Chapter 9:

Talent & Strength

The Forbidden and the Gifted

[12:14 p.m., July 18th 2044; Warsaw, Polish Czechia. Ichigo is seen sitting on the train at a window seat, looking at rolling hills pass him by from outside. The train moves steadily along, loud and not overly fast. A waitress walks down the aisle, offering the newspaper to Ichigo, which he accepts and begins reading, until the train comes to a sudden halt]

Ichigo: Eh? What was that?

Waitress: Not quite sure. We might be making a stop or two along the way for goods deliveries and all that.

Ichigo: Ah, alright.

[The waitress walks down the aisle, entering the next car, and as she exits, a man in a light trench coat enters the car]

Ichigo [Thinking]: So, am I supposed to find this bastard in Kiev, or is he supposed to be on this train? Shit, I should’ve known to ask Takuya man.

[The man in the trench coat approaches, and sits in the seat across from Ichigo]

Aleksander [To Ichigo]: This seat taken?

Ichigo [Looks up, confused]: You talking to me?

Aleksander: Yeah. You have a girlfriend or something that’s sitting here, or can I crash?

Ichigo: You’re good mate.

Aleksander: Empty car, eh?

Ichigo: Oh yeah, haven’t seen a place this dead in a while.

Aleksander: Really, eh? You from these parts?

Ichigo [Thinking]: Shit! The hell do I say? This could be the bastard that we’re looking for, that drawing didn’t do anyone justice. Eh, he shouldn’t know we’re onto him and even if he did, I don’t think he just slits my throat here, right?

Ichigo [To Aleksander]: Nah mate, I’m just visiting.

Aleksander: Visiting? For what?

Ichigo: Freelance.

Aleksander: Oh, so you’re one of them reporters, eh?

Ichigo: Yup. Wanted to see what was going on around these parts.

Aleksander: Oh, so you’re gonna be writing up some dirt on what we’ve been doing?

Ichigo: Pardon?

Aleksander: You reporters are all drawn from the same straw, y’know? You guys would write whatever the hell gets you the most clicks, or whatever’s most favorable to the people who’re putting money in your pockets. Not a speck of integrity. [Pauses] Ain’t that right?

Ichigo: Well, I tend to pride myself on trying to keep things ethical enough…

Aleksander: Bullshit man, bullshit.

Ichigo: How so? You don’t even know what I write.

Aleksander: Cause it’s the damn truth. None of you godforsaken sacks of shit know why we’re doing what we’re doing and the truth about this shit.

Ichigo: Again, I don’t completely follow.

Aleksander: All you know now is how there’s been a bunch of revolts and whatnot in these parts, right?

Ichigo: Well, yeah. And that there’s some tension brewing or something of the sort.

Ichigo [Thinking]: Wait, holy shit. I’m probably talking to the right guy, right? This guy has to be him, right? Then again, Tak did say that he’s smart and shrewd enough to not be doing this out in the open. Maybe a lackey? Who knows?

Aleksander: Well yeah, there’s tension, but only because we’re fed up with the corrupt dipshits that are in power.

Ichigo: So, I take it, you’re a rebel?

Aleksander: Hell yeah man. Death to the friggin government!

Ichigo: But, by saying that, aren’t you inciting the stereotype that you say aren’t accurate depictions of you guys?

Aleksander: It’s not our fault that things got violent. It started peacefully, but once you authorize martial law to try and silence the publics voices, do you think the people can stand down?

Ichigo: Wait, you’re saying martial law was enacted and not a soul heard about it?

Aleksander: Only in Ukraine, but word spread around to neighboring countries through means of info transfer and the sort. Obviously got blocked when stuff started to leak into western Europe.

Ichigo: And you know this, how?

Aleksander [Eye twitches]: Listen smartass, you asked for my information, right? I don’t know where the hell the information got lost, but clearly, if you folks in the western world don’t know shit, then obviously it hasn’t reached there, correct? Am I wrong here?

Ichigo [Grimaces]: No, no, you’re not. Go on.

Aleksander: Well, there’s not much to say from there. People obviously revolted, and it started off stronger than most people in the country expected. When they started to ask for assistance from other places, info started to become less and less censored and a lot of people who had grudges against people in power started to act up against them.

Ichigo: Grudges?

