I know. Sorry. Just read.
Terror in Seireitei
It had been a long time since he'd felt anything from the outside; he'd almost forgotten the feel of reiatsu on his senses. Outside. Even the word sounded foreign on his tongue, and it left a bad taste in his mouth when he thought about it.
He sat in this all-white cell. "Temporary Isolation Chamber" that's what those freaks in the twelveth division had called it when they shoved him in here. He couldn't remember the exact amount of years ago that had had been. He'd stopped counting after five hundred.
Shit. Seemed like old man Yamamoto had abandoned 'temporary' in favor of 'Isolation'. The bastard. He chuckled to himself, running a hand through his hair. Sentimental old Yamamoto, the "father" of Sereitei. Well, fuck, he could take his long white beard and shove it up his shitstained ass for all he cared. The bastard had played him like a flute, pretending to be a caring old friend. Then, first time something happens, the old man didn't pass up the chance to stab him in the back. He smiled the whole time...
And his so-called, friends. Heh, they were no better. They knew what was going on, but didn't do shit to stop it. They fucked him over just as bad as the old man did. All for something that they should have damned known wasn't his fault.
Seems even in death he could not find peace. He could only be hated.
He looked at his hands, and wondered - not for the first time - how much blood they had soaked up over the years. In his real life and in his time as a Shinigami, spilling the blood of Hollows. It seemed that all he was ever good for was death.
Another spike of reiatsu shoved it's way into his senses, tearing him away from his thoughts. A few more fluctations followed, to large and powerful to be a scuffle. Someone was attempting to kill.
He could feel four signatures that seemed... different from the rest. They lacked the trained taste of Shinigami reiatsu - their energy was all over the place, all of them were obviously inexperienced, or just unskilled, though he suspected the former.
Seemed like a pair of Ryoka had found their way into Seireitei. Kind of hard to comprehend, but not impossible. People had ended up in Rukongai before, but they'd never made it past the Gate Guards without an escort. Then again, he wasn't certain. But he did know that something significant was going on. More significant than anything else that had happened in over five hundred years at least.
And if that was the case, then that fucker Yamamoto and his two lackeys, Jushiro and Shunsui, would be distracted. Hopefully too distracted to notice him. The other captains would probably think he was just another Shinigami, they wouldn't be old enough to know him. The only two others alive to know him had finally gotten their act together and high-tailed it out of this god-forsaken place.
Jushiro and Shunsui... He didn't hate them as much as the old man. They had even visited him every twenty years or so. The first few times he'd spit in their faces and cursed and threatened them. But after they just took it, and didn't retaliate, he eventually just stayed silent. They'd talk to him, tell him what was going on outside, or just how they were feeling. He started looking forward to their visits, even though he never talked back, it was the only thing he had to look forward to in his tiny little cell. But, about a hundred years ago, they'd stopped coming. They'd forgotten about him, just like everyone else.
He'd never forgive them.
He shook his head, making himself come back to his current situation. He had a chance to escape; he was not about to let that pass by.
You know, they say a jailbird has a thousand things on his mind, but a prisoner has only one - escape.
He walked up to the door, and lifted his leg. Swinging his weight forward, he slammed the bottom of his sandaled foot into the inner edge of the door. The single lock broke under the pressure and the door swung open in front of him. He grinned. It had been what he'd been counting on. He'd never tried to escape, so why waste time fortifying his cell?
He was surprised, however, that there were no guards outside his cell at least. Either the situation was worse than he thought, or the old man had gone senile. He doubted that it would be as easy to retrieve his zanpankuto, though. The old bastard was sure to have hidden that somewhere in his office.
He sighed and made his way to the stairway at the far wall of the room. His cell was at the very bottom of Seireitei, Yamamoto's office was on the very top. It would be a long way up. Hopefully he'd be able to kill the asshole before he left.
Uzumaki Naruto had always been the quiet prisoner, the watcher from the shadows. Those are the kind that you never expect to sneak up behind you... and slit your throat.
It took even longer than he thought to reach division one's (Yamamoto's quarters) area of the tower. When he did get there, he was somewhat relieved to find that Yamamoto was out. He had to admit that if he tried to engage the old man without his zanpankuto... well, it wouldn't be pretty.
Naruto entered the large room about an hour after after he escaped from his cell.
It had taken a lot less effort than he'd thought it would. The tower was mostly abandoned, there were only a few seated Shinigami remaining inside. Quite surprising really, they must be more worried than he thought. Either that, or something major was going on.
