Name: Tsuruji Ren (鶴児 蓮 = two cranes, lotus blossom)
Nicknames: Ren-chan, Tomatohead, Pretty Boy
Rank: Eleventh Division unseated
Age: 207 as of The Winter War
Gender: Intersex, identifies as male
Theme song: Demon Days [Gorillaz]
Partner: Misashi Yukiya
Children: Arashi, Kirin, Umi (daughters), Sora (son)
Others: Tsuruji Ayame (sister), Kitashirakawa Hisako (mother)
Appearance: Tall, lanky and lean, with an open, expressive face and a somewhat feminine air about him. Ren stands at 6'3", weighing in at around 76kgs. His most striking feature is his hair: thick and flyaway, cut to the shoulder, naturally a deep, fiery red-orange colour. His eyes are wide and deep-set, ringed by thick gold lashes; their colour is a dark lime green, flecked with bright yellow around the pupils. His complexion is redhead-pale, with permanent pink blushes high on his cheeks. He has a long thin nose, and high eyebrows usually cocked in a quizzical expression; his chin is sharp, curving up into a round jaw and down to a long, slim neck and prominent collarbones. His limbs are long, covered in lean muscle and with prominent sinews, especially around his wrists and ankles. He's got big hands and feet; the leanness and length of his body makes him look like someone's grabbed him by the wrists and ankles, and stretched. His bone structure is clearly visible, but he's not quite skeletal; he just doesn't have much mass to him. His only other feature of note is the many scars which crisscross his body, particularly on his torso and legs. These vary in age, size, and apparent method of creation: there are long thin sword slices, jagged clawmarks, neat surgical scars, and some which can only have come from torture. Even among the battle-scarred warriors of the Eleventh Division, Ren's collection is considered painfully extensive.
Thanks to his upbringing as a kimono merchant's child, Ren possesses a highly developed sense of style. His shinigami uniform reflects this as well as his civilian clothes; in rather good nick for an Eleventh-Divisioner's clothes, it fits him well. He wears the standard black hakama and kosode, with his white shitagi sleeves fitting snugly over his arms down to his palms, his fingers and thumbs all that protrudes from the ends. His sash is a loose purple scarf, tied at the side of his hip in a loose half-bow. Off-duty, he has an eye for good clothes, and tends to dress in leaf-greens, russets and shades of fiery orange. He prefers men's clothing to women's, and yukata to gi or hakama. Often when he dresses casually he will leave his shitagi loosely tucked, as with his shihakushō, so that it bares the scars on his chest.
Personality: Ren is an earnest, straightforward individual, whose accepting nature tends to endear him to most people. Kind at heart, with an almost childlike faith in figures of authority, he is ruled for the most part by his emotions and instincts, his heart rather than his head. He devotes his entire heart to those whom he loves with an almost shocking depth and intensity. While he lacks ambition and a sense of adventure, he is open and tolerant of changes, and adapts well to them. He is known for being a trustworthy, devoted friend.
His tumultuous life has had a huge impact on not only the way he views the world, but the way he views himself as well. Having spent his childhood years believing himself to be wholly female, he has a lot of the traits society at the time deemed desirable in girls, not only because of a natural disposition towards them but because for those early years, that was his training. The uncertainty and upheaval of the years between puberty and his premature death, along with the rough years in Outer Rukongai afterwards, instilled in him a loose sort of toughness, and self-awareness. Ren knows his own weaknesses well, and guards against them as well as he can. Torture during his captivity in Hueco Mundo almost broke him, but his recovery has forged him tougher than ever, allowing to recognise his strengths as well as his weaknesses.
Ren is intelligent, but not obviously so. Academic theory, even basic bookwork, often confuses the hell out of him. He did not learn to read until he reached the Shinigami Academy, and much prefers speech, tending to commit things to memory via little nonsense songs and poems. It is far easier for him to understand abstract things like emotions and thought processes, as to these things there are no definite right or wrong answers. He thus tends to think in a rambling, roundabout sort of a way. He is easily distracted and easily manipulated, as much of his mental energy is taken up by being a man in what is essentially a woman's body. He feels the necessary subterfuge as a constant stress.
