It is against the law for a Shinigami to give their spiritual power to Humans.
To do so is treason.
It is against the law for a Shinigami to use forbidden Kidō.
To do so is treason.
It is against the law for any citizen of Soul Society to create weapons of a dangerous nature not sanctioned by the feudal government.
To do so is treason.
It is against the law to attack a captain.
To do so is treason.
It is against the law to commit terrorist action or attempt overthrow of the balance of Soul Society.
To do so is treason.
It is against the law to commit murder.
To do so is treason.
It is forbidden for a Shinigami to acquire Hollow powers.
To do so is treason.
It is by ancient law that two Shinigami cannot hold the same zanpakutō. They must fight for the honor of bearing the spirit, with the spirit going to the winner.
This had to be the the worst trial ever.
After Aizen had been beaten back to Hueco Muendo, everyone thought it was over. The visoreds would be welcomed back to Soul Society, there would be peace, everyone would be happy.
How wrong they were.
In less than a second, Soul Society, their so called 'allies' had turned on them. It had been so quick, so sudden, that none of them saw it coming, and by the time they had...
It was already too late.
"Urgh, let go!" He hissed, before as he was thrown down the stairs, landing painfully on his face.
He rubbed his wrists as the reiatsu absorbing cuffs were removed. The shackles fell to the floor, and he stood before the Central 46 court. Now read to him was his 'crime' again, and he listened to the reports of several key witnesses to his many crimes and felonies against the soul society.
"Do you acknowledge these laws, prisoner?" Boomed the judge.
The man held his head high, revealing the scratches and cuts there. He had been brutally beaten and tortured, in an attempt to get him to 'confess' to his so called crimes. He scowled, darkly.
"Hell no!" He shouted! "I'd break every single one of them if it meant winning the war!"
His words threw the central 46 into chaos.
"How dare you speak such a thing!"
And there was much of this noise, constant shouting, hollering and screaming before they finally calmed down. He could feel their eyes boring into him, a collective glare, that would've broken a lesser man.
Granted, he'd just turned sixteen last week, but still.
"How do you plead to your charges?" The judge finally asked.
"Kurosaki Ichigo, we demand an explanation!" The chorus grated on his ears, but he somehow managed to wait for them to finish their protests to his claims. Only once the ruckus had died down, did he speak.
"I didn't know." He stated solemnly, but there was a small smirk, as he was addressing the entire assembly as a whole. "But I don't understand, why are you putting me and my friends on trial?"
"How ironic that you should mention your comrades." Boomed the judge ominously. A feeling of dread coiled in the pit of Ichigo's stomach, and brown eyes tripled as the voice echoed down from the podium. "Because they too are to be put on trial for crimes against the Sereitei."
"Teme!" He hissed, losing his composure. "They haven't done anything!
"Quite the contrary. They are guilty because it was you who not only trained with them, but tainted them with your hollow powers. We cannot allow such an uncontrollable factor to exist within the Gotei 13."
"Had you left them be, we may have missed them." One man went on as the twelfth division captain listened helplessly. "In that, I suppose we do owe you thanks."
"For this, your punishment will be lenient." Spoke the judge. "You will be stripped of your powers, and be allowed to live a normal life as a human being. However-
He now began to read from a list: "Yastura Sado, Ishida Uryuu, Inoue Orihime, Isshin Kurosaki, Karin Kurosaki, and Yuzu Kurosaki, along with all other members of the renegade group known as the visored, must be eliminated, post-haste."
It took a moment for the strawberry to realize what this meant.
They were all going to be executed.
"What the hell?!" He swept a hand out in an all encompassing gesture. His tone was strained now, and a more than trace of emotional desperation crept through his shout. "We helped you guys! Why can't you just trust us?!"
"But your assurances are not enough!" Stated one.
"Words alone are not enough!" Cried another.
"Just listen! We're on your side! How can I prove that to you?!"
Another moment of silence.
"There is nothing you can do." Boomed the congregation as a whole. "You have already done all you can for them. Accept our decision and move on."
It was all he could do to keep himself under control.
