Espada no Naruto
Chapter three: Cards revealed; the fun begins.
Mandy: I might not be able to right as much when I go on a vacation in summer, but in the mean time, here is the next chapter of Espada no naruto!
Rukia, who happened to 'overhear' the twin's conversation, grew worried.
'Ichigo…Where are you?'
Unknowingly, more than one person shared the exact same thought as her.
Inside a dim mountain cave, something stirred; this was no ordinary animal, for none of the wildlife dare come near this cave. An ominous roar echoed around the caverns. Finally, a slit and glowing orange eye cracked open.
"WHO DARES DISTURB MY REST?!"
The said beast was obviously pissed off at being woken up for the tenth time this week. Stupid shrimp of a human keep making him appear in the village of more of those useless vermin. So, in short, the Yonbi didn't get enough sleep, and someone was waking him up, again.
The unfortunate person didn't flinch or wince at the loud volume. A somewhat fragile but bored expression was plastered on her face. Pupil less white eyes stared intently at the opening of the cave. Her waist length black hair was tied in a high ponytail, with two cropped locks of hair framing her fair face. Four scaly tales were swinging behind her. Perhaps the most intriguing of scene is a semi-transparent sword that lay in her hand.
This zanpakuto, unlike all the other ones, is different. It feels light to touch, and weighs next to nothing. This was because this sword is composed of one thing: the wind itself. Being such highly based elemental sword causes a constant breeze to flow around the sword. Such elemental swords are rare, like Hitsugayga's Hyorinmaru or Yamamoto's Ryuujin Jakka.
"Me." Hinata said without stutter. Like Naruto, she had long since shed her shy personality; such a thing would get you killed faster than one can blink on the battlefield.
This time, the Yonbi was curious. This human did not shriek or flee the cave. Instead, it was challenging him, the great Yonbi! Then he looked the human over, and froze.
'Shinigami! No; not shinigami; something else…'he thought with alarm.
His eyes stopped at her tails.
'Of course. The council was replaced with the jinchuuriki when we were captured. She must have defeated mine. Well, too bad, looks like the council will need a new member once I'm done with this idiotic substitute of mine!'
He opened his mouth and let out a giant breath of the poisonous gas that he grew infamous for.
As the gas approached Hinata, she stood there, and at the last second, she said:
"Fuku, Gin Kaze."
The breeze around the sword instantly turned into a full blown wind. In the background, a transparent-looking eagle appeared with its wings outstretched and beak wide open.
When the poisonous gas reached Hinata, the eagle behind her beat its wings once, and the poison was sent back to the Yonbi with its speed doubled. In his shock, he was blinded by his own attack, which was sent back to him by his opponent.
Not wasting this chance, Hinata shushin-ed around the Yonbi and sliced off three of his tails in one swipe of her long but light sword. Once separated by the main body, the tails all turned to stone.
Shrieking at the immense pain caused by the attack, the half-chicken half-snake creature turned his head to glare at Hinata, only to find her gone.
"Too slow. Tezawari no Ishi"
She appeared behind the beast, and jumped up, missing it's snapping beak at the last second. She then spun and hacked her sword like an axe, imbedding it in the neck of the Yonbi. Instead of blood pouring out, the monster let out a desperate scream, before its vocal cords are turned to stone, then the brain, the heart, and the rest of the body.
Deciding to be cautious, she finished this with one last attack.
Once again, the eagle beat its wings twice and instead of wind, pink cherry blossom-like feathers pelted at the statue with amazing speed. To the naked eye, this speed-based attack would be nothing more than pink streaks flying at the statue with pin point accuracy and speed.
The statue collapsed, and in its place was a pile of fine granite dust, with a single shining pink petal-like feather on it, before that too, turned to dust.
Job done, Hinata used Shushin again to get to the kage tower of Kusa, where a brunette girl of eighteen sat contently. She filed through a stack papers on her desk, muttering under her breath. On her shoulders was the infamous Akatsuki coat, and her finger held Itachi's ring before Sasuke killed him.
'So, this is Itachi's replacement, huh?'
Hinata appeared beside the girl, and obediently, the eagle trailed after her. Giving a curt nod to the majestic bird, the avian took a deep breath, sucking in a variety papers, furniture, and the girl. Before she fully disappeared, Hinata took the pleasure of plucking the Akatsuki ring from her quickly retreating figure. Once she was down the eagle's throat, the bird let out what looks to be a burp and retracted his wings, his expression demanding for her to call off the shikai so he can get some rest.
Smiling faintly, Hinata did as the bird demanded, and called the shikai off.
'Time to give Naruto-kun a call.'
In a shabby candy store in Karakura Town, Naruto and Gaara sat cross-legged on the Japanese style cushions on the floor, listening to Urahara's explanations about bankai. Their attention was split in two when they received a 'call' via the telepathic bond from Hinata.
'Naruto-kun, Gaara-kun, the Yonbi is dead; turned to finely grinded granite dust, to be more accurate. Itachi's replacement is dead as well.'
'Good job. Two down, seven more to go.'
Then Itachi also came into the conversation.
'Naruto, I found the Gobi's trail, and I'm on to it.'
'Naruto, Urahara is about to show us the basement.'
'Bye, you two.'
With that, Naruto's mind snapped back into the real world, just in time to see Yoruichi leaving the room and Gaara getting up. Not wanting to be left behind, he followed Gaara out of the meeting room in a slight trot.
