Author's Notes: And there was one…
It's finally here boys and girls, the last chapter of Frozen Savior and for once I was able to meet my own deadlines *screams for joy*
All joking aside I have enjoyed these two and a half years of working on this fic and I hope you all have as well. I thank you all for your reviews, especially those of you who give more than one sentence.
For the last time (with this fic anyway) I do not own Bleach or Devil May Cry
Please read, enjoy, and of course review; but before you do that last one please read the Author's note at the end.
Ch 32. Resolutions
Two men stood across from one another in the courtyard which had been a warzone for hours. One was a young man of about sixteen with dark raven colored hair which was short in back but had two long bangs in front. His eyes were a dark blue which almost always seemed calm and focused behind the glasses he wore, but today they also carried a hint of killing intent. From head to toe he was dressed in white garbs with light blue linings and the cross which were the signature of his people in the same way that black and silver are for the Warlocks.
The other was a shinigami with an even stranger appearance than the young Quincy's his face was completely painted over with the inner most parts painted black and his cheeks painted white. His ears were covered by a pair of strange bronze cones and his head was framed a large hat with two long sections of dark blue cloth which reached all the way down to his chin. But what truly set him apart from the normal shinigami was the long sleeved Haori with the kanji for twelve on the back.
Without speaking both their spiritual pressures began to rise as a bow compromised entirely of spiritual energy formed in Uryu's right hand and Mayuri drew his sword with a bored and annoyed expression. Gathered around were the very exhausted Shinigami, Vaizards and one Arrancar watching over them.
"Rip…" Mayuri commanded softly "…Ashisogi Jizo!" his sword turned into a three pronged, golden trident with a baby faced hilt.
"That thing again" Uryu thought as he recalled their last encounter as he unleashed three arrows towards Mayuri.
"What the Hell is Nemu doing?" Mayuri asked himself as the arrows raced ever closer to him yet his 'daughter' hadn't moved an inch "I'll have to deal with her later!"
Mayuri swung his sword horizontally deflecting Uryu's attacks before thrusting his blade towards his enemy's left shoulder intending to force him into pouring his energy into Ransotengai. With the tip of his sword mere inches from the boy's flesh, Uryu vanished at the last moment he used Hirenkyaku to dodge. Clenching his teeth Mayuri spun around and raised his sword in a defense stance as Uryu swung a Seele Schneider down vertically with his left hand.
Mayuri watched in frustration as his own spiritual energy was absorbed from his weapon and into Seele Schneider's blade. Not wanting to let Uryu suck him dry, Mayuri leapt back a couple dozen yards and to his surprise. Uryu also leapt back as he raised the Seele Schneider in preparation to fire before sending it racing towards the mad scientist, this attack was covered by a volley of over a dozen arrows made out of pure energy.
Pulling one of the cones covering his ear, Mayuri revealed a scythe which was attached to his head and threw it towards the Seele Schneider but the energy arrows deflected it. Left with no choice, Mayuri used a quick shunpo to dodge the attacks.
"His attacks have nowhere near the power they had the last time we fought…" Mayuri noted as he recalled Uryu's power when he used the Quincy's final form and devastated him "…the problem is that at a distance he still has me outmatched, to make matters worse if I get to close he'll absorb my energy through that accursed arrow of his…" he bent backwards to avoid another barrage "…and worst of all, due to his ability to absorb Reishi; his spirit energy is virtually limitless so I can't hope to just wear him down."
"You're not getting away this time!" Uryu thought as a large amount of energy began to focus intently over his left shoulder and he leapt into the air right above the sadistic shinigami "Licht Regen!" a constant barrage of arrow rained down upon the Captain of Squad Twelve encompassing an area of at least fifteen feet in diameter, even the fastest and most experienced eyes among the shinigami Captains were unable to track count them all.
When the attacks finally ceased and Uryu landed, Mayuri's spiritual pressure violently shot up blowing the dust away revealing the Captain of Squad Twelve covered in small injuries and shredded garments "I suppose that I should be grateful that the power of those individual arrows isn't anything special and that I've altered my body to be more resistant to damage…" he clenched his teeth furiously "…but you've still made the mistake of making me mad!"
"I'm going to do a lot worse to you before this is over" Uryu thought calmly as Mayuri ceased glowing and his spiritual pressure stabilized signaling the calm before the storm.
"Bankai: Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo!" Mayuri cried as a giant caterpillar like creature with a giant golden baby's head emerged from the ground and let out a loud roar before racing towards Uryu.
"That thing is an abomination" Uryu thought in disgust as approximately a dozen blades emerged from the Bankai's front "too slow" he easily dodged with Hirenkyaku causing it to crash face first into the ground.
"That maybe" Mayuri stated in amusement as his Bankai dug its head out of the ground "but surely you haven't forgotten about the poison gas!" the horrifying creature opened its mouth as it turned its gave towards the ground and spewed forth a thick cloud of dark purple gas completely hiding the Quincy from view.
"Uryu!" Ichigo called out as he prepared to rush in after him but was stopped when Rukia grabbed his shoulder.
"Idiot, get behind me!" Rukia ordered as she and Byakuya got in front of the orange haired teen while the gas made its way closer and closer to the spectators.
"Shuhei, on me!" Elaina commanded as she stood next to Rukia and Youmei walked up to Byakuya.
"I'll help" Alexander offered as he tried to rush to their aid but a sharp pain in his ribs stopped him.
"No you won't stay down" Retsu instructed as she and her subordinates went to join their comrades along with Shunsui.
"Alright everyone, don't let it anywhere near us!" Toushirou ordered as they all extended their right hands and chanted "Hadou 48: Tenran!" the resulting hurricanes generated by the shinigami succeeded in blowing away the poisonous gas "Teacher, do it!"
"Right" Alexander replied as he extended his right hand towards where Mayuri stood and his marks appeared over his body "say good night!" he clenched his hand shut expecting Mayuri's chest to explode but to his shock nothing happened "what the Hell?" his hair turned blonde after expending the small amount of spirit energy that Retsu had given him earlier.
"Don't insult me" Mayuri said calmly "I removed that little crystal of yours a long time ago" he shrugged his shoulders "truth be told your method of merging souls with object is no different than how Kisuke Urahara attached the Hogyoku to that Rukia girl's soul!"
"Damn" Elaina swore as the gas began to approach them again and she felt her body growing heavier from how much energy she had expended and judging by the expressions of her fellow soldiers, she wasn't alone.
"This freak is starting to really piss me off" Toushirou sighed angrily as he took a step forward and swung Hyourinmaru creating a large wall of ice shielding him and his friends "Kurosaki!" he called out to the orange haired teen "your friend better get his act together if he doesn't want me to step in!"
"But Uryu was just…" Ichigo began but was cut off when he suddenly sensed his friend's spiritual pressure.
Mayuri looked over his shoulder to see Uryu appear behind him wearing a white mask over his jaw with the Quincy cross covering the entire surface before firing a second Scheele Schneider at the freakish Captain. Who dodged with a well timed Shunpo.
"I learn from my experiences Kurotsuchi!" Uryu hissed through the mask "this mask filters out any toxins from the air, your gas is worthless" much to Uryu's surprise Mayuri didn't seemed the least bit shocked at this development.
"Did you really think that would be enough to save you?" Mayuri asked with a maniacal grin across his face "surely you haven't forgotten about the bacteria I left in your body from our first encounter?" Uryu glared at the man with an angry expression "so I know all about that mask of yours, I also know about that pendant you're wearing under your shirt which keeps the poison gas from being absorbed through your skin" he let out a slight chuckle as his Bankai began to glow a light shade of green "and have already developed a way around them both!"
A loud screeching noise filled the air as Mayuri's Bankai slowly opened. Uryu had to force himself not to throw up when it unhinged its bottom jaw to open even wider than what should have been possible. As soon as it was done opening, a soft buzzing noise could be heard coming from within; a sound which was getting louder by the second.
"Oh no!" Uryu gasped in shock as countless winged insect like creatures the size of his palm with syringe like noses emerged from Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo's body and immediately began to fly straight towards the quincy.
Uryu quickly fired a barrage of arrows into the coming swarm of insects causing hundreds of the bugs to literally explode into a green goo. When the first wave was just about to sting the young quincy he vanished using Hirenkyaku and appearing right in front of Mayuri's bankai of all places.
"I have to stop this thing from releasing any more of those damn insects" Uryu thought as he prepared to fire a barrage of arrows into the beast's mouth, however it quickly shut its mouth and began to rush towards him with the intent of running him through with its blades "damn it!"
"Did you really think I would make it so easy for you?" Mayuri asked in an amused tone of voice.
Uryu fired a single arrow at the Bankai's head only for it to disperse without causing any real damage. Realizing that he had no choice, Uryu pulled out his second Seele Schneider and charged it up before releasing it; just as Uryu had hoped the special arrow easily punched a hole through Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo's head before exiting through its tail moments later. However his small success was quickly forgotten when suddenly more insects began to emerge from the holes his arrow had just created.
"You idiot" Mayuri chuckled "you've insured now that they'll always have a way out now!" his Bankai opened its mouth again releasing a perpetual flood of insects.