And he didn't even get an invitation...
He grinned to himself and glanced around the nearly bare room. There was practically nothing than what was needed in this boring place. Should have expected it. Not a single painting on a wall, just a single rug and a tea table in the center. But... wait, there was something on the far wall.
He walked towards it, almost snorting as he saw what it was.
It was his zanpankuto.
Naruto shook his head, his blond hair waving with the movement. Just like the old man to have a trophy on his wall. A souvenir. He retrieved his zanpankuto and strapped the sheathe onto his waist.
He cracked his neck as he eyed the single window in the room. Hell, why not?
He was just opening the window when an explosion of reiatsu flooded his senses.
Ichigo could feel his vision fading.
He was kneeling in front of a smug Kuchiki Byakuya, his lifeblood pooling on the ground beneath him as the other Shinigami prepared his weapon for the final blow. He'd lost. He wasn't able to protect his friends. As soon as Byakuya killed him, Rukia would be hunted back down and executed. Renji would probably be killed too. Orihime, Chad, even Ishida. They would probably all die.
"You've fought well, " the Kuchiki said, "But it's over Kurosaki Ichigo!"
Ichigo almost snorted. He couldn't just kill him, the bastard had to rub it in. Despicable. Even as he willed his body, shouted at it, to move, he knew it was hopeless. He was done, his body was bloody and beaten.
It was over.
The realisation flooded over him and in that split second, rage flooded his mind. How could it be over? He came here to win, godammit! He could feel a great... something rise up inside of him. It was powerful, more powerful than him.
It's vile taste filled his mouth, making bile rise up in his throat. A disgusted scoff echoed through his mind as the rage turned to fury, and fury to pure uncontrolled ire.
I told you before, dumbshit. If I let you die, then I'm in trouble too.
The voice whispered in his mind. His eyes widened, before the evil version of himself that he'd fought before took total control of his body. He could feel the mask emerge on his face, he could feel his eyes change, his surroundings becoming more detailed and distinguishable with his transformed retinas.
And most of all, the power.
It swelled and bubbled inside of him. More than he'd ever felt before. It was intoxicating and vile at the same time, he felt lightheaded as even more power flooded his senses. He could feel his arm shoot out, and grab Byakuya's zanpankuto, but he neither called it forth, nor did he feel the pain from such an action. He saw the blood splurt from his hand, but couldn't feel it as droplets splattered his face.
He could feel himself glare at the Shinigami, and could feel the fear radiating off of the captain. The man took a step backwards as Ichigo felt his spiritual pressure nearly double.
"What are you?"
Kurosaki Ichigo, he wanted to shout. Instead, he heard and evil chuckle escape his lips at the question. His neck tilted back. He saw the Shinigami stiffen under his piercing gaze and he responded with a voice that he could hardly call his own.
"Me? Heh, heh, heh," He could feel the grin that spread across his face. If you could call it that. It was more like a baring of the teeth and a glint in the eyes. A promise of death. "Who am I you ask? Why, dear Kuchiki, I don't have a name!"
Ichigo felt the muscles in his arm tense, but couldn't follow the slash that cut open Byakuya's chest. Neither did he realise that he'd moved until he saw the Shinigami fall to his knees behind him. Ichigo felt that insane laugh again leave his lips, and knew that there was a similar expression on his face. He could feel it in his bones. This being was evil. He could feel the urge for blood, for slaughter. And what scared him was... he liked it.
"Heh, heh, hahahah!" He heard himself cackle, "I will show you how to use this Bankai!" He chuckled again, before swinging his sword arm down. "Getsuga!"
Immediately after, a black swirling mass escaped the sword, heading straight towards the stunned Byakuya. The Shinigami managed to dodge, and was barely able to parry the next blow that came from the back.
"That mask..." Byakuya panted. "This spiritual pressure... You're a Hollow...!"
Ichigo reached out towards, his arms, his legs, anything. He had to get his body back. This bastard couldn't just come in and interfere like this! Frustration was all that met his efforts, as each and everything he tried to reach rejected his commands, until...
Hollow Ichigo grinned, "Maybe, but that's not really for you to know," he chuckled again, "It doesn't matter anyway. Because soon you'll be..."
Ichigo gained control of his left arm and brought it up, slamming into the half-mask on his face. He was only able to get that far before it froze up again. He was, however, able to keep it in place, gripping the shattered mask still attached to his face.
"Sh-shit..." He felt his lips mutter, "Let go!"
