"An experiment? Where do you think this is, a lab?" Askin spat on the ground in contempt, eyes carefully sizing up the new opponent before him. The other one was blown away, and his Deathdealing would ensure that she wouldn't begetting up in the long term unless his Deathdealing was canceled.

"…" Szayelaporro did not answer, rather he pushed up the square wire frame glasses further up the bridge of his nose and let out a tired breath.

"Hey, the hell aren't you answering for?" A tick mark formed over Askin's features; one foot planted in front of him as he leaned forward with his lips sneered up like a common thug. "You looking down on me?!"

"Does one talk with a lab rat?"

Askin blinked at the smooth flow of Szayelaporro's voice.

"Oooh, that one actually hurt. You wound me," Askin grimaced before shaking his head and shrugging, assuming a leisurely stance.

Szayelaporro merely craned his chin, a scoff escaping his mouth. He was a scientist, his observational ability and analytical prowess uncontested by no one else but Aizen in Hueco Mundo. Quirking his brow, this time he spoke to Askin with condescension for trying to pull such low-level psychological games with him.

"Are you trying to buy time?"

For his part, Askin was unphased, his confidence didn't stem from an act, but was genuine. He was part of Yhwach's upper echelon. He was no push over, just that this personality was a bit more eccentric than others.

"Meh, one minute to be exact," Askin readily admitted before blinking owlishly. "But I didn't expect it to be going this well." Askin scrutinized Szayelaporro to see if he was being for real.

"Is that why you were so talkative while fighting my colleague? Fascinating." Szayelaporro replied, a finger tapping beneath his chin. He made no indication of concern, or any action that warranted Askin to dodge or block.

Szayelaporro sort of just stood there, a gleam in his eyes.

"Woah woah, are you actually going to stand there and wait?" Askin felt that the situation was surreal. It was the first time he'd met such an opponent who didn't try to blast him for his flippancy but would choose to accommodate him.

Szayelaporro grunted in response. His intentions were clear enough in that he'd even taken out a notebook and was idly jotting down notes.

Askin felt his face twitching, but didn't argue against it. He was already in the process of analyzing Szayelaporro's spiritual energy that comprised his earlier cero. Through Deathdealing, Askin would obtain complete immunity from Szayelaporro's energy attacks in a minute's time. Who was he to complain if his opponent wished to handicap himself?

Three. Two. One.

Bingo. The minute was over.

"Well, I'm not sure whether I should thank you or not, but I might as well humour you for humouring me," Askin chortled, hands languidly placing themselves onto his sides. He puffed his chest up, eyes narrowed. "Go ahead. Give it your best sho-"

Boom!

A pink cero enveloped Askin's head, continuing on and incinerating the debris behind him. However, other than his hair being in disarray, Askin suffered no other damage whatsoever.

"Fuck! You didn't even let me finish my-"

"Oh, have you gained resistance to my energy type?" Szayelaporro observed and simply jotted down more notes on the pad in his hands. "Well then, shall we move on?"

Frankly, Askin didn't know how to feel about how this 'fight' was going. It was like his usual levity wasn't going to crack this bastard's façade of calm. "Move on? You mean to you dying? I can more than get on board with that."

Szayelaporro paid no mind to Askin running his mouth. Instead, Szayelaporro drew his sword, spiritual energy converging around him in the form of heated light mist. His shoulder length pink hair with his bangs swept up to the side were blown back, slim features glowing.

"Sip," Szayelaporro intoned, his sword congealing towards his mouth before he swallowed it whole. "Fornicarás."

The lower half of Szayelaporro's body grew a multitude of purple tentacles reminiscent of a sea anemone. His feet extended from under the tentacles, which were replaced by a layered dress-like garment. His upper torso shifted into a segmented and form-fitting gray garment with white sleeves extending from the elbow and down to a wide opening at the wrist. The interior of the garment was purple.

Three small, dark extensions span upward from his elbows, while four long, dark purple strands resembling tear drops hung from the underside of the sleeve itself. His hands became pale, and his fingertips became slightly elongated and purple. Various purple drop-like strands now adorned his hair while his Hollow mask takes the form of a headdress that forms a thin band across his forehead. The headdress resembled a pair of "glasses" which were attached on either side of his head by fan-like coverings. Purple markings covered his left eye, taking the shape of four lines on the top and bottom. On his back were four large gray branch structures, two on each side that form a shape similar to the wings of a butterfly. Each branch has twelve equally-spaced red strands that resemble droplets.

