Title: That Which We Cannot See (WIP)
Author: Arinya aka Neopluto.
Notes: This story was conceived before episode 102 in the anime. There is not much emphasis on the Bounto as there is on the Arrancar. Please imagine (if you watched the anime), that the Bounto arc has passed with a little time between it and the upcoming Arrancar arc. Notes made in the manga are also part of the "universe" for this story. Japanese words and names are also used as sparingly as possible in order to lessen confusion. At this point, the only time you would see Japanese is for proper names and releasing of zanpaktous. If there are any glaring errors, feel free to email me about them.

Night was falling quickly in Sereitei. The tall buildings of the Pure Court of Souls cast long dark shadows, and a lone hell butterfly floated lighted to the outstretched finger of Ukitake Jyuushiro.

"A large host of Hollows near the Northern Gate?" he said to himself.

The setting sun make Ukitake's white hair flow like embers. He brushed a strand aside and let the hell butterfly go.

"Kiyone, Sentarou!"

Two blurs behind him turned into his Third Seat officers.

"Yes, Captain!" they barked in unison.

Ukitake turned around as Kiyone shot a dirty look under her closely-cropped brown hair to the shinigami kneeling beside her. He did the same. Ukitake bit back a small smile. The rivalry these two had would never cease to amuse him. But now, there were more important matters at hand.

"Dispatch a squad to the Northern Gate to clear out Hollows. It seems that they are posing a threat to the gatekeeper."

"Should we ask for backup from the Fifth Division?" asked Sentarou.

Ukitake thought for a second. The betrayal of Captain Aizen had emotionally scarred his Vice-Captain Hinamori Momo and rendered the Fifth Division useless. So instead the Commander-General decided that it would serve as a backup Division to all others while the matter of a new Captain and possibly a new Vice-Captain was dealt with.

He nodded to his officers who responded with curt bows and departed in a flurry of flash steps.

A large group of shinigami from the Fifth Division were gathered to be addressed by the officers from the Thirteeth. Sentarou and Kiyone were making sure that everyone was accounted for and stiffened to a sharp attention when their Captain came onto the scene.

"Members from the Fifth Division please meet the Hollows closest to the Gate while those from the Thirteenth Division go ahead to clear those Hollows that are approaching. Do not underestimate the strength of the Hollows and remember that unity is the best form of attack"

The shinigami acknowledged him loudly and set off to do as he said. He too kicked off the ground in a series of flash steps to oversee the effort. It always felt nice to move after being sick. He had been hit by another wave of blood-hacking coughs only a week ago and had recovered with the generous help of Unohana Retsu. To be able to breathe deeply was a god-given gift that he came to truly appreciate through his sickness. He gave a confident smile to one of his subordinates as he ran past them to meet the oncoming Hollows.

It was strange how peaceful everything seemed until they had exited the Gate. Suddenly the tell-tale white masks of the Hollows appeared all around them, and the ground shook with tremors. Shinigami unsheathed their swords and began to cut down Hollows as Divisions split. Ukitake watched his subordinates darted ahead and as those from the Third Squad were fighting hard here.

"Demon Art 33: Blue Fire, Crash Down!"

Ukitake turned his head just slightly as he crossed his blade with a Hollow. A bright blue cascade of lightning flashed to his left and destroyed a Hollow just as a shinigami flash-stepped through its remains. The Fifth Division was doing their job well and the Hollows near the Gate were thinning. Ukitake grunted as he defeated his Hollow and skipped ahead as well, cutting down smaller Hollows as he went past.

It seemed odd though, that as he went deeper into the surrounding forest the number of Hollows rose. He slashed at those that came too close to him and ignored the rest as he sought out the cause of this anomaly. He was buffeted by a strong wave of reiatsu and raised an arm to shield his face. The Hollows were all gathering here, towards a lone shinigami in the center of the clearing.

"You there!" he called out.

The woman, for he could see the shinigami's long black hair, seemed to not hear him. He took a breath to call out again before interfering himself, but his voice was drowned out in the resulting bang and flash.

"Bankai!"

Ukitake opened his eyes to see blazing concentric circles of yellow and orange surrounding the shinigami. She held a long naginata in her hand and as the Hollows rushed her from all directions she decimated them all, yellow flash after flash of explosions.

This shinigami had to be from the Fifth Division. He took it upon himself to know all those from his own Division. However he did not even feel as if he had ever seen this particular shinigami before. From his position he could make out her features to be quite plain. Her hair was tied up and wound into a loop or a bun at the back and the rest flew in the air like the tail of phoenix. Ukitake noticed his own hair wasn't quite sitting on his shoulders. She wasn't regulating her reitsu very well, or she was taking care to show its level off. The physical reaction from the force of her spirit was making even the branches of the trees sway back. He thought briefly of stopping her again, but the number of Hollows was becoming formidable. If he were to disturb her, who knew if she could keep up the precarious looking Bankai. It seemed as if she had been listening to his thoughts as the rings of light around her faded away and she destroyed the remaining Hollows. All of a sudden, Ukitake could not feel her reiatsu.

Again he tried calling out to her.

"Shinigami!" his voice rang out authoritatively.

She took one look at him and just when he thought she would approach, flash-stepped away with alarming speed. He stood, dumb-founded, then gave chase.

With the reiatsu gone and a head-start, he found it impossible to track the mystery shinigami. He stopped ontop of a roof, his brow furrowed. A shinigami who had achieved Bankai was one in very high demand. The power vacuum left by Aizen, Gin, and Tosen desperately needed filling. Aizen's Arrancar were already making regular trips into Sereitei, creating chaos and mayhem wherever they went, and the lack of three Captains as well as the functionality of three Divisions was creating enormous difficulties. The Commander-General had made an announcement before for all those who had achieved Bankai to step forward. No one except Vice-Captain Abarai Renji had. But even then it was thought best to keep him under Kuchiki Byakuya because of Abarai's lack of control emotionally with his Bankai.

Ukitake heaved a sigh and headed towards his private dwelling. He resolved to find the shinigami in the morning.