When Urahara told the two to climb down first with noticeably more humor than usual, he was slightly skeptical. His intuition told me that there was some kind of inside joke that he was missing. His fears were as good as confirmed when Yoruichi also grinned widely, as if waiting for some kind of joke to be performed by them; only that they didn't know what it was.
Shrugging off the hurriedly sinking feeling, he climbed down the trap door nonetheless, expecting stairs or a ladder to assist him in getting down. What he did not expect was to be in free fall down what seemed like a fifty foot drop with the good hard ground at the bottom. His shinobi skills took over with ease, and he began to somersaulting on his way down the drop. Just as he was about to crash, he stopped and landed on his hands, doing a back flip to land safely on the ground.
Sure, he might have gotten a few scratches or bruises, but better that then breaking his neck.
Looking behind him, he saw Gaara also landing safely on the ground. Urahara and Yoruichi also followed using a ladder, but their eyes wide with surprise.
'They'll have no problem with bankai training.' Thought Yoruichi
'Must be from shinobi training' Urahara reasoned quite correctly.
Quickly shaking off the surprise, Yoruichi further explained about gaining bankai.
"Here are the dolls we told you about. Our reiatsu will sustain your zanpakuto's form for about three days. Gaara, you'll be going to the east side of the basement. Naruto, you go to the west."
Naruto and Gaara pretended to look confused, while they resisted the urge to roll their eyes.
'You might want to get a bigger basement once you're remodeling the basement; if you're lucky, the foundation might still be standing after we're done with it.'
Interpreting their fake confused look, Yoruichi grinned. "You'll know why when you begin the training. Back to what I was saying, I'll be sustaining Naruto's doll, while Kisuke will be sustaining Gaara's. Okay then, Gaara, the west is towards that side, and the east is towards this side."
Naruto smirked with slightly dark humor and walked to the left, towards the direction that Yoruichi pointed to. Gaara did the same, except in the opposite direction.
"See you in three days, Kisuke."
Without further adieu, the two of them shunpo-ed over to their side respectively and stabbed their zanpakuto/hand in the doll, activating it.
Ichigo winced. The painful wound from his side wasn't helping his condition either. Towering over him, Hiyori stared down from that button nose of hers. Smirking, she bent her knees so that her eyes were about on the same level as his.
"Don't you get it, Ichigo? The choice was never yours. We thought that you had potential so we considered adding you to our group. You don't have a choice on this."
He felt anger and embarrassment welling up within him. Worse yet, his hollow began tempting him, whispering in his mind thousands of ways that he could make her life hell. Getting his resolve back, he pushed the sound of his hollow's voice away from his mind, in time to receive a kick to the head from Hiyori.
"Show me your mask, Ichigo. Let your hollow take control, or DIE." Hiyori said, her voice deepened by the hollow's power.
'She asked for it, so what 'ya waiting for, king? Show her what ya made out of!'
'The hollow has a point, for once…she DID ask for it.'
Ichigo was about to warn her anyways, but the hollow didn't give him enough time for that.
Excited at getting full control of the kid's body, Ogichi immediately took over, dragging the mask over his face, exposing his eyes, which turned a frightening yellow-black. Madly swinging Zangetsu like a piece of bamboo, he shunpo-ed over to Hiyori at inhuman speeds, seizing and crushing her throat with his right hand.
Currently, the once hyperactive blond was staring calmly ahead as the doll morphed and stretched. Within half a minute, the doll was no more. In its place was his teacher, friend and weapon, Hirasenmaru.
When she materialized, she wore a one-sided downward frown on her face, like always. Unlike all the other more feminine zanpakutos, she chose a more boyish name that ends in '-maru'. She'll show them that she can kick any of their sorry arses anytime of the day. Unsurprisingly, she represents Naruto's old shinobi spirit, the headstrong, stubborn, and prankster-like that died away with the boy's body.
"Bankai training, huh?"
As soon as she finished speaking, various swords of different sizes and shapes appeared all around them, stuck in trees or stabbed in the ground or a nearby boulder. Hirasenmaru pulled one out from a chunk of rock nearby and hefted it, testing the weight.
Naruto also picked on up, this one thinner and with a serrated edge. Instead of attacking, he focused his eyes on his zanpakuto's sword and feet, anticipating her next move. Surprisingly, she began to move her fingers on the hilt.
'Code.' He thought.
This was one of the codes that the Lords came up with, hard to notice unless you knew what to look for. His mind began to rapidly decode the hand movements as quickly as her fingers moved.
'You won't want to reveal your bankai to them, so how about I teach you another move to pretend that it's bankai? You'll have to call out bankai and the move's name so I know which move you're talking about.'
Naruto slightly nodded, and began to move his hand on the hilt as well. Just so that Yoruichi doesn't get curious, he also switched the hand on his sword and shifted his feet a bit.
Deciding to be extra cautious, Hirasenmaru completed the act with a seemingly taunting statement about his temper.
"Not rushing into battle as before, eh, Naruto-kun? It seems that with enough beating over the head, the lessons finally got into your thick skull."
With that, she disappeared at a blur, which was cue to Naruto to also disappear.
Yoruichi felt her eyes widen. Such fast speed!
They only stopped a few times to exchange brief battles of parrying strength, physical blows and sword fighting tactics. Other than that, the two movements were like a fast paced dance that was perfectly choreographed, to the very last step.
Keeping his eyes on the muscles of her arm, Naruto managed to predict her moves in tie to dodge them, but was cautious enough to keep his feet running and let her have a hit or two. He made extra precautions so that he's not going all out; this is also what made this fight so difficult. He had to constantly keep his strength at a controlled level, carefully tuning it so it rises or drops a little once in a while.
