Chapter 32: He Doesn't Like that Nickname
It wasn't the nickname. Not really. Sure, the nickname by itself would have been enough to trigger a reaction, but not the one that actually happened. It would have caused something much smaller, much more human. No, the nickname was a cause, but it wasn't the cause.
The real cause was the voice.
Yammy had a bad voice. A big, stupid voice that sounded like someone had found a particularly slow-witted donkey and somehow imbued it with the power to speak. He wasn't even saying 'Shiro-chan' in anything resembling a mocking tone, but that hardly mattered simply by virtue of the fact that the mockery was implied simply by his very voice itself. Even though all he said was 'shiro-chan', what Hitsugaya heard was every single insult that had ever been leveled in his direction over the course of his entire life, all rolled up into a ball and shot directly into his forehead, and all of it done by a chorus of big, stupid speaking donkeys that were all constantly braying 'shiro-chan, shiro-chan, shiro-chan!'.
He did not take this well.
When it began, it began suddenly. Ulquiorra was probably the most surprised, by virtue of being the only one paying attention, but it should go without saying that Yammy was the first to fall.
"MY!" Hitsugaya shouted.
The wave of ice flowed across the landscape of Hueco Mundo like a living thing, tearing through the sands and actually causing frost to form on outcroppings of rock that were not even remotely near it. It slammed into Yammy like a runaway freight train, and although he managed to raise his hands to defend, he was still pushed backwards relentlessly, his planted feet digging a trail in the earth as he vainly tried to halt his backwards progress.
This was not his main problem, however. His main problem was when the wave stopped, he tried to remove his defending limbs… and found he couldn't. They were frozen in place, totally immovable.
Hitsugaya flash-stepped next to him and helped the beleaguered Espada by helping him remove his hands. Yammy was, strangely, not appreciative of this, possibly because he had been attempting to remove his hands from the ice, and Hitsugaya had thoughtfully decided to help by removing them from his arms.
Yammy, his face contorted in mindless rage, attacked madly. If he couldn't strike with his sword, or his arms, then he'd beat the insolent Shinigami to death with the stumps, or simply bite his head off. As long as he died.
He didn't die. Quite the opposite, in fact.
For the second time, a wave of ice tore through Hueco Mundo, but this time it struck Yammy full in the chest from below, slamming him upwards. When it finally stopped growing, it left the giant hanging limply inside a frozen pillar like a fly trapped in amber.
By this point, certain of the other Espada had recognized that things were beginning to occur, and they had begun taking measures against it.
Barragan had been closest, his weapon securely in hand. Unfortunately, this also meant that he was the next target. The ice, snapping like a serpent, struck at his axe, freezing the weapon solid and working its way up most of his arm in the same instant.
He considered attempting to free it, but the rapidly approaching Shinigami told him that time was not exactly on his side. So rather, he simply swung the weapon, ice and all, while simultaneously enacting his other ability: the power to age and slow those around him.
This was a huge mistake.
First of all, swinging anything made of ice in Hitsugaya's general direction was simply blatantly moronic, particularly if it was actually ice that he made, and therefore ice that already came pre-suffused with his reiatsu. Second of all, Hitsugaya was young and physically immature. So essentially, what Barragan had just managed to accomplish was to say, 'Here you go, young man! There is a weapon you can use attached to my arm, and I shall move it closer to you! In addition, allow me to give you a burst of temporary aging that would make an adult old and brittle, but will move you into your physical prime! Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!'
Hyourinmaru slammed into the frozen Arrogante, and the ice surrounding the axe shifted and warped into a hail that all went directly into Barragan from about six inches away. The end results were not pretty.
Well, okay, they sort of were, but only because the ice was so shiny and the moonlight made it all look kind of neat. Really, it was very sparkly and cool, for everyone except Barragan.
Well, okay, actually, it was still pretty cool for Barragan, in fact it was really, awfully, extremely cool. It was just cool in the literal sense instead of the figurative sense.
Starrk opened his eyes, saw what was going on, and said, with the somber, dignified tone befitting the rank and power of the Primera Espada, "Well… screw this." He then proceeded to stand up and walk away, most likely to go find somewhere more quiet.
Ichigo bled a little bit.
Ikkaku raised one eyebrow. "Um… wow."
Yachiru said, "Ooooooooooooooh, pretty."
Halibel fainted from pure joy.
