Yo everybody! First update for something other than my Gundam Seed story. Now, don't expect another update for a while. My focus is on my GS story. I want to get that one done. That's not so say I won't update this, as will work on this from time to time and I have a good third of the next chapter done. Just don't know when I'll finish the chapter.
Chapter Two: Two More Into The Abyss
Aizen's Throne Room
Ulquiorra and Yammy entered the throne room. "We have returned, Aizen-sama." Ulquiorra said as Yammy bowed while try to keep the leashed hollow under control.
"Ulquiorra, Yammy, I see that you've brought me a present." Aizen said, a smirk on his face.
"Yes Aizen-sama. This is-"
"OW!!" Yammy shouted as the hollow bit down on his hand. "Let go of my hand!!"
Yammy threw the hollow to the ground. The hollow got back up and growled at the Tenth Espada.
"Enough." Aizen said.
The hollow turned to him and growled at him. "I said, enough." Aizen said, releasing some of his spiritual pressure.
The hollow froze. It stood there silently for a moment before bowing it's head at Aizen. "Come." he said.
The hollow climbed up the platform that Aizen's throne sat on. He motioned for the hollow to sit beside his throne, which it did. "Now. Show us what you have learned Ulquiorra." Aizen said, patting the hollow's head.
"As you wish, Aizen-sama." Ulquiorra said, removing his left eye and shattering it, showing all what happened in Kurakara.
"I see. So you decided that he wasn't worth killing." Aizen said, his smirk never leaving his face.
"Yes sir. You told us to kill anyone that might be an obstacle. And he's-"
"Bullshit!" Grimmjow Jeagerjaques, the Sixth Espada shouted. "If I ran into such a weak bastard as that, I simply would've eradicated him with a single blast."
Ulquiorra silently stared at Grimmjow, allowing him to continue to rant.
"No matter what kind of junk stands in your way. The word 'kill' was in your orders, wasn't it? Then you should have simply killed without any hesitation! Right?!"
One of Grimmjow's Fraccion, Shawlong Qufang, "My sentiments exactly. This applies to any enemy. Let's say they are not worth killing. If that is so, then isn't it worthless to let them live as well?"
Grimmjow nodded before glaring at Yammy and said, "More importantly...Yammy! Look at yourself! You're all bloodied up!"
Yammy glared back but didn't saying back at higher ranked and stronger Espada.
"He wasn't worth killing" my ass! What you mean to say is "I failed to kill him", right?!"
"Hey Grimmjow, don't go talking trash when you have no idea what's going on. I was too busy taking care of the sandal dude and that dark bitch. The kid was outta my hands." the tenth Espada said in defense.
Grimmjow laughed and replied, "Are you even listening to me, dumbass? Like I said before, I would've gotten them both in a single blast."
"Oh yeah!" Yammy said, looking ready to tear apart the Sixth Espada.
"Enough." Ulquiorra said. "You fail to realize what that boy is. He is of no danger to us, yet. It is his growth rate that is the problem. His potential is tremendous. At the moment, his powers are extremely unstable. But he could prove useful, if he doesn't end up destroying himself. That is why I let him live."
"Bah. You're getting soft, Ulquiorra." Grimmjow said. "What happens if his power stabilizes and we have to fight him?"
"Then I will deal with him."
"Actually Ulquiorra, there are several that would be more suited to that task." Aizen said, a smirk on his face.
Karakura High School
The Next Day
Ichigo let out a forlorn sigh as he took his seat. The class was quiet today. Just about everyone was feeling Tatsuki's death. Keigo hadn't even greeted him in his usual loud and annoying greeting. Ichigo glanced at Orihime. She was bruised and bandaged, staring down at her desk. The teenage girl look absolutely broken.
He couldn't blame her. Tatsuki had been her best friend and she had watched her die and be transformed into a monster.
The image of Tatsuki as a hollow was burned into her memory. He had failed her when she needed him. If only he were stronger, then he could have kill those two bastards and purified Tatsuki's soul. But he wasn't. And because of that, Orihime and Chad had gotten hurt and Tatsuki was now somewhere in Hueco Mundo.