Likewise, Hirasenmaru also took it easy on him. For one, she did not drop her weights. She also was purposely more uncoordinated than one of their regular spars. To complete her act, she made sure that Naruto would land a few grazes too, once in a while.
Phasing back out of her thoughts, she waited till his punch was about ten inches from her face before ducking, Kurenai style, letting his foot to only hit a few strands of hair. She noticed that once again, his sword crumbled to ashes, and the golden blonde subconsciously reached for another one nearby without even having to turn his head.
Feeling that the sword was a lot heavier than the other ones, he let his eye wander to it for a split second. The image that his eyes sent to his brain, for once, truly shocked him from head to toe. The shock that he was feeling started a domino effect inside his mind, unlocking various chains of memories that he had locked away long ago.
'This is ZABUZA'S sword!'
Observing his zanpakuto's spirit transfer into the doll was slow and boring work; but then again, most of the things in life were boring in Gaara's eyes.
The first thing that Chigetsuei did when she materialize to the real world was to check out where she was, and why she was called here. Her reiatsu radar picked up Hirasenmaru and Naruto's reiatsu signature a few miles away, clashing with each other's and fighting for dominance. She raised an elegant eyebrow in response to the information she gathered. Then she began to blink twice, paused, and then blinked three times. The clever spirit decided to use this code, simply because she had her back to Urahara, so he couldn't see her face.
In return, Gaara slightly frowned, until it hit him like a ton of sand. 'Code! Of course.'
Using facial expressions and various common gestures, like stretching the neck or feet movement, in the façade of a warm up exercise, the two began to communicate in code.
'I'll teach you a different move. It's not wise to let them know your true bankai yet. You have to call out the attack's name with bankai though, so I know you're not talking about your true bankai.'
"Nice to see you again, Gaara." She said a smile on her heart-shaped face. Unlike her wielder, she represented the part of his soul that was killed when Yashamaru tried to kill Gaara; his freedom with emotions and his childhood cheerfulness. Yet at the same time, Gaara's bloodlust is so great that it tainted his emotions and young memories as well.
Gaara nodded again. Quite determined to earn this new skill as soon as possible, his hand grasped and pulled out a nodachi sticking ninety degrees from the trunk of a tree next to him. Then he vanished, trying to land a blow on his teacher.
Chigetsuei smile got bigger, and closed her eyes. Then she also disappeared.
Not unlike the other pair at the opposite end of the basement, the two vanished and reappeared for brief periods of time in contests of strength and wit. Only that this fight was more of strategy; Naruto's one was more of strength. The two knew each other's weaknesses and both used the knowledge to full extent. Instead, Gaara tried to concentrate more on kido and hakudo. Both knew that they would have to limit their strength and soften the blows, which neither of them liked.
Easily countering his attacks and dodging his blows, Chigetsuei would start the incantation of release reiatsu at the same time or very close to the time that Gaara does. That way, the two attacks would collide, cancelling each other out.
Both leaping out of the cloud of smoke that was their result of the latest attack, they began another hand-to-hand fight, with Chigetsuei and her slightly superior speed gaining a slight advantage.
Urahara, forgotten by now, watched the fight with a hanging jaw.
'I'm going to have to rebuild my basement by the time they're done; if one fight is like that, two will destroy everything twice over! On the other hand, this IS one good fight. This is a captain's level fight! Having found those two might be the key to getting the upper hand in the war.'
Uncharacteristically, Shirosaki Ogichi (ichigo's hollow) whimpered.
'Ookay, so maybe killing that little girl isn't the best; but she asked for it!'
Just like always, Ichigo pushed away his voice and focused on the situation that he is in right now. Currently, he is lying on the ground, with half a dozen of Vizard zanpakutos pointing at his head or neck.
Hiyori, on the other hand, is sitting backed up to a wall, her two hands frantically clutching at her severely bruised and injured neck. Tears of fright were running down her face, and her body was shaking all over.
'That was nearly as bad as when I saw Kensei as a Vizard the first time! That boy really was going to murder me if Shinji hadn't stopped him!'
Shinji walked over to Ichigo, his face showing a deep frown. He took the tip of his zanpakuto and shattered Ichigo's mask, causing his eyes to retreat to their normal brown color.
"Hiyori, you have enough of an example?"
Hiyori just ignored him, still not over the incident five minutes ago. She was still clutching at her throat, extremely glad to still be alive.
Seeing that Ichigo was returned to normal, the Vizards lifted their zanpakutos from his neck somewhat hesitantly and sheathed them. Then Lisa went into a room in the barn and brought out what looks to be a piece of gym equipment.
"What is this?" Ichigo asked. Somehow, his intuition told him that he would not like the answer.
"This is the Super Hiyori Walker. You'll be working on this for the next couple of days." There was a evil-looking smirk on her face, and the sun reflected on her glasses, rendering Ichigo unable to see her eyes.
"You mean shitty Hiyori walker." Hirako whispered, hoping that Hiyori wouldn't hear.
Unfortunately, the said girl did hear, and sent a flying kick towards Shinji, who was sent spin-flying to the opposite wall in the barn.
Ichigo's right eye started twitching, and then he sighed exaggeratedly.
'This is going to be some looong days.'
The next day….
Over deep within Uraharas spacious basement, a spiky blonde panted as he accepted a bottle of water from his equally exhausted zanpakuto spirit. Sitting down hard beside a withered old tree, the two of them tried to catch their breath. Naruto closed his eye for a just a brief moment, and a flashback scene played within his exhausted mind.