Aleksander: Yup. You haven’t lived in these parts, so you wouldn’t know. But the amount of money we put into taxes to get fuck-all in return, as well as having some of the shittiest working-class wages out there? Shit’s embarrassing, but the story doesn’t get told, cause it’s not in favor of the already corrupt bastards that are at the top of this chain.

Ichigo: So, essentially, you guys are rebelling to try and bring down this hierarchy, am I right? So, more than a war, a revolution of sorts?

Aleksander: That would be the correct term, yup.

Ichigo: Interesting, interesting. Since a lot of the countries have broken down up until this point, at least on the international stage, would you say your actions are collaborative with  common people from other countries, or not?

Aleksander: Huh? Of course we’re working together, we share a common goal to bring this shitty reign to an end.

Ichigo: Not like that.

Aleksander: Then how?

Ichigo: Like, do you guys have some official rebel association or something?

Aleksander: Huh? Even if we did, why the hell would I tell you? Sure, you’re a decent enough guy for listening to my shit, but we don’t have to reveal anything to a damn foreigner.

Ichigo: But isn’t it better for the public outside of these parts to know the truth? Wasn’t that your end goal, to stop people pushing a false narrative?

Aleksander: Yeah, that’s our damn goal. But we haven’t gotten help from outsiders before, and that isn’t gonna change with you. We’ll make the people see us in a different light when things change.

Ichigo: Don’t ya think it’s more logical to at least try and get other countries on your side now though/ Do you really think you guys can create a perfect utopia?

Aleksander: We’ll be able to. Our leaders a genius.

Ichigo: Leader?

Aleksander [Covers his mouth]: Shit.

Ichigo [Thinking]: So, this guy ain’t Katarov then, eh? Sucks. [Pauses] Then again, he doesn’t look like he’d be a fun fight. All’s good.

Ichigo: That’s fine if you don’t want me to know. You have changed my mind on a lot of things though, that’s for sure.

Aleksander: So, you were wholly prepared to paint us the villains, just like everyone else?

Ichigo: Yup.

Aleksander: Why, you…

Ichigo [Interjects]: And that isn’t gonna change just because of your sob story, y’know?

Aleksander: Huh? It ain’t a damn sad story, Westerner! It’s the fuckin truth! You can’t accept the truth eh?

Ichigo: It’s not that. It’s that there ain’t no hero in this story. Both of you, you rebels and the corrupt ass people in power, no matter who wins, nothing’s gonna change.

Aleksander: You don’t know the first…

Ichigo: Oh, but I do. Power changes everything. You’ll remember that one day.

Aleksander: You really think people like us will change? We’ve gone through hell damnit. Don’t talk like you know us.

Ichigo: I don’t know you. I really don’t. But you guys going through what you guys did is even more reason for you guys to be the farthest away from the throne.

Aleksander: You’re crazy.

Ichigo: That I sure as hell may be.

Aleksander [Stands up]: Anyway, it’s been alright talking to ya. Even if you don’t want us to take power, we sure as hell will. And we won’t turn into the pieces of shit that you think we will.

Ichigo: That’s what I’m truly hoping for. I’ll write my honest thoughts in the paper; you’re assured of that.

Aleksander [Walks towards the next car]: Alright man. Safe trip, wherever you’re going.

Ichigo: Same to you.

[Aleksander walks into the car behind Ichigo, and the camera follows him. He walks halfway down the car and puts his hand on one of the left hand seats. A voice can be heard, humming]

Aleksander: He’s here.

Katarov [Looks up at Aleksander from his seat]: Oh, he is? Delightful, delightful. What did you make of him?

Aleksander: Hefty guy, looks like he’s from Japan or Korea or something.

Katarov: Ooooo, this should be fun then. [Pauses] Did he try and play himself off?

Aleksander: He said he was a freelance.

Katarov: Ah, I see, I see. Okay Aleks, you can head off the coach, I got it from here.

Aleksander [Points to the car in front]: That car and the next few are empty as well, sir.

Katarov: Perfect, perfect, thank you.

[He walks towards the next car, and sees Ichigo sitting down as a waiter passes him by]

Waiter [To Ichigo]: Would you like any beverages for the ride, sir?

Ichigo: Oh, we’re finally gonna be moving again?