The only other addition to Szayelaporro's released state was a tinted lens on his right eye. This was curtesy of the fact that the abundant spiritual energy of the Vasto of White's lands had enabled him to evolve to a Vasto Lorde prior to becoming an Arrancar. With this lens came enhanced abilities and another unique skill.

"Perfect Copy," Szayelaporro intoned, the lens of his right eyes flickering before the buds growing over his wings began to balloon and expunge a purple mass.

At first, Askin thought nothing of it until the steam surrounding the mass cleared and revealed what was beneath.

"Oi oi oi! Is that another me?!" Askin felt his lip twitch, a finger pointing in exasperation.

"A better looking one, clearly." Szayelaporro muttered, having changed Askin's pompadour style to a swept down straight.

"Excuse me!"

Szayelaporro ignored Askin.

Indeed. What Szayelaporro had produced was an exact replica of Askin, perfect in that it was no longer just a 'doll' to be controlled, but had its own ability to act independent in battle. As for its power, it wasn't known as a perfect copy without reas-

"Oi oi oi! Why does he look so ugly?!" The copy of Askin spoke, raising his middle finger at the original.

"The hell you say!" Askin mimicked his copy while Szayelaporro felt as if he'd made his first miscalculation.

Prior to his evolution into a Vasto Lorde, his created copies didn't have their original's personality, but perfect, did indeed mean perfect.

"You're just jealous that you don't have half my style!"

"Did you look in a mirror!? I am you!"

Perhaps this was just their way of battle, but Oh God.

Szayelaporro massaged his temples. There were two loudmouths. He grew impatient. "Continue the experiment. Attack. I need to observe more-"

"I don't want to…" Askin's copy interjected, his hand raised while both Szayelaporro and Askin stared at him; one in dumbfoundment, the other pointing and laughing in ridicule.

"Ha! At least he's sensible!" Askin grinned in amusement. "Tell you what, other me, I'll offer you an honorary position as second-best looking lack-"

"Gift Bad!"

"…!"

A very familiar attack was released towards Askin in the midst of Askin's proposal. It was completely in line with Askin's character such that Askin couldn't even fault his copy especially when…he was planning to do the same as well.

However, the appearance of a perfect look-alike couldn't throw Askin off as much as what just happened.

The ground instantly purpled, Askin hastily jumping away lest he get caught in it. He knew full well the scope of what would happen if he'd been anymore careless. B-But that should be impossible!

Askin shut his mouth, the way he regarded Szayelaporro growing somewhat guarded. "You…copied my Deathdealing? That's not possible."

"Then why not test it for yourself?" Szayelaporro let a small smile come over his face. The more ability he could observe Askin reveal, the more he'd be able to fine tune his created copies.

From Szayelaporro's back, several more droplets expanded and produced several more copies.

Askin hardened his features. If each had his personality and his power, that would mean that they may also possess his intellect and battle awareness. Suddenly, he could no longer take the situation lightly- especially when he came to a realization.

The spiritual energy of the clones produced didn't match Szayelaporro's spiritual energy, but that of his own. Then didn't that mean if he created resistance towards himself, it would only harm him?

Askin grimaced. He was no scientist, and trying to process the mechanics behind things weren't his forte.

Still, no one knew himself better him. Clones or not, it wouldn't be enough to take him down, and this was before he'd even activated his Shrift. Then again, what if the clones could do the same?

Askin shuddered, but didn't lose his confidence. "If you think this is enough to defeat me, then you really are underestimating me," he warned, only to be left speechless.

"Who said I planned on defeating you?" Szayelaporro answered.

Suddenly, it all clicked as Askin's focus snapped up towards the main battle still occurring up high.

Askin's copies quickly blocked him.

"Nugh uh," Szayelaporro shook his index finger. "The experiment is not yet over."

"You bastard…" Askin's features cooled, his flippancy fading into solemness.

"That's right. I only need to keep you here until my King topples yours." Szayelaporro had no qualms playing dirty. He was never much of a fighter anyway. "Then…checkmate and a new research material."


Spiritual energy exploded in terrifying bursts of energy that rippled across the battlefield. Sands were swept away, blades and debris, scattered across the vast dunes, and yet still the storms raged.

Clang.

Intermittent flashes of light.

Clang.

Grating sparks showering down like rain.

Clang.

Space fractures forming upon collision.

Clang!

Clothes fluttered, swept back and forth by violent winds in the midst of clash between titans among souls.