"This is ZABUZA's sword!" he half-shouted.
"It's not supposed to be there!" in code signal, he added 'and this didn't appear in my first bankai training!'
Hirisenmaru frowned more and asked "Why not? This represents your past. If you manage to shatter this sword, you'll be half done with bankai."Also replying in code, she added 'It was there last time; you just didn't pick up that one.'
He could feel his eyes cloud over, his mind trying to drag him down memory lane, but Naruto was not one to give up without a fight. His senses picked up an attack at the last minute, and hurriedly blocked it with the flat side of the heavy sword at the last second.
Putting all her weight on her attack, she felt the blonde's hand quiver ever so slightly as he struggled to hold up his block.
"Remember what Kakashi told you? Never let your guard down."
The two leapt away from each other in the process of breaking the attack. Rushing back at him at a zigzag pattern, the spirit threw a sweep kick at him, which Naruto quickly jumped away from, and countered back with a fast kick towards her face.
Not about to be so easily defeated, she caught his foot in her strong grip, and twisted it, hard. Then she released it, in the process of ignoring his wince of pain. His face slightly twitching, he spun his blade in a block, glad that the wide steel surface blocking the attack better than a slimmer sword would.
Focusing his attention back to the present, Naruto's eyes noticed that Hirasenmaru's reiatsu spiked slightly, and her mouth opened, forming the first word of one of the common hakudo incantations. Realizing that he was a syllable behind, he also began his incantation.
"Oh ruler, mask of flesh and blood, all creations of the universe, fluttering of the wings, ye who bears the name of man! Truth and temperance, strike but slightly your claw upon this wall which feigns ignorance of sin! Hakudo San Juu-san: Soukatsui!"
He finished it at the same time to hear Hirasenmaru also finished with her last syllable. The two fireballs, one of deep red, the other one of electric blue, clashed with a thundering roar, and shook up a huge cloud of dust. From the other side of the basement, Urahara felt the shock from the attack shaking casued by the two attacks colliding. Hearing a slight cracking sound, he turned his attention to the cliff face that was to his left. Deep inside the cliff was a huge crack, threatening to fall any time.
In the midst of the dust cloud, the two opponents exchanged blows and moves, neither of them relying on sight. Both of them closed their eyes and relied on their reiatsu detection skills and their hearing for any warning of any upcoming attacks.
When the cloud of dust finally settled out, both sides were panting. Hirasenmaru sported a purpling bruise on her pretty face, two cracked ribs, and a few scrapes on her shin. Some parts of her battle kimono were torn, mostly on the arms.
Naruto wasn't much better off either. He had a few bruises and cuts on various knuckles, when he struck the rock that Hirasenmaru threw at him as a distraction. His arms and left shoulder also had some slash wounds that bled sluggishly, courtesy of her sword. His right ankle is also twisted, if not broken, from when the time she caught his kick. The boy's right calf tottered on the verge of cramping from the intense battles and adjusting to the heavy weight of Zabuza's sword.
Semi-smirking at each other's wounds, the twos decided to take a breather and heal their wounds.
So here he is his breathing slowly calming as he rested briefly. His annoying but useful mind sent bits and pieces of his long buried memories, digging up unhealed wounds.
'Shut up. Make your peace with the past and get on with it. You have a war to win and a realm to put back in shape. You have no time to be sober about the past; don't let it hold you down!' the sensible part of him scolded.
Cruel as the truth may be, this did the job. The blonde allowed himself one more sigh and started to reflect upon his current life. He has people to keep alive, a dying wish to honor, new friends to protect, and a jerk to kill. This time, when he stored his memory away, he was careful not to push it aside roughly, but rather lay it down in the back of his mind to remind him of his more carefree days.
He was rudely woken up when Hirasenmaru shook his shoulder vigorously, making him dizzy.
"Wake up, sleepy head. Whatever you did, you did well; Check out the sword."
Cracking a sleepy eye, they flew open when he saw Zabuza's sword. It was cracking, a large rift in the center, then branching out to lots of smaller ones. After a few seconds, it disintegrated to dust, sending and imbedding a set of directions deep into his mind. Knowing that he was extremely close to learning this move, he let the information wash over him like a tidal wave.
Gaara's eyes opened wide from the cat nap that he took. While he was napping, the information for this new move settled out into his mind, sending several images his way.
There were about two dozen blown glass see-through orbs, all in different sizes and colors, just like the ones in his shikai. Instead of circling the opponent, they flashed in and out of invisibility, not even leaving a shadow when they did. Then they would charge up and fire concentrated reiatsu at him, all locking on to his signature. The one thing that struck him weird was the color of it. The blasts were black, a shiny blue-black. Around them was a black glow, stronger than the moon… more like a sun…
"Chigetsuei, is this the name of the attack?"
Having seen his thoughts, she smiled and nodded.
Naruto mentally gritted his teeth, cursing his zanpakuto for the thousandth time while trying vainly to calm down. After all, what a laughingstock he'd make now if he lost his temper, adding to the amount of misfortunes that have come across his way! While he gets to work out his 'bankai', his spirit just sat there, swinging her legs, clearly enjoying the show. What is so funny about having your hair singed, your clothing drenched, your hair getting remodeled by various pieces of wind slicing locks of your hair, the ground randomly creating mud holes for you to step in, and electricity zapping you at everything you touch?!
