So, um...yeah. As a recent reviewer pointed out, it has been quite a while since I last updated. Hence why I picked myself up and finished Chapter 10's rewrite. There's some dialogue that I kept, but for the most part everything's different. Older readers may notice that I kind of squished a lot of things together from future chapters. This probably means the story's going to be condensed in some way, or maybe scenes will be moved around altogether...
Chapter 10: The Pot Begins to Simmer
After having made his way up to the entrance of the castle, Kenpachi stood before the looming doors, an insane grin on his face.
There was nothing but the sound of the wind howling against the stones and the distant ruffling of the banners.
"Through the window, Ken-chan!" Yachiru cheered excitedly.
To his credit, Kenpachi didn't immediately say yes, giving her a side-eye. "Why would I go through a window when there's a door right here?"
"Because he expects you to go through the doors!"
"These doors aren't even locked!" Kenpachi scoffed. "It's an open invitation to go right in, and I'm going to answer it."
He kicked the door on the right side open with a deafening bang, the wood thudding against the wall on the inside. It opened to an impressive looking interior that was dimly lit by flickering green torches on the wall. It was enough light to make out the cavernous entrance hall, along with the obvious staircase leading up to the second floor.
There were doors along the walls of the staircase, and Kenpachi could see other entrance ways branching off from the entrance hall.
And, most suspiciously of all, there wasn't a single guard.
Kenpachi stepped inside, moving into the building confidently. He didn't even flinch as the door he'd kicked open somehow swung back shut with a resounding thud, sounding almost reproving as it did.
"There's no one here," Kenpachi said after a moment, confirming his earlier assumption.
"The lights are green," Yachiru noted, eyes on the flickering torches.
"Bah, who cares?" Kenpachi grunted, scowling at the large staircase ahead of him. "Where is the bastard?"
"Try that door!" Yachiru suggested, pointing to the nearest door that was right next to the large staircase, innocently tucked away into a corner.
Since there was no reason he shouldn't, Kenpachi did so, testing the door handle to see that it turned easily. He cautiously opened it, something telling him it wouldn't be wise to wrench it open the way his first instinct had been.
Just as well, since the only thing he saw was something huge and round swinging directly towards him. He jumped aside, visible eye widening when the huge battering ram whooshed right past him before withdrawing back into the room. He slammed the door shut an instant later.
After another second's consideration, Kenpachi broke out into a wide grin. "Looks like we're going to have some fun."
The moment Ichigo saw Matsumoto's face in front of the twelfth division's labs, he knew things weren't good.
"Report, fukutaichou," Byakuya said before anyone else could, voice cold.
Matsumoto blinked, inhaling before drawing herself up straight. She glanced once at an impassive Toushirou before turning to Byakuya. "The twelfth division's laboratories have been cleared out and are now put under guard. Abarai-fukutaichou had placed a Bakudou over the room he was in that took us a moment to break through. By the time we entered, he disappeared."
Kurotsuchi tilted his head. "Disappeared? What was the manner of this disappearance?"
"I'm not sure. He just…vanished."
"Like he turned invisible or what?" Danny asked, fingers flexing on the thermos he had in his hands. The thermos that he hadn't actually let go of once since coming here.
Ichigo wondered if he even knew he had in it in his hands or if it was just an automatic thing.
Matsumoto took a moment to respond. "He was bleeding," she said eventually. "There was a knight standing over him holding a glowing zanpakutou that was green, but he disappeared before we could do anything."
"Are you telling us that they took the Soul Shredder?" Kurotsuchi demanded, fury simmering in his tone.
Toushirou stepped in front of him, giving him a stony glare. "It's done," he said flatly. "Matsumoto can't be expected to do anything about it now."
"Was it the Soul Shredder that cut him?" Danny asked, getting Matsumoto's attention.
"I don't…" Matsumoto frowned. "I think so. That was the only weapon the knight had on him."
"Which means what?" There was nothing Ichigo could pick up from Byakuya's voice, but he could tell from the way the man was holding himself a bit too stiffly that he was worried about Renji's disappearance.
Ichigo huffed lightly under his breath. It looked like Byakuya wasn't as cold-hearted as he tried to pass himself off as.
"The Fright's Knight Soul Shredder sends whoever was cut with it into their worst nightmare," Danny said, glancing up at Byakuya. "That's probably where Renji is now."
"Can you get him back?" Byakuya stared at him intensely.
"I can ask the Fright Knight if you guys haven't made him too mad," Danny said, huffing. "But sticking his sword into a pumpkin should get him back, too."
"You were serious about that?" Toushirou sounded disbelieving.
"It's not like he's had a reason to lie, Toushirou," Ichigo pointed out, seeing Danny roll his eyes.
"That's Hitsugaya-taichou to you!" Toushirou snapped reflexively.