Ren is less than decisive, and thanks to an ingrained lack of confidence is prone to second-guessing himself. The one exception to this is in battle; Ren's naturally instinctual fighting style and odd affinity for close combat doesn't give him the time to falter. He feels constantly torn in two directions by his physical sex whether to be male or female is a question he cannot answer. He feels he should be male, and thus identifies himself as a man, but his upbringing and the fact that his physiology functions as female to the extent that he was able to carry three separate pregnancies to full term suggest to him that he should instead be female. This indecisiveness, constant going back and forth between two options is something he has struggled with constantly over his long life. As a result, he prefers to leave the decision-making to Yukiya wherever possible.
He passes his free time with reading, sparring, housework (which he actually enjoys; it occupies his hands in ways he doesn't need to think about), and provided the day is warm enough, swimming. Ren loves the water, and tries to swim as often as he possibly can, being a regular patron of Seireitei's heated baths when winter's cold renders the local river a Bad Idea. He is at his happiest when he has something constructive to do, which is why he likes house chores, particularly cooking. He has an affinity for birds and water creatures, and likes big dogs, but thanks to a slight allergy he has to admire the neighbourhood hounds from afar. When there's the slightest rhythm to the sounds around him, he often begins to dance if he believes he is alone.
His dislikes are diverse in range but few in number, including among them digging, being around freshly-dug sites, and the scent of patchouli, because it really does smell like freshly-turned earth. This stems from the plowed field where he spent the three days dyinf of lockjaw. He's not lazy when assigned to physical labor, but if he has to dig he tends to put all of his energy into it, just to get the task completed so that he can move on from it. Paradoxically, this means that he is often assigned to digging tasks, as he's viewed to be quite good at it. He hasn't figured this out yet, and while he is bright enough to eventually do so, concentrating long enough to figure out something so unimportant has proved beyond him thus far.
Ren's shy, sensitive manner in public has sometimes given people the erroneous impression that he is either weak, naïve or cowardly. He seeks to avoid conflict in his everyday life, and his tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve is considered shameful by the stoic set within the Eleventh Division. Despite this, in his first hundred years as a shinigami Ren has distinguished himself as a fairly competent swordsman and unarmed fighter who does not lack for guts.
Mentally, he is strong. These days, he bends before the wind, but he will not break.
"Come on, Tsuruji! Are you a man or a mouse?!"
"Well, actually, now that you mention it..."
"I've had no control over my own life for the past eighteen years, and now you're asking me to give up even more of what little self-control I've regained? ...You must be kidding me."
"Come on, Yukiya! Dance with me!"
During his time in Hueco Mundo, Ren suffered full Hollowfication, afterwards undergoing Dissociation to revert his spirit body to that of a shinigami. These two destructive processes combined with Ren's rather unusual mental state had the effect of splitting his soul into many different pieces, some small, some large. As time went by, these shards of his soul began to develop their own lives and minds. These minds have been nicknamed 'the Hive''hachisu' as a collective.
Each of the Hive is markedly different from the others. They have their own idioms, traits and mannerisms separate from Ren's for example, Bird speaks in the Kansai dialect, while Rage's mere presence near electrical and radio devices will cause them to short-circuit and go haywire. Most of the Hive are aware of each other's existence; the more talkative ones often hold entire conversations or arguments in the back of Ren's mind. They are secretive people, and it took years for some of them to reveal themselves to Ren, let alone everyone else in Ren's life. Some have yet to evidence at all.
They were not formed by random occurrences. The cracks along which Ren's soul separated were formed by particular events, memories and weaknesses; these became the main influences on the Hive members which grew from the soul-shards. Pain, desire, hope, a will to survive, a will to protect, and a deeply embedded need for guidance became the Hive's ultimate nexus.
Ren: The first-born child, the core, original mind. Ren is present 95% of the time, and has control over his body for most of that. The main focus of this bio.
The Blood Knight: Cool, businesslike and fiercely independent, the Blood Knight gives the illusion of knowing everything. She is frighteningly efficient, acting in the world in place of Rage, whose excess emotion renders her incapable of human interaction. Rigid and unbending as she must be to control such a force of nature, the Blood Knight is sheer endurance and self-control personified.
