I'M SO SORRY FOR NOT UPDATING FOR NEARLY A YEAR! I never wanted to be one of those authors, yet this happened anyway. Blame lies in a loss of inspiration for this story with the end of Bleach and getting into other fandoms on here. If you've been to my profile, you know I've been doing drabbles for other series. So again, I'm sorry for neglecting this story.
Anywho, it's short, but on to chapter 29!
Once the rescue party finished unpacking themselves from the cramped phone booth, they started making their way through the Atrium to the elevators down to the lower levels of the Ministry. Orihime was heading the party, senses on high alert and ready to summon her shields as necessary, the Hogwarts students were in the middle, wands drawn and at the ready at Ichigo's insistence, and Ichigo brought up the rear, his larger blade in hand and resting against his shoulder. They made it to the elevators without any trouble and had relaxed a little as everyone piled in.
That was a mistake.
As soon as Ichigo was the last one not in the elevator, a blade erupted through his chest, bringing the substitute to a stop with wide eyes. A second sword was soon to follow, coming through a few inches to the left, and Ichigo made a soft choking sound.
The blades withdrew a second later with a wet slurp and Ichigo staggered forward a step, coughing up a wad of blood as he swung backwards with his sword.
"ICHIGO!" the group screamed.
"Keep going!" Ichigo ordered, placing himself between his assailants and the elevators. Blood dripped down his chin and he trembled, but Ichigo's stance remained firm.
"Katte, Kurosaki-kun," Orihime replied, pressing the door button on the elevator.
"Aa," he said as a feral grin pulled at his lips.
The elevator doors clanged shut and silence reigned for a moment as the elevator began to move.
"You… you just left him there!" Harry whispered, horrified. "Ichigo got stabbed and you left him there!" he roared, turning on Orihime. Harry ignored how he hadn't done anything but watch in terror as his friend coughed up blood. Things like that weren't supposed to happen. Harry was used to scrapes and scratches, magics that left no mark, not bloody blades stabbed through someone's chest.
Orihime calmly stared him down, though if he looked closely, Harry would have seen pain in her eyes as well. "Kurosaki-kun told us to keep going and I believe in him. Kurosaki-kun is strong. He'll win," she said with conviction.
"But those wounds…" Hermione whispered.
"He'll win," Orihime stated again. The others didn't know it, but Ichigo hadn't been trembling in pain, at least not entirely. He'd been trembling from holding back on hollowfying. Both swords had pierced the area that would be covered by his hollow hole, so he'd instinctually wanted to make the change to negate the normally life-threatening damage. But he needed them to get away first for their own safety.
The elevator ride continued in grim silence. The students wanted to believe Orihime, but the blood. They were scared and second-guessing their decision to come.
The elevator doors pinged open and the group cautiously stepped out, more alert than ever after what happened at the top. They moved steadily and silently into and through the Department of Mysteries, on edge the whole way. Orihime noticed as they moved that the deeper they went in, the harder it was to sense reiatsu. The rooms seemed to be isolated by barriers and the only reason she could still sense Ichigo was her own affinity for barriers and her familiarity with Ichigo's presence. When they finally made it to the cathedral like room filled with shelves of misty glass orbs, Orihime brought their party to a halt.
"Are you sure this is the room Sirius-san is supposed to be in, Harry-kun?"
"Yes," Harry said empathetically, wanting to save his godfather and go back for Ichigo as soon as possible. Didn't Orihime want that too?
"He's not here," Orihime stated and Harry's face dropped in shock.
"No, NO! He can't be, can't be de─" Harry's voice cut out, terror gripping his heart. Not Sirius, not Sirius.
"I don't think he was here in the first place," Orihime said. A soul's power rose when confronted with danger. If Sirius had been tortured here, if he'd seen his death coming, there should be a substantial trace of his reiatsu left in the room and Orihime wasn't sensing that. Instead, there seemed to be a muffled presence coming from all the orbs and something else niggling at her senses…
"Very good," a voice drawled, causing the group to whirl around to a flash of light, too late to dodge the immobilizing spells they were hit with. "I didn't believe those Reapers when they said you'd be able to tell."
