YO!!!! Been a while hasn't it. Yeah, I know that its been forever and a half since I've updated this but, to be honost, the same reason for my last stalling for the last chapter still remains. I wanted to see what all the other Espada's abilities and releases looked like so that I didn't fuck up too much. However, aside from that, the main reason for this delay was mostly the most common thing among other really good authors. Simply put, its a thing called life, something that I have and try to maintain. Mind you, I do love writing my stories, but life comes before anything else, period. But, aside from that, I do have something I wish to adress before I proceed with the chapter, and that is Naruto's strength level. To most people who have asked me "Why is Naruto so weak? He's been around for 900 years so why can't he take on an Arrancar?" To answer this question, you really need to ask yourself this. Would you read the story if Naruto was badass from the getgo without any build up? If you answered yes, then your retarded and you should stop reading this story for a while. If you answered no, then you see my point. With that said, I think I've taken up too much time writing this so, without any delay, here's my fifth chapter to Life Linger's After Death!
"Talking" Person Talking
"Talking" Person Thinking/Techniques
"Talking" Hollow Talking
"Talking" Hollow Thinking
I don't own Naruto or Bleach and that's all I need to say.
Hueco Mundo was a vast place, that much was obvious with its endless deserts stretching as far as the eye could see. And in its vastness, it remained almost devoid of anything with the exception of a few Hollow scouring the dunes in search of food and dead withered trees. Yet, white sand wasn't all that could be found in the giant wasteland, as remains of several old and destroyed buildings could be found in many locations around Hueco Mundo.
Among these many areas, one that had stuck out the most was an area completely covered in withered trees along with a large stone walls that rose up several stories high. Though, it was nothing in comparison to Las Nachos, it was still an impressive height for something so old yet still standing. Yet, throughout the miles and miles of dead trees, the place seemed devoid of anything as not even the smallest of Hallows was seen anywhere near the tree-line.
Suddenly, on the top of the massive wall, a black void suddenly opened to reveal a blonde haired man garbed in white with his eyes shut. The man calmly stepped out of the void and onto the stone wall while the Garganta closed quickly behind him. When Naruto opened his eyes, he felt a bit pained at the sight, even though he had seen it many times before. Buildings ranging from big to small were all left destroyed and crumbled over due to time and Akatsuki's weapon.
With a depressed sigh, Naruto leapt off the wall and collided with the ground below him, kicking up a cloud of sand in the process followed by a few chunks of stone that had fallen off the wall where he had stood before he began walking down a path with both hands shoved into his pockets. As he walked, Naruto took in his surroundings, reminiscing about all the things he had done along these roads when he was alive and young.
He saw the old book store that he and Konohamaru had snuck into so that he could show the lad how to perform a certain jutsu, though the name had escaped him after so many years. Continuing down the path, he found the bridge, or what was left of it, where he and his team had all met with their sensei all those years ago. He even found the small food stall that once used to belong to his best friends Tenshi and Ayame. Other than those key places, everything else he found were remains of the homes that had been either destroyed or had withered away due to time. After walking for what seemed like hours, he finally came to a stop near the location in which he wished to revisit, the Hokage Monument.
Even to this day, he thought it was astounding that it had remained unscathed during the unleashing of Akatsuki's ultimate weapon. Yet over the millennia, the faces began to fade and wither with time until soon, it was almost impossible to distinguish the faces that were once displayed proudly above the village for everyone to see once you looked up. Had he not lived here, dreamed of having his own face carved onto that mountain, he would not have known who they were or even remembered them after all these years.
So, with his destination reached, he stood rooted to the spot and stared at the faces as memories of that day invaded his mind.
All throughout the world, the sky began to go from clear bright blue to pitch black with massive gray clouds beginning to form. Everyone from all sections of the Elemental Nations could see what was occurring, yet had not even the slightest idea of what was happening. Naruto, who was in the deep regions of Earth Country, glanced up at the sky and noticed the sudden changes of the weather. Raising a non-existent eyebrow, picked up the remains of a random Iwa ninja's body and chomped the man's head clean off before munching on it while keeping his eyes focused on the sky above.