"So that's it, huh? You're going to kill them. My family, my friends, just because they're different?"
"Indeed, it sorrows us to do this, but we will bear the burden of this sin, and make sure it does not happen again." Said one, then another, until they were all saying it together as one.
He grit his teeth together, ground his hands into fists-
"Kurosaki Ichigo is a valuable asset to the Gotei 13." Stated a voice, as a man began to walk down the steps. "Surely we can work out a solution?"
The strawberry whipped around, turning to see an aged man leaning forward slightly on a cane as he trudged towards him. Blue eyes tripled as he recognized the face. Especially with the beard and though he looked a great deal older than before the war had started, he was easy to recognize.
Yamamoto smiled lightly.
"Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryūsai, what are you doing here?" Asked the judge. "It is forbidden for any other shinigami, regardless of rank, to interfere with our trials.
"I am merely here to speak my mind. Won't you allow an old man that much?"
"Very well. Know that your words will not influence our decision, but you may speak."
"He has served the Sereitei well for these past few months, has he not?"
"Well....yes." Agreed several others.
"And has he ever once, betrayed us?"
"Then I see no reason to detain him or his friends."
For a moment, Ichigo thought that was it.
It was not to be.
"He has!" Boomed a voice from across the room. "He interfered in the execution of Kuchiki Rukia and destroyed the Sokyouko! He injured three vice-captains! He murdered captain Amagai, and once took up the zanpaktou of an espada as his own! That is high treason!"
Ichigo winced at that one.
"Hey! I did that because-
Yamamoto still held authority in his voice, even as he spoke, cutting Ichigo off. "And yet you youngsters forget, the execution itself was all an elaborate plan by Sosuke Aizen to retrieve the Hogyoku from within Rukia's soul, was it not? We were all deceived by Aizen. Furthermore, Kurosaki Ichigo took up the blade of an enemy, because that enemy was honorable, and honor is a grand quality, regardless of who it is to posses it. I believe we can make an exception in Kurosaki's case, as I believe that the boy has done what he believes to be right."
His words struck home, and silence reigned over the room again.
Ichigo was struck speechless.
"Hey, thanks, gramps."
The head captain spared him a small smile.
"Think nothing of it, boy."
"That in of itself does not matter!" Cried a voice suddenly! "We are here to discuss the issue of his illegal acquisition of hollow powers, the murder of a captain, and the creation of a secret army to overthrow us!"
"Are you crazy?!" The strawberry hissed. "I have no intention of making an army!
"And yet you once betrayed your comrades, did you not?" Questioned the voice again, becoming more aggressive in his accusations. "You left your allies to die once, so what can lead us to believe you will not do the same to us now?!"
"I did not leave my friends to die!" Now he was furious. "I left to get help!"
"No, you ran away in fear!" Cried a voice.
"You deserted your comrades, and you'll do the same to us!" Cried another.
"Listen to yourselves!" Objected Yamamoto. "Is it really so important that these children be executed? If we welcome them with open arms, then we have nothing to-
"It is not a matter of whether the young ones should be killed." Boomed the judge, and everyone went silent. "It is a matter of removing the weeds that might grow to choke the garden of safety that is the Soul Society. Weeds will always grow, and it is our duty to pluck them out, before they tip the balance."
The gavel slammed down on the podium.
"It is decided. The execution will be held at dawn!"
"No!" Ichigo all but roared. "I won't let you do it!"
"You do not have a choice." Replied the judge. "Accept our authority and look beyond yourself. We are doing this not only for the good of the Soul Society, but for your world, the material world as well. To preserve the balance, that is the only thing that matters-
"Shut up!" The fierce hiss cut him off. "Underneath all your righteous bullshit, you're really just sacrificing the individual for the whole! Killing innocents for the greater good! That's not how it should be done! Who'll it be next time, huh?! A harmless human, another shinigami? A captain?! What will it take to satisfy you?!"
"Do not question our judgement!" Boomed the judge. "Our decision is absolute!"
"Absolute this!" He hissed, flipping him off.
"Resist and you will be executed along with them!" Cried the judge.