"Yeah, sure, whatever." Ichigo just stared back in response to Toushirou's icy glare.
"Do you think you can negotiate with the Fright Knight?" Byakuya asked Danny, wisely ignoring the byplay.
"If I had the Soul Shredder, sure," Danny answered, craning his head back to look at the floating castle. "But I'm guessing he's already gotten it by now."
"Meaning he's going on a rampage now?" Ichigo guessed, since that was usually what intruders did.
"Either that, or he's just going to sit up there and cackle while stroking a cat." Danny paused, then made a face. "No, that sounds like the other fruit loop. But he really likes that sword, so he's gonna be upset that you stole it from him and then didn't give it back."
"It doesn't matter," Kurotsuchi said dismissively, brushing by Matsumoto without so much as another word. "They now have hold of a dangerous weapon, taking out Abarai with it. We need to assess the being's capabilities and strike back. And you," he said, his head twisting to Danny, "are the only means we have of knowing our enemy."
"You're not dissecting me," Danny said flatly, eyes flaring briefly.
"I wouldn't let him," Ichigo said, giving Kurotsuchi the stink eye.
"We might be able to negotiate with the Fright Knight," Toushirou said slowly.
"Or we might not," Kurotsuchi said, giving Toushirou an unimpressed look. "Which makes it all the more important that we assess his abilities." He returned his attention to Danny. "Come now. Just a little talk."
Danny glanced at Ichigo, clearly indecisive.
"It's your call," Ichigo told him. "But I've got your back."
A brief flash of panic crossed Danny's face at the insinuation that it was his decision. It disappeared quickly enough with a look of determination.
"Just talking," Danny said finally, jaw set determinedly. "If you try anything else…" He raised an eyebrow, lifting a hand that was glowing green. "I'm pretty sure that a punch is a punch."
Kurotsuchi didn't seem at all fazed by the threat. "Inside, then."
Toushirou gave Ichigo a sharp look before following after Kurotsuchi. After a pause, Ichigo made to follow, only for Matsumoto to stop Danny with a hand on his shoulder.
"You'll get him back?" Matsumoto asked him quietly, worried.
Danny didn't even hesitate. "I will."
Nodding, Matsumoto stepped back, giving Byakuya and Ichigo a nod. For his part, Byakuya looked rather like someone had hit him over the head with a heavy book.
It was a look that he should wear more often, really.
But then they were inside an area of Soul Society that Ichigo had never seen before, and he forced himself to focus, reminding himself that he had to stay on his guard for Danny.
They ended up in a room that wasn't as trashed as the rest of the place, though that just meant the monitors were in one piece and there wasn't as much paper lying around. But the floor was a little wobbly, and Ichigo eyed one tile suspiciously when he saw it was a little ajar.
"All right, talk," Danny demanded once they were all in the room.
Kurotsuchi bared his teeth briefly at Danny's rudeness, though he didn't call it out. "You have listed some of the Fright Knight's weaknesses. Are there others?"
"Aside from the pumpkin, nothing I know of." Danny's fingers flexed on the thermos. "He's really good with a sword; not so much with regular fighting."
"That shouldn't be an issue, then," Toushirou said. He eyed Ichigo briefly before looking back at Danny. "Kurosaki said that the Menos Grande were targeting you. Would you have any idea why?"
Danny looked startled at the revelation. "They were?" He glanced at Ichigo.
"As far as I could tell," Ichigo confirmed, nodding once. "You don't have any reiatsu; there's nothing that would make them want to go after you, but they did."
"Huh…" Danny's brow furrowed in thought. "I've no idea," he eventually admitted. "That's just weird."
Byakuya said nothing, although he inspected Danny closely. Toushirou made a little noise indicating his acceptance of that answer while Kurotsuchi looked like he would rather pick up the nearest scalpel and start dissecting Danny.
Ichigo made it a point to glower imperiously at him. Just in case.
"What of your relationship with the humans?" Toushirou asked after a moment.
Blinking, Danny tilted his head. "Sam and Tucker? I thought I told you before."
"You've said before that you're a ghost. It makes no sense that you would make friends with humans."
"It's not like other ghosts like me much," Danny said, grinning wryly. "I don't like them coming and trying to hurt humans, and they don't like me beating them back into the Ghost Zone."
"Ghost Zone?" Kurotsuchi pounced on that like a cat.
"Where ghosts are from?" Danny shrugged minutely, folding his arms across his chest. He was still holding the thermos. "We get portals; I stuff the ghosts back into the portals."
Ichigo subtly nudged the back of Danny's foot with his own, reminding him not to give away too much information. He had no doubt that given enough information, the shinigami would also figure out that Danny and the others weren't from around here, and Ichigo really didn't want to know what would happen then.