He watched as the once scattered gray clouds began to form together into one massive one that had accommodated just about half the sky. Soon, bolts of lightning began to crackle inside the giant storm cloud while some even shot off towards the ground. Yet, as he continued to watch, the bolts began to grow larger and larger until even he was beginning to worry.
Finally, after several moments of watching, Naruto felt a powerful force building in the center of the clouds and could only watch as a single beam of bright white light burst from above and struck the ground.
The shockwave alone actually uprooted many large boulders and trees off the ground and pushed back with such force, that one would think that a hurricane had struck the area. After the shockwave, he saw a large dome of blinding white light beginning to spread and expand to great proportions while consuming just about everything in its path. As it steadily spread towards him, all he could do was shield his eyes from the blinding light before he too was consumed by the dome.
Naruto was disturbed from his thoughts when he felt a presence behind him. Snarling, he whirled around with his claws extended only to come face to face with a dark skinned blonde woman staring at him impassively. Now normally, he would have attacked anyway, regardless of gender, yet the reason he didn't was simply because he recognized her as one of the Espada that was in the room when he had been turned into an Arrancar by Aizen only two days ago.
"Kyuubi," Stated the woman in a stoic tone. "I have been sent to inform you that you are to be given your rank and that you are to return to Las Nachos as of immediately."
Naruto, only scuffed at this. What did it matter what kind of rank he was? It wasn't like there were any benefits for it so why bother? None the less, he nodded and watched as she opened up a Garganta for both the Espada and himself to enter. Naruto wordlessly stepped inside to join her and a few seconds after the void had closed, it had re-opened just outside one of the three large pillars stationed around the main building.
After the two had exited the void, Halibel opened the door to the tower, showing a long flight of spiraling stares, before gesturing him to follow. Naruto could only sigh as he followed behind the woman up the stairs while mumbling about elevators. Though, he didn't complain too much on the matter since he was walking behind the woman and was given a decent look at her curves as they walked. Course, this only lasted a few minutes until he was beginning to get annoyed with the silence, so he decided to break it.
"You are an Espada correct?" asked Naruto in an attempt to start up some conversation.
"Yes." Was the woman's simple reply which annoyed the former fox Hollow further.
"So, how does your ranking system work?"
"Every Arrancar is given a number that specifies them as their rank. Arrancars with two digits are called Números, while three digit ones are Tres Cifras.
Números are the primary force of our army and as an Espada, we are given a subsection of the Números that directly serve one of us called Fracción. Though the Números are far stronger than those who are Tres Cifras, they are not anywhere near as powerful as the current or former members of the Espada."
"Former?" asked the blonde with a raised eyebrow.
"They are referred to as Privaron and were the Espada before us that were created naturally until Aizen-sama had appeared. When he created us, we had taken their place and they were ranked among the Tres Cifras. Yet, despite their rank, they are still indeed more powerful than the Números."
"I would think they would hold some form of resentment towards the current Espada or would just up and leave."
"Some do resent us; others wish to reclaim their lost rank, which I highly doubt they will succeed in doing. Also, the reason they don't just "up and leave" is duo to fear of angering Aizen-sama. Even though they are not stronger than us, they are still useful to him and that is why they haven't been terminated yet."
"Geez, talk about obedience, if it had been me I would have just left."
"We would have located and eliminated you rather easily." Stated the woman calmly.
Naruto only smirked a bit at that remark before replying. "I've been around for nine-hundred years sweetheart, I think I know a few hiding places that, even with Grimmjow's help, you couldn't find. Besides, after that stunt I pulled off on the first day, I think it's safe to say you should not underestimate me."
He watched at the woman ceased her ascension up the stairs to turn and stare at the smirking Arrancar behind her. His smirk never left his face as he walked passed her and continued walking up the stairs before turning his head around to face her.
"If I ever wanted to disappear, I can very easily and very quickly do so." Was his last remark before glancing up to see that they were nearing the end of the staircase. He let out a relieved sigh before continuing upwards with Halibel not far behind him. The said woman was now looking at the blonde with a look of utter confusion. Was he really telling the truth when he said he could vanish that easily? She doubted it was true and that it was only a bluff but certain things made her question if that was true or not.