Waiter: Yeah, just had to make a stop here, that’s all.

Ichigo: Aren’t we barely out of Warsaw though?

Waiter: Yes sir, but the goods trolley is normally some miles from the passenger trolley.

Ichigo: Eh? What does that achieve?

Waiter: Well sir, some of the contents of the goods are –

Katarov [Interjects from behind]: Oh, my, my, you don’t look very educated in that subject, do you? [Ichigo turns around] Let me handle this, may I?

Waiter [Pales almost immediately]: Sir…

Katarov [Lowers one eyebrow and smirks]: I think you know that don’t ya?

Waiter [Nods his head and turns in the other direction, leaving Katarov and Ichigo]: I shall take my leave then.

Katarov: Of course, of course.

Ichigo [Thinking]: Eh? Who’s this? He’s got a different aura to him.

Katarov [Points to Ichigo]: You the freelance?

Ichigo: Your friend tell you about me?

Katarov: And if he did?

Ichigo: What, I’m not some kind of mass murderer, y’know? I’m not gonna beat the shit out of you because your friend said something, jeez.

Katarov: Oh, but won’t ya?

Ichigo: Huh?

Katarov: You’re the hound that’s after me, aren’t ya? The military’s finest, no?

Ichigo [Stands up, and enters the trains hall from his seat]: So that’s why you resonate differently big fella?

Katarov: Ah, you can tell when someone’s experienced eh? You’re no slouch, no wonder you got that grotesque name. Regardless, I’m glad you didn’t kill my friend back there. You probably could’ve, to be honest.

Ichigo: I’m not here to take innocents.

Katarov: Oh, he’s far from innocent. He probably told you enough and more about who he really is.

Ichigo: He told me plenty.

Katarov: So, you probably have already heard of me?

Ichigo: You’re the messiah that these idiots bow down? And here I thought you’d be a bit more of a presence. Why the hell would anyone bow down to you? You Shakespeare with your words or something?

Katarov: Oh, how rude, and to think, oh to think we just met.

Ichigo: Listen, I got no time for a guy trying to play God, no matter how noble of a damn cause he’s got. And hell, your cause ain’t all that.

Katarov: Saving millions of impoverished men and women isn’t a noble cause? My, my.

Ichigo: Saving them just to turn them into your own fodder later on when you eventually seize power? It’s a cycle of the same bullshit, wise guy.

Katarov: Oh, you’ve got me there.

Ichigo: Oh, you ain’t gonna deny it?

Katarov [Lowers his head and grins]: What’s there to deny? Seize power and everything’s at your fingerprints.

Ichigo: So you aren’t gonna bullshit me like your friend did? That’s rich.

Katarov: Ha, why should I? I’ve been blessed with my own power, I don’t need to serve anyone else.

Ichigo: So, everything you’ve said to your men is a bunch of bullshit eh?

Katarov: It ain’t all like that. I’m not a dictator, you know? I’ll seize power and make things better for everyone, not just myself.

Ichigo: But at the end of the day, your seizing power for yourself, not for your people, ain’t that right?

Katarov: You could say so, if you so desire.

Ichigo: And your men just follow you? You know, how can you call them true to your cause if they don’t even know what your cause is?

Katarov: They don’t need to know.

Ichigo: And why’s that?

Katarov: It’s like you said to him.

Ichigo: Huh?

Katarov: Power consumes everyone and everything. It’s only a matter of time before these self-righteous idiots get a taste of it and it’s as you say, they won’t be able to let go of it. Ichigo – that’s your name, I presume – why do you think I’m telling you this?

Ichigo: God knows. Shoot, dumbass.

Katarov: Cause you’re not blinded by ideals. You’re not an idiot like the people in these parts who think that things will change through revolution or whatnot. You know what power is and what it’s like to assert that power upon others. Being the military’s ace ain’t a short order.

Ichigo: So? That doesn’t answer your rhetoric, genius. Why’d ya tell me? Don’t think I’m joining you either eh – don’t think you can pull a fast one with the ‘we’re the same, you know’ bullshit.

Katarov: Don’t worry, I know you’ve already made up your mind. But what you said last is true – we are the same, at least in our beliefs. Sure, I’m the revolutionary, ‘re-write the world’ guy, while you’re conformed to society and what’s expected of ya, even if you are a masterclass assassin, but even then, you see the truth in the same way as I do.

