Soi Fon ran through the wilderness, vanishing in her flash steps from one shadowed tree to another. Against the quiet shore of her mind, the waves of pain continued to beat unabated. She suspected that they would beat unabated for a very long time, and that it would be a wave of grief that would finally wash away her last remaining particle.
She planned to rest first in the wilderness before returning to the Shinigami. If, by chance, they allowed her to use her skill to regain her place, she wanted to be ready. And if not, well, she had to ready herself for that possibility too.
She was near the forest's edge when she felt the presence closing in on her. Knowing the futility of running when it was the Goddess of Flash in pursuit, she stopped. A moment later, Yoruichi materialized in front of her.
"Don't go, Soi Fon," Yoruichi said simply.
The midnight-blue eyes that gazed back at the older woman were filled with an infinite weariness. "I can't stay, Yoruichi-sama. You know why."
Again, with perfect calmness, Yoruichi replied, "I won't let you leave."
They stared at each other. The forest quieted to a hush as time slowed to the space between broken heartbeats.
Soi Fon was the first to move. Her opponent was the Goddess of Flash, but perhaps her desire for self-preservation would allow her to prevail. Soi Fon spun where she stood - and ran.
She managed to stay ahead of Yoruichi for several miles, but knew that the older woman would catch up eventually. She had no intention of fighting her former mentor, but had no intention of being caught either. Her only chance of escape lay in confusing the older woman long enough to vanish into the surrounding woods. It was another lesson she had learned in meditation. Once the self and the stillness become one, the self vanishes and cannot be found. Soi Fon had no doubt that she could conceal herself effectively provided she got the chance.
She never got it. Instinct made her raise her arms in time to block a flashing orange streak. The ensuing battle was like all her recent training sessions with Yoruichi, only amplified a hundred-fold. Immediately, she felt the calmness descend, allowing her to deflect and dodge the flurry of punches and kicks. Still, the violence of the attacks left their mark, the evaded slashes and blocked strikes leaving cuts and bruises on her tender skin. And still she refused to counterattack.
It was only when she saw Yoruichi raise both her arms, the energy instantly shredding the material over the older woman's shoulders, that she realized that a choice had to be made. Time stopped as Yoruichi leapt, the pulses around her hands mushrooming into a gigantic ball of glowing, flashing light. Soi Fon closed her eyes, and surrendered herself to the stillness.