'King. We're 'ere.' My mind was slow to get going, which was new. I was used to being fully awake instantly because of the war.
'What do you mean? Where is "here"?'
'The second day of our false Bankai training with Yoruichi. The time-traveling device Kisuke made was successful in its objective.' I had no reason to doubt my zanpakuto, but I still had to check for myself. My senses spread out as far as I could get them to and I could feel everyone. It took me a moment and the help of Zangetsu to get myself under control. Uryu's reiryoku was worrisomely low, but then I remembered him mumbling something about a lens steal technique having taken his powers away once.
'Letz Stil. The incomplete Vollstandig. It works in the same fashion as our Final Getsuga Tensho did.'
'…There ain't a reas'n fer that, is there?' Shiro growled threateningly. There was no response, and soon I stopped hearing Shiro as well. Probably went deeper into my inner world to hunt him down. I finally opened my eyes, blue sky greeting me. Well, a fake sky. In my peripherals, I saw the brown rocks of Kisuke's training ground in the Seireitei. I grunted as I stood up and began stretching, feeling and hearing many of my joints popping in the process. I was wearing the clothes I had gotten from the Zero Squad, and Zangetsu was in their rightful places at my hip and back. A pair of arms wound around my neck as I felt a mouth press against my ear.
"I see you're finally awake, Berry-kun~" A sensual voice breathed. Clearly, Yoruichi expected me to turn as red as a certain fruit and stammer as I tried to get her off. I probably caught her off guard when I turned around in her grasp and hugged her desperately. I could feel her confusion as she moved her arms to properly return the hug.
"Ichigo? What's wrong?" It was well hidden, but I could hear the faintest traces of disappointment in her tone. She was probably sad I didn't freak out.
"I-I'll explain in a sec, just-I need this." I hadn't seen her in too long, and the news of her death was one of the most devastating blows I had taken throughout the war. I couldn't not tell Yoruichi the truth, even if Kisuke had gone back with me. While she couldn't understand why I was like this, she clearly understood I needed some sort of closure, as she softly rubbed my back. Finally done collecting myself and preparing for what I was about to say, I let go of the werecat and stood up straight. I stared firmly into her eyes and saw them widen by what she saw in my gaze.
"Let's sit down for this. We're both gonna need it." She seemed worried, but dropped down so she was sitting cross-legged anyway. I followed suit, making sure to remove my blades and rest them on the ground on either side of me.
"So, first things first: I'm not the Ichigo Kurosaki you were just training to use Bankai. I am Ichigo Kurosaki, and I did undergo your training, but I'm…a bit removed." She was clearly confused, but she motioned for me to continue. "I'm…I'm from the future. A little over 10 years." After saying this, I saw Yoruichi look me over, much closer this time before her eyes met mine once again.
"After I got Bankai, we stopped Rukia's execution. I just managed to beat Byakuya when Aizen stepped up and out of the shadows." Yoruichi's eyes hardened to a glare at his name. "He got the Hogyoku, which Kisuke had hidden inside of Rukia, before eventually kidnapping Orihime for her powers. Uryu, Chad, Rukia, Renji and I invaded his base in Hueco Mundo to get her back while he went out and attacked Karakura Town, which the Gotei 13 defended. After rescuing Orihime, I went up against Aizen, being the only person who hadn't seen his shikai. I ended up losing my powers once, but Kisuke helped me regain them. It took a while, but we eventually won. Then we were thrown into another war." My throat felt tight and my eyes burned as I got myself ready to continue.
"There was a secret group of Quincies in hiding, led by the most powerful Quincy to ever exist. They declared war with an assault that nearly killed half the Seireitei. At first, it was all we could do to not die. The Zero Squad got involved." I looked down at Zangetsu as I brushed my fingers along their blades. "They helped me find out my heritage, and unlock my true power. It was thanks to them that we turned the tide. Kisuke and I won." In the corner of my eye, I saw Yoruichi confused by my phrasing. Then it clicked, tears formed at the corner of her eyes, and she pulled me into a hug.
"I'm so sorry." She whispered guiltily into my ear. "You shouldn't have had to go through that. We shouldn't have made you."
"I wasn't forced. Everyone I cared about was in danger, no way was I gonna let them be." I mumbled into her shoulder. "I came back because I didn't get strong enough, fast enough to save everyone. I'm strong enough now. I'm not gonna let anyone die." She cradled my head at that.