Ichigo [Chuckles]: Didn’t expect you to be a philosopher, Katarov. I’ll give ya that though, maybe we are the same in that. We’re both realists, both seeking a better world that doesn’t exist, rather than clinging onto the fragments of a better world which’ll never be created.

Katarov: If this was any other way, I wouldn’t wanna fight you here and now. I think we both have more to give, and one of us brilliants is gonna be gone.

Ichigo: [Raises an eyebrow] Eh? You getting cold feet?

Katarov: Oh no, no, how could I? It’s a shame though, isn’t it?

Ichigo: It really won’t be.

Katarov: Oh?

Ichigo: You’re just another in a long list of bastards that I’ve had to deal with. I was expecting you to be a lot stronger than what you are, so that’s a shame in and of itself. Still, I got a job to do. Your self-loathing ass isn’t gonna get some sort of pity from me.

Katarov: Oh, scary, scary. And here I was praising you – but I guess that isn’t unwarranted, is it? Oh well, whatever.

[He quickly reaches his hand into his pocket, drawing a pocketknife and rapidly throwing it towards Ichigo’s head, to which Ichigo dodges, bending his head to the right and then straightening again]

Ichigo: Ya didn’t think that would get me, did you?

Katarov: Fast, ain’t ya?

Ichigo [Scoffs]: Ya fuckin’ bet. [He lowers his head and closes the gap – a distance of six or so meters – between himself and Katarov in a split-second, punching upwards towards Katarov’s chin]

Katarov [Grabs his fist and throws it aside, smirking]: You want a fistfight, eh?

Ichigo: Ain’t that how self-proclaimed righteous assholes like yourself want to settle things? Or is that too old school?

Katarov: A bit old school, but I don’t mind…

[Katarov raises his right fist towards Ichigo, which Ichigo blocks with his left forearm]

Ichigo: You don’t hit hard eh old man? You got some sort of ace up your sleeve?

Katarov [Smirks]: Eh? You won’t be saying that shit forever, y’know?

Ichigo [Thinking]: In a straight-up timed punch off, I’d probably blow the socks off this bastard. But this isn’t some shit where I can just be gratified with punching harder than him, right? If this becomes a contest of endurance, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got the edge there, meaning that that’s probably his ace. In that case…

[Ichigo grabs a vase from the table to his right, and throws it at Katarov, breaking and cutting Katarov’s face. Multiple blood trails appear as Katarov brushes the glass from his face to the ground]

Katarov [Throws his head back and laughs]: Oh? But I thought his was a fistfight, eh? You foreigners don’t know the first thing about respect, eh?

Ichigo: And here you were showering my praises just before this.

Waiter [From Train Loudspeaker]: Passengers, please be advised. Car five is closed for the time being. We thank you in advance for your patience.

Katarov: Oh, that’s this car, eh? Look at us, getting a car all –

[Ichigo punches him across the jaw, knocking out two of his teeth. Katarov flies backwards into the opposite seats and straightens his head]

Katarov: God damn man, couldn’t even let me fin–

[Ichigo walks over and kicks him in the shins, causing Katarov to wince in pain. Ichigo towers over him, with a pistol in his hand]

Ichigo: As much as I would’ve liked this to be a nice little fistfight, I can’t be taking any chances with your sketchy self. You definitely got something to hide, and I couldn’t be bother–

[Katarov raises his legs upwards and kicks the pistol out of Ichigo’s hands, out of the open window before jumping to his own two feet and kneeing Ichigo in the stomach]

Ichigo: Why, you…

[Ichigo grabs his knee and runs forward, ramming him into the closed car door. Shouting from the few patrons can be heard from the next car over]

Katarov [Wipes the blood off his nose from the glass]: Ya didn’t think that that would be enough, did you?

Ichigo [Kicks him]: No, no, not particularly. [He punches Katarov in the head with his right hand, and aims to do the same with his left, but Katarov dodges the second, headbutting Ichigo as the sound of the train roars onward]

Katarov [Thinking]: This guy’s definitely got a shit-ton of fighting skill. Guess they really did send their best shot against me. Ah well, I guess I’ll give him a show.