Malfoy, Harry wanted to curse when he recognized the voice of Lucius Malfoy, but couldn't, glaring as best he could at the masked Death Eaters from where he lay immobilized on the floor.
"Now then, Potter, in a moment we're going to unbind you. You will not run, you will not attack. You will do as I say or your friends are going to get hurt. If you still fail to comply, they will die," Lucius calmly instructed.
"Just Imperious the brat and be done with it," a female Death Eater whined.
"Unfortunately, while Crouch was undercover at Hogwarts, he taught Potter how to resist the Imperious Curse. It wouldn't do for him to slip our control like that and you know we can't use the others, Bellatrix."
The students would have gasped if they could, seeing as most were aware that the woman was the reason Neville's parents were in St. Mungo's. Orihime could feel the rage and fear coming from Neville at facing his parents not-quite-murderer.
"Your task, Potter, will be to grab a certain prophecy and hand it over to me," Lucius said, releasing Harry with a flick of his wand. The Boy-Who-Lived thought about trying something brave and reckless, but as he was released the other Death Eaters levitated the rest of the rescue party and Harry knew they would be cursed before he achieved anything. "Follow me, Potter."
Lucius led them through the Hall of Prophecies to the row marked 97, then down the row about halfway before stopping. "This one, Potter," he indicated, and Harry was surprised to find that it seemed to be addressed to Voldemort and himself.
Harry carefully picked up the glass orb, expecting something to happen, but nothing did.
"Good. Now hand it ov─"
The ceiling exploded above them, raining down debris, as the air thickened. A blast of air cleared the immediate vicinity of dust as well as knocking many prophecies off the shelves to shatter on the floor, ghostly figures arising from them to recite their snippets of the future. With the dust cloud removed, Harry and the rest could see Ichigo, skin white as bone and horn protruding from his head, pressuring a girl with a shield and a boy with a falchion using his own two blades, the larger of which has inexplicably turned white as well. No one but Orihime noticed the flash of golden light returning to her hairpin upon the ceiling's explosion.
Taking advantage of the distraction, Harry dropped the prophecy, letting it shatter like the rest, and started unbinding the others and running. The Death Eaters attempted to hex them again, but Orihime sent Tsubaki flying, splitting wands in two, and any attempts to physically attack them were easily stopped by her Santen Kesshun.
It was hard to run when the air was thick like water, but the Hogwarts students paid it no mind, determined to get out of there alive. They ignored the crashing rumble of shelves being pushed over, the shattering tinkle of the prophecy orbs breaking, the shrieks of pain and splattering splash of something liquid hitting the ground. This kind of fight was beyond them and they knew it. The DA was for fighting other wizards, a magic dueling club of sorts, not preparation for a clash of human-esque monsters like what was going on behind them.
Soon, though it felt like forever, the rescue party found itself back in the revolving room, unsure which of the unmarked doors was the way out, but desperate to find it because they could still hear the rumble of the super brawl they left behind and the Death Eaters could catch up any minute.
"We need to get out of here!" Hermione shrieked. She had seen the blood gushing from the wounds littering the two Ichigo was fighting and it was terrifying. "Which way?!"
To their surprise the room answered, flinging open a door that showed what they knew to be the path out of there, so they ran on. Upon reaching the Atrium, the party was brought to a halt. Not by the destruction wrought in the once magnificent chamber, the smashed fountain creating a growing puddle, the gashes rent by an ungodly knife splitting the marble floor, the hole that pierces down to the Department of Mysteries, if they had to guess.
No, what brings them to a halt is the figure waiting amongst the ruins: Lord Voldemort.
The battle wasn't exactly going well.