Uryu's face contorted in frustration as he began to fire his Ginrei Kojaku at its full rate of one thousand two hundred shots per second and turned his waist effectively spraying the skies filled with the venomous insects with arrows. Unfortunately for the young quincy; for every insect he destroyed, two or three more seemed to take its place.
Focusing intently Uryu quickly drew and fired his third Seele Schneider blasting a large hole through the perpetual wall of insects thought it was quickly filled by their kin. Uryu gritted his teeth as the dome of insects surrounding him drew closer and closer, he could see Mayuri grinning sadistically as he fired his fourth Seele Schneider.
"Just one more!" Uryu thought just before he froze in place.
No sooner had Uryu finished his thought when he felt a sharp pain in his right shoulder, turning his head Uryu saw one of the venomous insects was on his back with its syringe like nose dug into his right shoulder blade. Before he knew it Uryu was screaming in pain as the poison seemed to light his arm on fire causing him to dispel his bow ad his ability to concentrate was thoroughly obliterated. Within moments a second bug had grabbed onto his left leg and pumped its venom directly into the young man's thigh causing him to collapse to the ground.
The rest of the insect horde looked as if they were about to swoon in and finish the poor boy off but where stopped when they heard Mayuri call out "that'll do!" the murderous insects cleared a path for their master to walk through "you've lost quincy…" Uryu glared daggers at the man "…as I speak the poison is quickly spreading through your body; such a pity, and you were a true specimen of your people."
"Damn…you…" Uryu swore through gritted teeth.
"Quincy…" Nemu thought as she looked upon Uryu's crumbled form and she noticed her arms twitching.
"Tell you what boy" Mayuri continued as he reached into his robes and pulled out a vial with a strange purple liquid "this is the antidote to the poison I've injected you with, I'm willing to give it to you…" Mayuri was grinning so widely that his teeth were showing "…on the condition that you become my next subject…"
"Go to Hell" Uryu cursed.
"Fine, fine" Mayuri replied as he dropped the vial so that it shattered mere inches away from Uryu's face "then stay there and let your organs turn to mush, such a shame…" he raised his sword so that the tip was mere centimeters away from the boy's forehead "…such a first rate quincy, you were even able to position four out of five of those special arrows of yours…" Uryu glared at him furiously with murderous intent "…did you think I wouldn't notice, after all I've learned all your tricks as soon as you've used them…"
Mayuri's boast was cut off when he sensed a familiar presence approaching from behind. He turned his head to see Nemu running towards them at full speed. Before Mayuri could ask what she was up to, Nemu dashed passed him and quickly scooped the quincy up in her arms before leaping forward to put some distance between her and her father.
"Nemu, what the hell do you think you're doing?" Mayuri demanded.
"This is bad" Nemu thought to herself as she felt Uryu's forehead and saw how much he was sweating "the poison's already spread…at this rate…" Nemu gulped slightly "…only one choice…"
"What…are…you doing?" Uryu asked weakly as Nemu laid him down gently before reaching up to her neck with both hands.
"Nemu don't you dare!" Mayuri demanded visibly furious as his daughter grabbed hold of the red choker she wore around her neck.
Nemu smiled softly as she ripped the simple red band off her neck causing her spiritual pressure to rise dramatically "for you…Quincy…"
"Thanks for the antidote…" Uryu said gratefully as he placed the bottle down in front of the violet haired Lieutenant "…farewell" he headed off in his group's desperate bid to save Rukia.
"Why?" Nemu asked herself as she thought back to how she had grabbed onto him so that her father could slash him "why is he so kind?" she asked herself again when she recalled the heated words he had directed at Mayuri in spite of the severity of his own predicament.
A few days later as the quincy and his fellow ryouka prepared to depart for their world, Nemu watched silently from a distance so as not to be seen by him. Her eyes were alit with curiosity, but also a smidge of confusion and fear.
"What am I doing here?" Nemu wondered as she watched the Senkaimon vanish without a trace "I suppose I should get back to Master Mayuri…"
"Am I too late to see them off?" Rangiku asked shocking Nemu out of her thoughts.
"Oh sorry…" Nemu replied as she regained her composure "…the former ryouka have just left Lieutenant Matsumoto…"
"Oh" Rangiku whined "and I was really starting to like that Orihime girl…such a shame…"
"…I'm sorry to hear that" Nemu stated not really knowing what to do in this situation.
"I must say I'm surprise to see you came" Rangiku added "I thought for sure you'd be tied down with work."
"I see" Nemu replied "that does sound like me."
"Were you watching them from here?" Rangiku inquired and Nemu nodded "huh, doesn't seem like you'd be able to get a good view from here…unless…" Rangiku grinned as she turned towards Nemu with a wide grin across her face "…you didn't want to be seen."
"Beg your pardon?" Nemu asked not knowing what to make of the woman's strange behavior.
"Any chance you've grown fond of one those kids?" Rangiku elaborated with a devilish glint in her eyes, Nemu was at a loss for words "so which one is it? That substitute shinigami Ichigo? That big guy who hardly talks? No wait…" her lips parted slightly showing her teeth "…that guy with the glasses who's really good at sewing; I forgot that the two of you ran into each other…"
"…I…don't know what to say" Nemu stated dumbfounded as she tried to process what Rangiku had just said to her.
"Don't worry, just make sure to let me know when you realized I was right" Rangiku jested in amusement, taking note of the blush which had dyed the usually stoic girl's cheeks red "best of luck to you" she then turned in the direction of her favorite bar in all the Seireitei for a night of drinking and laughter to try and ease the pain of the recent incidents.
"…she thinks I'm in love with the quincy?" Nemu thought to herself as she tried to understand how her fellow Lieutenant's mind operated and came to such a conclusion "Could she be right?"
Months later she felt her heart sink when she saw the condition that the eighth Espada had left the kind young quincy in after their battle. Later she found herself consumed with gloom when Aizen had insinuated that she was just like her father, the man whom the quincy hated.
And mere minutes before she felt her stomach sink and her heart turn to lead as she watched Uryu being poisoned by Mayuri's insects. In those seconds she had come to realize that for the first time in her existence, what she wanted most was not whatever pleased Mayuri, rather she wanted the quincy to live. For that she was prepared to throw away everything.
"Even though we met as enemies…and even after you learned about what he had done to your grandfather…" Nemu thought as what remained of her choker vanished and a thin katana with a green handle and warped guard formed just above her left hip "…you were so kind to me…like no one before you ever has…"
"What has gotten into you Nemu?" Mayuri demanded.
"What the hell is going on with her spiritual pressure and why did a Zanpakutou suddenly appear when she removed that choker?" Uryu asked himself in disbelief.
"It'll be alright Quincy" Nemu stated calmly as she knelt down to Uryu with her sword drawn "I won't let you die…" Uryu could only look at her in confusion "…concoct Yakuzaishi (chemist)."
The katana liquefied at its master's command forming a dark violet over Nemu's left hand with what appeared to be a small dark red panel of glass over the back of her hand. At her wrist was a series of jet black wires which ran up the length of her to a pack of three large glass cylinders on her back; the one behind her left shoulder was filled a third of the way with a dark violet liquid, the one behind her right arm was filled to the same level with a bright orange liquid, and the one in the middle had a dark green fluid. From there ran a series of tubes along the length of her right arm to a silver colored syringe in her hand.
Without saying a word Nemu quickly clamped her left hand over Uryu's right shoulder where the first insect had stung him and the glass over the back of her hand began to glow. Within moments the strange liquids began to churn in the tubes she carried on her back.
"Thank goodness, I'm not too later…" Nemu thought in relief as she analyzed the poison's component through her Zanpakutou "…forgive me Quincy…" from the tubes Uryu could see a lime green concoction being pumped towards the syringe in her right arm "…this is going to hurt…" not giving the confused quincy time to react quickly inserted the needle of her syringe into Uryu's right shoulder and injected him with her sword's strange products.
Uryu let out a loud shriek as the strange substance seemed to set his body aflame. He was so distracted by the pain that he hardly noticed when she removed the needle only to stick it in his left thigh. When Nemu removed the instrument, Uryu collapsed on the ground shaking in pain.
"What have you done Nemu?" Mayuri asked, his tone seething of rage at his daughter's actions "when did I give you permission to remove your choker or use your Zanpakutou to create an antidote?" his eyes were wide open as he neared his daughter and the shivering quincy "well? Answer me!"
"I…I didn't want him to die" Nemu answered softly as she felt him draw closer and closer "that's all there is to it…"
"I hope you're ready for the consequences!" Mayuri hissed as he reached out with his left hand intending to grab her from the back of the neck, much to his surprise though his daughter quickly spun around and swung Uryu's final Seele Schneider at him forcing the Captain to leap backwards "how dare you!"
"I won't let you hurt him…" Nemu stated softly yet firmly "…even if it means dying, father."
"Oh…I'm not going to kill you" Mayuri replied as his Bankai suddenly rushed in from the sides "but I will make you wish I had never created you!"