Ichigo fought even harder for control, exerting every part of his will power into the effort.
Quit using my body! Don't interfere, get the hell out!
"Your the one who's interfering! Don't you understand, we can win!"Hollow Ichigo felt a lapse in his control as he lost the ability to use the body's lips Shit! Shit! Shit! DON'T! YOU BAAASSTTAARRRD!!
The broken pieces of the Hollow mask fell to the ground.
"Sorry for the interruption."
Isane felt like crying as she stared down at the prone form of Hinamori Momo. There was a pool of dark blood beneath her, the life giving substance still pouring out of her chest as Unohana-sama attempted to close the wound.
There wasn't a day that Isane had spoken to Momo that she hadn't mentioned her captain. Smart, intelligent, loving, caring captain Aizen. It was like a schoolgirl crush, she would have given her life for the man.
Could it have really have been him that did this to her?
All evidence pointed to it, she knew. But it was just beyond her comprehension. A zanpankuto that could entrance people into complete and total hypnosis? It was crazy, and she wouldn't have believed it... had she not seen Aizen's mutilated body back in the morgue area of the fourth division. It had been so real... the organs were damaged, blood drained from his veins had made his already pale face a ghostly white, and the damage to the bone and muscle tissue in the stomach area had been burnt, as if by a kido blast.
And yet he was here, they'd just seen him a minute ago. And he'd killed Momo. Was this really the same man that had always been so kind, even compassionate, to his fellow Shinigami? Or had that also just been part of the illusion?
Had this man truly fooled all of them, some of the strongest Shinigami to grace Seireitei, along with Yamamoto-sama himself? Was it truly possible? And poor Momo... Isane's hands shook as she thought of the horror her friend must have felt, being stabbed by someone that she admired so much. If they were able to save her, would she ever be able to recover from that kind of mental trauma?
And what about Captains Tousen and Gin...?
The young Lieutenant jumped slightly as her Captain's sharp tone cut into her thoughts. She could she Unohana-sama's intent expression give way to a sympathetic look, "She's going to be alright Isane,"
The blond girl shuddered with relief and nodded, waiting for her captain's next orders.
She didn't have to wait long as the fourth division captain took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "We'll have to contact them, Isane. Everybody. The Captains, the Lieutenants, the seated Shinigami, the Ryoka. Everybody."
Isane blinked, "The Ryoka, Unohana-sama?"
The older medic nodded an affirmative, "Yes, they've been through a lot Isane. They deserve to know; especially if Aizen is after what I think he is..." Normally, Isane would have asked what that was, but right now... she was scared. What else in Soul Society could be awry? What other foothold that she thought was secure was waiting to crumble underneath her weight?
She sighed and started the preparation for her kido. It took her nearly fifteen minutes to write out the seals on the floor - using the ink cartridge that she carried with her. Partly because she couldn't get a decent stroke with a brush while her hands were shaking so badly...
"Alright," she took a breath, "Let's do this..."
She layed her hands on the ink-drawn kanji, and shouted, "Summoning of the Tracking Sparrows - Kakushitsuijaku!" Instantly she could feel all the spiritual signatures in all of Soul Society. Usually the tricky part of this technique was to find the specific signature that you were looking for, but this time it was much simpler. She just had to focus on every signature she could find - excluding Aizen, Tousen and Gin of course - and send the message.
She could feel the mind link connect, and she started her transmission.
"This is a message to all Shinigami... and the drifters. What I am about to tell you is going to sound crazy, but I assure you, everything and anything that I am about to say... Is the absolute truth."
Jushiro snapped his head to the right, his zanpankuto releasing back into their normal state as he stared off into the distance, his face intent. His white hair flashed around his head as he contemplated what he'd just heard.
He lifted his head, closing his eyes as he suddenly felt very... old, somehow. His body probably wouldn't be able to withstand another battle, especially with his illness. It was a strange thing indeed to have your body start to die before your mind even showed signs of edge. It was also very saddening.
Without turning around he asked, "What shall we do, Yama-sempai?"
He did not recieve any answer from his former teacher than a frustrated grunt. Not that he'd expected anything more. Indeed, the Captain of the first division was harsh with those that broke his "rules".
The white haired Captain of the thirteenth division did, however, hear Shunsui respond. His voice had somewhat of a... strange tone to it and Jushiro had a hunch that it had to do with their engagement with Yama-sensei. His perverted friend always was closer to the old man.