The Protector The name is kind of self-explanatory; the Protector evolved as a way to shield the younger (smaller, developing) minds from harm. He is scarred and rock-solid, and though he is constantly aware of Ren's circumstances, he seldom makes his presence known. The one surefire way to rouse him to his true (terrifying) potential is to threaten those whom he guards.
Bird: The third of the main personalities, Bird's main responsibility and purpose is finding freedom where there is none. She is easily distracted, and loves craft of any kind. The positive and neutral personalities look to her for leadership. She's female, and obviously sowhen she is 'driving,' so to speak, it becomes increasingly hard to discern Ren's true gender. She was also the one responsible for naming the Hive.
The Wallflower: A hollow shell of the first-born child, who cannot feel anything for herself. The Wallflower is like an automaton, able to give simple answers and perform basic functions, but is not capable of any higher thought. She is used as a mask, or a second protective skin by most of the Hive.
Rage: Her name is very aptshe is a manifestation of pure rage and will to destruction. Rage is her entire existence, and should she ever escape the Blood Knight's hold she will turn it on friend and foe alike. Electrical appliances hate her. When she evidences, the irises of Ren's eyes turn an eerie bright yellow colour as Ren's pupils contract to little more than pinpricks. She is the one who holds the key to Ren's most destructive talent Utahime no Gekido's invisible sixth song.
Hollow Girl The remnants of the half-Hollow, half-shinigami thing Ren once was. She has the mental age of an infant, and yet holds a large part of Ren's considerable reiatsu.
JJ: Wild and resentful of authority, JJ is the most outwardly masculine of the Hive members, and also the most volatile. Where Rage is inevitably a spitting ball of fury, JJ's moods run the gamut from hysteric amusement to a slow and vicious wrath. He deals with the Hive's memories of shame and resent; suffering from a chronic sense of his own inadequacy, JJ takes his own self-loathing out on everyone around him. As with Rage, when JJ is in control of Ren's body, the yellow center of his irises becomes much more apparent.
Ai: Her purpose is to love. She deals with the feelings the others find disgusting or frightening, such as trust or attraction. She is bright and sweet, a very sensual and honest being. As one of the multitude who 'sit behind' Bird, Ai in turn has two who range themselves behind her, dealing with similar purposes.
Kagura: One of the newest minds to develop, Kagura is an offshoot of the Protector, a mother's nurturing instinct given physical expression. She is the softness and warmth the Protector lacks, but like him she protects her children with fanatical zeal.
Lea: Bird's artistic ability given a mind of her own. Lea is somewhat superficialher thought processes are simple at best, sometimes almost mindlessbut her skill at taking what she sees (and sometimes what she doesn't see) and putting it down on paper is unparalleled. She deals solely with patterns and pictures.
Chi: Derives pleasure from pain in order to thrive in the most unpleasant of situations. As one of the two dealing with pleasure, Chi sits behind Ai, but her efforts directly fuel Rage's temper tantrums.
Hazuki: Dead, in every sense of the word but the literal. Hazuki is a zombie of sorts, emotionally dead and not capable of existing in her own terms, but filling a very important role among the Hive. She deadens feeling, enveloping those personalities which tend towards an excess of emotion.
Lolita: Young, thoughtless, and with enough sexual knowledge to run several low-class brothels, Lolita is a reflection of physical desiresomething which makes her very unpopular among the more fatalistic Hive components, who resent the power she has over Ren's life and choices.
Midori: Midori is a nonentity, the oldest of the Hive yet little more than an inert lump of memories. Once, she had a mind of her own now she has devolved into a mindless sack of leftover echoes and memories. JJ uses her as an outlet to pour the most poisonous thoughts into.
Nozomi: JJ's sister, Nozomi has been sleeping for years, and is only recently beginning to show signs of waking. She is the Hive's embodiment of hope.
Arisa: Sarcastic, cynical, and innately attuned to body language, Arisa uses her words as the only weapons she can bear to be around. She is a young mind, permanently torn between love and hate, black and white, male and female.
Nadeshiko: The eldest of the Flowers, four young girls who carry the lion's share of the Hive's emotional anguish. They are the Protector's main charges. Nadeshiko's cracking point is guilt, and her roots reach back even further than Ren's Hollowfication, back to his childhood in the living world.
Yuri: Trusts, and is betrayed. She is the most withdrawn of all Ren's people, seldom even paying attention to the outside world.