Thinking quickly, Nemu scooped up the still unconscious Uryu in her left arm and vanished with a shunpo. Once she had created some distance between her and her father's bankai she laid him on the ground gently before running away to draw the attacks away from the young quincy, the fifth Seele Schneider still in her hand.
"Normally whenever I unleash my Zanpakutou in combat I use my speed and strength to get in close and inject my opponent with a poison or sedative depending on if I want them dead or alive…" Nemu thought as Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo approached her from her side "…but since the Captain's body is made out of the same substance as mine that won't work…" the monstrous Bankai attempted to pin Nemu to the ground by slamming its head down on top of her, fortunately the young Lieutenant dodge by leaping into the air and landing on top of its head.
"Damn, she's determined" Mayuri swore in his mind as he witnessed his daughter using the agility that he had given to her to defy him "no matter!"
"…the good news is that means his poisons won't work on me either…" Nemu continued in her mind as she ignored the insect which had just injected her with the same poison she had just saved Uryu from while she swung the Seele Schneider like a sword cutting into the Bankai's head before dashing forward to its tail end "…this arrow that the quincy uses gets stronger as it absorbs more and more reishi…" she continued to slash at its caterpillar like body "…so my best chance is to let this absorb as much reishi as possible to make up for the power difference between us."
As Nemu made it closer and closer to the end of her father's bankai, she noticed that the arrow in her hand was not only cutting deeper into the gigantic weapon, but it was also becoming easier; almost as if the Bankai was made of paper as opposed to a thick membrane which was several times tougher than steel. When she reached the end she attempted to spin around one hundred and eighty degrees to repeat her strategy of slashing up Mayuri's bankai to increase her offensive power. Unfortunately as soon as she reached the end the tail lashed out suddenly throwing her off.
"Smart move trying to take advantage of my bankai's size and that arrow's properties" Mayuri stated as his bankai faded and his sword reverted to his shikai state "too bad for you I'm not foolish enough to fall for that" he held his trident like weapon out in front of her "this however will work just fine!"
Mayuri leapt towards Nemu and swung his sword horizontally forcing her to duck to avoid being slashed across her chest. The Lieutenant of Squad Twelve attempted to counter attack by swinging Seele Schneider upwards to slash his torso; however Mayuri dodged the attack by stepping backwards.
"I have to finish this quickly" Nemu thought in alarm as her body began to feel heavy and strained "if I don't…my body will…" she leapt towards Mayuri and started swinging Seele Schneider desperately trying to cut him; unfortunately Mayuri proved to be the more capable warrior as he simply sidestepped her attacks.
Nemu continued to attack her father in vain for another twenty or thirty seconds as her body continued to feel worse and worse, until eventually the pain caused her to fall to her knees and cough up a small amount of blood.
"Well that took longer than expected" Mayuri stated as he stood in front of Nemu "it was foolish of you to remove your choker" he pointed towards her neck where the dark red cloth had been "it may have sealed away your Zanpakutou but it also kept all the poisons inside you from attacking your body!" Nemu looked at him weakly "your body may be more resilient than a normal person's, but even you won't last long with all those poisons attacking you at once!" Nemu's eyes drifted to the side "look at me when I'm talking to you girl!" he shoved the tip of Ashisogi Jizo into her left shoulder causing her to let out a high pitched scream as her left arm went numb.
Mayuri quickly received a surprise of his own when Nemu countered by swinging Seele Schneider upwards severing his left arm from his body. Mayuri glared daggers at the girl's audacity as he dug his sword into her right shoulder effectively disabling both arms and causing Seele Schneider to fall to the ground with a loud clank.
"…pity…" Mayuri said quietly those his voice was filled with malice as he kicked Nemu in the chest causing her to fall back "…your Yakuzaishi is a fine piece of scientific research…" he raised his weapon with his one hand "…it'll be troublesome to replace!"
"As long as the quincy is safe, that's all that matters" Nemu thought to herself as Mayuri swung his sword down towards her head having forgotten all about his plans not to kill her in his rage.
Both Kurotsuchis received a sudden shock when a bright blast of energy raced towards them from the distance. Without mercy it struck Mayuri's wrist effectively blowing his hand clean off causing his sword to fall to the ground; at the last moment before impact, Nemu recognized it as a quincy arrow. Before the dust could clear from the attack, Uryu appeared between the two of them and uncharacteristically planted his right fist into the Captain's face knocking him to the ground as he formed his bow and unleashed a volley of arrows into the man who had ruined so many lives in the name of his twisted research.
Nemu could only watch in disbelief when the dust cleared revealing her 'father' pinned to the ground by several energy arrows which had pierced his body. Not wanting to waste the opportunity that Nemu had given him, Uryu quickly wrapped his right arm around her waist as he grabbed the last Seele Schneider with his left hand before vanishing with a weak, but skillful Hirenkyaku.
"Damn, you filthy little quincy!" Mayuri swore furiously.
"It's over…" Uryu said weakly as he nearly dropped Nemu and his last arrow "…without your arms you can't liquefy yourself like you did last time…" Mayuri glared at him from the distance "…and with those arrows holding you down there's no way you can escape…they've had all the time in the world to charge up" Mayuri's eyes shot open when he realized that he hadn't bothered to destroy any of the first Seele Schneiders since he had thought that Uryu was no longer a threat "…thank you…for saving me once again…" he gently laid the young woman on the ground as the thick poisonous gas began to dissipate due to the absence of Mayuri's bankai.
Taking one finale glance towards Mayuri, Uryu recalled all the anger he had felt towards him for what he had done to his grandfather and teacher Soken Ishida "The quincy's arrows are released in the name of justice. In other words justice is when you have something that must be protected. There is nothing more difficult than the basics that I have just taught you. From there on, it depends on your heart."
"Thank you master" Uryu thought to himself as he stabbed the last Seele Schneider in the ground in front of him and thoughts of his friends flashed through his mind "for teaching me how to protect" out of his cloak he pulled out a small silver vial and holding it over the arrow "good bye Mayuri Kurotsuchi…" he poured the Ginto's contents onto the top of the Seele Schneider causing a large pentagon shaped blast to engulf the Captain of Squad twelve.
Tired and drained, Uryu promptly collapsed onto the ground as his Sprenger erased all traces of Mayuri's existence from the world forever. Satisfied that the man responsible for so much suffering had finally been punished, Uryu allowed unconsciousness to take him. The two youths were quickly discovered by their friends as they blew away more and more of the gas using Tenran.
"Uryu!" Ichigo called out as he ran up to his friend.
"Captain Unohana" Toushirou said calmly.
"Understood" Retsu replied as she descended upon the duo and quickly realized that Nemu was in serious danger "please get me Isane and Hanatarou!" she requested as Toushirou nodded in understanding.
When Uryu woke up he found himself lying in a warm futon on wooden floor, cocking his head to the side he saw the familiar face of the Fourth Squad's Captain sitting over him "it's good to see you're awake" she said softly.
"How long was I out?" Uryu inquired.
"About twelve hours" Retsu answered "it's approximately 5:00 p.m. here in Karakura Town."
"So, this is Mr. Urahara's store" Uryu stated and Retsu nodded "does your Head Captain wish to take action against me for Kurotsuchi?"
"No, he seems to agree with you that he didn't deserve to live" Retsu replied causing Uryu to nod in understanding "you're lucky…" Uryu raised an eyebrow at her curiously "…thanks to Lieutenant Kurotsuchi the poison wasn't able to cause any permanent harm to your body."
"Where is she? How is she?" Uryu asked concerned for her well being.
"It took several hours and we nearly lost her numerous times" Retsu began with a heavy tone of voice "but thanks to Isane and Hanatarou's assistance we were able to neutralize the poisons that Captain Kurotsuchi had left in her body; unfortunately she won't be fit for duty for a few weeks at the very least."
"It's my fault" Uryu stated heavily "if I hadn't let Mayuri poison me she never would have had to remove that choker."
"If that's how you feel, then you should go to her and say 'thank you' when she wakes up" Retsu advised and the young quincy nodded in agreement.
Toushirou stood talking intently with Kisuke, Yoruichi, Tessai, Shinji, and Elaina; listing in closely was Jinta, Ururu, Ichigo, Rukia, Orihime, and Chad.
"We plan to leave in the morning, I thank you for your assistance" Toushirou explained to the former Captain of Squad Twelve.
"Don't mention it" Kisuke replied before he looked the young Head Captain in the eye intently "so tell me, what do you plan to do about the Hogyoku?"
"I'm still trying to find an answer to that" Toushirou answered with a heavy sigh "about a month ago, me and my teacher took it out to a desert east of Rukongai and struck it with our most powerful attacks; when we dug it out of the sand and stone we found it didn't have a scratch on it."
"What about banishing it to another dimension?" Yoruichi suggested "you know like you did with the King's Seal?"
"Elaina" Toushirou requested as the Captain of Squad Nine extended her bandage covered right arm and created a small vortex of black energy on the ground "ready for show and tell."
Toushirou gently dropped the Hogyoku into the abyss but instead of fading into the darkness, it simply floated on its surface refusing to be banished to an empty void.
"Truly a troublesome creation boss" Tessai stated as Toushirou picked the Hogyoku back up.