For one thing, he had held such confidence in these locations that he wasn't even intimidated by her comment of his termination should he leave. That and he did prove a point about his abilities, since he had managed to stop Grimmjow in his tracks by simply having a field advantage. Should he be in a territory that he is familiar with, she narrowed her eyes a bit at the thought of how dangerous the blond could be not only as an Arrancar but even in his previous form.
"Hey," Called out Naruto, forcing Halibel out of her thoughts. "Never did get your name or your rank, seeing as how I should show at least some respect to the Espada."
"Halibel, 3rd rank Espada." Answered the woman.
She had to stop herself from bumping into the blonde as he suddenly halted in place and whirled around with his hand outstretched. "Kyuubi."
The woman silently glanced at his outstretched hand before scuffing and pushing passed him. "We are behind schedule; let us proceed to the meeting hall."
The blonde Arrancar stared at her for a brief moment before glancing down at his hand. Scuffing he shoved his hands into his coat pockets and whirled around to continue climbing up the staircase after Halibel.
"Well it was nice to meet you too." Muttered the blonde darkly. "That's the last time I try to be respectful towards one of you people. At least Grimmjow was a bit more polite than your ass was."
Halibel, who had heard all this, couldn't help but scuff at his words. Grimmjow being polite? That was a laugh even if she wouldn't do so openly. Had any of the other Espada heard this, they more than likely would have burst into tears at even the thought of that man being polite to anyone.
She was glad to note that they had finally reached the top of the staircase and found a small hallway with two large white double-doors at the end of it leading to the meeting hall where Kyuubi would receive his rank. After walking down the hallway, she opened the doors to the dark room before gesturing Naruto to enter. The blonde nodded before stepping inside the room, only to duck under the kick that was sent to his head which had connected with the door and easily knocked off a large chunk of it. Whirling around, the blonde went to sweep the leg out from under his attacker only for the person to merely vanish before re-appearing with his fist ready to connect with his opponent's face, had Naruto not caught it with his hand.
Growling in annoyance, Naruto steadily rose to his feet with his attacker's fist still in hand before sending his own fist to his opponent's face, which the attacker had caught as well. His opponent growled as he tried to force the blonde back while Naruto dug his heels into the ground to keep from being pushed back.
"Heh, good to see your still got those reflexes of yours Kyuubi." Remarked Grimmjow with a cocky smirk.
Naruto gave the man a small smirk before pushing his rival's fist back as he replied, "What can I say, it's just natural."
"Enough!" Ordered Barragan as he appeared in-between the two and split them apart from each other. "We have matter's to attend to, once Kyuubi's rank is administered then you may do as you please."
Grimmjow and Naruto both shared a quick glance before scuffing and stepping away from the elderly Espada. Neither wanted to fight the man, Naruto cause he had already done so once and wasn't looking forward to another while Grimmjow because the man was a higher rank than he was.
"Now that the childish skirmish is over, let us begin." Said Stark as all the Espada filed into their perspective seats at the table. Naruto, being the only one standing, began searching for a seat, only to come up short. At that point, he noticed three chairs at the edge of the meeting table and shrugged before taking the one in the middle. Some of the Espada spared him a glance before dismissing him and turning their attention to Stark, who was currently on the opposite end of the table looking straight at Naruto.
"Before we begin I would like to ask where you went. I understand you have special conditions and privileges with Aizen-sama, which he had agreed to, but I would like to have some general clue as to where you were located for future reference."
"Or so you can keep tabs on me while Aizen ain't around." Thought Naruto to himself. "Honestly, who do these fools think their dealing with here?"
Despite his thoughts, Naruto portrayed a look of boredom as all the Espada around him stared intently at him. "I have no need to inform you of the exact location as to where I was, but I will inform you of my departure the next time I do leave."
"I must attest to that Kyuubi." Replied Barragan sternly. "Should there be a time where your services are required, we must be aware of your location so as not to be searching aimlessly throughout Hueco Mundo to find you."