His new move was simple; make one spiral, reflect four others from that one, add elements to them, and make them move in directions; not straight lines. So far, he was succeeding. This was in a sense a downgrade from his usual bankai, but he had to pretend that he was having trouble; else wise Yoruichi would get suspicious- potentially dangerous for his mission. But still, she didn't have to order the elements to deliberately disobey his command, not that they were tame kittens from the start.
Throwing another glare at the whistling zanpakuto spirit, Naruto continued to try to get these stupid damned elements under his control.
A small black cat twitched it tail, from left to right. It certainly was amusing to see the elements pretty much spitting in Naruto's face and the poor boy can't do anything about it. She remembered the last time she foolishly tried to master the elements; she didn't even come close and they ended up almost killing her. That was embarrassing. For some reason, Naruto seems to be having an easier time with controlling them than most other shinigamis. Maybe it was due to the fact that shinobis associate a lot with the elements with their Jutsus.
The last day of bankai training
Twenty-four beautiful crystalline orbs materialized from his swords and floated around a practice dummy made roughly of twigs and straw, held together by a piece of rope braided from bark. Some of them disappeared, while others began circling around it much like how flies do at high speed. Then black jets of concentrated reiatsu hit the dummy and exploded, blinding everyone who was watching, also conveniently setting the dummy on fire.
The sound of two people clapping drew Gaara's attention, and he dismissed the bankai.
"I think you've got it down, Gaara."
"My my! This is certainly earlier than I have expected! Let's go see if Naruto-kun is done!"
'That guy is way too cheerful, even if it is just a façade.' Gaara grumbled in his mind.
Yet once again, Hirasenmaru was sitting on a rock, one knee propped up and her chin resting on it. He long hands plucked a long blade of grass from beside her feet and stuck it in her mouth.
"Sooo… How's your bankai training?"
"Done. I've got the elements under control, finally; with no thanks to you." He added, throwing another glare at the boyish girl.
"Hey, look at it this way; you'll have better control over the elements when I go back to the zanpakuto world. It'll save you lots of reiatsu in the long run."
"It's not like I'm running out of reiatsu anyways." Naruto grumbled. In a much lower voice, he added "I could always tap into my youkai if I run low."
"True… Maybe I just liked seeing you getting beaten up by the elements."
Before he could retaliate, Yoruichi, Gaara, and Urahara came strolling their way.
"Ahh Naruto-kun! I trust that you're done with your bankai?"
Naruto gave a curt nod.
"If you don't mind, would you show us what it can do?"
With a shrug, Naruto unsheathed his sword and pointed it at a nearby tree.
"Bankai: Kansen Eizo"
Like with his shikai, the blade and Naruto were surrounded by a warm glow, and a fiery white spiral appeared. This was short lived when the spiral flickered, then multiplied until there were five instead of one. Then each of them took on an element. One of them turned earthy brown, with green vines climbing around it. The other one was a deep sapphire blue, with some white and light blue, like the crashing waves. The third burned—literally. It was surrounded with a raging fire, making it seem more like a fireball than a spiral. The next to the last spiral was crackling with golden and blue electrical sparks, and the spiral itself became a lightweight steel, ideal for conducting electricity. At last, the final one, of wind, was semi-transparent, with the edges less transparent than the middle.
With a flick of his fingers, the spirals flew towards the tree in a curve, and exploded. To the naked eye, the spirals did not leave at all; that was because those images were a reflection of the real spirals, left in their spot in case someone saw through the afterimages.
'So he can make them curve now.'
'Amazing, to be able to put elements into those spirals to increase their powers.'
'The kid did get it down in three days… '
Sensing that his reiatsu was dipping low, Urahara cleared his throat.
"My reiatsu is dipping to near low levels" he said
"As am I" Yoruichi interrupted.
"And since both of you mastered bankai, there is no need for the spirits to be here any longer. Also, we need to conserve our reiatsu for the upcoming attacks."
When both Gaara, Naruto, Chigetsuei, and Hirasenmaru nodded, Urahara and Yoruichi stopped their reiatsu flow towards the doll, and the spirites dematerialized.
Then the four of them headed back upstairs through a ladder dropped by Jinta.
"Uzumaki Naruto, Sabaku no Gaara, have you two completed bankai training yet?"
The two nodded once more and answered with a yes.
"You two are now ready for the application for Captain Rank, but due to the upcoming war, we have decided not to promote you yet. Your opponents would underestimate you, and your bankai
would serve as a trump card in case your opponent is an Espada. However, you will be made captains after the war is over."
Once again, the duo dipped their heads.
'Yeah right, that's what you think.' The duo unknowingly shared the same thought.
"Now, from what we gathered, Aizen's goal is the King's key…"
And so, Yamamoto droned on about Aizen's goal, which Naruto and Gaara already knew long ago Soul Society even caught a whiff of it.
'You know, it's fun to be able to use one of our bankais again. It was boring just using shikai.'
'I quite agree.'
When the four of them stepped out of the 'TV Room' as Naruto dubbed it, they were met by a frantic Rukia, who almost ran straight into the two of them.
"Naruto, Gaara, have you seen Ichigo? He's gone missing!"
'The Vizards.' They thought to each other.
They feigned surprise, and asked Rukia in return, "Can we go help look?"
Rukia bobbed her head eagerly up and down, and ran out the door again, followed by Naruto and Gaara.
'The Vizards won't be dumb enough not to put up a barrier shutting off their reiatsu'
'So there's only one way left to find Ichigo.'
"Hiton: Hitoki Gyakuten." Both of them whispered, not eve bothering to do hand seals.