[Katarov raises his free hand, pushing off the winded Ichigo and runs across the train car]

Ichigo: Oi bastard, don’t ya dare try running away! You damn coward!

Katarov [Looks back and scoffs]: Hah. Say whatever you want.

Ichigo [Reaches into his pocket and pulls out one of three switchback knives]: Take this, you insolent bastard!

[He throws the knife, and it lodges into Katarov’s heel, to which he screams, before quickly pulling the knife out and continuing to move forward. Ichigo then gets up and runs after him, but Katarov turns to one of the seats and sticks his leg out and roundhouse kicks Ichigo, propelling him backwards. Katarov then opens the back window, grabs the outer window, and climbs upwards]

Katarov [Scales the train’s exterior and gets on the roof, before shaking his head off]: Ah, a non-restrictive environment. How nice.

[A loud crash can be heard from the opposite side, as a window is sent flying. Ichigo pops his head outside and looks upwards angrily before grabbing the trains exterior and launching himself on top of the car, face to face with Katarov]

Ichigo: So, you wanted to finish this up here, ya rat?

Katarov: Yeah, I did.

Ichigo: Never took you as the considerate type.

Katarov: Well, well, well, I am the considerate type, y’know?

Ichigo [Lowers his head]: Well, I don’t think we have time to chitchat.

[He takes a run at Katarov from a low angle, which Katarov dodges, jumping backwards twice]

Katarov: Woah, woah, didn’t ya realize that doesn’t work on me? You tried it befo…

[Ichigo, on Katarov’s right from missing the first punch, swings his right leg backwards, kicking Katarov’s jaw and denting it. Katarov’s face moves upwards from the momentum, and he grimaces, before smirking]

Katarov: Ah, I see, I see. Well… [He lunges himself at Ichigo when his left fist, which fails to connect as Ichigo dodges, but his right fist upper-cuts Ichigo, to which Ichigo gags, before getting a knee to the chest from Katarov. He moves backwards, maintaining his distance]

Ichigo [Catching his breath]: Those still don’t hurt, old man.

Katarov: Oh really? [Laughs] Well then, how about… [He lunges towards Ichigo quickly with his leg extended once again, aimed for Ichigo’s face]

Ichigo [Thinking]: Too slow.

[Ichigo dodges the kick and raises his left arm to bend Katarov’s leg inwards, but Katarov raises his leg and kicks Ichigo’s arm away again, creating separation between them again]

Katarov: You’re good, eh?

Ichigo: I don’t need you to praise me, thank you very much.

Katarov: Hmph, I guess you’re right. But ain’t it nice to have a tough battle once in a while? You can’t be telling me that you’re normally going up against guys like me, are ya?

Ichigo: Well, if I wasn’t, how’d I be beating your ass right now?

Katarov: Eh? I’d call it even up till now.

Ichigo [Laughs]: Even? Look at your state!

[Katarov smirks]

Ichigo: Y’know. As much as you’re a damn rat, you’ve been pretty tough, I’ll give ya that.

Katarov: Ah, how nice.

[The sound of the train roars onward, as the two both lose their haphazard attitudes and size each other up once again]

Ichigo [Thinking]: I don’t wanna turn this into a battle of attrition. His response timings to primary attacks are pretty strong, but his reaction speed after that isn’t as good. I’ve hit him twice like that. I think I can afford to try it again and knock him down.

[Ichigo walks towards Katarov and raises his right fist, swinging it forward, only to be stopped by Katarov’s left. In a split-second, Ichigo’s left fist raises and aims for Katarov’s stomach, but Katarov kicks him backwards]

Ichigo [Thinking]: He blocked it?

Katarov: Too easy to read man. Come on now. [He readies his stance, with blood still dripping from his face]

Ichigo [Thinking]: How’d he block that? What?

[Katarov wags his finger at him, provoking him]

Ichigo [Thinking]: Can’t happen a second time.

[Ichigo runs towards Katarov, kicking his leg forward, narrowly missing Katarov’s head, before scissoring the leg backwards, but again, missing Katarov’s head. Ichigo, confused, lunges towards Katarov with his right fist, but Katarov smoothly dodges the incoming punch, before twisting Ichigo’s arm inside out. Ichigo wallows in pain, as Katarov lets go of the arm, but Ichigo’s other hand surges upward, punching Katarov square in the chin]

Ichigo: What?