"Isn't it obvious?" Shunshui stepped up next to his friend, his straw hat firmly tucked over his head, shadowing his eyes from sight. Jushiro had the feeling that he had hid some tears under that hat. "We'll have to go and stop Aizen. He might be strong, but I don't think he can take two Captains of our level. That is, if we can get there in time."
Jushiro shook his head, his sadness showing on his face. "I cannot make it back in time, Shunsui. My body can't handle it."
"Well then," his friend gave him a solemn smile, "We'll just have to wait, and see what comes of this."
"Did you hear that, Yachiru?" Kenpachi asked, leaning against the wall of a building, his zanpankuto resting against his shoulder.
The bubblegum haired girl nodded her head. "Yes, Ken-chan. We better get moving."
"Yeah," Kenpachi sheathed his sword, glancing around for a moment, scratching his forehead with his pointer finger. "Uhh... damn, I always fucking forget which way Sonkyoku hill is..."
"Don't worry Ken-chan, I remember!"
As the Captain headed back down the street, the little girl on his head directing him around corners and obstacles, he had a strange feeling of deja vu.
Aizen smiled as Renji refused to give up Rukia, and even trying to attack him, the boy was very amusing. As if that puny zanpankuto would be able to do him any damage, it was classic Renji, forever rebellious.
"Howl, Zabamaru!" the red headed Shinigami yelled as he released his shinkai, sending the dismanted sword flying towards his former superior.
Aizen shook his head. So foolish these children were. He pushed the rim of his glasses as he grinned at the approaching zanpankuto. When the tip of Zabamaru came within range, he reached out with his left hand and grasped the tip, the rest of the segmented sword bunching up behind it. The former fifth division captain held back a chuckle as he brought up his own zanpankuto, slicing right through Zabamaru with the ease of a hot knife through butter.
There was a sickening sound of torn flesh, and Aizen saw his former subordinate grasp his chest with his sword hand, his hand coming back crimson. Renji stared dumbfounded at the horrible gash that now adorned his chest.
Aizen could hardly believe this boy called himself a Shinigami. The pathetic kid hadn't even seen him move.
"Damn," Renji swore as he fell to one knee, his wound taking it's toll almost immediately. He growled as he heard Rukia start blabbling something, though the exact words were lost on his pained ears. "Shut up, Rukia." he snapped, jostling the small girl slightly for emphasis.
Aizen chuckled, amused. "You really should listen to your friend there, Renji." he commented, "Her advice might just save your life."
The Lieutenant burst into a sudden coughing fit. He covered his mouth with his forearm, drenching the limb in blood and bile. After almost a minute he wiped his mouth. "Fuck you," he swore, "I'm not leaving my friend to be slaughtered."
The fifth division Captain grinned widely, taking a few steps forward. "Really, Renji, who do you think will come? Do you truly believe that someone - anyone- will make it here in time to save you? You should go. You cannot hope to protect Rukia, if you try, you'll simply be another casualty that could have been avoided."
Renji spat at his feet, the bloody mass landing atop Aizen's sandaled foot. "Stop saying my name as if you're my friend, bastard. If you want to get to Rukia, you'll have to do it over my dead, rotting corpse!"
"Very well then," Aizen shook his head, "a shame really."
With that, he blurred forward again. Though this time he deliberately slowed his movements enough for Renji to see him. The boy wouldn't be able to dodge, nor block with his broken zanpankuto, especially with his wound. It would be amusing to see his face as he realised that he was utterly helpless.
As he appeared in front of the downed Lieutenant, however, there was the familiar blur of shunpo and a black clothed Shinigami appeared in front of him, covered in bandages and half-dried blood. Obviously this 'Ichigo' he'd heard so much about, the boy that had made his whole scheme possible.
Aizen allowed his zanpankuto to be blocked, and shunpo'd back to his previous position, surprised as he saw the orange haired boy's eyes follow his movements. So, the boy was as good as he'd heard. Of course, he should have known, concidering how quickly the Ryoka had been able to intercept him - even if he'd not been at full speed.
"Damn," the boy panted, looking over his shoulder to give Renji a grin. "All you had to do was run, you can't even do that right?"
The red haired Shinigami scoffed, "Well you don't look so hot yourself,"
Ichigo shrugged, willing to admit that fact, his eyes never leaving Aizen. Turning back to the task at hand, he asked, "You still got enough energy to run? Take Rukia and get the hell outta here."
"You kidding?" Renji pulled out his broken Zabamaru, "I'm not going anywhere. I can still fight."