Both of them followed a trail of silvery reiatsu to Ichigo's house, and saw a ghost version of the boy himself walk out the doors and headed toward the northern part of the city, leaving more of the silvery trail as he went.
Being careful not to let the ghost Ichigo see them, the two tracked him to an abandoned barn near the school in the northern direction.
To unaltered eyes, the barn looks normal, but to Naruto and Gaara's extra sensitive youkai enhanced eyes, there was a warm yellow-orange glow surrounding the barn in a bubble.
'One of Hachi's creations.'
'Now, as for breaking it, this might be a fun challenge.'
'Did you say challenge?' Hinata added, butting in their conversation.
'I need some challenge. Let me see if I can solve this one.'
After a span of about ten minutes of muttering under her breath and asking the two to perform some detection jutsus on it, Hinata finally got the puzzle solved.
'Use wind armor and a small bit of water to replicate the air, so the barrier won't register you two as intruders. They've got to let the oxygen in somehow.' With that, Hinata left the conversation looking for some corrupt shinobis to kill and citizens to save.
Shrugging, the two formed hand seals with amazing speed and called out their newly created jutsu's name.
"Futon, Suiton: Kitai Genso Katchu"
A passing breeze surrounded the two, as well as a slight bit of trailing water from a pond nearby. After swirling a bit, they formed an inch thick barrier covering the two of them from head to toe. Then they just walked right through the barrier and into the barn, not even bothering to conceal their reiatsu.
A certain orange haired teen could feel his eye twitching as he concentrated more of his anger on this stupid piece of gym equipment. Ichigo was about to complain again when something drew his attention.
The Vizards all turned their head as one towards the entrance, thinking the same thought.
"No one has ever passed through Hachi's/my barrier undetected before!"
"Hello, Hirako-san." A shadowy figure said.
Hirako immediately recognized the voice, and he had a sinking feeling that he knew who was beside him.
"Hirako, you know this guy?!"
"They're the new 'shinigamis' that are supposedly going through bankai training."
Naruto frowned. They we're supposed to know that. But then again, it's been years since anyone truly surprised his calculations.
Then, to make sure that Ichigo would not hear this next part, Hiyori started a shouting match with Ichigo about him slacking off, causing the angry orange head to ditch the machine and chase her. Obviously, Hiyori's taunts made Ichigo chase her out of the room.
"But, you're not a shinigami" This time, Gaara raised his nonexistent eyebrows. So Hirako surprised Gaara as well.
"What makes you say that, Hirako-san"
"Even if you two were past shinobis, you have more reiatsu than the others. Also, I could tell that you are holding back, unlike the other three shinobi-shinigamis at the school."
'Hey guys, we have a problem here.'
'The Vizards know that we aren't shinigami, but they don't know who we are either.'
'Should we tell them? They stayed neutral in the war so far, and a new Hueco Mundo might get them to help us.'
'If they decide not to join us, they would most likely keep quiet, since they have grudges against both sides.'
'And they would get revenge against Aizen without siding by Soul society as well.' Sasuke added.
'So it's decided that we tell them.'
Naruto received unanimous nods in return.
"Alright then, if we tell you who we are, will you keep quiet about us?"
The Vizards looked at each other and nodded, while Hachi performed the Bakudo 77: Tenteikuura to let Hiyori know what was going on while she taunts Ichigo.
"How much do you know about the nine lords?"
They looked at each other again, but this time in shock.
"Before you get the wrong idea, we are NOT on Aizen's side, and we are definitely not a part of the Espada." Gaara quickly added.
"Basically, the nine lords are equivalent to the shinobi's nine tailed beasts, and they were pulled into this world when the olden times shinobi uncovered some documents. Since they used to rule Hueco Mundo, it was thrown into the chaos that it is now when they were 'kidnapped'.
So, as their human sacrifice, we took their spot in the council of the lords after they were once again forced under the rule of humans. Our goal is to fulfill their final conscious, or what I call, dying wish. The nine of us decided to take Hueco Mundo back and restore it, so that less blood would be shed.
That also means killing Aizen, but since we make out home in Hueco Mundo, we 'pretend' to work with him, which led Soul Society to thinking that we were a branch of the Espada. We can't be even compared to them, because our abilities far outstretch them; for one, we use both reiatsu and a combined form of chakra and reiatsu, dubbed youkai. We are also given a partial animal form and full animal form that can cause massive destruction.
So the bottom line is this: if you join us, you and get your revenge on Aizen without having to join Soul Society, which we know you also hold a grudge against. We'll set up a part of Hueco Mundo for all those who were experimented on by Aizen, including the Vizards. Also, Soul Society will owe us big for our help, and we'll try to work out a deal with them so that they won't look at us as vermins."
"How much do you know about us?" Lisa asked.
"Your former ranks, zanpakutos, strengths, weaknesses, and a bit on Vizard abilities."
"How did you cross my barrier?"
"Youkai. And also with a physical body, we can use youkai for shinobi techniques, which shinigamis don't know."
The Vizards looked at each other and began to communicate through the Bakudo that Hachi set up.
'What do you think?'
'They have a point. This might be what we are looking for. The shinigamis would want to monitor our movements after the war.'
'Besides, they know more about us than we do them.'
'They are powerful, I can tell. They would be better as allies than enemies.'
"We've decided to join you."
Naruto and Gaara both looked at each other and nodded.
"We can discuss this later, but Ichigo's hollow needs to be controlled."