Ichigo knew he had the upper hand in power, but his opponents' teamwork and abilities were eating up that gap. Mayoshi Reiko and Seishiro, as the pair had introduced themselves and Ichigo barely paid attention to, had wasted no time upon seeing his hollowfication in releasing their zanpakutō. Those he paid more attention to, as a zanpakutō's name usually held a clue to its power.
The easy one to understand was Seishiro's Chikyō: any wound to Seishiro was opened up on Ichigo. The ritual to bring Ichigo under the falchion-shaped zanpakutō's power didn't matter, though Ichigo did briefly wonder about it. What did matter was that he was taking the damage he inflicted against his opponent along with the little hits the boy could score back against him. But he could handle that. Ichigo was no stranger to fighting at less than 100% and with his enormous reiryoku reserves pumping life through him and Blut Vene keeping him from bleeding out, it was a battle of attrition that Seishiro would lose.
Or at least one the boy should be losing.
The problem was Reiko's Shinka, if Ichigo had to guess. Reiko used her flower embossed shield well to cover her brother's openings and the shield was taking considerable damage from Ichigo's powerful swings. The problem was that his vision was starting to blur and he was having trouble staying upright, like back when he first fought Renji in the Soul Society. It didn't make any sense because Ichigo wasn't losing that much blood or coming off of major blood loss like back then, so he assumed it was the result of the girl's zanpakutō's power. Especially since it seemed to worsen every time she blocked him.
I suppose it doesn't really matter. Either way I'm losing ground from the disorientation, Ichigo reasoned.
The only reason the siblings hadn't managed to finish Ichigo off was that he simply was that tough. Reiko had to attack with kidō since her zanpakutō was a shield and the eishōhaki that allowed her to attack fast enough were too weak to do anything more than scratch Ichigo. Seishiro lacked the speed to get past Ichigo's guard, though he was slowly getting more hits and getting closer to striking something more vital as Ichigo lost his coordination. Meanwhile, Ichigo was compensating for his faltering coordination by putting more power into his attacks so he could do more damage when the ungainly attacks did connect. Their battlefield was definitely feeling the after-effects of such a tactic.
As another dust cloud was thrown up by a missed attack, Ichigo was surprised to feel a tug on his horn. His eyes quickly flickered up and spotted Tsubaki perched on his horn.
"Kinda busy here," he murmured at the fairy, staying hidden while trying to get a lock on his opponents.
"Everyone got caught in a trap down below."
"And you couldn't just take out the enemies?" Ichigo asked. He knew Orihime didn't like hurting others, but she was all they had down there and it wasn't like she had to kill them.
"They got immobilized by magic. I can't cut what's not physically there!" Tsubaki hissed back.
"Shit!" Ichigo cursed, mind racing for a fix. He wasn't close to taking the siblings down, at least not without bringing everything down on their heads (it was the main reason he hadn't used Getsuga Tenshō or Cero). Why did this stupid place have to be underground?! "Okay, I'll try to push the fight that way, but you'll have to guide me."
"Sure, just hurry!"
With his course of action decided, Ichigo charged out of the remnants of the dust cloud, leaping high and swinging down hard at where Seishiro was standing. Seishiro dodged, but that was fine. Ichigo's goal was to bust down to the next floor, which was exactly what happened. As soon as he was through, Ichigo set off, letting Tsubaki guide him towards the rest of the rescue party. Ichigo managed to drop down another floor before the twins realized he wasn't coming back up and that they'd have to pursue him.
Ichigo almost felt bad about the destruction left in their wake as he battled and busted his way down nine floors to where Orihime and the others were, but he didn't really have time to be apologetic as he had struggled more and more to hold off the coordinated duo. It was more a footnote than anything in his battle that crashing down to the rest of the rescue party's level provided the opportunity they needed to escape, but one that brought a small smirk to his lips none-the-less.
Who says I can't multi-task? Ichigo absently thought, slamming Seishiro through several bookshelves of glass orbs with a grunt as he felt the bruising impacts upon his own back. Now if I could just get one of them down, the other should be easy enough to take down to wrap this up.