Katarov: Huh? Whad’ya mean?

Ichigo: How the hell are ya dodging?

Katarov: What’re you talking about?

Ichigo: You know damn well what I’m talkin about.

Katarov: Hm. Oh, the dodges?

Ichigo: Are those dodges your damn ace?

Ichigo [Thinking]: Even if he can dodge like that, I doubt he’d be able to hurt me too bad. Eventually, I’ll probably be able to get him.

Katarov: Aw, since you’ve given me such a good time, I’ll tell you buddy.

Ichigo: Eh?

Katarov: Ya see… [Laughs] I’m gifted buddy.

[The train horn roars, as the two stare down one another once again]

Ichigo: You being cocky dipshit?

Katarov: What, you don’t know?

Ichigo: Know about what? The fact that you’re a big shot? I couldn’t care less. You’re gonna tell me you’re gifted, like alright there big fella, you dodged some punches, you’ve got a real gift there!

Katarov: Oh, you’re just clueless, are you?

Ichigo: The fuck’d ya say?

Katarov: Oh no, I’m just in awe, cause that means you’ve never heard of gifts eh?

Ichigo [His eyebrows lower]: Huh? You mocking me?

Katarov: No, no, no, no, no goddamnit! I mean like gifts, y’know? Darkness and light, all that stupid exposition shit? Never heard of it?

Ichigo: Huh?

Katarov: Guess your intel department’s absolute shit. Oh well, since you don’t know, this definitely makes it even easier for me.

Ichigo [Thinking]: The hell’s he talking about? Man, what?

Katarov [Thinking]: Well, I didn’t expect him to know what I had up my sleeve, but to be this clueless? That’s just not a fair fight man. Did sir really not give anyone any insight? Is he that damn secretive that this shits kept under this many wraps?

Ichigo [Thinking]: Eh, whatever. I’ll finish this bastard off, regardless of whatever gift shit he’s talking about. [He lunges towards him, but Katarov ducks right and slides across the trains roof, maintaining his distance. Ichigo jumps towards him again, but Katarov moves his body backwards and forces himself up, before kicking Ichigo down]

Katarov: You can’t win man. It’s clear as day.

Ichigo [Gets up and reaches into his pocket]: Who’s to say that, you insolent shit? [He throws the second of his switchblades towards Katarov’s chest, but just as it appears to make contact, Katarov throws his body backwards and ducks, evading the knife]

Ichigo [Thinking]: WHAT? How the hell? I get he’s trained, and that he should be able to do something like that, but how the hell was he able to react at all? He shouldn’t have been able to hear it, and it’s moving too fast to see.

Katarov [Chuckles]: I’m telling you man. You aren’t gonna win this. You gave me the upper hand.

Ichigo: Excuse me?

Katarov: Why do you think we’re on top of the damn train right now?

Ichigo [Confused]: I don’t know, you wanted some stupid ass cinematic shot of a fight that nobody’s gonna know about?

Katarov: Awww, that’s the secondary reason. But the primary reason is because I have the upper hand out here – plain and simple.

Ichigo: Oh yeah? Well… [He lunges himself forward again, but Katarov reacts within a split second, pushing his body upwards and grabbing Ichigo by the throat, before slamming him into the train]

Katarov: It’s futile man. Come now, even you should be able to tell that there’s a difference between those blessed with gift and those who aren’t.

Ichigo [Wipes and straightens his face, before spitting off of the train]: Gift this, gift that, gift this, gift that, won’t you ever shut up about that? You think I’m not fuckin’ gifted cause I’m not from these parts, or because I don’t got the reaction speed you got eh? Gift ain’t nun’ without hard work ya piece of shit.

Katarov: The hell’re ya talkin about?

Ichigo: You’re the one who keeps talking about gift and all this shit, the hell are ya talkin about?

Katarov: You fuckin weasel, a gift isn’t some sort of belief that you’re better than someone else. It’s a friggin power.

Ichigo: Eh?

Katarov: I’m not talking about my damn skill level, you idiot. Gifts are awakened powers.

Ichigo: The hell are you talking about? This ain’t God-damn final fantasy or some shit, you imbecile. Gift? Power? You’re the god-damn lunatic here.