"I've never heard of such a place," Kurotsuchi mused.
"It's not my fault you don't get out much," Danny said bluntly, shrugging again. "I've already told them"—he jerked his thumb towards Byakuya and Toushirou—"and I'll tell you, too. Ghosts aren't the same as spirits."
"Are you certain you wouldn't let me experiment on you?" Kurotsuchi wheedled. "I assure you that you would be well compensated!"
"How?" Ichigo demanded. "After he's dead? His answer's no."
Kurotsuchi shot daggers at Ichigo. "Let him speak, ryoka."
"Like Ichigo said, it's no." Danny offered him a bland smile. "And, no, you can't draw my blood either," he added as an afterthought.
Ichigo glanced askance at him. "Do you even bleed?"
Danny's only response was a noncommittal tilt of his head and a shrug.
"None of this has been helpful," Kurotsuchi declared, pouting unattractively.
"Sorry," Danny said, completely insincere. "There anything else you wanted to ask?"
"That thermos you're holding," Kurotsuchi said, eyes falling to it. "What is it?"
Danny looked down at it, visibly surprised to see it. He really had forgotten all about it, then. "I use it for soup," he said, recovering admirably quickly.
"Then your anatomy is similar to ours?" Kurotsuchi's eyes gleamed.
"I guess? It's not like I've gone up to another ghost and asked to compare."
"What of that symbol on your chest?"
Danny didn't even startle now, staring blankly at Kurotsuchi. "It stands for Dead Person."
Ichigo almost choked on his laughter, quickly bringing up a hand to cover his mouth. The look on Kurotsuchi's face – a mixture between bemusement and anger – just sold it, along with the reluctantly amused looks on Toushirou's and Byakuya's.
"Does it," Kurotsuchi said flatly.
Danny didn't flinch, clearly giving no more fucks. "Yep."
Although Ichigo would dearly have liked to know how this showdown was going to end, the alarm going off jolted Kurotsuchi and Danny out of their mutual staring.
"What is that?" Ichigo turned to Byakuya instinctively, shuffling Danny back as he did.
"The alarm for the living world," Kurotsuchi answered instead. "The one for unusual reiryoku signatures."
Toushirou was already marching to the monitors, turning them on and typing on the keyboard. "What were you looking for, Kurotsuchi?"
"His kind," Kurotsuchi sniffed, pointing at Danny with his creepily long fingernail. "I had enough readings from the last time that I was able to set up a system."
Giving Kurotsuchi one more suspicious look, Danny went to Toushirou to peer over his shoulder. For the first time since he'd pulled the thermos out, he set it off to the side, just by his elbow, flexing his hand as he did.
Ichigo gave Kurotsuchi his own look before staying directly behind Danny, half of his attention on the kid and the other on the monitors that Toushirou was muttering over.
Hopefully this wouldn't end up in a mess as bad as the last one.
"So, this is the place?" Sam shouldn't have been surprised at the sight of flattened cars and a mini-crater in the middle of the street.
She thought she heard Uryuu mutter "Damn you, Kurosaki."
"It looks like it," Tucker said, eyeing a rather beautiful car with a mournful look on his face. It was one of the ones that had gotten flattened.
There were other people around who were curious about what had happened, although the authorities had already set up a perimeter line and were politely telling people to keep back for their own safety.
"Have you found anything?" Orihime asked, head tilting slightly to the side.
Sam drew in a breath, shoulders slumping slightly. "No." Not that she'd expected to. "Can you see anything?" She gave them a meaningful look.
"There wouldn't be any bodies anyway," Uryuu said blandly, hands in his pockets. "They dissipate into reishi once killed."
Reishi? Sam made a mental note to look up what that was later, but Tucker was already plugging it into his PDA.
Then he squinted at the screen. "A lychee nut? Elder sister? Prince's message? Command of a prince?" He looked completely befuddled. "That doesn't make any sense."
Uryuu looked rather like he wanted to laugh but felt like it was beneath him. "None of that. Reishi is…well, it's the essence of shinigami and hollows."
"Like cells?" Tucker suggested, staring at his PDA screen like it had betrayed him.
But it wasn't what Uryuu had been getting at, and simply Googling wasn't going to get them the answer either.
Sighing, Sam looked back at the cordoned off mess that Danny and Ichigo had created, uncertain of what to do next.
"Ishidaaa!" Someone glomped onto Uryuu, who looked rather like he wanted to murder the brown-haired teenager. The boy currently completely oblivious to the murderous intent Uryuu was radiating blinked at Sam and Tucker. "Who're you?"
"Someone," Sam replied blandly, stifling a smile at Tucker's snort.
"That can't be your name," the other protested.
"Asano Keigo!" Keigo flashed his teeth in a shiny grin. "And you are?"