Ayame: The Flowers' dead sister. She despairs so completely that it took death to lift her from such a bleak worldview. Death among the Hive is not a literal death: Ayame still functions, but her emotional depth and will to socialise are gone forever.
Kiku: Ayame's daughter of a sort. She was created to be Ayame's replacement, and yet she isn't quite so crushed by despair as her mother was.
Hinagiku: Inquisitive and amazingly intelligent, Hinagiku restrains herself, always striving to be 'better' as according to certain old societal ideals. Like Ren, inadequacy constantly nips at her heels.
Me: Selfish and afraid, Me is a very small child. She wants attention, and yet is terrified of it. She sits behind the Blood Knight, and is protected by Rage.
Baby: A young girl fully dependent on others for life, and the Protector's constant morality pet.
Dark: Sheer insurmountable pain killed this one. Dark holds the original cracking point of Ren's mind within himself, and in turn he exhibits myriad different personality traits in the few instances where he takes control of Ren's body. Like Rage and JJ, he is immediately recognisable; his eyes are dark green with huge pupils, glassy and dead.
Puppy: Filled with boundless energy, Puppy follows at the heels of the nearest authority figure. Once, he was the strongest of all the Hive, along with Hollow Girl. When she was reduced to her current state, Puppy's influence went with her.
Yayoi: The Flowers' dead mother. Along with Midori, she is little more than a shell now. Puppy uses her skin to add to his influence.
Later, suckers <3
Strengths: -hakuda and kenjutsu; a natural hand-to-hand combatant
strong physical offence (hakuda-based), capable of surprising physical strength and power
physical and mental endurance/resilience
intuition, natural fighter's instincts
dexterity and agility, surprising grace in a fist fight
Weaknesses: -conscious reiatsu manipulation (kido etcetera, some zanjutsu)
nonexistent mid-and-long-range capabilities (without bankai), sub-par defensive skills
tactics and strategy: not an intellectual fighter in the slightest
nonexistent composure; often lets his heart rule his head, so to speak
significant psychological issues
Fighting Style: Ren is an instinctual rather than intellectual fighter, preferring to act and react in the here and now rather than plan ahead. He is a cautious, but imaginative combatant, combining the disciplines of kenjutsu and hakuda with the occasional brawling trick. Ren goes by the saying that the best defense is a good offence; as a result his attacking is rather better than his defense skills. A very capable fighter once you get him going, Ren's preferred discipline is hakuda with a uniquely Tsuruji twist. His experiences in Rukongai taught him how to survive and how to win fights; as a result he doesn't stick solely to the official Academy-taught hakuda style, but blends it with all the other martial art disciplines he's ever come across. Honor in a fight comes a distant second to survival.
His speed and physical deftness allow him to rapidly switch modes of attack, making use of his imagination and flair for melee-based combat to outwit his opponents. He has the intuition to feel the shape of a fight and judge the best mode of attack almost unconsciously; this coupled with his natural grace and acquired skill make him a particularly challenging opponent to face. While his physical resilience and endurance is considerable, Ren suffers in prolonged combat because of his inability to plan ahead, and prior to the creation of the Hive, his relative lack of reiatsu strength. The presence of the Hive has created a whole new set of problems, chief among them the trauma of torture and Hollowfication.
After the Winter War, his fighting style changes somewhat in order to accommodate the appearance of the Hive. The Hive members who fight do so in a variety of different ways, which means that the way Ren attacks depends on which of the Hive is currently 'driving', so to speak. JJ favours a direct offensive, relying on speed combined with what strength and power he can dredge up out of Ren's skinny body. Rage is a textbook berserker with the added advantage of an immense and positively horrifying reiatsu field. The Blood Knight is a more tactile fighter, utilizing every dirty trick and field advantage she can muster up. Others, notably Chi and the Protector, simply ignore any wounds they might suffer, advancing inexorably towards their goals.
Zanpaku-to: Aoi 碧 blue
Sealed Form: Aoi is a rather nondescript zanpaku-to, notable only for its size. It is a nodachi, a large two-handed field sword used for swinging strikes rather than fast stabbing thrusts, in shirasaya formthat is, lacking any visible tsuba or hilt decoration. When sheathed, the hilt melds smoothly into the sheath, both made of dull ashy wood with clear lacquer to provide a little extra hardness. The naked blade is plain steel with a faint wave pattern to the tempering, curving to just over a metre in length.