"Grimmjow knows most of my whereabouts. I would suggest if that opportunity arises when I am needed then inform him and he shall retrieve me. However, as it still stands, I have no intention of revealing my destinations to you. Should this prove a problem, inform Aizen and see what he says." 'And if my hunch is correct, he should have no issues with this if he wants my assistance.'
Barragan shot a brief glance toward Stark who nodded before answering. "Acceptable, just be sure to inform us before your departure."
Even though Stark didn't like Kyuubi holding such information, he felt that it would be a waste of both theirs and Aizen's time should they try to contact him about the matter. The last thing he needed was for Aizen to be annoyed at being contacted, while still in Seireitei and at risk of being discovered, over such a trivial matter.
"Good, now onto business." Replied Stark before placing his elbow on the table and fixing Naruto with an even stare. "Kyuubi has recently been evaluated by Barragan and is currently awaiting his rank. As he had concluded, Kyuubi is marked with excellent skill and unique capabilities that cannot be ignored."
"What kind of abilities?" asked a dark skinned man with what looked like a small row of bony spikes extending along the crest of his head.
"Rapid healing capabilities, very high reiatsu levels and-"
"The rest is confidential." Interrupted Naruto with a stern glare directed to Barragan.
This caused everyone to turn their attention back to him while some of the others to glare in annoyance. Of course, he could care less if they found his outbursts annoying or not.
"Confidential," asked a man with long black hair and a white eye-patch covering left side of his face. "What kind of bullshit is that?"
"I have my reasons for keeping things secret, and they shall remain secret until I feel it is necessary to reveal them." Spoke the blonde calmly with both his eyes closed.
"Any specific reason as to why you wish for them to stay secret?" Asked Stark curiously.
"He's always been like that." Spoke Grimmjow surprisingly. "Even when I fought him back in the day he refused to use a majority of his skills. Personally, I think he holds back because he wants to surprise his opponents, that and he obviously doesn't trust us entirely as of yet."
All other Espada shared quick glances with each other, each holding the same look of curiosity. It was understandable that he didn't trust them yet, but the thought of what he was holding back intrigued some of them to a great extent. After all, hearing all the talk going on about him some were just itching to see what kind of tricks the Arrancar had up his sleeve.
"That aside, it was made apparent that Kyuubi-san's abilities cannot be ignored and that placing him as a Números would simply be a waist. His experience in many battles dealing with Shinigami also proves to be very beneficial in future confrontations."
"So, what are ya sayin'." asked the man with the eye-patch. "He's going to be an Espada or somethin'?"
Stark could only sigh before nodding his head. "It seems to me that it's the only option we have at the moment Noitra."
"He could be a Fracción." Stated another Espada who had pink hair and glasses.
Barragan only shook his head at that suggestion. "Such a rank is not fitting for one of his level. With raw power, it can easily be said that he is equivalent to Halibel, myself, and Stark's level. However, his skills in actual combat are lacking due to his transformation thus had made rank to that of yourself or Zommari's level. Overall, I would have to rank him among the middle ranks."
"So, your saying somebody should just move over and let this guy become an Espada just like that?" Asked a giant dark skinned man.
"We have no other options at this point Yammy." Replied Stark with a sigh. "As such, Kyuubi shall be given the rank of-"
"I will not stand for this!" shouted a voice followed by the sound of his fists slamming against the table in anger. "I believe I speak for all of us when I say that our ranks should be stripped from us just because he is favored by Aizen-sama!"
"This does not concern you, therefore, you have no reason to object to this decision." Replied Barragan while sending the man an icy glare.
The Espada who had spoken out, was what Naruto assumed was a man wearing a tall white mask with eight small holes over his head. He wore a dress garb that coved his entire body as opposed to the normal jacket and hakama. He also wore a frilly nobles' coat as a replacement for the jacket along with two white gentleman's gloves. Overall, in Naruto's eyes, the guy looked rather odd looking.
As Naruto took in the man's appearance, he turned his attention onto the blonde before scuffing and turning his attention back to Barragan. "With all due respect Barragan-sama, personally I cannot and will not simply hand over my position nor will the others. Our abilities are the reason that we've retained our status as Espada and I can only assume that we all plan to keep our positions."