"Not interested," Uryuu ground out before Sam could say anything. "Get off me."
Keigo didn't seem to notice that he was seconds from losing a limb. "What – are you going out with her?"
"Oh my God," Tucker whispered, staring up at the sky.
Sam felt the same way, though she continued staring at Keigo. "Go dunk your head in a toilet," she suggested.
Keigo drooped dramatically. "Aw, don't be like that—"
Clearly fed up, Uryuu twisted, pinning Keigo's arm behind him with an utterly serene smile on his face. The glare on his glasses hid his eyes from view. "I'm going to let go of your arm in five seconds, and then you'd better be out of here. Clear?"
Keigo gulped loudly, nodding frantically. "Okay, okay!" He flailed away the moment Uryuu let go, glancing at Sam. "You sure about—"
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Leave."
After a moment, Uryuu nodded at her, saying, "Impressive."
Sam couldn't resist a small smirk. "Thanks."
"You think this is something?" Tucker said. "You should see her facing Dash down. Now that's something. Or Paulina. Hey, d'you remember when you told her she'd never catch Phantom's attention by being a gossiping harpy?"
She did. It had been great, but it was marred by a bitterness that came from knowing that Danny did like Paulina. Although she hadn't seen him mooning after her recently…
"That seems mean," Orihime said, frowning slightly.
Sam eyed her for a moment. "I…don't know how you make it in high school. Is it that different here?"
Uryuu leaned down slightly to whisper, "Inoue-san simply chooses to ignore most of what happens. She is very forgiving."
Ah, she was one of those people. Sam hadn't really met one before, so this was a first.
"Did you find what you were looking for here?" Yasutora asked.
"I…" Sam considered whether or not to say that she had no idea what she'd been looking for. Only that she'd come up with nada. From Tucker's expression, he hadn't discovered anything either.
"No," she admitted eventually. "We can't see anything, and you guys aren't seeing anything either. So…that probably means there's nothing here to see."
"Aside from those cars," Tucker said, cringing. "Man, that's not right."
Yes, aside from the fact that they could tell that Danny had been here at some point… Their only lead was the shinigami, and Uryuu had said Danny was most likely in Soul Society right now. With Ichigo.
Sam turned to Uryuu. "Can we get into Soul Society?"
Ichigo's friends shot each other looks.
Uryuu turned back to her, answering slowly. "We doubtlessly could. But for you…it would be more complicated as you have no reiryoku."
Sam glanced at Tucker, who was already looking the unfamiliar word up.
"Spiritual strength?" Tucker asked a moment later, glancing up. "Or spiritual power?"
"Reiryoku," Uryuu repeated, nodding. "I assume that translated appropriately?"
"Yeah." Tucker patted his PDA fondly. "Unlike the other word." He paused, then tapped some more, squinting. "Hm. Could 'reishi' be 'spirit'?"
"Not exactly," Uryuu said, head tilting. "In any case, as I was saying, even if you could enter Soul Society, I doubt you would be much help. Your friend would be more concerned with taking care of you than himself."
Sam bristled. "We're not helpless!"
"I'm sure," Uryuu said dryly. "Yet it's one thing to face a ghost; it's another to face a shinigami at full strength. Kurosaki is the only one of us to match up to a taichou and come out in relatively one piece; I did so myself and barely came out alive. That was with abilities that you don't possess."
"It's not the length of an animal," Tucker muttered. "Ah…commanding officer?"
"Close enough," Uryuu allowed. He paused. "Are you going to keep doing that every time I use a word you don't recognize?"
"Yes," Tucker said shamelessly. "Unless you want to do charades? But I'm not sure how those terms would translate to that…"
"Ooh, we could try!" Orihime said excitedly. "I've always wanted to play a game of charades! I'll go first!" She promptly started pantomiming what looked like a windmill if Sam was feeling charitable.
Which she was. "Is that a windmill?"
Orihime shook her head, frantically chopping her hands like she was slicing things.
Orihime made a square shape around her head, and now Sam was really confused, and it seemed like everyone else was as well.
Then Uryuu stiffened, Yasutora braced himself, and Orihime froze, all three of them turning on their heels to stare piercingly into a nearby alley.
Sam had a brief moment to wonder just why alleys always seemed to be so shifty before the three slowly moved to investigate.
Sharing a look with Tucker, who just shrugged, Sam followed, wanting to be kept in the loop as much as possible. If it was a shinigami or hollow, they were fresh out of luck, but just maybe it would be a ghost?
Ichigo's friends frozen in front of the alley, eyes widening at whatever they saw.
Impatient, Sam hurried forward, bumping into Yasutora as she stopped. She didn't even budge him, but he grabbed hold of her shoulder before she could fall over.