Suddenly, something caught his ears. Muffled voices in the hall. Though he couldn't tell what they were saying, he knew those voices. The classroom door opened. "Hey. How have you been, Ichigo?" Renji said.
Standing alongside Renji was Ikkaku, Yumichika, Toshiro and Rangiku. All wearing high school uniforms.
"Renji! Ikkaku! Yumichika! Toshiro! Rangiku! What are you all doing here?!" a stunned Ichigo asked.
"That's Captain Hitsugaya." the white haired Captain said as a vein on his forehead twitched.
"Isn't it obvious, Ichigo? We're here to help defend against the arrancar." Renji said.
"Hey!" a voice called out from behind.
Ichigo turned around. There, standing in an open window was...Rukia.
"Hello Ichigo." Rukia said.
In an instant, Rukia's foot hit his face. Ichigo fell back and would have hit the ground if Renji hadn't caught him. "Argh! What the hell was that for?!!"
Rukia pulled out that glove she use to use to remove his soul from his body and yanked his soul out of his body, pulling him outside.
"Come on Ichigo, there's something you need to do." Rukia said as soon as they were outside.
Before Ichigo asked what, Rukia's cell phone and his soul reaper badge went off. A hollow was entering Karakura. Rukia jumped on his back. "Come on Ichigo, let's go."
"Hey! Get off!"
"Go Ichigo!" Rukia said, ignoring him.
Ichgio grumbled and took off, heading for the hollow. A few minutes later, they found it. It was an ugly one with bladed fingers. Naturally, Ichigo attacked the hollow. But for some reason, Ichigo found himself being beaten back by the hollow. For whatever reason, he just couldn't get any attacks in, nor was he able to block in time against the hollow's attacks. He knew he probably should have use bankai...But that seemed to allow him to interfere and try to take over his body. So bankai was out of the question for the moment.
"What's the matter, Ichigo?" Rukia said, with no concern in voice. "A low level hollow like this, should be easy for you."
"Shut up!" Ichigo said.
"Is this because Orihime and Chad got hurt? Or maybe it's because of that hollow inside of you?" Rukia said. "Or is because you couldn't save Tatsuki?"
That struck a nerve. The hollow swung one of it's bladed hands at him. Ichigo brought Zangetsu up, blocking the hand. "I said, shut up!!!" Ichigo shouted, pushing the hollow back.
"Stop blaming yourself, Ichigo. So Chad and Orihime got hurt. So Tatsuki was turned into a hollow. What are you going to do about it?" Rukia said. "Just sitting there and feeling sorry for yourself, won't help anyone. And it's certainly not something the Ichigo I know, would do. He's not a spineless coward."
"SHUT UP!!!" Ichigo roared, slicing through the hollow Zangetsu.
The two pieces of the hollow fell to the ground and faded away. Ichigo stared at the spot were the hollow had fallen. He would get stronger. He would avenge Tatsuki and then purify her soul.
Aizen's Throne Room
Later That Night
Grimmjow and Tosen entered the throne room. At the base of the platform that Aizen's throne sat, was the hollow. There were bloodstains around it and the hollow was chewing on the limb of another hollow. Aizen himself sat in his throne.
"Ah...You've returned, Grimmjow." Aizen said.
"Aizen-sama, Grimmjow launched an attack on Karakura without your permission and as a result of that attack, cost us five arrancar." Tosen said. "He must be punished for these actions."
"Why don't you just go out and say it? You hate me Tosen." Grimmjow said.
"This has nothing to do with hate. This is about justice."
"Bah! Admit it. You want to kill me because you hate me." Grimmjow said.
"That is enough." Aizen said. "Kaname, I consider what Grimmjow did as an overzealous act of loyality. He simply wished to remove a potential threat for me."
Grimmjow snickered. "Yeah. That's all I wanted to do. Remove a threat."
"No. You did not. You simply wished to fight. Remember this, Grimmjow." Tosen said, his hand reaching for the handle of his sword. "Killing with no purpose, is nothing but a massacre. But killing with purpose, is justice."
Before Grimmjow could react, Tosen drew his sword and sliced his left arm off.