"Be that as it may Aaroniero, I can say that Kyuubi has-"
"I don't mind being a Fracción unit." Stated Naruto suddenly, interrupting Barragan and causing him and Stark to look back at him curiously. "Personally, I could care less what rank I am, whether it be the 1st or the 100th. Just because I have a higher number doesn't make me any less strong than most others. In fact, this action could prove useful as those Shinigami scum will be caught off guard when they encounter me and assume I'm a weak Arrancar only to realize that they are fighting someone far beyond their level."
"Even though this is a cunning tactic to use, I must attest to this proposal. As your obedience is rather…questionable as it stands. How are we to assume that you will obey orders from your commanding officer should we agree to this proposal?" Rebuked Barragan while narrowing his eyes at the blonde Arrancar in front of him.
Naruto, merely shrugged and replied. "I might display arrogance a majority of the time, but I'm willing to cooperate with my superiors if they are without a doubt stronger than myself. However, if you insist on me being one of these Espada, then when the opportunity arises just let me fill in that Arrancar's place."
Stark, who had his hands folded under his chin in thought, nodded silently. Kyuubi did have a few good points in his proposal. Shinigami would most definitely not suspect a low rank Arrancar to be so strong and thus, underestimate him, even if it's slightly it would still be enough for the Arrancar to at least gravely injure them or even kill them in that period of time. It would also give the blonde the time he needed to adjust to his new form while also gaining control over his abilities. All in all, the idea of the blonde becoming a Fracción was steadily becoming more and more acceptable than they once were.
However, there lye another issue that was in need of addressing. Should they decide to make him a Fracción who would he serve under? Many of the Espada either already had units or didn't have any need for them.
"It is settled then." Stated Stark calmly as he let out a sigh. "As of today, Kyuubi is now officially a Fracción unit of the Arrancar Army. If anyone wishes to recruit now, speak now otherwise Barragan and I will decide his placing ourselves."
None spoke for a moment as they debated on whether or not to recruit him. Nutria simply scuffed at the idea of having another annoying underling under his wing. True he could say that this one would prove more useful than Tesla, but he really didn't have the patience to deal with the blonde what so ever. Halibel wasn't all too willing to have the blonde join her either since she already had three with her and they proved to be powerful themselves so she really had no use for the blonde.
Aporro was currently weighing the options of having the Arrancar under his command. After what the blonde had displayed after Tessai had severed his arm, he had become interested as to what extent his regeneration capabilities could do. On the other hand, he doubted that Kyuubi would allow him to test out those abilities and could quite possibly kill him should he try. After his display against Grimmjow, he was willing to admit that the blonde was cunning and thus, could quite possibly kill him should he really make an attempt to. In the end, he decided against it, as the cons outweighed the pros in the decision.
Yammy just didn't care all that much about the blonde. In his eyes, the Arrancar was weak and the only reason that he was there in the first place was because Aizen favored him more than the others. His thoughts were similar to Aaroniero, who felt insulted that the blonde had almost taken a seat among the Espada despite the fact that he had been in Hueco Mundo for only a few days.
Grimmjow could only smirk a bit at the thought of having his rival under his command. Sure, he had five other Fracción under his command already but they already met with Kyuubi before. Not only that, but he could also gain himself a worthy sparring partner and not have to worry about injuring him too much since the former fox hollow could regenerate like no tomorrow.
Zommari scratched his chin in thought of having Kyuubi as his Fracción. Truthfully, he didn't have any units of his own under his command and, after witnessing his feat against Grimmjow, he was curious as to how powerful the man was. He knew well enough that strength alone was not what made a warrior and Kyuubi had proven this by those actions.
"No one?" asked Stark one last time.
Zommari nodded to himself as he made his decision while across from him Grimmjow smirked. Both were about to speak when Starks attention, along with Barragan's, turned towards the pale man who had stood up from his seat and was staring directly at Stark.
"I shall recruit him." Spoke the man in the same monotone voice as always while staring blankly into the lazy Espada's eyes.