Not that she noticed. She was too busy staring at the sight of what looked like Walker and practically all his goons in one place.
"I assume that's a ghost?" Uryuu asked faintly.
"Walker!" Sam stepped forward, catching the warden's attention. "What are you doing here?"
Walker fully turned, green eyes narrowing when he saw who was talking. "I could ask the same of you, girl. Where's the punk? You're usually inseparable."
"No, really," Tucker said, "what are you doing here? Hiding out in alleys doesn't seem your style."
Walker opened his mouth, only to shut it a moment later, frowning. "You have a point," he admitted grudgingly. "This is where we ended up after leaving the Ghost Zone."
"How did we leave the Ghost Zone?" one of Walker's goons asked, looking and sounding hopelessly confused.
"We probably fell through a portal," Bullet said, mouth turned down.
"It doesn't matter," Walker snapped. He turned back to Sam and Tucker. "Where's the punk? He's got some explaining to do."
"For what?" Sam demanded. "He hasn't done anything!"
"He refused to do his duty and help," Walker retorted. "That's against the law."
"What law?" Uryuu asked, sounding bewildered.
Walker whipped out a book, wrote something in it, and then turned it around. "This one."
"You just…made that up?"
Walker narrowed his eyes. "You got a problem with that, punk? Questioning authority is also against the law."
"Since when?" Uryuu was starting to sound more indignant than bewildered now. "Who the hell are you?"
"Walker," Walker said. "I'm the Ghost Zone's warden. And if necessary, judge, jury, jailor, and executioner. And, if you push me, your executioner."
There was a pause, and then Orihime tentatively pointed out, "You said 'executioner' twice."
Sam waved her arms, grabbing everyone's attention. "We're not getting anywhere! Guys, this is Walker, and he's the guy in charge of jail in the Ghost Zone. Or some kind of jail, since he makes up rules all the time. The rest of the goons are his lackeys."
"Hey," Bullet growled. "Watch who you're calling a lackey."
Sam blinked. "Sorry, should I have said minion instead?"
"Enough," Walker said curtly, cutting off whatever Bullet's response would have been. "You're right; we're not getting anywhere. So are you going to answer our questions?"
"You haven't answered ours," Tucker said, slightly sulky.
"You didn't ask one."
"We did. How did you get here?"
"We answered that one," Walker fired back. "Probably fell through a portal. Even if it was the weirdest portal I've ever seen."
"What kind of portal was it, then?" Sam asked. "Because I don't know if you've noticed, but this isn't Amity Park."
Walker blinked, looking bemused for the first time since Sam had seen him. "What are you talking about, girl? Of course this is Amity Park."
"This is Karakura Town," Uryuu said, adjusting his glasses.
"What's that – some kind of bird?" Walker shook his head, ignoring the spluttering from Uryuu.
"I think that's kookaburra," Tucker corrected, and how did he even know that?
Walker shrugged. "Same thing."
Uryuu turned to Sam. "Is this how your conversations with ghosts usually go?"
"Um, pretty much?" Sam let out a small nervous laugh. "Usually with a bit more fighting, though."
"I don't have jurisdiction over any of you," Walker said snappishly. "Or believe me, there would be fighting."
"Not that it stopped you last time," Tucker muttered.
"Hmph." Walker narrowed his eyes, tucking his hands behind his back and straightening out like a pole had rammed itself down his head. "As it stands, we're looking for the intruders that have unleashed chaos in the Ghost Zone. It's ridiculous, and it's against the rules." He paused, tilting his head. "Maybe you can be of some help… Have you seen them? They're running around with masks, and they have holes in their chests."
"Hollows," Uryuu responded immediately. "You're talking about hollows. And they're in this Ghost Zone?"
"So you know what we're talking about," Walker said, clearly ignoring Uryuu's question. "Do you know where we can find them? We've got a bone to pick with them."
"That wouldn't be the best idea," Uryuu said slowly, sharing a glance with Sam and Tucker.
"You trying to obstruct justice, punk?" Walker demanded, baring his teeth threateningly.
"No," Uryuu said, seeming to pick his words carefully. "Simply cautioning you to rethink your current course of action. This isn't your world. There are beings here that would arrest you because you're a threat to them."
"They're called shinigami," Sam said when Walker turned his gaze to her. "They're supposed to help spirits cross over to the afterlife. They also don't like ghosts."
"To be fair, most people don't," Tucker said. "You guys make it kind of hard."
"I'm the warden," Walker said flatly. "No one's supposed to like me."
"I dunno," a goon muttered. "It'd be kinda nice to be liked." A second later he was bonked over the head by Bullet.
"Shinigami experiment on those they don't understand." Uryuu's words held an undercurrent of bitterness to them. "Would you risk your men?"
Walker's response was instant. "Well, sure."
