pulled loose from their anchor by an invisible force. "What the hell?" The debris floats in the air and Ichigo taps a piece with his finger, watching it spin weightlessly. He jumps back in surprise when the wreckage falls to the floor, its invisible strings have been cut.
"Where the hell am I?" Ichigo wonders aloud, scanning his surroundings. Everything from the floor to the ceiling, walls, and even doors are made of a sleek white metal shined to perfection. He freezes in disbelief when his gaze turns to the window and he peers out into the endless void of space. Wherever he is, it's hanging high above an unfamiliar planet covered with lights like one big city spanning the entire planet. This can't be real. This can't be real. Ichigo pinches his nose and takes a deep breath. Calm down. Panicking won't help anything.
Tearing his eyes from the window, Ichigo wanders the halls in search of answers to where he is and how to get home. After almost an hour of searching room by room, Ichigo kicks the wall in frustration, leaving an imprint in the shape of his foot. The wall pulses with an Ieerie blue light like veins running across the metal.
After a moment, Ichigo realizes the lights are expanding without pause, already stretching around the corner. Ichigo hurries after the lights and follows them as they silently guide him through a maze of corridors. The veins come to a halt just shy of a door that's different from the rest. It's much larger in size and a mottled blue and red swirl across its surface as if fighting for control. Ichigo takes a tentative step forward and the door snaps open with a loud hiss.
The room within is a blank white space, empty save for the woman meditating in the center of the room. She doesn't react to his presence, maintaining her meditative state as she hovers inches off the ground.
Her eyes snap open and she gently lowers to the floor. Pulling herself to her feet, she pulls back her hood, exposing an orange face and half-lidded eyes. A blue and white headdress is perched atop her skull with long tendrils hanging down to her chest. "Hello, Ichigo."
"Do I know you?" Ichigo questions, uneasy that this strange woman knows his name.
"My name is Ahsoka Tano and I have much to teach you."
"What the hell are you talking about? And where am I?" Ichigo demands, his impatience and confusion feeding his anger, something Ahsoka seems to find amusing.
"A difficult question to answer. We are nowhere yet everywhere. We are all things yet nothing."
"I don't have time for riddles," Ichigo snaps. "If I don't find my powers soon, Hat N' Clogs is going to hunt me down like a rabid animal."
"The encroachment has already ended. You don't have to worry about becoming a Hollow."
"But Hat N' Clogs said the only way to stop it was to reclaim my powers."
Ahsoka's face softens into an expression of sympathy. "There are no powers for you to reclaim. You can never again be a Soul Reaper." Ichigo stiffens as his last spark of hope is snuffed out. "What?"
"I'm sorry, Ichigo but when Byakuya destroyed your powers, he took your zanpakuto with it."
Ichigo stands frozen in shock as the icy hand of panic tightens around his heart. "You're lying," Ichigo says. He can't believe it, he won't. If she's telling the truth then how is he supposed to survive the hollowfication, let alone rescue Rukia?
Ahsoka places a gentle hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry. It was a one in a million fluke."
Ichigo crumples to his knees in despair, filled with a hopelessness he hasn't felt since the day his mother died. A second, stronger emotion comes surging up that dwarves anything else he feels. A fiery, all-consuming rage floods Ichigo's soul as he clenches his fists, glaring at his reflection in the floor. He snaps, smashing his fists into the floor over and over as curses fly out of his mouth. A wordless roar of fury escapes Ichigo's mouth and a massive shockwave shoots out that has the world shaking. Ichigo pays it little mind, too blinded by his anger, oblivious when a storm of purple lightning surrounds him, lashing out at anything it can touch.
Despite that, he can't bring himself to care. It would be one matter if he had just lost his zanpakuto. Ichigo could find a way to adapt, maybe get Urahara and Tessai to give him a crash course in Kido and storm the Soul Society wielding that as his sole weapon. But with his powers destroyed even that is lost to him now.
"What the hell was all this for then? Why did I even meet Rukia if this is how things are going to end?" Ichigo roars. Lost in his despair, he flinches in surprise when a slim pair of arms wrap around his neck.
"Come back, Ichigo. Don't give in to your anger," Ahsoka murmurs softly. "It will consume you and all hope will be lost."
"Hope, what hope?" Ichigo scoffs. "I'm about to turn into a hollow and I've got nothing to show for it."