Szyael fainted for very different reasons, ones which had a lot to do with his mind being broken one too many times and eventually deciding the smart thing to do was just shut down and hope the hurting stopped soon.
Matsumoto tried not to laugh. But she didn't try very hard, and she certainly didn't succeed.
"Oh, Hell." Aaroniero said, realizing that the berserk small person was now looking directly at him. No, wait! This is it! This is your chance, Aaroniero! You can show off your super-awesome powers right now!
… Crap, I don't have any!
"Um… er… ah…" Aaroniero said hesitantly. Wait! Wait! Wait! Kaien! Ah-ha, I knew I could do something! I'll take this Shinigami down with awesome powers of the unstoppable prodigy Kaien Shiba!
"Rip through the seas and heavens, Nejibana!" He shouted, swinging the spear that resulted in a wide arc that brought a punishing blast of water, seemingly from nowhere, to crush Hitsugaya.
The water froze. Because… well, you know.
Even through his unthinking rage, Hitsugaya managed to give Aaroniero a look of mingled amusement, pity, and disbelief that he could possibly be that stupid.
"… oops." Aaroniero said. As the water that he himself had created and uselessly attacked with turned into a giant ice dragon, which proceeded to snap directly at his face and smash him into the ground, leaving him crushed and frozen helplessly for the foreseeable future, his last coherent thought for the day was, Honestly? That probably still worked better than the tentacles would have. One point for me!
Zommari Leroux might not have been the brightest of the Espada, but he was without question the fastest. And to be frank, since even the brightest of the Espada (which was probably Ulquiorra. Szayel didn't count. Being a genius is not the same thing as being smart) wasn't all that terribly bright, being the fastest was probably more valuable, honestly.
He moved now, his sonido so fast it left behind half-a-dozen images of himself, each indistinguishable from the original. The inevitable counterattack came, striking only the insubstantial afterimages and moving uselessly through them. Zommari, untouched, appeared behind Hitsugaya and brought his blade down cleanly and ruthlessly at the young Captain's neck.
It hit ice and stopped dead as Hitsugaya's Bankai activated, the ice wings providing a convenient shield. Not only the blade but the arm holding it were instantly trapped, rendered useless by the cold and restricting frost.
Hitsugaya turned to stare at the immobilized Espada, his eyes not quite visibly glowing. But the glow was implied.
What followed was… ugh. Horrible. It shall not be described here, this is a teen-rated story. How about this? Have you ever been to a slaughterhouse, like for a school field-trip or something? It was a bit like that. Only to a person.
Honestly, just don't think about it, go look at a picture of a bunny or a kitten or something. You'll be happier.
Ulquiorra, Grimmjow, and Nnoitra fell back. "We'll have to take him together! Both of you, release your Resurreciones!" Ulquiorra ordered.
"Hey! You can't tell me what to…" Nnoitra and Grimmjow said in unison. "Hey! Stop copying me! No, you! No, you! No…"
"Just do it you thundering morons!" The typically stoic fourth Espada screamed.
"Fine! Fine! Geez!" Grimmjow said. "Grind, Pantera!"
"Pray, Santa Teresa!" Nnoitra snapped.
The sheer power in the air, three Espada releasing their full strength simultaneously, was unbelievable. Grimmjow growled low in his throat, flexing his claws and lashing his tail. Nnoitra smiled with sheer, utter malice, a monstrous scythe (and it is so nice that he finally has a definable weapon) clutched in each of his six hands. Ulquiorra spread his wings and held his hand out to one side, a spear made of light appearing in his arm.
The raw reiatsu emitted by Espada's four through six releasing simultaneously was so intense that it threatened to warp space around them; the already sand-choked world of Hueco Mundo actually seemed to get even hazier and more indistinct.
"Are you two ready?" Ulquiorra asked. "Take him."
Grimmjow went from the left, blue light igniting around his claws and screaming through the air as he slashed them, seemingly leaving slash marks in the air itself as the energy blades extended towards their target.
Nnoitra took him from the right, leaping in with wild abandon. He had no fancy tricks or energy blasts to use; he simply lunged, his blades leading the way, no desire evident but the desire to slaughter.
Ulquiorra, with a single flap of his wings, took to the skies and let fly the Lanza del Relámpago, lighting up the gloom of Hueco Mundo with dazzling light and heat.
It wasn't really an ice dragon that flew out from Hitsugaya's ice armor. It was more like a hydra, three entirely independent heads, one for each Espada.