Uryuu clearly hadn't been expecting that. "Seriously?"
"They know the risks of the job. And if they can't get out of the clutches of some mad scientists, then they shouldn't have signed up for it."
A moment passed before a goon hesitantly spoke up. "Er, boss…none of us signed up for it."
Another said, "Yeah, you just roped us into it."
Walker whirled, shouting, "Shut up!"
Uryuu mumbled something that sounded like several curse words as he massaged the bridge of his nose.
"Should we even do anything?" Orihime whispered. "Maybe they know what they're doing?"
"Rule number five in dealing with ghosts," Tucker whispered back, "they never know what they're doing."
"What are the other four rules?"
"One is to let Danny do his thing."
"Two is to not let Danny do his thing," Sam muttered. "Especially if he's been acting like an idiot five minutes ago."
"Three is always carry a Fenton Thermos around," Tucker continued. "Number four is avoid the Fentons when hunting ghosts."
"Wouldn't that be Danny's family?" Orihime asked.
"No, you want to avoid them," Tucker insisted. "Trust me."
"And then there's number six," Sam said. "Don't let Jazz Fenton come on a ghost hunt."
"I thought that was seven?"
"No, seven's when we're supposed to cry wolf and pretend something's going on in the opposite direction."
"How many rules are there?" Yasutora sounded interested.
"It's ongoing," Tucker said, shrugging. "I think we've got fifty?"
"Number fifty," Sam said slowly, "never bring up the plants."
All three of Ichigo's friends looked at her. "Plants?"
Sam and Tucker just shuddered.
And then Uryuu, Orihime, and Yasutora also shuddered briefly before all tensing.
Before Sam could ask what was wrong, Walker had shouted in glee. "We've got a live one, boys! Get it!"
"Duck!" Uryuu jumped forward, hands clamping down on Sam's and Tucker's shoulders to push them to the filthy ground.
Sam caught herself on her hands before her face met the asphalt. She did not want to know what had been on the ground before.
"Duck from what?" Tucker was not as fortunate; his nose looked bruised.
"Santen – eek!" Orihime went flying when a goon slammed into her.
"Inoue-san!" Uryuu half-turned, only to be knocked into the opposite wall by something Sam couldn't see.
"It's a hollow, isn't it?" Tucker groaned, one hand clutching his beret. "Why do things always go badly?"
"Brazo Derecho del Gigante!" Yasutora's voice shouted, which was promptly followed by a pained "oomph" when he hit something. Hopefully the hollow.
"Watch where you're swinging that thing!" Bullet's voice protested. No, he'd hit a ghost.
"Interfering in an arrest is against the rules!" That was definitely Walker.
"We should move," Tucker suggested after another moment of seeing the ghosts battle something they couldn't see.
"Yes," Sam agreed, scrambling to the side. "But we can't see it."
"Then we can hide!" Tucker was on his feet, and he grabbed Sam's elbow, hauling her up. "Oh, there!" He pointed to a dumpster.
Sam immediately recoiled in disgust, remembering when they'd hidden in the sewers. A dumpster was infinitely worse than that. "Tucker, no—"
"Tucker, yes." Tucker was dragging her along.
Orihime was back on her feet, hands positioned by her head. "Santen – ack!" She was swept off her feet by a chain that two goons had accidentally swiped through her legs.
Tucker lifted the lid up, nose wrinkling when the stench came wafting out. "C'mon, Sam! It's gotta be safer than just hanging around out here! Like you said, we can't even see the hollow.
"Urgh, fine. But you're doing the laundry after this."
Because Sam had seen what Tucker apparently hadn't. The BIODEGRADABLE TRASH ONLY stamped along the sides of the dumpster. Which was worse than being amidst trash cans filled with unmentionables.
Sam scrambled up the side and slid right in, getting a face full of rotten banana peels, squishy things, and something stringy that she hoped was just the aftermath of some kind of fruit. Tucker rolled in after her, the lid slamming shut behind him.
There was silence for a few moments as the two let their grim – and stinky – situation sink in.
"I swear to God, Tucker, this is worse than the sewers. You are doing our laundry for a month after this."
There were two hollows, three of them, and far too many ghosts who had no idea what the hell they were doing.
Uryuu's entire back smarted from where he'd been slammed into the wall for the second time because he couldn't keep track of both the hollows and the pesky ghosts at the same time. Not for the first time, he lamented the loss of his Quincy powers.
He'd seen Sam and Tucker dive into a green dumpster at the back of the alley, which was probably for the best considering they couldn't see the hollows.
"Bag the rule breakers!" Walker shouted, firing what looked like a pink ray of light at the nearest hollow. His attack hit the hollow in the leg but didn't seem to do anything beyond piss the hollow off.