Spirit: As if to contrast to her rather plain outward appearance, Aoi in her spirit form is a rather striking humanoid. She is naked, female on her left side, with a clearly defined waist, wide hips and a single perky breast; on her right side, she is male, with a broader shoulder, flat pectoral, and narrow hips. Her skin is deep royal blue, mottled eggplant-purple on her shoulders and upper back, while her hair and eyes are the bright red of arterial blood. Her face is sharply angled on both sides, fully androgynous; her hair is cut short on the male side, and worn long on the female side. Her voice fluctuates between the male and female ranges. She defines herself as female simply because Ren defines himself as being male.
Aoi's world is a huge cavern buried deep in granite. It is a perfect sphere, maybe a kilometre in radius, and lit from within by some kind of luminescence in the air. Wild, pulsing music emanates from the stone walls, bass line thumping loud enough that it resonates through the visitor's skeleton. The rhythms and beats are infectious, as if willing your body to move with them. When Ren and Aoi do battle in the outside world, the music in the cavern increases several times over in intensity.
-->Release Phrase: "Sing, Aoi!"
Shikai: As a pure melee-type release, Aoi's shikai does not appear to undergo any real physical change. Instead the blade begins to vibrate at a super-high frequency. These vibrations make the blade act a little like a buzz-saw, enabling it to cut through even the toughest of substances. Stone, concrete, an Arrancar's hierro; they might as well be butter for all the resistance they put up. The vibrations emit sound, usually at a frequency far too high for humans to hear (although it drives Komamura crazy). After five minutes, these sounds lower somewhat in pitch, enough to be on the edge of human hearing. They sound a little like orchestral music, though strident and layered under a note which makes your ears bubble uncomfortably if you get too close.
Because of the subtle nature of Aoi's shikai, it is often mistaken for a constant-release zanpaku-to, and less cautious opponents may assume that lack of any showy additions or kido effects make it a weak weapon. However, like Ren himself, Aoi hides her true power under a nondescript skin.
Bankai: Utahime no Gekido 歌姫の激怒 the singer's rage
Ren's bankai is strange. Aoi defines it in emotions rather than words, so the closest translation of its name that Ren can come to is 'Rage'. Bird often romanticised this to 'the Singer's Rage' when people asked, and the name subsequently stuck.
It originated from the first dozen years following Ren's recovery from Hueco Mundo. Ren's Hollowfication had almost completely split him from Aoi (a process exceedingly painful for both wielder and zanpaku-to), a state that took him almost two decades to fully remedy. In the process, Ren developed a rapport with Aoi so strong that he began to discover many new, previously hidden facets of her nature and powers. With the help and encouragement (and abuse, in some cases) of the Hive, Ren was eventually able to blend these all together in a fully-fledged bankai form.
Aoi in bankai retains the form of a nodachi, with a blade coloured deep royal blue. The shirasaya form melts away, replaced by a standard hilt wrapped in a length of plain undyed cotton, tucked under itself where the hilt meets the endcap, letting the remaining two feet of cloth hang free. The sheath is solid, lacquered hardwood, the upper eight inches or so wrapped in thin strips of royal blue cotton. The tsuba is rectangular, plain bronze, and appears battered and scratched, with deep gouges cut at random across its surface. Even at rest, the blade emits music, orchestral numbers for the most part with a unique wild twist.
Utahime no Gekido's special attacks are six in number, their names deriving ultimately from Latin and the Romance languages as a hangover from Ren's Hueco Mundo days. The prefix 'cante' means 'song'; the nominative 'sonata' refers to an attack guided by Aoi's music, while the equivalent 'cantata' refers to attacks guided by Ren's song. All are named for dances.
The first five are common knowledge, available to each of the Hive members at a pinch; the final is an awesome if impractical expression of pure destructive power and far, far out of reach of most of the Hive. Utahime no Gekido is primarily focused on large-scale destruction, even more completely unable to do anything subtle or minor in effect than most bankai releases. Like a true diva, it demands attention.