Hachi slapped his hands together and put on various bakudo barriers, all the best that he can make it. Just for extra protection, Gaara summoned up various sand and winds shields and any other barrier jutsu that he can think of. Naruto used his vast knowledge in seals to make the area sound, motion proof and fully protected. In fact, the room was so well protected that people could blow up dynamite there and people outside the barrier would never notice. That is, until the barriers got taken down.
Hirako then began to explain the process of changing from a shinigami to a full hollow, then to a Vizard.
"We'll each take ten minute turns inside the barrier. Any longer could be fatal. Since we have ten of us now, Ichigo would have one hour and forty minutes to complete the transformation until the first person goes again. If he gets out of control, worse case scenario, we'll have to kill him"
"I see. Maybe Gaara and I can use some of our jutsus to delay him while we stand in the back."
"If he's that powerful, we might have to use one of our bankais."
"Our zanpakutos taught us each another move to substitute in the place of our true bankai so Soul Society won't know. Besides, our true bankais are meant to kill; it'll be easier if we didn't use them."
A demonic roar broke their conversation, making the group turn their attention towards the half Ichigo half hollow creature.
"I'll go first." Hiyori volunteered, and walked through the warm orange shield.
As various clashes and bursts of reiatsu littered the air, Naruto was in deep thought.
'We may have to switch to partially animal.'
'I would prefer not. The animal forms are huge—the barrier might not cover it.'
'Even so, in worst case scenario, if one of us has to switch, the other will set up the illusion barrier. I have some of the seals in out pocket if I'm the one that has to switch.'
"Naruto, your turn." A bloody and exhausted Hirako walked out of the barrier, and Lisa walked over to put on some bandages and stop the healing.
'In this form, he's stronger than most of the captains; hmm… maybe this will work.'
Naruto formed some quick one handed seals as he dodged a clawed hand aiming for his head.
'Boar, snake, rabbit, dragon, rat, boar.'
The blonde once again dodged another punch by back flipping, his sword now sheathed but not drawn out of shikai yet.
"Sui, Do, Ka, Rai, Fuuton: Goryuu Endan Bushin no Jutsu!"
Five huge dragons formed out of the ground, each three or four times the height of a normal human. The earth one took no time in attacking Ichigo, roaring as it charged towards the white and black hollow Ichigo. The creature summer saluted into the air and sliced it in half using its clawed hand.
Letting out a defiant scream, the dragon split, and miraculously, did not disappear into the ground, but formed two separate dragons, smaller, but growing quickly in size.
This process went on for about two to three minutes, until the hollow Ichigo finally ran out of patience and fired several ceros at the crowd of dragons before him. This time, the dragons, as hardy as they were, could not survive a blast from such a high concentration of reiatsu. They all melted and trickled back into the ground and into Naruto's body again.
'Well, that delayed him. I guess I should pull out my bankai now.'
"Bankai: Kanzen Eizo"
Again, the spirals formed and each took on aspects of the five elements. They chased Ichigo as it ran, then turned back and attacked them. The hollow was not having any progress, because whatever part of him that touched the spirals were burned or sliced and any reiatsu he threw at them were absorbed and sent back to Naruto, who was refreshed instead of being tired.
However, he could not just sit back and watch because he has to control the five spirals and make sure that they don't kill Ichigo. Mostly, he just lets them graze an arm or two, but once in a while they get out of control, as he soon found out.
The wind spiral raced in front of Ichigo and ran straight at his left leg. Because it was preoccupied with the other spirals, it did not notice the semi-transparent attack his leg. Ichigo and Ogichi both felt the pain as their left leg got sliced off and promptly got repaired. The other spirals took
the second of hesitation and rushed toward him, but Naruto took strict hold of their actions once more and called them all back.
'I need to work on the control of the attack.'
"Naruto, your ten minutes are up. It's my turn." Gaara called from outside the barrier.
"Your friend is quite the elemental master, isn't he" Hirako told Gaara.
The redhead just nodded absentmindedly, deciding on the best course of action towards his now mutilated classmate.
When he stepped inside that barrier, the first thing Gaara did was create three Kage Bushins with lots of extra youkai. These would stand more than one hit; in fact, these could stand as long as their power doesn't run out. They could get sliced in half, put themselves back together and continue, as long as Gaara continues to supply them youkai.
The first Kage Bushin Gaara had it under strict orders to keep to Taijustu and distractions only.
To the second one, the redhead tossed it the real Chigetsuei and told it to release bankai if necessary.
The last one Gaara sent it extra youkai to use for Jutsus and Kido.
All of them were given strict orders not to kill Ichigo. Cut off an arm or a leg, yes, but give him enough time to recover, much to the clones' dismay. Like their creator, they had a taste for blood.
Then he just sat back and watched the show. Of course, he couldn't let his guard completely down, so he changed partially to his animal form.
His raccoon tail made its appearance, as did the Shukaku's infamous yellow and black lines. His nails also turned into claws, teeth into fangs. Youkai lingered at his claw tips, glittering a dangerous red and black, charged up and ready to go.
By the time the ten minutes were up, Gaara was without a scratch, or though he was panting slightly due to the effort of pumping youkai into the clones constantly.
The clones, on the other hand, were a different case. The first one has been sliced open too many times to count, died twenty times, and was still had blood stains from when one of his neck veins had been sliced wide open.
The second one had its head still bent a ninety degree angle and a permanent scowl planted on his face. Ichigo snapped its neck, and it had healed crooked. Not to mention that its creator and Naruto were both smirking when it walked out of the barrier. Its body sported several newly healed scars, including one when Ichigo's hand punched right through his left lung.