"MY ARM!!" Grimmjow screamed as his arm went flying.
It landed in front of the hollow, whom immediately grabbed it and started eating it.
"Damn you!" he screamed, reaching for his sword. "Stop eating my arm, bitch!!!"
"Stop Grimmjow." Aizen said. "If you harm her, I'll be forced to reprimand you myself."
Grimmjow scowled as he walked out of the room without his arm. At that same moment, Szayel Aporro Granz entered the throne room. Szayel knelt before the throne. "You called for me, Aizen-sama?"
"Yes Szayel." Aizen said. "You assisted Scion in the project that I had asked of him but ultimately failed. And I know you are trying to continue his work and have had limited success."
"Yes Aizen-sama." Szayel said. "The project has proven to be more difficult than I expected."
"I have three new test subjects for you." Aizen said. "I simply wish for you to improve them, they do not have to reach that level. But they must be strong. I do not care what you do to them, so long as they are stable and they survive. I will be very disappointed should even one of them die. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes Aizen-sama. But I only see one of these subjects. Where are the other two?"
Aizen grinned. "Ulquiorra is bringing the other two as we speak."
Keigo yawned as her walked to the fridge. He was in the mood for a midnight snack. He opened up the fridge and began rummaging through it.
He had to admit, it had been a strange night to say the least. First there was that insane battle between Baldy and that...well he didn't know what that thing was. And then Baldy and his girly-looking buddy blackmailed him. Either he get them a place to stay or they wouldn't protect from the big ugly guy in white.
In the end, he agreed to their demand. He figured that in the end, his sister would kick the two out and then beat him up for bringing a pair of strangers to their place. Which has better than getting killed. Though barely. Unfortunately, Mizuho apparently like guys with shaved heads (or in his case, bald). And they ended up staying.
Of course, it was a distraction from the past few days. It distracted everyone from Tatsuki's death. Keigo never had much to do with the girl. Most of their past interactions had been Tatsuki beating the crap out of him for hitting on Orihime. But still, the girl was an old friend of Ichigo's and didn't deserve to die.
Suddenly, he heard the sliding balcony door open. Keigo turned to the balcony. There was weird guy standing there on the balcony. Which was impossible. This apartment was on the eighth floor of their building. The guy looked like some kind of emo goth with tearline tattoos on his pale cheeks. But what scared him was what he was wearing. The same white and black clothes as that guy Ikkaku fought.
"How...How do you get here?" he asked.
"Keigo Asano?" the guy asked, in a cold monotone voice.
"You should know that there's several of those guys in black just down the hall." he said, hoping to scare this guy off.
"I am aware. However, both are deep asleep and will not awake up until after I am done. And even if they did notice, both of them are no match for me."
Suddenly, the emo guy disappeared. A hand wrapped around his throat. The world around him blurred for a moment. When the world came back to focus, he found himself being dangled over the edge of the balcony by his throat. He tried to scream but it came out as a gargled moan. "Blame this on Ichigo Kurosaki, if you like." the pale guy said.
Then he let go and Keigo screamed as gravity pulled him to Earth.
Keigo's eyes shot open. For a brief instant, he thought he just had a nightmare. But he quickly realized that he wasn't in his bed, but rather lying on the ground outside.
"How...What happened?" Keigo said as he sat up.
As he sat up, he heard the distinct sound of a chain jingling. He looked straight down at the source of the sound. To his surprise, there was a metal plate and broken chain attached to chest. "Wha...What is this?!"
Then he noticed it. A second him, lying broken and lifeless on the grass next to him.
"What...How...How can there be another me?"
"That is because you are dead and that is your body." a familiar monotone voice said.
It was that pale emo guy from before. "I...I'm dead?"
"Of course. Humans can not survive an eight story drop." he replied.
"WHY THE HELL DID YOU KILL ME?!!" Keigo shouted. "WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU?!!"
"Nothing." he said. "As I said before, if you want to blame someone, blame Ichigo Kurosaki."
"Ichigo?! What does he have to do with you killing me?!" Keigo shouted at his killer.