A tail swung through the hair, hitting three of the smaller green ghosts and sending them flying into Sado. The other was able to knock aside one with his arm but was promptly hurtled into the wall by the other two.
"Circle 'round from the back!" Walker barked. "Now!"
Some of the ghosts complied, circling around the two hollows.
Inoue was on her feet but seemed hesitant to do anything. Considering that she'd been knocked off her feet the last two times, Uryuu sympathized.
One hollow swiped at the ghost with the eye patch, but the attack was quickly dodged. The ghost retaliated with a baton that electrocuted the hollow.
The distraction was enough for the rest of the ghosts to manage to get the two hollows relatively cornered with an efficiency that reluctantly impressed Uryuu. Considering their prior showing, this was remarkable.
"We've got 'em now, boys!" Walker crowed, grinning wildly. Considering his white, skeletal-like appearance, it made him look distinctly creepy. "Sic 'em!"
The ghosts pulled out a net from seemingly nowhere, which didn't look like it would do much to hold the hollows in place.
Uryuu caught Inoue's gaze, raising his eyebrows meaningfully. She nodded a moment later, eyes hardening. Sado also braced himself, right arm drawing back.
But just as the ghosts were about to cast the net, another person joined the fray, scattering the ghosts and tearing the net apart.
"Wooo yeah!" The person revealed himself to be a shinigami with extremely bushy eyebrows and a large impressive afro. "Take that, hollows! Finally, Kurumadani Zennosuke has no interference!"
Walker seemed to share the same sentiments. "Who are you?" he roared. "You just destroyed my only net!"
"Kurumadani Zennosuke knows no fear!" the self-proclaimed Kurumadani announced. "Prepare to – urk!" His wild swinging with his zanpakutou had missed the hollow he was aiming for. The same hollow had apparently grown bored with the swinging and whacked him with a tail that sent him flying into a wall.
Uryuu blinked, expecting the shinigami to bounce up like most shinigami did. But Kurumadani just slumped to a limp heap at the base, evidently knocked out cold.
That…was rather pitiful.
"Great," Walker said, sounding thoroughly unimpressed. "We have a zealous idiot here."
Without warning, Kurumadani jumped to his feet, pointing a finger at Walker. "You're the idiot here!"
Okay, maybe not so pitiful after all.
Walker's next words were silky. "I beg your pardon?"
"You're fighting these hollows! That's my job!" Kurumadani argued. "You guys aren't even shinigami! I've been ignored too long! Finally, Soul Society will learn my power!" He struck an anime-style pose that had Uryuu face palming.
Where did Soul Society even come up with these buffoons?
"He sure is enthusiastic!" Inoue said after a moment.
After a moment's thought, Uryuu had to concede this point. Of Kurumadani's apparent flaws, enthusiasm was not one of them.
The hollows were looking at Kurumadani like he was a tasty treat. Given Kurumadani's reiatsu, this was most probably the case.
Walker, on the other hand, was staring at Kurumadani like he had lost his mind. This was probably also the case.
"What did you say your name was again?" Walker asked finally.
"Kurumadani Zennosuke!" Kurumadani came out of his pose and pointed his zanpakutou at Walker. "And you're going to Soul Society, spirit! Right after I take care of these hollows!"
"You just broke rule number one thousand and fifty, Kurumand," Walker said, butchering Kurumadani's name without batting an eyelash. "I hereby arrest you for interfering with the law."
"I am with the law!" Kurumadani protested. "You can't arrest a shinigami!"
"Oh, you're one of those, are you?" the ghost with an eye patch said. "You planning on experimenting on any of us anytime soon?"
It was probably a first that anyone had actually posed that question to a shinigami. Kurumadani didn't seem to know how to respond, confusion evident on his face.
It was then that the hollows evidently had enough of being ignored. The larger one went for Kurumadani's head while the smaller whirled and jumped for Walker.
Kurumadani swung, chopped off the hollow's arm, and kicked it. The other hollow was hit in the chest with a pink blast from Walker, which sent it skittering off to the side.
"Take this, hollow!" Kurumadani shouted, jumping straight up into the air. He was clearly aiming to bring his zanpakutou down to bisect the hollow's mask. Unfortunately, since Uryuu could clearly tell what he was about to do, so could the hollow. And that hollow dodged, which left Kurumadani's zanpakutou embedded in the ground.
Uryuu glanced over to Walker, finding the ghost wrestling with his hollow.
"You're under arrest, punk," Walker was saying, "for charges of breaking into the Ghost Zone and wreaking havoc along with murdering innocent civilians."
That actually sounded like a reasonable rule.
"Should we do anything?" Sado murmured, clearly unsure of what to do.
"I…don't actually know," Uryuu admitted. "What if we hit one of the ghosts?"