The last one got off the best, since this one was smart and kept away from the boy, preferring to fire Kido and Jutsus from a long distance. Of course, he had scars and regenerated organs due to Ichigo's speed and the element of surprise.
"Holy SHI!! The radar is going haywire at Karakura! More than fifty deaths in ten minutes by the same person but no bodies or souls!!"
The first and second hokages were running overtime trying to sort this out, while the Sandaime Hokage sensed something familiar.
'Something tells me that this is Kage Bushin.' Being with Naruto did have it's perks; now his intuition helped him sort out which ones were Kage Bushin, which ones were real.
Finally, the Yondaime Kazekage walked over and looked at the images, which no one touched, and banged his head against the desk.
Seeing the other kages gazes, he said:
"It's Gaara that's causing this. Even in death he still causes me trouble!!"
The others just threw him a 'wtf' look, while Sandaime chuckled at the poor kage's misfortune.
All of the clones were more than happy to leave once Gaara dismissed them. The Ichibi himself grimaced at the memories. Brutal as they were, some of the moves that hollow Ichigo performed could be used to terrorize enemies later on. The Ichibis before him all had a sadistic touch, and he was no exception.
'Why did I not think of using Kage Bushins?' Naruto asked, more to himself than to Gaara.
'Because you tend to focus more on direct attack and power.'
The Vizards, however, were in awe at the display of tactics and power that the two showed.
'I'm glad they aren't working for Aizen; if they were, we'd lost the war for sure.' Hirako thought.
After about one and a half hours, Ichigo finally overcame his inner hollow and saved Hiyori from having to fight against Ogichi again.
Then Naruto and Gaara took down their barriers, and helped the Vizards in the less brutal part of Ichigo's training: keeping the mask on.
'I can do this' Orihime strengthened her resolve again as pumped more reiatsu into the Shun Shun Rikka attack.
At last, she finally broke through the barrier.
"Guys, someone else broke through the barrier."
Everyone stopped to look at Hachi with great surprise, then at the entrance.
Five people recognized the orange haired beauty standing at the stairs.
'Orihime/that girl' thought Ichigo, Gaara, Naruto, Hirako, and Hiyori.
"Orihime! What are you doing here?"
"Well, Kuchiki-san and the others were really worried about you, and I noticed that the animals avoided the barrier, so I thought that maybe I could go through the barrier with Shun Shun Rikka.
Hachi showed his curiosity about her abilities by bombarding her with questions; and found out to his immense pleasure that her abilities were quite similar to his. Then he proceeded to teach her some of his original barrier and kido techniques.
When the sun finally began to glow red on the horizon, the girl decided to go home to report the good news to Kuchiki-san and Sado-san. One more thought struck her as weird.
"Naruto-san, Gaara-san, why are you here?"
"Well, we tracked Ichigo to the barn by using one of the techniques I came up with while I was traveling with Gaara, and then he set up a shield and I released my bankai to blast a hole through the barrier. When we got here, we decided to help Ichigo and his training, once things were explained to us." Naruto explained, his face not betraying a slight hint of his lie.
Gaara just shrugged as if saying 'he dragged me into this' which was not a complete lie.
"I see. Well, come home once you're done with the training!" the she flashed a grin and ran out the front door.
"She was my first crush" Hirako sighed dramatically, earning a smack on the head from Hiyori.
"Orihime! There you are; there are lots of hollows and partial arrancars spotted at the edge of the city; some of the gang are injured. Climb on to my back; I'll have to shunpo us there." Yoruichi said.
The girl nodded, getting Shun Shun Rikka ready.
Neither of them noticed in their panic to get to the hollows that an eerie, bright green eye watched the two depart from the darkness.
"Kurosaki Ichigo, where are you?!"
"You were a good fight, but the next time you hear my name will be your last!"
"Do you need me to take over, king?"
"You would have wiped Karakura off the map, Ichigo."
"I want you to retrieve Inoue Orihime."
"You are not to, under any circumstances; follow Inoue Orihime into Hueco Mundo."
Hirasenmaru Light Spiral Ring
Chigetsuei Blood moon
Naru: Ring (yes I know that the word has different meanings)
Shiberu: Death bell
Narasu no Shichi Zai: Chime of the seven sins
Gin Kaze: Silver wind
Tezawari no Ishi: Stone touch
Sakura kaze: Cherry Blossom Wind
Hakudo San Juu-san: Soukatsui: Destruction Arts thirty-three: blue fireball
Kurotaiyo, Chigetsuei: Black sun, blood moon
Bankai: Kansen Eizo: Final release Light Spiral Ring: Reflection
Hiton: Hitoki Gyakuten. : Light style: Time Reversal
Futon, Suiton: Kitai Genso Katchu: Wind style, water style: Air illusion armor
Suit, Do, Ka, Rai, Fuuton: Goryuu Endan Bushin no Jutsu: Water style, earth, fire, lightning, wind style: five dragon shot clone technique
Nine Lord Council (different from Espada)
Nibi: Nii Yugito
Yonbi: Hyuuga Hinata
Gobi: Uchiha Itachi
Hachibi: Uchiha Sasuke
Kyuubi: Uzumaki Naruto
Mandy: chapter length: 24 pages, 9,082 words. This chapter is in a sense a double chapter because I won't be updating for a while.
EDIT: 6/3/08- forgot to write Yugito in for Nibi; added poll.
2nd edit: August 17, 2008-- took out the poll and corrected some mistakes-- I'll be working on the next chapter of this story soon, since my beautious plot bunnies came back xD