Ahsoka lifts his head with a nudge to his chin until their eyes meet. "I don't pretend to understand Soul Reapers or Hollows or anything in between," Ahsoka starts, a wistful look coming to her eyes. "But I do know that a great darkness has left you in recent days. Any darkness you feel is only what you allow to manifest."
Ichigo's anger starts to melt away, leaving him tired and sad. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do," Ichigo croaks, his voice as broken as his spirit.
"Come with me," Ahsoka urges, taking Ichigo's callused fingers in her softer hands. Ichigo offers no resistance and gives in to her pull. His head bowed, Ichigo notices as they walk that disaster seems to have struck the station. Metal is splintered and crumpled and pools of molten slag seep from the walls. "What did all this?"
"How? My powers are gone."
"Your Soul Reaper powers are gone," Ahsoka corrects him. "You still possess great power within you. Just look out the window."
Ichigo follows her finger and the air is sucked out of his lungs. They're back at the window from earlier, except the view is much different. Several stars have gone super nova and the gaping maw of a black hole is visible from light years away. His gaze darts down and he sees the city planet has been cleaved in half. He turns white as a ghost at the devastation. How many people had been on that planet?
"You didn't hurt anyone," Ahsoka comments as if she can read his mind. "The Force is accommodating to those who surrender to it. That planet down there is a perfect replica of Coruscant, a place I used to call home," she murmurs, a subtle tightness in her voice.
"So it's not real?"
"The world is fabricated but your power is very much real. This is just a taste of what you can accomplish with the proper training."
"How did I do this?"
"Through the Force," Ahsoka says. "The fForce is a field of energy that connects all living things in the universe. There are a special few capable of letting the force flow through them and guide it as needed. And Ichigo, you are special."
"I don't understand."
"Give it time," says Ahsoka motioning for him to sit down. Once seated, she goes on to tell Ichigo of the checkered history of the Jedi and the Sith and how both orders ultimately met their end. Ichigo sits in stunned silence, struggling to grasp what he's been told. Ghosts and Hollows I get. But aliens, spaceships, and Jedi? It all sounds so crazy. And yet, Ichigo can sense that she is being truthful with him.
"I know it's a lot to take in but you have much to learn and little time to do so," Ahsoka puts bluntly. "The man with the stupid hat says we've only two weeks until your friend's execution. That gives us a week and a half to get you into fighting shape. But for now, you must wake up before you're confused for a hollow and cut down."
Ichigo is hurled back into reality and is greeted by the sight of Urahara and Tessai staring him down. Urahara points a cane sword at his chest while Tessai quietly chants under his breath. Their lips are drawn into flat hard lines and their expressions devoid of mercy.
"I'm sorry, Ichigo. I wish it hadn't come to this," Urahara laments and prepares to swing his sword.
"Wait!" Ichigo exclaims, waving his arms. "It's still me, Hat N' Clogs!"
"Well, thank goodness. You had me worried there," Urahara grins, as if he hadn't intended to kill Ichigo a moment earlier. "Though I might suggest removing the mask. It gives the wrong impression."
Ichigo touches his face and feels a hard, bony material instead of soft skin. He finds a gap between his face and the mask and pries it off with some difficulty. Ichigo turns the mask over in his hands, chills crawling down his spine at the skeletal visage grinning back at him. Ichigo discards the mask, able to breath easy without its oppressive presence. "What's next?"
"Next, you need to learn the name of your zanpakuto. It must really be something, I've never seen a shihakusho like yours before."
A downward glance reveals that Ichigo is wearing lightweight robes in varying shades of grey.
Ichigo clenches his jaw tight. "I don't think that's going to be possible."
Urahara quirks an eyebrow. "A bit late to be getting cold feet, don't you think?"
Ichigo stifles a sigh. "No, I mean I don't have a zanpakuto anymore. Byakuya destroyed it when he took my powers."
In the time he's known Urahara, Ichigo has never seen the jovial shopkeeper sans his cheeky grin and at a loss for words; not until just now. After a moment, he shakes himself from his stupor. "That's impossible. Where are you getting these ideas?"
"From me," Ahsoka declares, her ghostly apparition coming into focus next to Ichigo.
"Ichigo, you dog. Who knew you were so popular with the ladies?" Urahara beams. But Ichigo isn't fooled, he can see Urahara's grip tighten on his sword.
"I'm not here for a fight. I'm here to help Ichigo and train him in the ways of the Force."
Urahara frowns. "Are you a Jedi or a Sith?" Urahara presses, surprising Ichigo with his knowledge of the dead sects. In retrospect, Ichigo supposes it shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. Behind that snarky grin Urahara's always had the smug look of someone who knows something no one else does.
