I don't have KI to test this, but if you manual a special move, do you get the special linker version of the move or the neutral version? e.g. with orchid doing Ichi Ni San after a grenade hit in the middle of a combo. Was wondering if you could do unblockable rekka in middle of a combo

You get the neutral version, and it will be breakable via the same rules. You also get the neutral version if you do special moves directly after jump-ins (even though the jump-in is an opener, all special moves are links/manuals for some reason), which can make for some tricky break situations (if you do a shadow move, for instance, it's breakable but you get the "opener" version which might have different timing than the linker version).
You can do Orchid's rekka string as a manual in some situations, including as a link after grenade if you set it up correctly, but the unblockable HP one has a lot of startup and it never combos. But yes, you can try to reset with it.

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