The first took Grimmjow's Desgarrón in the mouth, and rather than being shattered by the slashes of blue energy, bit down on them and caused them to shatter like glass before continuing unaffected into the Espada himself. One down.
The second… well, Nnoitra actually tried to strike it down physically. This accomplished absolutely nothing but causing it to explode all over him rather than merely crash into him, which was much, much worse. Two down.
Ulquiorra fared the best. His lance actually managed to split the oncoming wave of frozen death, sending it around him instead of straight into him. Unfortunately, he had two great big wings on either side of his body, and therefore they took the full brunt of the attack instead. Battered, dazed, his means of staying airborne frozen solid, he crashed down to the sand.
Im... impossible... Ulquiorra thought blankly, watching as Death approached him. Tiny, white-haired Death. How could we have been so foolish? This was no different from the last time... we never had a chance against him, no matter what we did... he's not a Shinigami... he's just a monster... a devil...
Hitsugaya reached down and picked up Ulquiorra by his neck. "Now," He asked calmly. Quietly. A voice laden with menace, yet no louder than a whisper. "What is my name?"
"C-c-c-captain…" Ulquiorra stammered. "Captain Hitsugaya! Captain Hitsugayaaaa!" He said, breaking into tears.
In her half-conscious fainted stupor, Halibel appeared to be drooling and said, "Mmmmmmm… Lord Captain Hitsugaya…"
"Yes. Captain Hitsugaya. That is my name, and that is the only name you are allowed to say, understood? Now, what isn't my name?"
Hitsugaya's grip tightened. "What did I just tell you?!" He roared.
"… n-n-nothing I'm allowed to say! You have a word that is not your name, but I am not allowed to say it!" Ulquiorra said quickly.
"That's right. You are never, ever allowed to say it. And don't you ever forget that fact. Bitch." Hitsugaya said, tossing Ulquiorra aside like, ironically enough, trash.
He then blinked a few times and looked around, as the red haze of fury lifted from his vision.
"Um… what happened here?" He asked, gazing upon the devastation as though seeing it for the first time. Certainly he hadn't done any of that, right? He didn't even remember standing up, much less drawing his Zanpakuto and releasing unholy fury upon all those who opposed him.
Matsumoto smiled. "Nothing, sir. Nothing at all. Now, who wants to go home?"
"Most awesome thing I've ever seen!" Ikkaku said for maybe the fiftieth time.
"Yes. So you keep telling me. I still say you're making a mistake, because I certainly couldn't have done all of that..." Hitsugaya said doubtfully.
"So fast, with the ice, and the blood!" Ikkaku said enthusiastically. "I mean, holy crap!"
"It was magnificent. Lovely. A work of sheer beauty." Yumichika said, the jealousy obvious in his tone.
Hitsugaya sighed in annoyance. "Really. People. Can we talk about something else? Your weird little murderous man-crushes are creeping me out almost as much as the Arrancar's legitimate crush on me."
"Aaaaaaaaaaah... Lord Captain Hitsugaya..." Halibel sighed, happily latched onto Hitsugaya's arm and showing not the slightest hint of ever letting go.
For about the millionth time that day, Hitsugaya sighed in annoyance. Still, it was almost over. The Rescued-By-Hitsugaya team, plus two unwanted Arrancar and a pair of Hollows who seemed to be cheerfully oblivious about the fact that they were likely walking to their own deaths by heading into the Soul Society, were approaching the final edge of the Senkaimon now. Another few seconds and...
"Home!" Matsumoto crowed as the group set down in the Seireitei. "And we're all alive, even!"
Hitsugaya smiled, just a little bit, at her enthusiasm. "Well... I'll admit that I am happy to be out of Evil Central and back home where it's reasonably safe."
Five Minutes Later...
"I am so happy I went out and bought more rope." Soi Fon said cheerfully as she looked at the entirety of the Rescue Team Plus Hollows hanging upside-down from the ceiling of Supreme Divine Empress Yoruichi's Imperial Throne Room. Supreme Divine Empress Yoruichi had asked that she take it easy on the arrests for awhile, but Supreme Divine Empress Yoruichi was also taking a very long bath in her new private hot spring, and what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her.
Hitsugaya blinked a few times. "How... how the Hell?!"
"You know, I've been asking that for the longest time..." Ukitake said.