"You're too young to carry the fate of the world on your shoulders." I smiled painfully.
"Not the first time you've told me that." I felt one of her fists clench the back of my shihakusho.
"Doesn't make it any less true." A moment of silence passed between us, and the hand Yoruichi had fisted in my clothes lifted.
"S-so," she sniffed, "You said you unlocked your true power?" I sighed, happy for the obvious change in subject.
"Yeah. You know my heritage, right?" She let go and we both sat up straight to look each other in the eyes.
"Yeah, your Mom's a Quincy that had a Hollow in her, and your Dad's a Captain." I rubbed the back of my head, I knew it was a nervous tick but never bothered to try to fix it.
"I, uh, kinda have the powers of all three?" Her face blanked and she slowly blinked.
"I have the powers of Shinigami, Hollow, and Quincy. Or, that's the power of my zanpakuto."
"I thought your zanpakuto had that energy slash power?"
"Getsuga Tenshou," I explained, "And that's just a small portion of what I can do. In my Shikai, I can use every basic power of all three races, like Kido, Ceroes, and the arrows. By the way, those arrows are called Heilig Pfeils. The only thing that's mine are the Getsugas, but those I technically got from Goatface."
"There are two forms, but Dad can't use the other one cause you need two swords for it."
"Got it. What about your Bankai? What can it do?"
"You don't need to know. There's only really three people, four if I let Aizen get that strong, that are strong enough for me to use my Bankai against, and one of them is the Head Captain." Her yellow eyes widened at that.
"Wow. You're that strong?" I rubbed the back of my head again.
"Zangetsu claims that our shikai is Bankai-level in terms of power, and I haven't seen anything that disproves that."
"Well, damn. Seems Kisuke and I underestimated how much of a powerhouse you could be. What about the new clothes? Looks good on ya."
"Oh, these? I got them from Senjumaru. Originally it was just armor, but then she got pissed that I kept on wrecking it in fights and make me a set that self-regenerates."
"Holy shit. Get anything else from the Zero Squad?" And my hand was rubbing the back of my head again.
"Yeah, about that…the entire Zero Squad trained me?" Once again, her face turned blank.
"Um, Senjumaru made my clothes, like I said, Nimaiya personally crafted my blades, Ichibe taught me the powers I could use and how to use them, Tenjirou healed me whenever I got banged up during training, and Kirio kept me topped up on reiryoku, as well as taught me how to control it." The Flash Goddess sat frozen in front of me, before she whistled lowly.
"No wonder you're so strong. I'm pretty sure anyone'll become a powerhouse with the Zero Squad training them."
"Yeah, Rukia, Renji, and Byakuya trained a little bit under the Zero Squad too. They didn't have to re-learn their move sets, so they didn't stay as long as I did. Rukia unlocked Bankai thanks to Ichibe, Renji got…his full Bankai, I guess? It's weird, I don't know how to explain it right. Byakuya learned how to use Senbonzakura better, which was great." The brown skinned beauty giggled.
"Of course. Renji and Rukia get something cool, but Bya-boo just learns how to use his zanpakuto better. All skill, and no flashiness makes a boring zanpakuto."
"I'm pretty sure there's an argument there about a wave of glowing pink swords in the shape of flower petals being flashy enough."
"Oh, you're just like him! Imagine what shapes he could make if he wanted to have some fun! He could make deadly balloon animals!" I snickered at the image of Byakuya forming a balloon dog out of Senbonzakura's blades and using it to fight. "See? You get it!"
"That'd be way too comedic to use in a real fight."
"Exactly! You wouldn't be able to take that seriously, and then BAM! You'd be cut to pieces!" I began outright laughing at Yoruichi's explanation.
"I think you've been spending too much time around Orihime."
"What do you mean? Sure, she's a bit airheaded, and I'm definitely never gonna eat her cooking, but her surprise tactics are top-notch!" I roared in laughter at the image of Yoruichi, ex-Captain of the Stealth Force and Goddess of Flash, getting tips in surprise tactics from Orihime. Yoruichi's cat-like grin was proudly displayed upon her face, and her eyes widened as her smile took a mischievous turn. "I nearly forgot, you're in your mid-20's. Didja finally get laid?" My laughter was cut short as I choked on my spit and my face burned. The werecat's eyes gleamed.