His only reply was to grab the chain hanging from his chest and pull. The plate ripped off his body, leaving a perfectly round hole. Keigo immediately screamed in agony as the real nightmare began.
"Huh...Wha...What?" Mizuiro said, yawning as he woke up.
""Are you Mizuiro Kojima?" a cold monotone voice asked.
But that wasn't the only thing he heard. There was also a loud growling. Mizuiro could see two glowing yellow orbs in the dark but nothing else. Mizuiro quickly reached out and turned on the lamp next to his bed. Standing at the foot of his bed was a pale man in with white and what could be best described as a monster.
"Who...Who are you?" Mizuiro nervously asked. "What do you want?"
"Answer the question, human."
"Yes. That's my name. But who are you?"
The man snapped his fingers. The monster leap at him. Mizuiro rolled out of bed, causing the monster to crash into the wall. Mizuiro ran out of his room, slamming the door behind him. But the door won't hold that thing for long.
True enough, it wasn't long when he heard the door shatter and the monster roar again. Mizuiro reached the front door and his fingers reached the doorknob when the monster grabbed one of his ankles and dragged him to the ground. Mizuiro frantically reached for the door as the monster pulled him back. He started screaming, hoping someone would hear him. Pain shot through him as the monster's teeth and claws tore into his flesh.
Ichigo was annoyed. That stupid substitute soul reaper badge had woken him and Rukia up. Of course, Rukia's cellphone had been turned off, and didn't sound the alarm. Since it was likely that the other soul reapers had turned off their phones, they had to respond to the call.
Ichigo yawned. "So how much further is it?"
"It's...Wait. There's two of them now."
"So what. It's only a pair of hollows."
"That's not the point, Ichigo! You're a soul reaper! It's responsibility to slay hollows."
Suddenly the beeping of Rukia's phone stopped. "Huh? They're gone." a surprised Rukia said. "They were a block away a moment ago, but now they're gone."
"Then we can head back." Ichigo said.
"Not quite, Ichigo. There's been cases of hollows being able to fool detectors and the senses of soul reapers. We should check just to be on the safe side."
Ichigo sighed. He just just wanted to crawl back into bed. "Fine. Where were the hollows last at?"
"It was this block here." Rukia said as they stopped at the intersection.
"They were detected right...There" Rukia said, pointing at a house.
The moment he saw where Rukia was pointing, all exhaustion faded from his being. He hadn't realized it until now. But they had been heading for where Mizuiro lived. And the house Rukia was pointing at was his. Before Rukia could say anything, Ichigo took off. He kicked the door opened and what he saw horrified him.
Mizuiro...or rather what was left of his body laid a few feet from the door. It looked like it had been torn apart by a wild animal. An expression of terror was etched into his lifeless face.
"Mizuiro! Mizuiro!" Ichigo called out, hoping to find his friend's soul.
But there was no sign of him. Then he remembered that a second hollow had suddenly appeared before the two disappeared. The realization hit him like a ton of bricks.
"No..." Ichigo said, slumping against the door frame.
First Tatsuki and now Mizuiro. If only he had been stronger. None of this would have happened. He could have kept them safe. He could have prevented them from being killed and becoming hollows.
"Ichigo!" Rukia said, catching up to him. "What's-"
She saw Mizuiro's body and gasped. "I'm sorry Ichigo." she said, putting a hand on his back. "Is his soul-"
"No. The second hollow was Mizuiro." Ichigo said, defeated. "It's Tatsuki all over again. I couldn't protect her. And I couldn't protect Mizuiro either."
"DAMMIT!!!" Ichigo shouted at the top of his lungs, grabbing the door and tearing it off it's hinges and tossing into the street.
"Ichigo!" a voice called out.
Ichigo and Rukia turned to the source of the voice. It was Yumichika. The normally immaculate Squad 11 officer looked distressed and little messy. Which for someone like Yumichika to look like that without a battle having occurred, meant that something serious happened.
"I've been looking all over Kurakara for you." he said, catching his breath. "Something happened. Something bad..."
A Few Days Later
Ichigo stood in the field where he had battled Yammy. The same field that he had failed to protect his friends. The same field that Tatsuki died in and became a hollow.