Cante: Sonata Courante
The first and least impressive of the songs, Sonata Courante is performed with an elegant set of dance steps accompanied by the high piping of a flute. Ren bows low to start, sweeping his sword up and to the right before taking three quick steps forward and turning to the side. Channeled reiatsu along Utahime no Gekido's blade turns the flute notes into four sharp, slicing blasts of sound, stabbing outwards from the sweeping path of the sword. Sonata Courante is invisible to the naked eye; painfully obvious to anyone who can sense reiatsu but deceptively fast and far-reaching.
Cante: Sonata Allemande
In this second song, the blue colour begins to leech out of Utahime no Gekido's blade and into the air around it, visible only as a faint dark mist at this stage. Sonata Allemande follows the bass notes in the wild music, beginning as Ren holds Utahime no Gekido parallel to the ground in front of his chest. Reiatsu gathers in the blade, released by a sharp gesture from Ren; it blasts out from the tip of the blade in an ever-widening shockwave. It will shatter glass, pulverize concrete and bone, and deafen anyone who has the misfortune to be caught in its path.
Cante: Cantata Gaillarde
This third song is triggered by the chanting of a seven-line chorus, accompanied by a rousing crescendo in the wild music. Cantata Gaillarde starts as an upward strike; Ren steps low, forward once again, sweeping Utahime no Gekido across in front of him as he begins the chant, accompanied by the sound of a full orchestra. On the first line, the ground three paces in front of him ruptures and is pushed up, repeating this on each subsequent line of the chant.
The chorus chanted by Ren to trigger this attack is as follows: "Panis angelicus / fit panis hominum / Dat panis caelicus / figuris terminum / O res mirabilis! / manducat Dominum / Pauper, servus, et humilis." The pitch and speed at which he chants the words can be varied to produce a slower, earthquake-like rupture, or a rapid uplift.
Cante: Sonata Minuet
Sonata Minuet is a two-step attack, set up by a series of four short steps towards the opponent's left side. Ren holds Utahime no Gekido vertically in front of his chest, both hands on its hilt; then on a sharp piano chord lunges forward with a left-handed slash angled slightly downwards. His reiatsu flows outward from the strike in the form of many massive curved blades, slicing outwards on a wide, far-reaching path.
The second stage takes place while the opponent is still reeling from the first. String instrument melodies carry the reiatsu back to Ren, who then takes two short, quick steps forward, turns slightly to the left and attacks with a right-handed, battering slash. This time the sword blade itself is projected via reiatsu, capable of slicing deep into solid steel and granite. To an enemy hurt and disoriented from the first stage, this precise, sweeping slash is almost impossible to avoid.
Cante: Cantata Sarabande
This final attack once again uses the chorus-chant to set it up. Ren faces east and with quick steps turns a full rapid circle, raising Utahime no Gekido above his heat to point unerringly at the highest point of the sky. As he chants, a curtain veil of blue energy traces a circle around him seven metres in radius. On the last line, the circle is complete; Ren lets Utahime no Gekido's point drop to the ground, and a pure weight of reiatsu bears down on everything within the diameter of the circle.
Cante: 'the invisible sixth'
This attack is solely the preserve of Rage, as she is the only Hive member who possesses the will to dominate Utahime no Gekido's power so totally. The invisible sixth was never meant to exist; it is an overloading of all the previous songs into one giant maelstrom. It is as incapable of distinguishing between friend and foe as Rage herself, and thus has no practical use, save for perhaps as an army-killer. Essentially Rage hijacks the wild music, inlaying it with reiatsu so thickly it becomes visible to the naked eye, and then lashing out at the landscape around her with terrifying power. It is not one of Aoi's natural abilities; it uses up all of Ren's and Utahime no Gekido's collective reiatsu, making it a considerable threat to their own health. Recovery after using it takes them between ten days and two weeks.
Ren was my second Bleach OC, originally created close to four years ago. He has changed a lot in that time, switching genders at least twice, while his hair gradually got oranger and oranger. It ends up a slightly different shade every time I draw him
If it ever looks like I draw his nose oddly long, that's just because he does have a long nose. Long face, long body, long legs, long nose. He's a very long person.
The chant used in his bankai comes from the Gregorian Chant, actually. I'm no good at lyrics; I have to borrow them from elsewhere