"Well? I ain't hearin' a no.~" She purred. "Who was it with? Orihime? Rukia? Me?~" My face grew increasingly hot the longer she talked, and I quickly turned away. I felt her hands ghost over my shoulders as she excitedly continued in my ear. "Ya still haven't said no~"
'Jus' tell 'er! She'll stop botherin' ya.'
'If he tells her, you know she will arrange for it to happen.'
'NEITHER OF YOU ARE HELPING!' Quickly making a decision for myself, which is probably going to be the wrong one with my track record, I turned to face Yoruichi.
"MY FIRST TIME WAS A THREESOME AND I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WITH WHO!" I screamed before flash-stepping to the other side of the training ground, though not fast enough to miss the excited and proud squeal of 'Way to go, Berry-kun!'
'You just made her more curious. Likely, also more determined to both learn of who it was and arrange for it to happen again.'
'SHUDDAP!' Old Mans' response was a heavy sigh.
'Changing the subject, since we have transported to previous Rukia's execution with our true powers, we must devise a way to go about things without alerting Aizen to our power.'
'What do you mean?'
'Originally, we just barely managed to learn Bankai in time, we were just barely strong enough to best Byakuya with it, and Aizen only revealed himself once the Hogyoku was in prime position for him to take. The Captains were scattered, distracted, and weakened, you were barely capable of standing, and no one else had sufficient strength to hinder his escape once he announced his plans. Currently, we are capable of matching any Captain save for the Head Captain with merely our Shikai, any use of our abilities will alert Aizen, and your false Shikai and its strength are recognized throughout the whole of the Seireitei.'
'Meaning people are gonna get suspicious just from seeing me like this.' I understood.
'But what can we do? It's not like we can go back to using the false powers.'
'…Well, maybe we can?'
'It might be our only option.'
'It aint an option!'
'We'll stop as soon as Aizen reveals himself?'
'Too damn long!'
'Hollow, we have no other choice.'
'YOU AIN'T THE ONE ABOUT TA GET SEALED, FUCKER!'
'He's right though, Shiro. I hate it as much as either of you, we'll only be suppressed throughout the fight with Byakuya and a little bit before and after. I don't plan on really keeping the whole 'from the future' thing a secret until after Aizen is dealt with, and we only need to so he comes out of the shadows.'
'You mean from the closet.' Shiro growled. If he was in an ok enough mood to insult someone's sexuality, then he was at least understanding of the situation.
'Thanks, Shiro. Sorry about this in advance.' He grunted in acknowledgement, and I mentally readied myself for another round of Yoruichi's teasing before going back to where I left her.
Rukia's execution would start in a few minutes. I calmed my breathing and steadied myself. Old Man Zangetsu just warned me that suppressing Shiro is essentially forcefully unbalancing my powers. I could feel Yoruichi staring at me in a combination of confusion and interest. I had informed her of what I was going to do in order to prevent Aizen from getting suspicious. My reiryoku went into freefall as Shiro was suppressed and I fell to a knee. The weight on my back shifted until it matched my false Shikai blade as the blade at my hip completely melted away.
'It is done.' Old Man confirmed.
'Now haul ass.' Shiro was close to seething, and I had to remind myself why I was suppressing my power. It took a few moments to get accustomed to my significantly weakened powers, but I sprinted to the exit of the cavern before shunpoing at my current fastest towards Sokyoku Hill. The sky turned orange as the Sokyoku was released from its seal. It screeched and dove at Rukia. I was in front of the raven-haired midget in an instant, with my hand holding the false blade of Zangetsu as the firebird slammed into it. There was no way that thing was as strong as a million zanpakuto. Sure, even the fake Zangetsu was powerful, but there was no way it could match a million zanpakuto. I looked over to Rukia, and had to restrain myself before I broke down. Thanks to Old Man Zangetsu feeding me memories, I smiled cockily.
"Hey." I greeted casually, as if I wasn't doing the impossible. I was used to doing the impossible anyway, so it wasn't too out of place. Rukia was frozen in shock. Then she began screaming.
'Oh, I remember this.'
'None of us noticed this last time: Why the fuck is the overgrown chicken just sittin there?'
'Interesting Question. Likely to provide an equally interesting answer should we ever find it.' Meanwhile, Rukia was still screaming.