But she hadn't been the only one. Keigo and Mizuiro had joined her. He hadn't seen their deaths, but he was sure that Aizen was behind it, despite what some of the others thought. Keigo had apparently jumped from the balcony of the apartment he lived in, killing himself. Despite the fact that both Ikkaku and Yumichika were there, they hadn't sensed anything, nor had they found his soul to preform a soul burial for him. Then there was Mizuiro, who had torn apart by a hollow and likely turned into a hollow.
While some may have doubted the connection between the three deaths, Ichigo didn't. He knew it was Aizen sending him a message. Showing him that he couldn't stand a chance against him at his current level. He wasn't even strong enough to protect three of his friends. He wasn't even strong enough to seriously injure Grimmjow when they fought a few nights ago...
"Getsuga Tenshou!" Ichigo shouted, unleashing a wave of black energy at the airborne Espada.
It struck Grimmjow dead on. But it only inflicted minimal damage to the arrancar, leaving a long, shallow gash across his chest and the back of his arms. And using that attack gave his inner hollow an opening. Ichigo clutched his left eye as blackness started to cloud his vision. He could hear the hollow's jeers and taunts. "Ulquiorra didn't mention anything about that attack." Grimmjow said. "Maybe if you used that attack with them, you could have gotten that hollow back."
"How do you know about Tatsuki?!" Ichigo said, trying not to show just weakened he had become.
"I was there when Ulquiorra gave her to Aizen. He's keeping her as a pet hollow. It's actually quite amusing to see." Grimmjow taunted.
"Take me to her!!"
"You heard me! Take me to her!"
Grimmjow laughed. "Now why would I do that?" he said. "Actually...You now what, if you can beat my release form, I'll take you to her. Of course, that's a big if."
Grimmjow drew his sword. "Grind-"
A hand reached out and grabbed her zanpaku-to. "That's enough, Grimmjow." Kaname Tosen said.
"Tosen." Grimmjow said, not bothering to keep the disgust out of his voice.
"What were you thinking, Grimmjow? Taking five arrancar to the World of the Living without authorization. And then losing all five." Tosen said, letting go of the Espada.
Grimmjow snickered as he sheathed his sword. "We were just having a little fun. No need to get all upset over it."
"These are serious matters!" Tosen said. "We're returning to Los Noches. Aizen is awaiting an explanation."
A black tear opened up behind the two. The two stepped into the opening, heading for Los Noches. "Wait!!" Ichigo shouted. "We're not done here yet!"
Grimmjow turned back and laughed. "You've got balls, soul reaper! I'll give you that!" he said. "But take a look at yourself! You're a mess! And your only attack that hurt me, you've got only two, maybe three left before your body can't handle the strain!"
"I can still fight!!" Ichigo shouted back.
"Then wait until next time! Cause Grimmjow Jeagerjaques is going to be the one to kill you!" Grimmjow said as the tear closed.
He could hear him laughing in the back of his mind. Taunting him for his failure to protect his friends. But that would change. He couldn't get any stronger until he got his hollow under control. Then he would kill Aizen and Ulquiorra...And he would find the hollows that had been his friends and end their suffering. Even if he had to spent the rest of his life searching Hueco Mundo, he wouldn't stop until their souls were purified and sent to the Soul Society. He owed them that much.
Ichigo around and started walking. He was going to find Shinji and force him to show him how to control his hollow.
Orihime knocked on the door to the Kurosaki residence. The door was opened by a blond haired little girl. One of Ichigo's sisters. "Hello. Can I help you?"
"Is Rukia here? I need to talk to her." Orihime said.
A few minutes later, Rukia came to the door. "Orihime? Hi." Rukia said. "I know that Ichigo's been missing for a couple of days, but I don't know where he is. So I'm sorry if you were looking for him."
"No. That's not why I here." she said. "I was wondering if you'd help me with something else."
"Sure. What do you need?"
"I want you to help me train." Orihime said.
"I don't want to be a burden on everyone anymore...And I want to become strong so I can end Tatsuki's suffering as a hollow. Will you help me?"
"Yes Orihime." Rukia said.