Ichigo scowled, "I don't think-"
"Listen," he hissed, "This next attack will leave an opening, it always does, even against Byakuya. He's better, so it'll be small, just be sure that you get there fast enough to take advantage of it."
Ichigo hesitated for a moment, before hesitantly nodding.
"This is going to hurt, Zabamaru." Renji whispered to his zanpankuto. With a yell, he slammed it into the ground, segments of the sword exploding out around Aizen. Each of them quickly converging on the former Captain.
Aizen repressed another chuckle as he easily avoided the segmented Zabamaru. He adjusted his glasses as Ichigo appeared next to him, trying to take advantage of the opening that Aizen had deliberately left in his guard. Once again he marveled at how fast the boy had been able to reach him. Not fast enough to challenge him really, but enough to be respected.
As he caught the black zanpankuto coming at him out of the corner of his eye, he contemplated just ducking the blow and killing the boy, but decided that it'd be fun to play with him for a while, maybe scare him a bit. So with that thought he reached out and stopped the approaching zanpankuto...
With his left index finger...
He smiled at the boy's shocked face, the sun glinting off of his glasses. He brought around his own zanpankuto, preparing to slice the boy open, much like he did Renji. As he did so, however, something appeared in front of him. Before he could retaliate, he felt his sword stop with an audible thump, the impact jarring his arm.
Aizen scowled and leapt backwards, noticing that Gin and Tousen had not budged from their spot a few yards away... In fact, they almost looked... asleep?
What in the hell?
He looked back to where he'd engaged Ichigo, to find a man in a black Shinigami outfit, with dark red sleeves covering his arms. One of his arms was out, and there was a slice in the material about at the forearm. But that would mean...
That this man had blocked his strike... with his bare arm? No, that was impossible, no one would be able to do that. In order to block the amount of power he'd put into that swing, the man's reiatsu leakage would have to be huge, almost beyond comprehension.
He frowned and examined the man. Deep, dark blue eyes, shoulder length blonde hair. He looked like an average man, except for that look he had in his eyes. This man had the look of a killer, through and through. The look in his eyes was cold, uncontrollable hatred and resolve. He had no doubt that this man was dangerous. That much was obvious already.
"You know," the man spoke, and his words were so neutral that Aizen had to search to find the edge that they had to them. "It's not very nice to play with people, Shinigami."
Aizen blinked. "Who are you?"
"Heh," the man chuckled somewhat bitterly, "Don't think you'd have heard of me... just call me Naruto."
Aizen frowned. Indeed, the name held no real value to him. There was something in the back of his mind, however, that roared at him that something was familiar about it. He could vaguely remember reading something in the old Seireitei archives, something about a man named Naruto... But that information had dated back to when Yamamoto had first claimed Soul Society, nearly two thousand years ago...
But as the mysterious man named Naruto stood in front of him, he remembered something Yamamoto had mentioned, about a former Captain that had failed to uphold the law. He'd always assumed this man was dead, but now, he noticed the tear in this man's Shinigami outfit...
Where the Captain's Crest would usually reside...
A/N: Well, there it is. Not much different than canon, but hey, it's only the first chap. The next one'll have much more divergence, and just maybe I'll dig into Naruto's past a bit. I kind of blurred through this part of the arc because I wanted to be able to get to the part where I actually get to have a bit more freedom to do what I want. Still, I didn't think it was too bad.
Just for you that don't remember, when Ichigo was fighting Kenpachi, he wasn't able to cut him at first because Kenpachi unconciously leaked reiatsu, and Ichigo didn't know how to get past that.
So, next chapter will be Aizen escaping back to Heudo Mundo. Of course, Yamamoto and the rest of the Shinigami will be there, so you also have some of Naruto's interaction with them to look forward to... but don't get your hopes too high. Next chapter will also probably be a bit longer...
I actually rewrote the first seen several times before I was satisfied. Originally I was going to have Naruto a lot more depressed and solemn, but I decided that being a little more bitter would probably be more realistic. I think it fit's in place a little smoother also.
Some people will probably not like how easily Naruto escaped, but really, why would any one bother to put a bunch of locks and bolts on something that hasn't ever tried to escape in 500 years. It's like the cooperative prisoner that never tries to escape versus the uncooperative prisoner that always tries to escape. It's the first one that has a more likely chance of escaping when the time comes.
Well, I'm gonna quit wasting your time now. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of Inner Demons.