"What's it going to take for you to finally realize?! You can't defeat my brother!" Shiro burst into laughter, and Old Man snorted. "He'll kill you for sure this time!" Shiro began laughing harder. "I'm not asking you or anyone else to rescue me! I'm resigned to my fate! GO AWAY!" With the reputation that thing got, how was she ignoring the fact that I stopped the Sokyoku with practically one hand? Hell, it was still-oh wait, it moved. I tilted my head to look at it as it reared back and screeched in rage. The pressure from the wave of sound was enough to make my weakened form stumble forward a step.
'Y'know, when it made its second charge, the womanizer and the sick guy stopped it with a seal thingy before it hit us. Maybe it was just holding back on the first hit and it was gonna go all out on the second strike?'
"ICHIGO!" Rukia screamed in worry as I faced the flaming chicken.
"A second strike won't make a difference" If I had my full power, at least.
"I don't care how confident you are, you'll never be able to stop it a second time!"
'We can stop it as many fucking times as we fucking want to, shortstack!'
"Enough already Ichigo, you've got to quit!" I didn't move. "Ichigo, please! You'll be torn to pieces!" Shiro scoffed
'Like we'd need to worry about an injury like that.'
'Outside of our complete Bankai, yes we would. When he can use neither his Rasotengai nor his high-speed regeneration, it would prove fatal.' The chicken rushed forward, and I readied to block a strike I knew wasn't coming. The chicken stopped as a thick brown rope wrapped around its neck, and the end that was capped off by a spearhead sank into the ground almost a hundred feet below. I didn't need to look to know Ukitake and Kyoraku were on the ground, each holding an artifact in order to break the Sokyoku. I heard the Shinigami falling into chaos below, but instead watched as the flaming chicken glowed brightly before exploding. Old Man Zangetsu fed me memories again, and I turned around to jump onto the platform holding Rukia up. I unsheathed the fake Zangetsu and positioned it to stab into the platform. Rukia looked up at me.
"Ichigo, what are you doing?"
"Isnt it obvious? I'm taking this stand down." Her eyes widened.
"That's crazy!" she screamed again. "Ichigo, you can't! You'll only end up killing us both!"
"Don't worry about it. Just shut up and watch." Please, at least shut up. I begged in my head as I stabbed the platform and shot some Reiryoku into it to blow it apart. It exploded, and I grabbed Rukia under my arm before she could fall. I rested the false blade on my shoulder as I began, not needing the Old Man's guidance for this bit.
"'Don't try to rescue me', you said. 'Just go home', you said. You know, sometimes you talk too much. Good thing I don't listen. Now this is the second-" 'Third.' "-time I've had to tell you this: I've come here to rescue you. Got it?" For a moment, the only sound was of the still falling splinters of the platform I had just broken.
"What a fool," the midget finally mumbled. "I'm not going to say thank you."
"I didn't expect you to." I don't need you to. I could faintly hear some of the Shinigami freaking out down below about the indestructible stand being destroyed.
'By this point, I think the Central 46 or whoever the fuck made this shit exaggerated it so no one would try to fight back.'
'Hollow, is something ailing you? You're displaying intelligence you haven't shown before today.'
'Fuck off, you sack 'o shit! I'm smart!' Not knowing what to do until Renji got here, I settled for death glaring Byakuya. Even though he got better over the years, he still had a stick up his ass that wasn't supposed to fit.
"Ichigo," Oh yeah, Rukia and I talked until Renji came. I looked down to meet her eyes, and I briefly wondered why she wasn't losing her shit over being carried like a puppy. "What are we supposed to do now? How can we possibly disappear with so many eyes watching us?"
Did-did she think I had a plan? I was now wondering why Rukia would ever think I came with a plan, especially when I first became a Shinigami. My first tactic for slaying a Gillian was to 'hit it 'til it died'.
"We make a run for it." I responded.
"How stupid! We'd never get away! Those are captains!"
'So? We can move faster than Yoruichi. They'd never be able to catch us if we decided to gun it.'
"Yeah, I know." I responded to both at the same time. "But we're not alone. So I need you to trust me." Rukia stared at me in disbelief and I felt something familiar closing in. Fucking finally.
"What was that?" the midget asked. The Hogyoku was probably fucking with her senses, I finally realized. No other reason for her to not recognize her best friend's energy signature.