This action actually drew everyone's attention towards the man as, from the time he had become an Espada, he had never recruited anyone. Even when some of the more talented Arrancar were offered, he had never spoken a word. Mind you, he could cooperate with other's among the Espada as Yammy and Grimmjow had both teamed up with him on a few occasions, but never had he chosen to have a Fracción unit under his command. Why, no one ever had the answer, and that was just how it was, no questions asked.
Yet Stark couldn't help but be pleased with the results of this. Part of him was still surprised that it was him that had chosen Kyuubi instead of Grimmjow or any of the other Espada. Though, he knew the man had his reasons for doing this, as he never did anything like this without one, but he couldn't dwell on it now. What's done is done and now that it was settled, he could end this meeting and get himself some well deserved sleep.
"Then it's settled." Replied Stark before turning his attention back towards Naruto, who was curious as to why everyone was looking so surprised at this. "Kyuubi, you are now under the command of Ulquiorra Cifer."
Naruto raised an eyebrow as he glanced over at his new…commander in curiosity. He had noticed the surprised looks on everyone's faces yet, he didn't see what was so surprising about this. The guy was powerful, that much was obvious since reiatsu was practically oozing off his body in waves. Yet, other than that, he could find nothing that stuck out as unordinary aside from the pale white skin.
"Kyuubi." Stated Ulquiorra, snapping him out of his train of thought. "We are leaving."
The blonde wasn't even able to respond as the pale man had scooted his chair back, and made his way towards the door. Scowling, Naruto raised out of his seat as well before following not far behind the man. After the sound of the door's slamming shut behind the two, Halibel glanced over towards Barragan questionably, who in turn, noticed this and turned his attention towards her.
"Is there something on your mind Halibel?" asked the aged Espada curiously.
"Merely curious as to why Ulquiorra would take Kyuubi as his Fracción. It seems rather….uncharacteristic for him to do such a thing."
"Your concerns are misplaced Halibel. Indeed this occurrence is unexpected, but it seems to have still played into Aizen-sama's favor."
"Even so," murmured the woman to herself as she crossed her arms under her chest. "its still very sudden."
"That may be, but the issue is no longer of anyone's concern any longer." Replied Stark. "What's done is done, there is no longer a need to ponder such thoughts. This meeting is now adjured, you may all do as you please."
At that, the sound of multiple chairs screeching along the floor could be heard all throughout the room as the other Espada stood up from their respective seats. Grimmjow however, was scowling at the missed opportunity to recruit his former rival as he left the chamber while the others just thought that the meeting was rather pointless.
As Ulquiorra and Naruto finally exited from the tower, the blonde had been pondering many thoughts about the meeting. The biggest thing on his mind was about the man that was walking ahead of him. What made this guy so strong? What rank does this guy have? But the biggest question was how strong was this guy all together.
It was obvious that this guy was no push over. He could tell that, with the exception of a select few Espada, none of them were anywhere near his level in power. Hell, even a human could more than likely feel the staggering reiatsu that was coming off this guy. But, instead of finding an answer, it also provided more questions to him. If this guy was as strong as he guessed, why would he recruit someone like him?
Don't misunderstand, Naruto knew he was strong. But, at the moment he was the weakest he'd been in thousands of years as he had literally no idea what he was truly capable of anymore, what his abilities were in this form, or even how to control his reiatsu correctly yet.
'Oh no!' Thought the blonde franticly as his facial expression turned to that of pure horror. 'T-this means I'll have to do nine-hundred years worth of reiatsu control training all over again!'
"FUCK!" Yelled the blonde as he slammed his fist into the nearest object, which happened to be a withered tree which snapped in half and fell to the desert floor.
Ulquiorra, who hadn't been paying much attention to his newest recruit, turned around to stare at the sight of Naruto with his head hung low. It was at this sight, did Ulquiorra begin to doubt that choosing Kyuubi as his Fracción was a good idea.
Well, there you guys are. Hope this chapter isn't too boring but it needed to be done. Also, I don't want to hear any complaints about Naruto not being an Espada. He will be later, but not yet. And one last thing before I go, to those who've been waiting for my other story to update, don't worry its on the way and it should be up soon. R&R, flames will be pissed out and good reviewers get a cookie!