Ahsoka's eyebrows shoot up. "I'm surprised you've heard of us. It was my understanding that your planet hasn't achieved space travel yet."
"I have my sources," he says cryptically. "Now answer the question."
"I am no Jedi but neither am I a Sith."
Urahara's eyes narrow with caution. "What are you then?"
"I'm a servant of the Force, here to pass my knowledge onto Ichigo as best I can."
After a long pause the shopkeeper sheathes his blade. Urahara tugs down the brim of his hat to hide his eyes in shadow. "What can I do to help?"
"Ichigo may be powerful in the force but he'll still need a lightsaber. Might you have materials that can be used to construct one?"
A wry smiles stretches across the shopkeep's face. "I think I can dig up a few things. Will that be all?"
"I can teach him the forms of light saber combat but he will need a sparring partner. Can you assist?"
"Let's get to work," Urahara smirks.
For the next four weeks, Ichigo is pushed to his limits, the unlikely team of Urahara and Ahsoka proving to be task masters when it comes to his training. Ichigo remembers the look of shock on Urahara's face when Ahsoka told them Rukia's execution had been pushed back another two weeks. Despite much prodding, Ahsoka refuses to tell how she made it happen, offering only a playful smirk.
By day, Ichigo is taught the different forms of light saber combat from Ahsoka; going on to refine those techniques when sparring with Urahara.
By night, he learns the ways of the Force, meditating for hours on end and submersing himself in the heavy blanket of the Force.
Finally, the day comes to storm Soul Society. Ichigo rests atop a boulder, meditating and calming his mind for the hardships ahead. He finds it difficult to focus, mind plagued with thoughts of his friends. He knows he can't stop them from coming if he tried. Ichigo hates to admit it but the choice is theirs to make.
Urahara has repeatedly insisted that they've grown quite strong under the tutelage of this mysterious "Yoruichi," ut hiis platitudes fail to ease Ichigo's concerns. With his meditations, Ichigo's mind has grown sharper and more alert. As a result, Ichigo is weary of the shopkeeper and the questions he raises.
Who is he really? To even make a portal to Soul Society, Urahara would need intimate knowledge of Soul Society itself. It also begs the question as to why he's helping at all? What does Urahara get out of it?
Ichigo decides against confronting him directly, not that he would admit to anything regardless. The fact also still stands that Ichigo needs Urahara, even if he doesn't trust him.
Redoubling his efforts to ease his mind, Ichigo pushes his fears and doubts to the side, focusing only on the Force flowing around him. At one with the world, he can feel the people of Karakura Town milling about on the surface, like a colony of ants unaware that something more lies just under their feet. Through the Force, Ichigo can sense four life forms approaching the shop and fast. Three of them feel familiar while the last feels off. It had taken some practice, but Ichigo is able to discern the subtle differences between different lifeforms. Three of the signatures are human but it's the fourth that throws him off, feeling more akin to something caught between human and beast.
Ichigo stands to greet his friends and falters, surprised by the changes in his friends. The transformation is not physical but spiritual. While the ability to sense reiatsu is lost to him, through the Force he can feel POWER. And his friends have it in spades. Uryu isn't so surprising, having witnessed his prowess in battle first-hand. Rather, it's Orihime and Chad that intrigue him the most. In the span of a month, they'd gone from barely having a grasp on their powers to being stronger than he was when he'd fought Renji.
"And you were worried," Ahsoka smirks in the recesses of his mind.
Shut up, Ichigo grumbles.'
"Are you okay, Ichigo?" Orihime asks, her brow furrowed in worry. "You haven't said a word since we got here.
Ichigo blushes, realizing he'd been wordlessly staring at his friends for several seconds. "I-I'm fine," Ichigo sputters. "I was just, uh, talking to a friend."
"Who?" Orihime blinks up at Ichigo with wide, bright eyes.
'A little help?'
Ahsoka sighs playfully. 'What would you do without me?' Taking pity on her apprentice, Ahsoka materializes next to Ichigo and gives a casual wave. "Hey there. So you're the friends my apprentice keeps going on about."
Orihime gapes at Ahsoka, struggling to register that she's not just staring at a ghost, but an alien ghost. Even the aloof Chad and haughty Uryu are staring slack-jawed at the former Jedi.
Ichigo awkwardly rubs the back of his neck. "I guess we've got a lot to talk about, huh?"