"It's about time, Renji!" I yelled out. Renji burst into the clearing, covered in bandages and using Zabimaru for support. It was times like this that I understood why the zanpakuto didn't let him use the full power of his Bankai at first. If I was ever weak enough to have to brace against something in order to stand, Zangetsu would sooner materialize and throw me over his shoulder than allow me to use him like a walking stick.
"Renji!" Rukia cried, gaining the attention of the pineapple.
"Rukia!" The midget twisted in my grip like she'd be okay falling nearly 100 feet with no powers.
"Oh Renji, it's you! I'm so glad you're still alive!"
'We stop the fucking Sokyoku to save your ass and you scream at us, but when exaggeration personified limps up a hill you couldn't be happier?! Double standards much, midget?!'
"I knew you'd show up." I spoke up. Renji grinned like I couldn't have saved Rukia without him.
"What choice did I have? I couldn't just rely on you to save Rukia, could I?"
'WE JUST DID, YOU PIECE OF SHIT! FOR THE SECOND FUCKING TIME, NO LESS!'
'Hey, calm down. We can still throttle the midget at him, remember?'
'Do it harder this time. I want to bruise his ribs.'
"Alright, here ya go!" I lifted the raven haired woman over my head by the back of her kimono. She stiffened in my hand. "Ready~" Since I no longer was tense with the thought of this going wrong, I took the time to enjoy her panicked expression, as well as the mirrored one on Renji's face.
"W-wait, Ichigo," nervous fear had entered her voice as her body started shaking. "You don't really think you're going to-"
"Hey, hold on now!" Renji was wide eyed and sweating. It was wonderful to see. "You wouldn't dare-" I would dare over and over again.
"Look out below!" I couldn't wipe off the genuine smile on my face as I threw Rukia as hard as my weakened state could. Tears were flying out of Rukia's eyes as she shot through the air like a bullet, screaming at the top of her lungs the whole way down.
"YOU'RE INSANE!" Renji bellowed before Rukia's head crashed straight into the center of his chest. A trench was dug into the ground that went on for about 10 feet before the momentum could no longer push them. Rukia popped up first, face red and tears in the corner of her eyes. She was cradling the top of her head.
"Damn you, Ichigo!" She shouted. Renji popped up right after, and from what little I could see if it, I was pleased to see a bruise growing on his chest.
"Yeah, you idiot! What if I didn't catch her?!" I allowed myself to get serious.
"Take her and go!" I ordered. Neither moved for a moment, so I yelled again. "Don't just stand there, take her to safety! Take her far away from here! That's your duty! Protect her with your life!" Renji still stared for a moment like the dipshit he was. Then he finally decided to listen as he picked up Rukia and started running. I saw Omaeda, Chojiro, and Isane run after him after being ordered to. I shunpo'ed in front of them immediately. Seeing the blade on my shoulder, they all released their shikai's, but they didn't know I wasn't going to use mine. I stabbed the fake blade into the ground and used my strength-absurd, even by Shinigami standards-to punch straight through Omaeda's mace into his stomach. His feet barely had the time to lift off the ground before I rounded on Chojiro. I sent a mental apology to Yama before I uppercut the orange-skinned lieutenant hard enough to knock him out swiftly. Sending another apology, this time to Unohana, Isane was unconscious before she realized what happened. Knowing what was coming, I ripped the fake Zangetsu out of the ground just fast enough to block Senbonzakura. I mentally cussed. I was too slow in this state. I normally was fast enough to wait for Byakuya to attack. Still, I pretended as if I wasn't actually leagues more powerful than the head of the Kuchiki Clan.
"You're gonna have to do better than that if you're gonna get your sister back, Byakuya." You're also gonna need to get that light-post out of your ass. He narrowed his eyes as if he heard my inner monologue.
"Tell me why. Why won't you just give up? You keep trying to save Rukia again and again." I was too pissed at that to listen to what I had originally said, and instead growled.
"Aren't you her brother?! Why the fuck are you trying to kill her?! You should be protecting her!"
"Such a foolish question. Even if I did have the time to try and explain the principle to you, someone like you would never understand it."
"Someone like me doesn't need to! It's wrong!"
"It seems talking serves no purpose. Prepare to die." He focused his reiatsu into his blade in an attempt to overwhelm me. Luckily, even weakened, I had excessive amounts of reiatsu. I flooded my blade with bright blue energy, and the warring energies exploded, causing both Byakuya and I to slide back a few feet.