Sam and Tucker were still in the dumpster. Their knowledge on ghosts would have been helpful at this point.
The larger hollow's tail whacked into Walker and the smaller hollowing, hitting them right out of the alley and into the street.
Kurumadani was about to follow when loud crashes, honks, and startled yells rent the air.
Uryuu turned, rushing to the street and stopping when he saw that full-blown chaos had erupted. Walker was still wrestling his ghost, clearly uncaring of the disruption he was causing.
Cars were clearly facing the wrong way, tangled up in each other, or attached to a lamppost, mailbox, or fire hydrant. People were also screaming and running away.
"What the hell is going on here?" Kurumadani demanded. "How can they even see you?"
Walker tossed the hollow away, flicking his fingers towards it. Several ghosts zoomed after it. "Not my problem, Kurumand. And of course they can see me. They're not blind."
"I'm a ghost," Walker said flatly. A second later he grinned. "And they've never seen a ghost like me before."
There was a grunt behind Uryuu, and he turned to see Sado punching back the second hollow. At the same time, there was another yell, what sounded like a solid object hitting another solid object, and then a black blur went flying over Uryuu's head and hit the other end of the alley wall.
Kurumadani slammed to the ground and remained there, unmoving.
When he didn't instantly spring up like before, Uryuu had to consider the fact that this time he really was unconscious.
And that there were still two hollows to deal with. Joy.
The only two people remotely capable of putting up a fight at this point were Inoue and Sado. The ghosts could doubtlessly manage it but they seemed to be causing more chaos than good at this point.
With a roar, Sado shattered the mask of the hollow he had been dealing with. It took only seconds for the hollow to dissipate, and now they were down to one.
Uryuu glanced up to the ghost with the eye patch. "Shatter the mask of the other hollow!"
The ghost glared down at him. "You don't give me orders, boy."
Sado jumped, snagging hold of the ghost with his right arm and bringing him down to their level. "You should shatter the mask of that hollow," he said, voice infinitely calm.
The ghost scowled. "Or what?"
"Sado-kun can punch you!" Inoue said brightly.
"Hm." Sado inclined his head in agreement, looking at the ghost with two brown eyes.
With a growl, the ghost turned bluish-white and pulled away from Sado's grip. "You have a point." Whirling to the other ghosts, he barked out orders.
Although the other hollow was still out in the open and clearly resistant to going down, the ghosts teaming up on it brought it down in no time at all. The final blow was Walker's, a violently pink blast obliterating the hollow's mask and scattering it into particles.
Once done, the ghosts retreated back to the alley, and Uryuu went to the dumpster to let Sam and Tucker know the coast was clear.
He paused upon seeing what kind of dumpster it was, mentally bracing himself for the smell.
He knocked lightly against the lid. "They've been taken care of."
It was a moment before the lid lifted, two faces peeking out. One face looked distinctly green, which was frankly rather amazing considering how dark the skin normally was. The other face also looked green, but Sam's lips were pursed in a thin line that suggested she was trying her best not to vomit.
A few seconds later, they tumbled out of the dumpster and sprawled on the ground, the lid falling shut with a loud clang. Both gasped for air, Tucker groaning and muttering something about never abandoning meat again.
"Never again, Tucker," Sam moaned. "If you ever point to a dumpster again—"
"Knock me out," Tucker groaned. "Please."
Uryuu took a few steps back, trying to put distance between them. The smell coming off them was atrocious.
Sam's clothes were ruined beyond all recognition. Her stockings were black with various clumps of rotten fruits and squishy things that Uryuu would rather not identify; her skirt wasn't in better shape, and her school blouse was green, brown, and black. There were squishing sounds when she moved her shoes, and her hair also had clumps of unidentifiable food in them.
Tucker's beret was also rather blackish in color with food substances smeared into the cloth. His pants were in the same shape as Sam's stockings and skirt. His shirt had several pieces of banana stuck to it, along with what looked like orange rinds and possibly ground spinach. Uryuu wasn't entirely sure and wasn't going to be going closer to confirm.
"Oh dear," Inoue noted, one hand covering her nose and mouth.
"Not being clean is breaking the rules," Walker said several moments later, hovering by Uryuu's side.
Sam and Tucker sat up, both glancing at each other and promptly turning greener than before upon seeing their clothes. Then, as if cued, they turned away from each other and vomited.
Uryuu closed his eyes, pressing his thumb between his eyebrows. He heard Inoue's concerned cooing, along with disgusted noises from the ghosts.
When the sounds of vomiting ceased, Walker spoke again. "You're both under arrest for stinking up the perimeters."
Uryuu actually agreed.
I deliberately went googling translations for certain words used by Bleach just for accuracy's sake for Tucker. I also have a lot of favorite lines in this piece...
What are some of yours?