"Indeed" Kisuke sighed.
"Excuse me, Mr. Urahara, Toushirou" Orihime called out to the shinigami with a determined look in her eyes "I have an idea."
"So it's true, you're the Prince who died in the battle for Washington a hundred years ago" a young male warlock of about fifteen stated as he and his kin focused their gaze on the Captain of Squad Five.
"That's correct" Alexander replied.
"This is an honor, to meet such a legend of our people" the young man said in amazement and his fellow warlocks nodded.
"I'm flattered but there's not much to admire" Alexander chuckled in response.
"But sir if not for you, our clan would have effectively destroyed everything they're meant to stand for" the young man retorted "you saved the soul of our clan that day."
"Don't oversell me, if there hadn't been others who were willing to fight with me I would have been dead in under a minute" Alexander explained.
"Please your majesty, come back to us" a teenage girl amongst them requested "the world is once again on the brink of destruction; we need you…"
"I'm afraid I must decline" Alexander stated.
"But sir…" the boy tried to beg but was cut off.
"I died over one hundred years ago; I have no right to dictate the affairs of this world anymore" Alexander explained calmly "that duty falls to you, the living to carry out to the best of your ability."
"…you say that my lord but…" the girl began "…the whole world seems to have gone madder than it's ever been...we're like rats caught in a wheel of violence and hatred, we need strong leaders like yourself now more than ever…"
"Young lady…" Alexander replied softly "…you fail to realize that I failed when I tried to bring peace and order to this world…" the two youths looked down heavily as he spoke "…that said…" they looked up at him hopefully "…for all the failures of my generation, I like to think that we did move the world forward an inch at least…when we handed the reins over to the next generation they moved it forward another inch."
"Your majesty?" the boy responded in curiosity.
"There has been no shortage of setbacks and false starts" Alexander continued "but as I've watched the years go by this world has advanced slowly, but surely" he placed his hands gently on the youths' shoulders "and so long as this trend continues I believe that the day will come when war is finally purged from this world."
"But what hope do we have?" the young woman asked.
"As long as there are men and women of character like yourselves there is always hope" Alexander answered softly as he turned his gaze to the entire group of warlocks "this world no longer needs royals…I dare say it no longer needs gods…all it needs are people willing to step up to do what is right; I can tell just by looking at you, it already has that" he saluted his people one last time.
"What about you?" the young man inquired.
"I have my duties to the Fifth Squad and the Soul Society now" Alexander answered calmly "when your time on this earth comes to an end…I hope you'll consider signing up, or if you want you could enlist in Squad Nine, their Captain is far greater than I."
"Before you go your majesty…" the woman called out one final time "…shortly after the new year's battle our discovered a journal in the lab where your father had…" she gave a pause having trouble saying what her people had done "…in it he had detailed his mindset over a twenty year period and we learned that…"
"…he didn't try to take over the world for his own gains" Alexander finished for her surprising the woman "one of the Soul Society's princes had an artifact which allowed him to bring my father back to this plane, we fought and I ultimately learned the truth…" he let out a heavy sigh "…in the end we made peace and I feel that he redeemed himself" the gathered warlocks were shocked into silence "never lose hope my friends, without it you'll revert to your base instincts and fall as my family had; and never, ever forsake kindness…" he smiled softly to his people "…in time, the ripples from a single small act of kindness can grow and become great waves of peace and reformation; believe in the promise of tomorrow" the gathered warlocks could only sit in quiet contemplation as their prince took his leave.
*Back with Toushirou's group*
"You're telling me that you believe, your powers can destroy the Hogyoku?" Toushirou asked of the young woman whose home he had used as a base of operation only months before.
"Not destroy, so much as erase its existence" Orihime replied confusing the Head Captain along with Elaina, Ichigo, Rukia, Chad, Jinta, and Ururu "I don't have the power to 'heal' people" she explained as she thought back to the day she was brought in front of Aizen "my Soten Kisshun returns an object or person back to how they were before they were damaged or injured, in other words I reject the event which harmed them."
"Wait a minute, you can 'reject' events that have already happened?" Elaina asked of the young girl who nodded in confirmation "if what you say is true then your power steps into God's territory."
"But with my power I can reject the creation of the Hogyoku" Orihime explained "I can make it so that it never existed."
"Is this true Urahara?" Toushirou inquired of the blonde man.
"It is, Orihime's powers are not your standard barriers and healing abilities" Kisuke replied as he ran his hand through his hair "her Soten Kisshun as she just said has the ability to reject events that have already occurred, and her Santen Kesshun has the power to reject negative events as they happen" he turned an unusually heavy glance at the young woman "theoretically speaking she could destroy the Hogyoku."
"Then let her do it" Ichigo stated "if it's that simple, you should have brought this up the moment we took it from Aizen!"
"I get the feeling that it's not that simple" Toushirou said calmly to the older man who simply nodded "care to enlighten me?"
"I have two concerns with letting Orihime attempt this" Kisuke sighed heavily "the first is the sheer age of the Hogyoku; for Orihime to unmake it, she'll have to take it back to the way it was over a century ago" he held his hand out in a gesture requesting his creation, after a moment's hesitation Toushirou handed it over before Kisuke held it up for all to see "the second concern is just the fact that the Hogyoku is by its very nature an unpredictable substance" the small stone like object radiated power in spite of its age and the numerous attempts to destroy it thus far "the honest truth is I can't guarantee if even Orihime's power has what it takes, and even if it does I can't guarantee there won't be any risks."
"So that's why you didn't bring this up" Elaina stated and Kisuke nodded "is that why you tried to keep her off the battlefield."
"I was trying to keep her powers hidden away from Aizen, I didn't want to expose a fifteen year old girl to that kind of danger if I could avoid it" Kisuke explained "those days are long past me now…"
"But it is possible that I'm the only one who can do this right?" Orihime inquired.
"Yes but its too dangerous" Kisuke answered.
"I agree" Toushirou voiced his opinion "it'll stay with me in the meantime, if we can't figure out another way then we'll just have to seal it and lock it away somewhere" he held out his hand to take the Hogyoku back.
"I'm truly sorry for all the trouble my creation has caused" Kisuke said remorsefully as he prepared to give the Hogyoku back to Toushirou.
Just after he released the small stone from his grip a slender hand swooped in underneath and snatched the Hogyoku before it could land in Toushirou's palm. Both men turned their glances towards the red haired woman.
"I'm sorry" Orihime said softly as her hair clips shined a light orange before she chanted "Santen Kesshun!" she waved her left hand around creating a spherical barrier separating her from everyone else.
"Orihime, what the Hell are you doing?" Rukia demanded.
"Weren't you listening to Kisuke and Toushirou?" Ichigo asked in disbelief.
"I'm sorry Ichigo, Rukia" Orihime replied as she unfolded her right hand to expose the Hogyoku "but I have to try."
"But it could be dangerous!" Ichigo stated furiously as he tried to bust through her barrier but to no avail.
"Because of this thing, Aizen hurt you both" Orihime said calmly to Ichigo and Rukia "and not just you, everyone else here has suffered because Aizen sought the Hogyoku; nothing but pain and misery has come of its existence."
"Damn it, no good!" Elaina swore as she tried to open an inter-dimensional tunnel inside of Orihime's dome but failed "she really can reject events!"
"I'm sorry to go against your wishes…" Orihime said in a sad tone of voice as she gripped her left fist tightly "…but I have to try!" two more pegs of her hairpins lit up "Soten Kisshun!" the tiny orb was surrounded in a second smaller barrier.
"Shit, I was careless" Toushirou swore through gritted teeth as he felt the young woman's spiritual pressure begin to build up, out of the corner of his eye he could see that her power was beginning to effect the grounds around her "Elaina, Rukia, help me raise a barrier; we need to minimize any spill over effects."
"Sir" Elaina replied .
"But Head Captain, what about Orihime?" Rukia asked.
"Yeah you little bastard, what about my friend?" Ichigo spat out.
"Listen, if I could stop her from doing this, I would in a heartbeat" Toushirou stated calmly "but the fact of the matter is that I can't and as Head Captain it is my duty to do everything in my power to make sure no harm comes to the World of the Living because of someone's spiritual powers!"
"He's telling the truth Ichigo" Kisuke added as he turned his gaze towards the silver haired youth "please let me and Tessai help out, we'll make sure that not even a single ant is harmed" Toushirou nodded as the blonde and his assistant joined the three shinigami to erect a barrier to contain the energy being released by the young woman.
About thirty seconds later, Orihime's hair was standing on end to the updraft created by the amount of spirit energy she was pouring into her power. As the ordeal dragged on she found it more and more difficult to stand or to even breathe.
"Orihime please stop this!" Ichigo begged.
"I'm alright Ichigo" Orihime assured her friend with a gentle smile but as soon as the words left her mouth a small amount of blood shot out from her left forearm "don't worry about me" suddenly a small crack began to form in the Hogyoku and the energy being released intensified a hundred fold "it's working…" she said through gritted teeth as both the former and current shinigami watched in shock "…I'm almost there…" several small cuts appeared over the young woman's arms and legs and several more cracks appeared in the Hogyoku "…now…" memories of all the pain and destruction that had been caused by the small stone in her hands as she struggled to keep eyes open in face of the gale force winds "…disappear!" as she finished her sentence the Hogyoku immediately shattered into dust as if obeying the command of deity.