"There is only one path before me; I shall kill you, Ichigo Kurosaki, and then, once again, I will capture Rukia, and this time, I will execute her myself."
"I won't let you do that. That's the reason I'm here!" I roared before we dashed at each other again. My sword skills were awkward now that I was used to dual wielding, but my moves smoothened with every clash. My eyes narrowed as I focused on deflecting his strikes. While I had increased in skill greatly thanks to the Zero Squad, they had agreed with me that a berserker fighting style was most effective for my zanpakuto and their power. Since I couldn't currently use the power of Zangetsu, I had to partake in a battle of skill, and do my best to not get hit. After a particularly fast clash, Byakuya and I each shunpo'ed back. He seemed uncomfortably pleased.
"You have mastered the Flash Step." Oh, I get it. He doesn't want to admit I can actually fight. "But don't think that it will change your fate. It won't." He snarled.
"I didn't master Flash Step to save myself." I pointed the fake Zangetsu at him in challenge. "You want Rukia? You'll have to go through me. And your shikai isn't enough for that." 'King. His Bankai isn't enough for that.' "C'mon. I heard you earlier. You said you were gonna kill me first and then execute Rukia with your own hands."
"So I did." He acknowledged.
"And I'm not gonna let you do that. I'm gonna defeat you, Byakuya, if you don't take this seriously." Well, I defeat you anyway, but you don't need to know that. "I'm willing to risk everything. Are you?" he frowned. "You act as if there's some reason why it has to be this way. You say I wouldn't understand! You got that right! I cant even imagine what kind of monster would actually threaten to murder his own sister! As long as I'm here, you'll never say that about Rukia again!" my eyes glowed with Reiryoku. "Release your Bankai now, or I'll kill you where you stand." Originally, that had been a threat from a cocky teenager. Now it was a genuine warning thanks to the sheer amount of power I had.
"An empty threat. All your boasting and bragging will not change my mind, and it will not change Rukia's fate." He lifted Senbonzakura in his favored position to release his shikai. I narrowed my eyes. "Nor your own. You want my Bankai? Careful what you ask for. You will die, but it is a thousand years too soon for you to die by my bankai." The blade glowed pink, and the fake Zangetsu seared a violent blue in response. "Scatter, Senbonzakura." Both halves of Zangetsu and I snarled in unison. All three of us were insulted at the reminder from the nobleman about how weak we were at the time. Zangetsu unable to protect me, and me unable to protect my friends. I growled as I raised the cleaver and swung down. A violent wave of sheer destruction erupted out of the blade, and it tore past Byakuya, purposely only striking the outside of his arm. The pink petals fluttered to the ground as his focus disappeared, and his face was full of shock. The slash had carved a path into the ground, stopping a few feet past Byakuya. Pathetic. It felt good, knowing I was so much more powerful than what amounted to a scratch in the dirt. Blood dripped down the arm of the Kuchiki Clan Head into the shallow path I had created.
"Is this the true power of your zanpakuto, Ichigo Kurosaki?"
'Not even close' Zangetsu and I growled simultaneously in my head.
"That's right." I had to force the words out of my mouth. It felt insulting to describe something so weak as my signature. "When I swing my sword, all of my reiatsu is absorbed by my zanpakuto then released in a super high-density beam. That gives it an incredibly amplified swing. That's Zangetsu's power." I had to pause and calm down, lest I accidentally say 'fuck it' and let loose my true power. Old Man Zangetsu supplied memories to work from.
"You know, this is the first time I've used this attack in combat. Until just now I wasn't really sure how to fire it. Kisuke Urahara told me, 'I can only teach you the stances'. Now I finally know what he meant. He was telling me that there was only one who could use Zangetsu. And that was Zangetsu himself. The name of that attack…" It felt wrong to call something so weak by the name of something so powerful. "…is Getsuga Tensho." I allowed a moment for him to take it in.
"I'll say it once more, Byakuya Kuchiki. Attack me with your Bankai now, or I'm going to destroy you completely." He said nothing for a couple seconds.
"'Piercer of Heaven', huh? What a pretentious name."
'For something like that, I agree. But say that about a real one, and it's joining that light-post up your ass.' I agreed wholeheartedly with my Zanpakuto.
"All right then. Since you're not willing to take 'no' for an answer, then see this: behold, my Bankai." He held his sword in the familiar position he took whenever he entered Bankai, and dropped his sword through the ground. I pretended to be shocked. "Do not worry. This will be over swiftly." Oh, I want it to be.