Katarov [Thinking]: No use talking sense into this one at this point. He’ll never understand.

Ichigo [Thinking]: That has to be right, right? He’s the crazy one, right? There’s no way that some shit as stupid as actual power exists in the real world, right?

Katarov [Thinking]: Whatever. Let’s finish this shit.

[Katarov lunges towards Ichigo and strikes him in the head, but Ichigo remains standing, despite being pushed back some distance. Ichigo kicks directly forward, which is easily dodged by Katarov, but Ichigo plants the kicking foot down and dashes, lunging off his other foot with remarkable speed. Katarov matches the speed, dodging three of Ichigo’s punches and stopping the fourth, upper-cutting him, to which Ichigo coughs violently]

Katarov: If you don’t want to believe it, don’t. This is the world we live in now. You lot are so misguided by everyone and everything around you, it’s insane.

Ichigo [Looks upward, with his left eye twitching]: Shut up.

Katarov: My, my, you still can talk? After all that? You truly are special, despite your alarming lack of intelligence.

Ichigo: Shut up.

Katarov: Awww, is that all you can say big man? That’s a sha–

[Ichigo kicks out Katarov’s legs from underneath him and aims a punch at his head, which is just narrowly dodged by Katarov – Ichigo’s hand grazes his ear]

Katarov [Thinking]: I didn’t hear that? What?

Ichigo [Thinking]: Close the gap. [He dashes to the right while in view of Katarov and then lunges towards Katarov, kicking him in the stomach, before landing back on his two feet]

Katarov [Thinking]: What the hell is this?

Ichigo [Thinking]: Get close again. [He dashes towards Katarov again, and Katarov is again late to react, but is able to dodge the punch aimed at his head, before the two separate again]

Katarov [Thinking]: It’s his movements. He’s moving his body quicker than I can react, because it isn’t all of him that I can’t react to. His arms and fists are still moving at the same speed, it’s just his body that’s out of my range.

Ichigo: Eh, what’s the big deal, gifted man? You too slow?

Katarov [Chuckles]: You’re good man. As much as you’re an unintelligent, annoying moron, you’re a fuckin good fighter. Hats off man.

Ichigo [Scoffs]: Hmph. Guess I could say the same about you. I’ve been waiting to fight someone strong for so long now. It’ll be fuckin satisfying when I crack your skull open.

Ichigo [Thinking]: I’m gonna have to keep closing the gap and getting him to react.

[Ichigo lunges at him again, closing the gap remarkably quickly and Katarov reacts, kicking his leg out and missing Ichigo’s head by a few inches. Ichigo grabs Katarov’s shoulders before Katarov could react, and Katarov looks at him with amazement. Katarov tries to dislodge his right shoulder from Ichigo’s grip, but Ichigo grips it harder and pushes it down, breaking it. Katarov winces, and Ichigo lets go off the right shoulder, preparing for a punch to Katarov’s face]

Ichigo: Well then, shitter.

Katarov: You truly were amazing. Truly.

Ichigo: Those ain’t the words I wanna hear, you stupid fuck.

Katarov: Well, what do you wanna hear? Sayonara?

Ichigo: Well, I guess you shitheads always toy with death in your lives, so I guess the thought of dying ain’t nothing too scary to y’all. Bunch of weirdos.

Katarov: Oh, oh, oh, you say that like you’re any different. In fact, you’ve probably killed more people than I have.

Ichigo: I’ve killed criminals and shitheads like you. People who shouldn’t be considered people.

Katarov: And I’ve killed shitheads too. The difference is how we view them – but they’re essentially the same, are they not?

Ichigo: You keep saying this. I am NOT the same as you.

Katarov [Scoffs]: You’re right. You’re not.

Ichigo [Winds up his arm]: Sayonara, ya sack of shit.

[Ichigo’s left arm punches forward with incredible strength and connects with Katarov, but he isn’t sent flying backwards]

Ichigo [Thinking]: Ehhh?

[Ichigo looks at Katarov, whose eyebrows cock downwards and eyes glisten with a silver color. He smirks at Ichigo, before punching him backwards with a punch equal in strength to the one he had just received, sending Ichigo flying backward. Ichigo, extremely winded, tries to stand, and looks at Katarov in confusion]

Katarov [Smirking]: I told you man. You’re friggin special. It was a damn pleasure that they sent ya after me. And it’s a damn shame that you’re gonna be gone after this.