"She…really did it…" Ichigo stated in disbelief as he shielded his face from the resulting flash of light.
"Unbelievable" Toushirou said as the light finally died down and the shinigami were able to let down their barrier "good thing we were here to contain that, as much power as she released could have destroyed a city block or two."
When the dust finally cleared Ichigo looked on in horror to see Orihime Inoue lying on the ground unconscious "Orihime!" Ichigo called out as he ran up to her and cradled her in his arms "wake up" he shook her gently.
"Dumbass, don't shake an injured person!" Elaina spat at the substitute shinigami as she knelt down in front of Orihime and placed her hands over the young girl "I swear if I don't run dry by the end of the night, it'll be a miracle!" her hands began to glow a soft shade of green.
"Let me help you Captain Dark-Heart" Rukia called out as her hands began to glow as green as well.
"Thanks…" Elaina let out a small sigh as she began to assess the young human's condition "…you can relax Kurosaki, these wounds are not life threatening…"
"Thank goodness" Ichigo sighed in relief.
"…she's not going to die, but these symptoms…" Elaina continued which drew Ichigo's attention "…shit!" she swore angrily "there's nothing I can do about that!"
"What are you talking about?" Ichigo demanded "is she going to be alright?"
Orihime cracked her eyes open to the sight of Kisuke and his crew looking down upon her "hello Mr. Urahara, Ms. Yoruichi…" she glanced around trying to see the others who had witnessed her latest actions only to see emptiness "where is Ichigo and the others?"
"I see" Kisuke stated calmly as the result of Orihime's choice.
"What are you talking about Orihime, we're all right here!" Ichigo called out as he shook the girl gently shocking her as she saw nothing holding her up "are you alright?" his barrage of questions was brought to a halt as Elaina and Rukia karate chopped him on the head causing him to fall forward and on top of his classmate.
"What's going on?" Orihime asked in bewilderment.
"I said 'don't shake an injured person' you stupid bastard" Elaina swore in frustration.
"Elaina what's going on? Why can't she see us?" Toushirou asked.
"I'll get you all some gigais, along with Mr. Kurosaki's body" Tessai said politely as he headed for the store's storage shed.
"I think it'd be best to wait on those gigais" Elaina informed her Head Captain "it'd be best for me to be able to explain this to her directly.
Moments later Tessai appeared out of seemingly nowhere carrying Ichigo's body along with what appeared to be a pair of female mannequins and one male mannequin dressed in simple pairs of jeans and plain white tee-shirts. Within moments the three shinigami had entered their false bodies causing them to take on their hair and eye color, as well as their skin tones. In the meantime Ichigo reentered his own body. Orihime smiled softly now that she could see her friends clearly.
"So, you care to explain what happened?" Ichigo asked in a much calmer tone of voice now that he could confirm that Orihime at least was alright.
"Before I go into that I should inform Ms. Inoue of a little something" Elaina stated as she turned her gaze towards the young woman "technically what I'm about to discuss falls under the Soul Society's equivalent of Doctor-Patient confidentiality, are you alright with sharing this information with these people?"
"Oh sure, no problem" Orihime replied.
"What happened to her Elaina?" Toushirou inquired.
"Let me see if I can phrase this in a way that everyone here can understand" Elaina said calmly as she tried to think of how to explain it "alright, this is sticking to basics but it gets the concept across at least" she looked towards Orihime "you know how your vascular system is basically a network of arteries and veins which delivers blood to every cell in your body right?" Orihime nodded in understanding "well, there's also a network of vessels which circulate spirit energy throughout the body which we call the 'spirit network' out of lack of better term for it; unfortunately, all the energy you released just now was far beyond what your physical body was capable of handling and has effectively wrecked this network…"
"I don't like the sounds of this" Ichigo thought to himself.
"…the good news for you is that this is not life threatening" Elaina continued "the bad news however is that after damaging it to such an extent…" she took a deep breath before placing her right hand over the girl's shoulder "…you'll never be able to use spiritual powers again" her words shocked the young woman along with Chad and Ichigo.
"Is there nothing you can do for her?" Ichigo asked in disbelief.
"No, it would be like trying to heal someone who's been stabbed through the heart" Elaina explained "it just isn't possible."
"Is…is the Hogyoku gone at least?" Orihime inquired.
"There's no trace of it left" Toushirou answered "you really did it."
"Then that's alright" Orihime chuckled slightly.
"What are you talking about Orihime? You just lost all your powers" Ichigo asked in confusion.
"That maybe, but it's nothing compared to what others have given up in recent months" Orihime replied as a soft smile spread across her lips "compared to what your father, and many of the shinigami lost, my powers were small price to pay."
"Orihime" Chad said softly.
"Forgive me Ichigo" Toushirou sighed heavily "I should of known she'd try this."
"Toushirou, you're planning to leave for the Soul Society tomorrow right?" Ichigo inquired as he stood up and helped Orihime do the same.
"Yes, I have many issues to contend with when I get back" Toushirou answered "the most pressing being to fill the empty Captain and Lieutenant Seats."
"I see, do you mind coming with me to my house?" Ichigo asked "I've got some things I want to talk to you about?"
"After all you've done" Toushirou replied "of course" he turned to the Captain of Squad Nine "please tell the others where I'm going, and please make sure Rangiku and Zaraki don't do anything too crazy while I'm gone" Elaina nodded in understanding as he left with Ichigo and Rukia.
*90 minutes later*
Ichigo and Rukia had introduced Toushirou to Karin and Yuzu Kurosaki before fully explaining the letter that their late father had left them. The brown haired girl, Yuzu was quickly sobbing uncontrollably into her hands while her raven haired sister simply sat frozen in shock with a thin trail of tears trailing from her eyes. Ichigo himself sat in between his sisters in an attempt to comfort them. In the corner seat sat Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck who seemed to bow her head slightly in respect.
"This may not mean much coming from me" Toushirou said calmly as he sat across from the siblings with Rukia to his right "but your father was a very brave and selfless man, you should be proud of him."
"Karin, Yuzu, why don't you two get some sleep?" Ichigo suggested to his grieving siblings as he lead them up to their room "I appreciate your time."
"So what is it that you wanted to talk to me about?" Toushirou asked curiously.
"Back at the castle, I killed a man" Ichigo stated as he looked at his own two hand half expecting them to be covered in blood "with one Getsuga Tenshou I cut his head clean off his shoulders…"
"Was that the first time you've ever killed someone?" Toushirou inquired and Ichigo nodded "I think I understand to an extent, you feel guilty about it don't you?"
"Yeah…was it like this for you after you were forced to kill Kusaka?" Ichigo asked.
"I tried to kill myself after what happened in Central Forty Six" Toushirou replied.
"How have you dealt with having to kill people after that?" Ichigo wondered aloud.
"Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view" Toushirou began as thought about his fights against Gojou, the Arrancar, and most recently the very King of the Soul Society who had all died by his sword "it got easier for me."
"I see" Ichigo replied as he tried to comprehend what Toushirou had told him "I've been thinking…" Toushirou, Rukia, and Nelliel raised an eyebrow in curiosity "…about becoming a full time shinigami."
"Ichigo" Rukia said in surprise at his statement.
"I realize that I won't be able to prevent everyone from dying, but still…" Ichigo continued "…I can't shake this feeling that if I join with you guys I can become stronger and save more lives…"
"Ichigo, listen" Toushirou began in a serious tone of voice "to be perfectly honest I would like to say nothing more than 'welcome to the Thirteen Court Guard Squads' in spite of your hot headedness and your inexperience I believe you would make a great shinigami and at some point a Captain even" Ichigo listened to his perspective superior intently "however I want you to realize a couple things…"
"Head Captain" Rukia thought in slight surprise at the praise he had just spoken of her friend.
"…if you do decide to become a full time shinigami that'll mean you can no longer live the life of a normal human; and while I don't mind you returning here to take care of your sisters once you've completed your duties, I will need you in the Soul Society to carry out those duties…" Toushirou continued calmly "…it's not inconceivable that you could go for weeks or even months at a time without being able to return here, especially if you became a Captain."
"I understand" Ichigo replied.
"Secondly I want you to understand that if you do become a full time shinigami, I can more or less guarantee that someday you will be forced to kill again" Toushirou added coldly but honestly "while I'd be grateful to have you, it's only right that I should warn you not to enlist if you can't come to grips with that fact; because shinigami live a lot longer than normal humans…" his thoughts turned to his teacher who until recently had carried around a crushing amount of guilt "…and guilt is a very different beast when you live hundreds of years."
"My dad said as much" Ichigo stated as his thoughts turned his slain father.
"It's a choice you'll have to make for yourself" Toushirou sighed heavily wishing he could do more for the teen "just make sure you think it through first."
"I'll consider it" Ichigo assured the young Head Captain "thanks a lot Toushirou."