"The world gathers upon my finger tips, and thus shall it be." Yhwach swept his arm out, the sword of spiritual energy in his grip cutting a line across the horizon and splitting the clouds. "This is the order, absolute! The law of the world created and born anew beyond the shackles of a supposed world order! My dominion stands here!"

Cold steel answered in tandem, clashing against a sword of spiritual energy to reveal an unfeeling gaze of iron and flames.

"Have withstood pain to create thousands of swords…This world is one in which these hands can never hold anything…a prayer beyond time."

"You," Yhwach gnashed his teeth. Spatial distortion propagated out, intent of enveloping and consuming the space he resided within. "Usurper!"

Yhwach put strength into his group, and rebuffed Shirou who was before him, sending him flying away, but not without throwing a spear of crimson death.

The skies shuddered, shockwaves roaring through the heavens.

At this level, it was no longer just a battle of wills, but a clashing of worlds to usurp the laws and principles of the battlefield.

A spear that can render a wound unhealable is based on properties it enacts within the reality around it. If that reality changes such that the principles that enable the spear's ability no longer exist, then it becomes a normal spear.

A clang echoed as Yhwach warped space and wrestled control of laws to negate the effects of the red spear intent on piercing him. His world born within the space rejected the spear's properties.

-Unknown to death, nor known to life.

"Stab and Pierce!"

However, in the next instant, the warped space met resistance from a ring of fire trying to usurp back its authority in this land of unlimited blades.

Damage taken in this clashing was solely dependent on who's influence overpowered the other in each mutual exchange…and Shirou was not fighting alone.

"Tch," Yhwach clicked his tongue and dodged.

The sound of cracking glass echoing out to reveal that the spear was not actually a spear but a twisting arrow.

"Caladbolg!"

A ball of fire engulfed the horizon, blazing air shooting up into a towering cone before dispersing.

"Your trickery means nothing in the face of the power of laws." Yhwach grimaced towards a fleeting figure existing within the bounds of reality and illusion.

"Is a God getting flustered?" Was the only reply.

Yhwach gritted his teeth and fired an arrow as the eyes of over his blackened faze focused on the illusive figure. However, even that shadow sniped down by Yhwach's attack was nothing more than a reflection.

"Valkyrie!" Yhwach called, more than aware of the proximity of one of his upper echelons.

Shirou perked up just as he intended to capitalize on the opening Aizen had created. His body quickly shifted to the right as his senses warned him of an attack.

"Miracle slash!"

A man sailed through the air with sword in hand despite the sheer impossibility of landing an attack on Shirou that he had already seen coming.

No matter how odd Shirou found it, in the end, it was failed attempt even still.

"Tch," Yhwach clicked his tongue as he noticed an axe smash against the side of the man and send him flying back.

By Shirou, Baraggan appeared, hand outstretched as his axe returned to his grip.

"To ignore this King, your travesty will not go unpunished," Baraggan scoffed, not even turning to address Shirou who was near him.

"Baraggan-"

"Save it, fool," Baraggan snorted, and said not a word before pursing Gerrard Valkyrie. "Focus on your own prey."

Shirou shut his mouth and shook his head wryly before Baraggan took off in pursuit of his query.

The two of them had come a long way.

/-/

Careening through the sky, dirt and rubble were crushed into fine dust upon impact of the man who'd tried to strike at Shirou. This man was known as Gerard Valkyrie, M-the Miracle.

Gerard was a tall and broad muscled man. He had light blonde shoulder-length hair, and pupil-less eyes that peaked through the holes of his visor. A winged helmet was adorned over his head, and white cloak was fastened at the front with three buttons and a dark red Hagal rune on the left-hand side. Underneath the cloak, was a red cape held by a pin on both shoulders while gauntlets were equipped on either arm. Black pants with a white X-shaped belt and disc-shaped buckle, and white shin guards with discs on his kneecaps were worn over his robust legs.

"Ho, a good blow," Gerard dusted himself off, no visible damage on him as he turned his focus on Baraggan who approached. "But it's not enough to put down one such as I!"

No reply, rather the dark hollow sockets of Baraggan's skull seemed to flicker with red light.

"Did you not understand?" Gerard grinned boisterously. "A skeleton's fragile arms cannot hope to halt a strike from my blade! Stand aside, you are not my match. In a fair duel, not even a miracle would allow you to defeat me!"

Again, no answer. Baraggan steadily approached, his form different from before. Dark miasma leaked from his every limb, enshrouding him in full.