"You'll turn to dust and disappear before another thought passes through your head." Like always when his Bankai is released, a dozen gigantic swords rose out of the ground behind him. "Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi." The blades exploded into petals, and I calmed myself down with the recollection that with the way this Byakuya used his Bankai, it might as well have been just a bigger version of his shikai, which was a hilarious thought. A Bankai is so much more powerful and effective than a shikai ever could be, it was sad that Byakuya originally perverted his so much as to treat it like his shikai. I grabbed the false Zangetsu and ran as what amounted to a million flying swords came at me like the world's deadliest tidal wave. I allowed myself to get in the middle of a trap and half-heartedly flung a fake Getsuga before I was overwhelmed by the petal-shaped blades.
"Think of Senbonzakura like this," the nobleman began to monologue. "A relentless barrage from all angles by billions of blades attacking simultaneously. The abilities of your zanpakuto are more than I imagined." 'You could never hope to take our true power on.' Came Shiro's growl. Only when the hollow was truly pissed did he forget to cuss. "However, your attacks are far too broad and clumsy.
You could never evade the nimble assault of Senbonzakura."
'I can name so many ways why I don't care.'
"Yeah, well, you talk too much." I began.
'Are you ready?'
'To rip his head off? Yes.'
'For the fake Bankai.'
"I said I'd beat you. If shikai isn't enough, I'll go higher."
"That arrogant mouth of yours is going to be the death of you. You talk as if you already achieved Bankai level." 'We did a long time ago, and we don't need it against you.'
"Yeah, you catch on pretty quickly, Byakuya." I shifted into my ready stance for activating my false Bankai. My feet were set shoulder width apart, and the fake Zangetsu was held out in front of me, with my left hand supporting my arm. The cloth that always hung at the bottom of the hilt automatically wrapped around my arm as my reiatsu skyrocketed, screaming to climb up to its true levels but being forcefully prevented from doing so.
"Ban-kai!" My reiatsu exploded outward, powerful enough even when weakened to create a hurricane. With a single, careless slash, I cleared the dust away from the battlefield, revealing my false Bankai to Byakuya. It felt kind of nostalgic, to wear the overcoat again, and to hold the midnight black blade in my hand one more time. Thanks to the head of the Kuchiki Clan being stunned from my release, I analyzed myself, to find an incredible revelation. I always wondered why my fake Bankai blade was black, why all my wounds healed when I released it, and why I was able to use my hollow powers most freely in Bankai. It seemed the simple act of entering Bankai, the truest and most powerful form of the relationship between Shinigami and Zanpakuto, was enough to loosen the seal my Quincy powers had over my Hollow. The blade was black because Shiro's blade was, my wounds healed because of his high-speed regeneration, and I had the easiest access to my hollow powers because it was when the seal was at its weakest. That also explained why the more often and longer I was in Bankai, the easier to use and more powerful my Hollow Mask had become. "Tensa Zangetsu."
'…You just now realize this?!'
'Shut up.' Byakuya finally came out of his shock enough to speak.
"So…that's it? That little weapon-" 'Fuck you.' "-that's your Bankai?" he seemed flabbergasted. "It looks just like a regular zanpakuto. Now I can see: this is no different than your childish display earlier." His eyes narrowed in rage. "What it comes down to is the fact that you enjoy treading on those things we hold sacred. What you need is to be taught a lesson. I plan on showing you what happens to immature brats who try to insult our honor." Senbonzakura rose up like a flood from behind him straight at me. It was just as easy now as it had been then to shunpo past the blades and in front of him, the point of Zangetsu's blade just barely breaking through the skin of the hollow of his neck. He froze in shock.
"You wanna talk about pride?" I began. "Your so-called 'honor' demands that you kill Rukia. Takes a lot of 'honor' to kill your own sister, I assume. If that's the kind of pride and honor you're talking about, you can be damn well sure that I'm gonna insult it!" I jumped back. This had to go on until Byakuya activated Senkei. Old Man was right, Aizen wouldn't reveal himself unless everyone he perceived as a strong enough to be a nuisance was unable to be one, and Byakuya counted. I refocused on the Captain I was fighting, to see him looking confused with a hand gently placed against where Zangetsu was previously.