"It's the least I can do" Toushirou replied "and that's Head Captain Hitsugaya to you!"
*The next morning*
"Thank you for your help" Toushirou said gratefully to Kisuke as they opened the passage way which lead back to the Soul Society.
"No I should be thanking you" Kisuke replied "it was all because of me that this mess got out of control; I'm thankful to you for helping us make things right again and for clearing our names."
Nearby Uryu was standing next to a wheel chair bound Nemu who's shoulders were wrapped in bandages.
"Thank you for saving me Nemu" Uryu said in gratitude the leader of Squad Twelve "you saved my life."
"It was nothing, Quincy" Nemu replied as she reached under her blankets and pulled out a small box "I have something I was meaning to give to you."
"You know you can call me Uryu" Uryu assured her as he accepted the box and opened it revealing a small pendant in the shape of the Thistle which symbolized Squad Twelve "what is this?"
"That pendant I made, it converts the wearer's spirit energy to more closely match that of a shinigami's allowing them to purge hollows as opposed to just killing them" Nemu explained "I was inspired to make it when I learned of what happened to your people and others because you couldn't cleanse hollows, and when I met you I felt compelled to make it."
"I see…" Uryu replied softly as he gently gripped it "…thank you Nemu, now I can fight without having to worry about endangering reality."
"I'm glad you like it…Uryu…" Nemu said softly with a smile as a small blush colored her cheeks "…when I get back I plan to make some for all those warlocks who helped us…once I'm done with that…would it…be alright for me to come see you every now and then?"
"Sure" Uryu assured the young lieutenant "just focus on getting better first" both the quincy and the shinigami smiled softly at one another.
As they finished their conversation Toushirou's eyes fell upon the covered form of Jyushiro Ukitake who had Shunsui standing silently over him "time to go home now Captain…" Toushirou thought calmly.
*Three days later*
"So the two of you have decided to apply for the open Captain Seats" Toushirou stated as Renji and Rukia stood before him in his office.
"Sir, I may not have fully mastered my Bankai yet, but I believe this is the best way for me to help my Squad" Rukia replied.
"Indeed" Toushirou said in response "Captain Elaina Dark-Heart of Squad Nine seems to think you'd be the best candidate for the job" he turned his focus onto the red haired Lieutenant of Squad Six "and you've already proven yourself to be an excellent officer in your own right."
"Thank you sir" Renji said gratefully.
"Consider these papers filed" Toushirou instructed "the exams will be carried out by the end of next week, prepare yourselves to the best of your abilities."
"Yes sir" the two replied as they made way for the exit.
"That's great news isn't it Toushirou?" Rangiku asked as she stood up from the couch she had been lying on "with Rukia, Squad Thirteen will have a new Captain; where do you plan to put Renji should he pass?"
"Squad Seven" Toushirou answered "he was good friends with Lieutenant Iba, so I think he'll do well there."
"Then that just leaves Squad One and Twelve" Rangiku stated.
"I'm not too worried about Squad Twelve" Toushirou replied "Nemu may still be on sick leave but that Akon guy assures me they'll be able to finish creating that door way they promised me by the middle of next week at the latest."
"Oh you mean that gate to another dimension to allow Ikkaku and Captain Zaraki to beat each other up without wrecking half the city?" Rangiku inquired and Toushirou nodded "yeah I don't think letting those two fight in the Seireitei would be good for your blood pressure."
"And I wonder who I have to thank for high blood pressure?" Toushirou stated more than he asked causing Rangiku to giggle "but I am concerned about Squad One…" his tone became much more serious "…I don't like the idea of leaving of a squad without a captain or lieutenant for too long…I was hoping that you'd…"
"Sorry but I'm not interested" Rangiku answered before Toushirou could even ask the question "too much paper work."
"Rangiku" Toushirou sighed in exhaustion but froze when he felt her wrap her arms around his shoulders.
"Relax, Toushirou" Rangiku chuckled "listen that former Espada decided to join us when Ichigo signed on right?" Toushirou nodded "let her take command of Squad One for now, once Elaina finishes teaching Ichigo about the non combat aspects of a shinigami's duty, then either he or she can become the new Captain."
"There really is no way into getting you to reconsider?" Toushirou asked rhetorically.
"Sorry, but someone has to make sure our new Head Captain doesn't work himself to death" Rangiku said softly as she kissed him on the cheek, moments later Toushirou turned around and pulled her into another deeper kiss.
*Squad Five Main Office*
"Thank you for stopping by Seventh Seat Yamada" Alexander stated as Hanatarou sat in front of his desk.
"No problem sir" Hanatarou replied as he looked around the Captain's office taking note of all the books which filled the shelves, even from where he was sitting Hanatarou could tell that most if not all of them were on the subject of Kidou and its mechanics "Captain Unohana said you wanted to talk to me?"
"Are you familiar with the Kidou Corp. of over a hundred years ago?" Alexander inquired of the younger shinigami.
"Sir, it was a special squad of shinigami who were dedicated to the research of kidou" Hanatarou answered "their work was always of the highest levels of secrecy, however they essentially collapsed over one hundred years ago when they lost both their captain and lieutenant in a single night; why do you ask?"
"I'm planning to recreate the Kidou Corp. as a part of Squad Five, similar to the department of Research and Development is to Squad Twelve" Alexander explained "as is well known, Squad Five has the highest average kidou scores of all the Thirteen Court Guard Squads; my goal is to create a new, less secretive Kidou Corp. dedicated to the development of new spells for shinigami to learn."
"That's very ambitious of you sir" Hanatarou stated "but why are you telling me?"
"The thing is, if I'm going to pull this off, I'm going to need a lieutenant" Alexander answered "preferably someone with a good knowledge of how spirit energy interacts with the body, the kind of knowledge that a skilled healer posses" he placed his right hand over his desk revealing the Lieutenant's Badge of Squad Five.
"Me sir?" Hanatarou inquired in disbelief.
"Retsu tells me that ever since the war with Aizen you've been a different person" Alexander stated "she feels that you need and deserve a higher position than that of a Seventh Seat, and from what she tells me you're just the kind of person I need" he gently pressed his hands together "so what do you say?"
Hanatarou said nothing as he took a few moments to look over the Lieutenant's badge in contemplation. Eventually Hanatarou extended his right arm and gently lifted the badge off of the hard wooden surface.
"What do you require Captain Dark-Heart?" Hanatarou asked a small smile stretching across his face causing the Captain of Squad Five to smile softly as well.
*Two weeks later*
The current leaders of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads had gathered in the Captain's Hall. Every Captain and Lieutenant was in attendance, in addition Squad One had their acting Captain Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck representing them, while Elaina had brought her 'pupil' of sorts Ichigo to witness the ceremony, and Lieutenant Nemu Kurotsuchi was accompanied by her second in command Akon in case she need assistance.
"As you all know the past year has been tough on the Thirteen Court Guard Squads" Head Captain Toushirou Hitsugaya stated calmly to his subordinates "we've lost some of our finest in the battles against Aizen and the Royal Family" the gathered officers nodded in acknowledgement of their fallen comrades "which is why I'm proud to announce that two new Captains have been found to help fill the void" his eyes quickly made their way towards the entrance "enter now, Squad Seven Captain Renji Abarai and Squad Thirteen Captain Rukia Kuchki."
The doors slid open revealing the two new Captains; Renji was now wearing a sleeveless white captain's haori while Rukia was wearing a long sleeved haori as the previous captain had. As they walked in between their peers they were met by a barrage of approving smiles. The two had to force themselves not to gasp in shock when they realized that the Captain of Squad Six was looking at them both with a look which very much resembled pride.
"Take your places now" Toushirou instructed.
The two nodded in understanding as Rukia stood towards the end of the line next to Kenpachi whose sheer size easily dwarfed hers almost as much as it did his own Lieutenant's. Renji meanwhile took his place between the Captain Dark-Hearts, both of whom nodded in approval as their Lieutenants did the same.
"So that's two down and two to go" Toushirou stated.
*Ten years later*
A large crowd of nobles had gathered in the old Central Forty Six halls planning to discuss matters with the leaders of the Seireitei in regards to the rebuilding of the Soul Society's government. It had been a decade since Aizen's Coup. and the wealthy aristocrats were eager to try and maneuver their way up to even greater heights of wealth and power.
"They sure are taking their time" the leader of the nobles stated.
"The nerve, keeping us waiting" a noblewoman added.
"Not to mention its more than a little cramped in here" a third noble chimed in.
"Well at least they didn't try forcing us into the main chamber" a fourth joked when suddenly the doors opened and a small parade of very famous individuals entered.
First into the room was the Captain of Squad Ten and the Head Captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, Toushirou Hitsugaya. In the past decade he had grown to approximately six feet in height, his hair now laid flatter on top of his head than it had when he was younger but he still had a very wild look about him. Other than the change in height and hairstyle was a new blue green scarf he was sporting around his neck, a gift from his lieutenant and lover who accompanied him.