Ichigo [Thinking]: Impossible. No, no, that’s impossible. I hit him. He isn’t a defensive god or anything. I fucking hit him! It’s his reaction time that’s top tier, not his fucking defense!

Katarov [Smirks]: I’m telling you. You are special man. This is the first time I’ve had to use my full gift. Pretty good, eh?

Ichigo [Thinking]: Eh? Eh? Stop talking about gift you damn scum. Stop it. That can’t be true. That can’t be fucking true. I don’t believe it, damn it!

Katatov: You put up a good fight man, you really did. Thank you.

Ichigo: IMPOSSIBLE! [He lunges himself towards Katarov, but Katarov easily deflects him and lunges back towards him, knocking him sideways. The two trade heavy blows, despite Ichigo being winded, but Katarov doesn’t react until he gets kicked in the right abdomen by Ichigo. By this time, Katarov’s already landed four seismic hits to Ichigo’s head and body]

Katarov [Straightens his body up]: You can’t get through this now man. Unfair, isn’t it?

Ichigo: What the hell are you?

Katarov: I’m a human. Nothing different from you, and yet, entirely different from you. We’re worlds apart, as you can see. But we’re the same, flesh and blood. I bleed red, just as you do. See? [The cuts on his face begin to bleed prominently again]

Ichigo [Wearily]: Shut up man.

Katarov: But, like I said, you’re a fuckin tough guy. You put up a damn good fight… [Turns his head to look away] compared to most at le… [he gets punched in the face by Ichigo, who struggles to stand up properly].

[Katarov snaps his head back into place and looks pitifully at Ichigo]

Ichigo: Don’t look at me like that, damn you!

[He lunges forward but Katarov doesn’t dodge, instead grabbing him by the throat and lifting him up]

Katarov: This really is shit man. I don’t wanna fuckin kill ya. I don’t. Can’t we compromise or some shit? Your life’s on the damn line. Come now.

Ichigo [Coughs, then speaks inaudibly]: Shut up.

Katarov [Releasing his grip]: Oh shit, my bad, my bad, I didn’t realize how hard I was choking you. [Pauses] Come now, you probably have people you want to protect and see, don’t you? Come on.

Ichigo: Don’t fuck with me man. I came here to fight, not to make a damn deal.

Katarov: Oh, scary, scary. But it’s such a waste. You’re strong.

Ichigo [Trying to catch his breath]: I know. That’s why I’ll never bend my knee to people like you, no matter how good of a fight you put up. I came here for one reason, and it wasn’t to make friends with you, goddamnit! [He breathes in deeply and dashes forward, to which Katarov smirks, but he disappears from his view and appears behind him, to which Katarov reacts, but he disappears again]

Katarov: Huh? I can’t keep up with him?

[Ichigo reappears in front of Katarov and disappears again, but Katarov reacts at an almost identical speed. Katarov raises one hand to try and grab Ichigo, but Ichigo disappears again]

Ichigo [Grabs his third and final switchblade, and in Thinking]: I have him now damnit!

[The knife lunges towards Katarov’s neck but just before impact, Ichigo coughs violently, coughing up a pool of blood. The frame pans down, revealing Katarov’s free hand, with Ichigo’s first switchblade lodged deep into his stomach. Katarov then grabs his neck and squeezes it tightly, to which Ichigo coughs up even more blood]

Ichigo [Inaudibly]: No way. No one’s been able to stop that. [Gasps] How?

Katarov: I should be asking you that. That was some superhuman speed – you nearly had me beat at my own damn game. But I’ll tell you again. That’s your training and work – which maybe I shouldn’t have underestimated – but still, that’s all it is. It was a damn valiant effort, but it ain’t enough man. If you came at me with this breakneck speed earlier, maybe you woulda got me. But when I’m already using my power? It’s hopeless. [Pauses] You really should’ve started out with this man, you would’ve had me on my heels. But it is what it is. [Pauses and looks at Ichigo’s state] I guess this is it then, eh?

Ichigo [Breathes heavily]: Damn you. Damn you, you friggin piece of shit.

Katarov [Smirks]: Yup. [He pulls the knife out, throwing him down and killing him] Sayonara.