"You'll have to do better than that if you want to pierce the guard of my Títere, Archer-san!"
Uryū just sighed at the taunt, if it could be called that. Cantrane Souza, as the arrancar had revealed while gloating, was more bark than bite. He talked big, but didn't have the strength to back it up, just an annoyingly versatile power.
It hadn't taken Cantrane long to release his resurrección, turning his chest and limbs into blocky, square affairs, thin in the upper areas and larger after the joint, with hooked claws on his hands, his mask turning into a sombrero of bone, all of it covered in the same fanciful splashes of color his mask had in his sealed state. The problem with Títere was that it allowed an exponential increase in the amount of string, or rather steel-like wires, that Cantrane could produce and use. The arrancar had wasted no time taking the fight into the forest where he could pull trees, branches, logs, and rocks into the path of Uryū's arrows. By itself, that wouldn't have been a problem. An increase in quality or quantity of arrows would have provided the piercing power to circumvent such obstacles. The problem was that that wasn't the only thing the strings were being used for. Cantrane had created a mesh weave cape that he pulled around to block Uryū's shots. It was hard to tell without getting close, but it seemed the cape's ability to neutralize Uryū's arrows was from the chainsaw-like movement of the strings and fine weave of the mesh cutting them into ineffective pieces. The other issue was all the wires Cantrane was laying about, tripping Uryū up if he wasn't paying close enough attention or weakening his arrows and warning Cantrane what direction Uryū was attacking from.
But it all told Uryū why the arrancar had avoided fighting Ichigo but been willing to engage the quincy. The strings were not durable enough to win in a battle of raw power. At best, they would have slowed Ichigo down and turned it into a battle of endurance, which Ichigo would win anyways with his monstrous reserves. Meanwhile, Uryū didn't exude the raw power of the substitute and possessed a decidedly less fierce presence in battle. The soon-to-be-unfortunate arrancar had failed to realize that Uryū didn't need much power personally as free reishi was at his command and that the calm of his presence was an indication of his collected, tactical fighting style in opposition to Ichigo's instinctive charges.
"What a pain," Uryū mumbled, dodging a cero and the wires lashing out to cut him as he reached into his pocket for a gintō.
Yoruichi came crashing down before Urahara, aiming a palm-heel strike at his face.
"Oh! Almost got me there," Urahara taunted as he swayed aside.
Yoruichi was quick to follow it with a punch using her other hand and grazes Urahara. Then came a flurry of blows which the shopkeeper just managed to keep up with, blocking and dodging, all the while measuring the smoothness of her movements and their speed. It seems victims suffer a slight dulling of reflexes and performance. The drop should allow more opportunities for a successful counter.
Urahara was brought out of his analysis when Shinji came down at him from above, almost splitting Urahara's head.
"My hat!" Urahara yelped as he clears the vizard's blade, a gash in his beloved hat to show for it.
Yoruichi and Shinji snarled at their friend and charged him, only to run face first into a red shield. Undeterred, they get up to charge him again, only to find that their prey has disappeared.
"My, my. How troublesome things have gotten. I was really hoping that this theory wouldn't be the right one," Urahara mumbled to himself. "I don't suppose you'll surrender quietly and give me back my friends," he called out to the factory at large.
"And disappoint my lord? Not on your life, you tacky shinigami," a young lady's voice responded.
"Tacky? Don't you think that's a little uncalled for?" Urahara returned, hoping to get a conversation going, even as he snuck around the factory in an attempt to hide from his controlled friends. I need to find out where she is, take her down. It's not easy in any way to handle two other captain class shinigami, whether running or fighting back, but at least they aren't going at him with their full strength.
"Trying to find me using my voice?" the fullbringer taunted. "It won't do you any good. They won't be released from my control if you knock me out."
"Did it not occur to you," Urahara responded after a moment, laying the finishing touches on his trap, "that I might just kill you? All remnants of a fullbringer's powers disappear upon death, you know."