"Do you know when the phenomenon known as a "miracle" occurs?" Unperturbed, Gerard continued his tirade. "If a miracle were to occur at an ordinary moment nobody would think of it as such. 'Oh, hey.' 'You were pretty lucky there.' 'Strange things do happen.' That's all they'd think."

"Time is the age of desolation…" Baraggan muttered, ignoring all else as he focused inward.

"However, the less likely an outcome, the greater the miracle! That is a miracle!"

"Time is the all-consuming reaper."

"If the chance of victory is but a mere fraction of a percent, then a miracle will arise!"

Without warning, a wave of miasma spilled out towards Gerard who merely raised an arm to block, a field of spiritual energy pushing forward. In a battle between spiritual beings, it's often said that it's a clashing of spiritual pressure, and Gerard was more than confident. However, this wasn't the case in this instance.

The field of spiritual energy acting as a shield melted, the miasma coming into contact with the fingers of Gerard's outstretched arm that quickly to peel. Skin withered and flaked, bones fading into ash.

"W-What?" Gerard stared at his corroding arm in sheer confusion.

"Fool," Baraggan's voice echoed, an ominous baritone in the approaching haze. "Did you not know? Your version of a miracle is only a miracle if a chance exists."

-Resurrección Segundo Etapa.

"A scenario without a chance is not called a miracle, but a death sentence."

-Grand King of Skulls.

/-/

Back in the skies up high, Yhwach was frowning heavily, features steadily twisting.

Thunder rumbled, reverberating with the furor of a ferocious storm, and yet to no avail. This battle was at its stalemate, neither gaining much over the other, and both Yhwach and Shirou knew this.

Something needed to change. Something had to be done, and Shirou already understood this principle, but had been hesitant to put the full weight of what was required on his partner's shoulders.

"Aizen-"

"Save it." Shirou was immediately interrupted. Aizen was no fool and could infer what was likely required of him. "You have a way that needs time, don't you?"

"…"

Silence was enough of an answer. More importantly, it was best not to discuss any detailed plans with Yhwach in earshot.

"Whatever that you think that you can do against me will surely fail. I need only wait until one of you exhausts yourselves before ending this farce," Yhwach warned, the area around him rife with black shadows.

"Just get on with it," Aizen suddenly materialized from his elusive form, chastising Shirou for his indecision. Sweat matted Aizen's brows, and his hands were shaking from fatigue, but his expression had never looked so alive. "You may not know, but my confidence does not lie in my illusions, but through my power."

A laugh escaped Yhwach's lips as he inferred that Aizen was going to try and fight him on his own, but Shirou was different. He didn't laugh, but instead chose to nod and distance himself away in preparation.

Lightning struck before the reverberations of an ensuing clash once more resounded, this time with only Aizen alone to carry the flag of victory.

Time was of the essences, and Aizen was practically holding on against the force of Yhwach's authority over the world by virtue of the Hogyoku.

Shirou would never let such efforts go in vain.

What needed to be done, would be done. He'd make sure of it.

Shutting his eyes as be braced himself from the shockwaves before him, he knelt on a knee and reached out for something elusive. His Zanpakuto answered.

"La Armeria: Sequence One," the words left his lips, sound growing muted to his ears besides the pulsing of his blood through his veins.

What he needed was different from known convention.

"Set. Lock. Initialize."

What he needed was something to circumvent the supreme properties known as 'laws' in order to reach a core of 'karma' to be struck.

"Trigger. On."

What he needed; the armory knew it did not have. Yet so what?

"Heat. Set. An anvil of dawn."

In his hands, a hammer formed. By his feet, an illusory station of castings and smolder irons took shape and form.

If the weapon he needed did not exist, then right here, right now.

He'd make it.

A sword that could sever fate beyond the omnipotence of laws.

Shirou's eyes opened in concentration, a massive build up of spiritual energy surrounding him.

It wasn't Ea.

Nor the Sword that Shines at the World's End…but all the same.

He would shatter the aspirations of a reality in which no one was content to live within.

A Zanpakuto would sing the tune of its inception.

"Gran Forja de Acero." (Grand Forge of Steel)


Thanks for reading, and thanks to my newest patrons: Dragon XRL, Jack D, and Supphaken!

Sorry for smaller updates as of late. A big project is happening in my current job company and things are getting a bit hectic that I have to work on things outside office hours on my laptop. It shouldn't be like this for much longer though since my employer said it will calm down by the 21 or 23rd of May. Until then, I'll be doing my best to maintain a steady update schedule and write as much as I can per chapter.

Next update: TBA

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