Next to enter was a young man who appeared to be in his late teens with short spiky orange hair and brown eyes. He wore a sleeveless white haori signifying his rank while his massive Zanpakutou hid the kanji for one on his back which marked him as the former substitute shinigami and the new leader of Squad One after the death of former Head Captain Yamamoto, Captain Ichigo Kurosaki. Next to him stood a young green haired Arrancar woman who wore a normal set of shinigami robes and a badge signifying her as his second in command, Lieutenant Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck.
After them came a pair of female shinigami. The first was a petite woman with raven colored hair which she wore in a pair of long braids in back and short everywhere else, her grey eyes sent out a clear message that she was not to be trifled with even more so than the sleeveless haori on her back which marked her as the Captain of Squad Two and leader of the Stealth Force, Captain Soi Fon.
Accompanying Captain Soi Fon was a young girl who appeared to be in her early to mid teens, who like her Captain had black hair. She had ultimately decided to apply to the shinigami academy despite the fact that it meant giving up her life in the World of the Living much like her brother before her had, though they both made a point to visit their third sibling who now lived with Orihime Inoue whenever they could. After graduating in just one year she managed to impress the stern Captain of Squad Two with her skills in Hakuda along with her natural talents for using projectiles and improvised weapons. So much so that in less than a decade of service she had obtained the rank of lieutenant, she was the Lieutenant of Squad Two, Karin Kurosaki.
The next pair to enter was a woman with short red hair and blue eyes. Her most unusual feature was her haori which was sleeveless over her left arm, but had a long sleeve which covered her right arm completely. Accompanying her Lieutenant who like her had blue eyes but had blonde hair instead of red. One look into either of their eyes spoke that they knew well the meaning of despair which their squad's symbol represents as they were its leaders; Captain Youmei Rammyaku and Lieutenant Izuru Kira.
The next person to enter was a woman with dark blue eyes and long black hair which she used to wear in a braid in front of her but now allowed fall freely down to her waist. This new way of wearing her hair gave her the appearance of a woman in her late twenties or early thirties, and by all accounts she was quite attractive; so much so that many of the nobleman groaned in disappoint at a small sparkling band which she wore around her left ring finger. In addition to the traditional shinigami garbs she wore a long sleeved captain's haori with the kanji for four signifying her rank and squad, and unlike most shinigami she carried her sword around using a string of cloth over her shoulder.
Accompanying her was a tall young woman with purplish hair which she wore in three braids which framed her head. She followed her Captain loyally as she always had, ready to carry out their duties as Captain Retsu Unohana and Lieutenant Isane Koutestu of Squad Four.
After them came a pair of men; the first appeared to be in his late twenties, early thirties with dark green eyes and long black hair which he wore in a thin pony tail at the base of his neck. He wore a sleeveless haori with the kanji for five on his back and just above his left hip rested not one but two Zanpakutou. The one following him was shorter than his captain by about a head, though his hair was shorter it was the same dark black as his superior's. Both of them had a focused gaze which had made them the well known Captain and Lieutenant of Squad Five, Alexander Dark-Heart and Hanatarou Yamada respectively.
Following the leaders of Squad Five came the famous Captain of Squad Six Byakuya Kuchki; in the decade since Aizen's defeat he had stopped wearing the Kensaiken over his bangs, in addition his haori had apparently been customized to the point that it now had a collar in spite of the fact that he never actually closed it. Accompanying him was a young man with short black hair and a tattoo just above his left eye which he wore in admiration for the man who had previously held his position. Even the wealthiest nobles stood in shock and awe at the presence of the leaders of Squad Six, Captain Byakuya Kuchki and his Lieutenant Rikichi.
Immediately after came a pair of red headed male shinigami; one was rather tall with long hair which he wore behind his head giving him a pineapple like appearance, though only the ones on his face were visible, his body was covered in tattoos which were almost as famous as the haori he wore on his back. The second red head was the size of a young boy of about twelve or thirteen years of age, he had joined the Thirteen Court Guard Squads at roughly the same time as Karin claiming he wanted to spread his wings; though his former employer suspected it was because he liked the man who was now his Captain and wanted to see him more often. They were Captain Renji Abarai and Lieutenant Jinta Hanakari of Squad Seven.
Next up was the veteran Captain of Squad Eight dressed in his signature straw hat, sandals without socks, and pink woman's haori. Following closely behind was his glasses wearing lieutenant who seemed to have a scowl glued onto her face. No one gathered there could mistake them for anything other than the famous Captain Shunsui Kyouraku and Lieutenant Nanao Ise.
After a brief pause the gathered nobles saw a young dark skinned woman enter the hall with shoulder length black hair and golden eyes. She had a look in her face which read that she was excited about what was about to transpire though the gathered nobles had no idea what that was. Following directly behind her was a tall young man with short spiky black hair with a scar over his right eye and a distinctive 69 tattoo over his left cheek which many people were often surprised to learn wasn't a sex joke. In spite of the sheer contrast of their appearances, the two gave off an aura of strength and discipline which made Captain Elaina Dark-Heart and Lieutenant Shuhei Hisagi of Squad Nine even deadlier than they were famous.
Following after their Squad Nine counterparts emerged a giant of a man wearing a tattered Captain's Haori which was a veteran in its own right after all the battles it had witnessed. In addition he wore his hair in numerous long spikes with bells attached to the ends along with an eye patch over his right eye while a long scar ran right past his left. In contrast was the little girl with bubble gum pink hair which rode on his back with what appeared to be a permanent smile glued across her face. Truly there was no confusing the infamous and often hilarious leaders of Squad Eleven, Captain Kenpachi Zaraki and Lieutenant Yachiru Kusajishi.
Next came a young woman with long black hair which she wore in a braid behind her with parted bangs in front, she had a pair of light green eyes which rarely showed any emotion in spite of the fact that she was a truly compassionate woman. Her clothing consisted of a simple shinigami uniform, though she had a skirt as opposed to the more formal leggings which most shinigami wore. In addition she had a long sleeved Captain's Haori. Next to her was a tall man with short spiky brown hair and three small horns protruding from his forehead marking him as one of the oddest looking officers in the whole Seireitei. In all the thirteen Court Guard Squads there was likely no stranger duo than the Captain and Lieutenant of Squad Twelve, Captain Nemu Ishida and Lieutenant Akon.
Finally came a small petite woman with dark blue eyes and short black hair which she wore in a bob around her head with a single strand lying between her eyes. In addition to her long sleeved haori, she wore a pair of white fingerless gloves just like the ones worn by her adoptive brother. Accompanying her was an even smaller but deceptively strong little girl with black hair which she wore in pigtails with pink ties to the side while a pair of bangs parted just past her nose, her violet eyes portrayed a timid nature but when provoked or scared she could turn into a nigh unstoppable killing machine. They were the leaders of Squad Thirteen, Captain Rukia Kuchki and Lieutenant Ururu Tsumugiya.
"It's nice to see, that you've managed to fill all your vacancies so quickly Head Captain, well done" one of the nobleman offered.
"It's my job" Toushirou replied calmly.
"And you do it well" a second aristocrat said in approval.
"In any case we really should get down to business" a noblewoman suggested "we need to discuss the restoration of the Central Forty Six, Head Captain Hitsugaya…"
"That's not going to happen!" Toushirou cut her off shocking the entire aristocracy "it'll be easiest to show you what's going to happen this way" he turned his gaze towards Nemu "Captain Ishida."
"Sir" Nemu replied as she raised her right hand and snapped her fingers causing a swarm of hell butterflies to fly in through the door and landed on the gathered nobles' foreheads.
"There are still some details to iron out" Toushirou began as the small creatures began to show the Soul Society's wealthiest men and women what he had planned "but the main points of this new government are that the duty of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads will be to maintain the balance between the World of the Living and the Soul Society; the second major point will the establishment of a new parliament for the citizens of Rukongai to elect leaders who will make laws going beyond some basic rights detailed in the new constitution…"
"Wait a minute!" a nobleman demanded "there's nothing in here about noble rights and privileges."
"That's because there won't be any caste system under the new government" Toushirou explained calmly "everyone will subject to the same laws and punishments they entail should they be found guilty in a court trial."
"You expect us to support this?" a female aristocrat asked furiously "there's no way any of us will agree to this constitution or your little parliament" the hall was filled with the sounds of scores of nobles shouting their agreement "what we need is a strong aristocracy which respects our superior…" she and the other nobles were cut off by a crushing spiritual pressure which caused over half of them to fall to the ground under its force.
"Let me make this as clear to you as I possibly can" Toushirou stated coldly as his eyes had an intense glow "I'm not asking you nobles for anything, I'm telling you what is going to happen…"
"Kuchki do you really plan to support this boy?" a nearby noble asked the Captain of Squad Six.
"With the Central Forty Six dead the Soul Society is technically a military dictatorship now" Byakuya explained calmly "in short, Head Captain Hitsugaya's word is currently law and as a noble it is my duty to follow the law to serve as an example for all."
"Some things never change" Ichigo thought in disbelief at Byakuya's excuse.