"Why? Why did you take the point of your sword away from my throat?" For some reason, according to my memories, I kinda just shut up here. "Well? Answer me." I didn't actually know the answer, so I remained silent.
"Arrogance destroys the footholds of victory." Wow, it was like he was reciting something from a book. "That move of yours is not Bankai, and a lowly Ryoka could never attain Bankai. It's inconceivable." Senbonzakura began to glow in preparation to move. "With this attack,you will regret not slitting my throat when you had the chance. A miracle only happens once. Your luck has run out, boy." I distinctly recall performing a great many things others called miracles, which now included going back in time. Pink petals blurred together as they launched themselves at me, and I immediately began dodging them at my fastest in this form. Regularly, the petals would surround me in a way someone slower would deem it impossible to escape, only for me to weave around them without being touched.
'Begin slowing now. This is when you began to get overwhelmed by your power.'
'Understood. Thanks for the reminder.' It was difficult, but with the help of the Old Man, I began to slow myself steadily in a way where someone would think I didn't notice it. 'This is taking too long. I need to get him to use the second level of his Bankai.'
'Taunt 'im.' Shiro recommended. Going with it, I began to shunpo in a circle around Byakuya, fast enough that my afterimages were indistinguishable from myself.
"You haven't hit me since I released my Bankai you know." I announced. "Am I going too slow? I can go faster as soon as you give the word."
"Don't get too cocky." He snapped, finally resorting to his hands. It was good, proved he was starting to get desperate. I dodged a few more times, purposefully ending up in the air and surrounded completely by Senbonzakura. Every petal came at me at once, and I deflected them all with the speed my false Bankai was known for. Not as fast as Yoruichi, but firmly between her and Soi Fon in terms of speed. Once I deflected all of the petals, I realized I had the perfect opportunity to push the elder Kuchiki into using Senkei.
"You said a miracle only happens once, right?!" I asked before shunpoing behind Byakuya, Zangetsu poised to strike. "Then what's this?!" He spun around as I stabbed forth, grabbing the blade so as to avoid being impaled. His face shifted into a dark glare.
"I see. By focusing all the fighting power of the Bankai in that small blade, that Bankai gives you incredible size combined with its intensity allows you to fight at incredible speeds. Even I have to admit such power is impressive." He readjusted his grip on my blade. "Very well then. There is nothing left for me to do but completely crush that power!" His reiatsu skyrocketed, and I mentally sighed in relief.
'Finally, you use the second level of your Bankai.' He and I separated as he prepared Senkei.
"Watch carefully, Ichigo Kurosaki." He began as his reiatsu flickered about his form.
'What is it with people fighting me and saying my full name before they let loose an attack they think is gonna kill me?'
'Dunno, but if people keep doin' it, then it'll be a great warning sign.' Byakuya's reiatsu shot into the sky before forming the dome I knew was coming.
"What you see is what happens when I abandon all defense and risk everything to kill my enemy. This is the true form of Senbonzakura."
'It's great an' all that yer makin' it all ominous 'n shit, but ya think it's smart to let yer opponent know ya aint got no defense in this form?'
'Wise advice.' The dome bled to a dark blue, and the petals of Senbonzakura formed into the blades that floated along the walls of the dome.
"Senkei Senbonzakura Kageyoshi." Byakuya began walking forward as he continued. "Do not worry. These swords simply mark your funeral procession. The thousand swords around you will not attack you at once."
'Y'know, fer such a smart guy, how did he not think ta try usin' all 'o the swords at once before Ichibe told 'im about it?'
'Y'know, I'm with the Old Man here. How are you so smart today?'
'Fuck off. Both 'o ya.' Byakuya kept talking, obvious to my inner conversation.
"This Senkei is the form I show only to those special few enemies," a sword dropped into his hand, its glow fading away to reveal the sealed form of the sword, "who are truly deserving of my vow to kill them with my own hands. You are only the second to ever see it."
"Flattered." Despite how carelessly I said it, I was being truthful. As he was currently, this was his way of saying he had respect for me. I flared my reiatsu, and he flared his in response.
"Here I come, Ichigo Kurosaki."
Yo, I'm going to hopefully be posting more frequently and regularly. As much as I want to, I can't state a schedule or even a guarantee that I'll be more frequent in my posting. For this story specifically, I'm drawing inspiration from Reign of Rayne's 'Rewind'.