"You're one of the 'good guys,' there's no way you'd kill me!" she shouted back, but Urahara can hear the doubt his words have placed in her.
"My dear," Urahara grunted as he blocked a punch from Yoruichi and reached into his coat, ignoring the struggling Shinji in his trap, "I've been accused of many things, being a 'good guy' is not one of them." He flashed the card he pulled out at Yoruichi and darted forward to plunge a syringe into Shinji's leg. "Usually, I'm called…"
An explosion of power occurred from where his voice was coming from.
"… a shady, plotting bastard," Urahara stated, from right behind her.
She whirled around, a knife in her hand, but Urahara easily knocked it out of her grasp, paying no mind to Yoruichi chasing after it in her Shunkō: Raiju Senkei: Shunryū Kokubyō Senkei. A quick flick of his blade surgically severed her tendons, leaving her to flop to the ground, bleeding from the precise cuts.
"I'm afraid you won't be controlling my friends anymore," Urahara said ominously. "Though it was a good attempt. Unfortunately for you, all those hollows you left behind gave me too much data. I knew you were controlling some of them with a fragment of your reiatsu and that the fragment attunes itself to the host for better control, like a power adapter mixed with a signal receiver. As for administering the fragment, it would either have to be direct contact with the victim or spread in a way that allows for the victim to naturally internalize it, like say a fine dust to be breathed in?" The girl stiffened and her eyes went wide. Bingo. "Of course, a certain amount has to be ingested to establish control, so the fact that I put on a filter shortly after arrival means you failed to control me."
"But I got your friends and they're just as strong as you. You should have tried to protect them too," she spat out.
"And tip my hand, letting you get away again? It wasn't necessary, as you can see from my dear Yoruichi-san," Urahara said as Yoruichi bounded up to them and batted at Urahara's coat. "Both Yoruichi-san and Hirako-san can effect changes in their reiatsu signatures, ones large enough to undo your control. So you see─"
Urahara's explanation was interrupted by a roar and a wave of hollow reiatsu washing over them, thick and heavy. A moment later, a large figure with a pharaoh's mask charged at them, tearing through the abandoned machinery to get to them.
"Oh dear," Urahara said, jumping away with the girl under his arm while Yoruichi jumped the other way, hissing at the hollow. "It seems I may have given Hirako-san a bit too much hollow stimulant."
The hollowfied Shinji took more swipes at Urahara, forcing him to retreat or let his friend kill the girl while he was out of control. An unexpected swipe sent Urahara and his passenger flying into a wall, rattling the girl and probably giving her a concussion, if the scientist had to guess.
Things have taken a turn for the worse, Urahara thought, though it's not beyond my expectations nor does it match the worst-case scenario. He ducked forward under swipe of Shinji's claws. I just need my cute little kitty-cat to help out and things should turn out nicely. Luckily, Yoruichi's electrified claws swiped across Shinji's enlarged hand, driving the vizard back as both parties hissed at each other.
"You've certainly caused a lot of trouble," Urahara mumbled at the bloodied and barely conscious fullbringer slung under his arm.
Translations: Katte -win, in request conjugation
Names of People and Powers:
Reiko & Seishiro Mayoshi (Kanji for Polite-Child & Quite-Castle Lost-Child) Reiko's release command: Mamoru, Shinka (Guard, Sleeping-Flower) Seishiro's release command: Utsusu, Chikyou (Copy, Blood-Mirror)
Cantrane (Khan-trah-neh) Souza's resurrección: String them up, Títere (Spanish for puppet)
Ella Tremaine's Fullbring: Queen Bee
Yes, I just did that. I bet you were all expecting Ichigo to fight Voldie. Well toooo bad 3s3 Orihime, I choose you! I hope I did okay with the OCs and how they can stand up to everyone, though I guess I kind of skimped on describing the fighting. Sorry.
Anywho, this should be wrapped up in another 2-3 chapters and in a more timely manner, hopefully (Imakenopromises!).