"Now listen closely" Toushirou commanded "it's going to take some time, but here is how the Soul Society is going to operate" he eased his own spiritual pressure "The Thirteen Court Guard Squad shall exits only to protect the World of the Living and the Soul Society from hollows, in addition we shall be responsible for maintaining peace and order here in the Soul Society…"
"Kid, you've grown to be such a magnificent bastard" Elaina thought proudly of her Head Captain.
"…once established, the Parliament will be in charge of actually governing over Rukongai and its members shall acquire their seats through democratic elections" Toushirou continued "and the very concept of nobility shall be abolished here in the Soul Society" the gathered nobles shot him looks of contempt.
"You're finally nearing your goal" Alexander noted in approval "well done my student."
"Everyone here has two options" Toushirou informed them "you can either fall in line or you can step aside; but don't get in my way!"
"And if we refuse?" one noble asked in defiance.
"Then I'll kill you and confiscate all your precious wealth" Toushirou stated in a tone which indicated that it wasn't so much a threat as it was a promise "now get out of here" he ordered "within a few years I intend to have most of you investigated for criminal activities!"
The scores of nobles all looked the young Head Captain with glares of displeasure, but ultimately they were smart enough to realize that even if they all combined their efforts, they couldn't hope to defeat even one captain, let alone thirteen of them and their lieutenants. Slowly, begrudgingly they made their way out of the hall.
"So, they know about your plans now" Rangiku stated calmly "what's next?"
"Simple" Toushirou replied "we implement them" he turned towards the exit "come on, we've got a lot of work to do" nodding in understanding the most powerful shinigami and hybrids followed the silver haired youth in a plan which most of them hoped would change the Soul Society for the better, there were a couple however who didn't care so much and just hoped it would lead to a good fight.
*Twenty Five Years later- shinigami academy graduation ceremony*
Hundreds of students had flooded the courtyard to witness the graduating class' ceremony. For the scores of young men and women it signaled the end of their studies under the academy's roof, at the same time it represented the beginning of what they hoped would be a long and successful career as shinigami of the thirteen court guard squads. Numerous captains and lieutenants were in intendance today as was tradition including the Head Captain himself. Sitting towards the sides were a pair of young men who both appeared to be in their late teens, early twenties.
One of them had a pair of distinctly violet eyes which he had inherited from his mother and a messy head of brown hair which came from his father. His friend had a pair of dark blue eyes which like the other boy he had inherited from his mother, another similarity was that he inherited his father's hair though he had to drain or seal his spirit energy to show it.
"There's plenty of excitement in the air here, wouldn't you say Dante?" the brown haired shinigami asked.
"You can say that again Jyushiro" the black haired youth replied in agreement.
"I tell you, I thought it was a little crazy when we were graduating" Jyushiro chuckled "after all it was the first time in history that there were two students tying for the top score; our family's sure were smiling."
"Especially your father when you started flirting with like five girls at once" Dante stated in an amused tone of voice "though your mother was less than thrilled."
"Ah yes, but this blows it all out of the park" Jyushiro replied.
"Well that shouldn't come as surprise given who's graduation this is" Dante explained when suddenly the sound died down when the names of the highest scoring graduates were announced.
"Izou Kurosaki" the shinigami speaker called out as a young man who appeared to be approximately fifteen years old made his way up to receive his diploma and his kimono, his hair was spiky like his father's but black like his mothers, while his eyes were clearly his mother's dark blue "congratulations."
"Thank you" Izou replied as he shook the man's hands and took a seat with his parents, the Captains of Squads One and Thirteen.
"Tokui Kuchki" a girl of the same age as Izou made her way up to the podium, she had dark red hair which she wore in a braid in back and a pair of calm, focused eyes "congratulations."
"Thank you kind sir" Tokui replied as she mimicked her cousin and sat with her parents, the Captains of Squads Three and Six.
"And our highest scoring student of this graduating class" the announcer called out "Momo Hitsugaya."
The crowd fell into deathly silence as a young woman the same age as Tokui and Izou stood up. Like her mother she had a very curvaceous and well endowed figure for a girl her age, but unlike her mother she seemed to wear her clothes in a way which hid those aspects as much as possible. One look at her silver hair or her turquoise eyes could tell you that she was the Head Captain's daughter and her expression communicated that she was a very serious and straightforward kind of person.
"Congratulations, we have high hopes for you" the announcer said with a smile as he passed her a well earned uniform.
"Thank you very much" Momo said respectfully as she made her way over to where her parents, the leaders of Squad Ten sat with proud looks on their faces "oh dear God please…" she thought when she saw the mischievous grins being worn by her younger twin brothers Kusaka and Gin telling her that they were plotting something "we have the same hair and eyes, and yet they look so different…what a pain…" the young girl thought in distress as she sat down hoping that whatever it was wouldn't be too public.
As the ceremony drew to a close, the air was filled with the sounds of applause as graduates; current, former, and future stood up in celebration. Rangiku was hugging Momo tightly much to her dismay and the amusement of her brothers. Ichigo and Rukia each placed a hand on Izou's shoulders and smiled in approval. Byakuya, not being the biggest fan of public displays of affection simply nodded to his daughter with a small smile while her mother hugged her tightly. Even the icy Head Captain, Toushirou Hitsugaya found himself shedding a tear of joy at his daughter's achievement though a part of him dreaded the calls he was more than likely to receive next year when Gin and Kusaka would attend
"What a life" Toushirou thought to himself when he saw two young men standing to the side.
"Hey, Dante" Elaina called out "don't be a stranger, get your ass over here little brother!"
"Alright sis" Dante replied not wanting to get in a scuffle with Elaina as he saw his parents looking at him with a look of pride which matched their expressions years earlier when he had graduated "even though the new Parliament officially opened a few years after I was born; numerous nobles are still trying to resist the new age without noble privilege…there's still a lot of work to be done" he looked upon the new recruits "these newbies are good, but they've got a ways to go if they want to put Dante Dark-Heart to shame."
"I must say I love this kind of atmosphere" Jyushiro said as he stood next to his father.
"The only thing missing is sake, and lot's of it" Shunsui stated in matters of fact tone of voice.
"Well dad should we go get some and get this party started?" Jyushiro inquired.
"Son, I'm so proud of you" Shunsui replied as he wiped a tear of joy from his face.
"Don't even think about it you two!" Nanao hissed to her husband and her son not wanting them to spoil the proud atmosphere.
"Nanao" Shunsui whined.
"Mom" Jyushiro mimicked his father which simply caused the bespectacled Lieutenant to pinch her forehead in frustration in spite of how much she loved them both.
"I'm proud of you Momo" Toushirou told his daughter with a gentle smile spread across his face.
"That means a lot father, thank you" Momo replied as she too smiled up at her father.
"Geez what is with you two, you're father and daughter for crying out loud so hug each other" Rangiku called out as she squeezed both Toushirou and Momo together and a tight bear hug "you both need to loosen up" she began to swing them both around much to their annoyance and the amusement of Gin and Kusaka "tell you what, why don't you go find yourself a nice boy Momo, in the meantime your father and I are going to…"
"MOTHER!" Momo shouted, her cheeks flushed red at how indecent her own mother could be.
"RANGIKU!" Toushirou yelled at the exact same time as his daughter, after about half a second the Head Captain realized that everyone within a one hundred yard radius was laughing at their reactions "even after all this time I still can't win against her!" he though in defeat.
Author's Notes: In case any of you are wondering after reading the fight scene at the begging, here is how Nemu's shikai works basically. The glove on her left hand is able to quickly analyze any substance or symptoms, the tubes on her back are able to covert her spirit energy into chemicals which she can use to create sedatives, poisons, antidotes, and what have you, and lastly the syringe which forms in her right hand is obviously for injecting them into the subject/victim. Unfortunately for her during this fight it was of no use against Mayuri since is body is made of the same substance as hers and is thus immune to any poison she can readily produce; the ones being stored inside her were more potent and required more time to produce which is why they nearly killed her.
Now onto the final reviews: I'd be most grateful if you'd take some time to answer as many of the following questions as possible:
1. Which fight was your favorite?
2. Which chapter was the best one in your opinion?
3. On a scale of 1 to 10 how dark would you say this story gets at parts and which part would you say is the darkest?
4. What scene made you laugh the hardest? (If no scenes made you laugh, which ones were closest?)
5. Which scene(s) made you cry the most or brought you closest to tears?
6. Which scene(s) left you with the biggest "I did not see that coming" feeling?
7. How well did I portray Tite Kubo's characters in your opinion?
8. How well did my three main OCs fit into the plot aside from taking up too much of the spotlight?
9. What did you think of the new roster of Captains and Lieutenants?
10. Which scene(s) did you feel were the most heartwarming?
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all again for supporting my work. For those of you interested in my new original story Children of Vanity please keep an eye on my profile, I hope to have a link up which will direct you to the first chapter in a couple of days. If that doesn't work out just PM me with a request and I'll give you the url for you to copy and paste into your web-browser. In any case my senior year of college starts tomorrow and once I upload the first chapter of CoV I'll get back to work on House of Winter in my free time; the good news for all you House of Winter fans is I've actually had the first chapter of CoV finished for quite a while, I just need to do some editing on it first.
Once again I thank you all for reading; have a nice day