"Fine." His statement seemed to shock everyone, and they now looked to be suddenly uneasy.
"FINE!" He cried again, but louder this time. "I've had it!"
"Old man, you'd better run." Warned Ichigo, a second before it happened.
But Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryūsai was nobody's fool, despite his old age. He knew Ichigo was beyond convincing, and had already shunpoed himself to safety, this being the momentary cause for alarm as of earlier.
A hand reached to his face.
Dark energy began to fluctuate in his hand as he pulled. It began to take shape, and everyone was muted by the horror as the mask was revealed.
"I will burn this night into your minds." Rumbled the vizard ominously. "I will make all of Soul Society will remember this night, and what happened here!"
He held up both hands, and almost immediately, a dark sphere formed.
"Thankfully, I can still use this ability, even without Zangetsu nearby."
It began to grow, until he held a sphere roughly as large as a soccer ball, then twice the size of such. He began to mumble under his breath, rapidly performing a spirit chant.
"Someone do something!"
"Kido is forbidden in Central 46!" Cried the judge frantically, as everyone began to run.
This wasn't kido.
He whispered the words:
Alarms rang loud into the the Sereitei, and Central 46 itself was aflame. Hundreds of shinigami ran this way and that, searching for the intruder, an enemy who had no intention of making himself known to them.
He darted through the streets, running harder, faster than he ever had before.
The fires reflected in Ichigo's dark brown eyes. burning this night into his memory, forevermore.
His hand strayed to the three blades, one in hand of course, Zangetsu.
The other two dangled from his sash, as he had them buckled to his side.
He was desperately searching for where his friends were being held, and thanks to the deathstone in the buildings here, coupled with his lame ability at even detecting reaitsu, he could barely even sense them at all.
The vizard rounded a corner, and ran smack dab into Hitsugaya.
"Kurosaki!" The tenth squad captain made ready to draw his sword.
Ichigo growled like an animal, and whipped Zangetsu by its chain, carving Toshirou across the chest.
"Outta my way!" He roared, grabbing the shorter man by the collar, then throwing him through a wall. He didn't wait to see whether that actually stopped him, he kept running the moment he'd heaved Hitsugaya.
Unfortunately, a captain didn't go down that easily.
Ichigo skidded to a halt as the area before him froze over in ice, blocking his escape.
He whirled about to see Hitsugaya in full bankai.
Brown eyes hardened, became crystalline.
"You...shouldn't have done that."
They had clashed for about a minute, when he felt Chad's energy vanish.
No...Vanish wasn't the right word.
It was just gone.
Fearing the worst, Ichigo fought harder, slashing with intense fury, ignoring the ice that froze his right arm. His left arm lashed out to shatter the ice, and he kept coming.
Uryuu was next.
He dug a shallow hole into Hitsugaya's hip, but the captain used the chance to entrap him in his infamous ice prison. Pulling on his mask, it now took but a second for the captain class shinigami to break free of his capture, but by then-
She was gone now too.
He blinked, then felt like a piece of his heart had been ripped out.
With all the speed of a demon, he whirled on Hitsugaya!
He fought like a madman now, hacking and slashing at the captain with reckless abandon. No longer was he holding back for the sake of his humanity, or for the sake of being kind. The enemy was in his way, and he was determined to blow through him, not matter the cost or consequence.
"Your fault! It's all your fault!"
When he felt it disappearing, the reishi signature that was his father...
He lost it.
Try as he might, Toshirou just couldn't keep up with this kind of speed.
Kurosaki was everywhere at once!
Abruptly, he reached to the sword dangling left at his hip.
Toshirou had enough time to gasp, as the katana was drawn.
Too late, the blade had now coiled around him, and Ichigo's sword arm was raised high.
He ended it by blowing Hitsugaya's right arm off with a getsuga tenshou, then tearing past him. He paid no heed as Toshirou fell to the ground, nor how he struggled to rise after him, but fell over in his own blood.
Thankfully, he didn't encounter any more captain class enemies after that.
By the time he'd reached the prison...
Karin and Yuzu were gone.
Like a zombie, he shambled over to their bodies, which were bloodied, battered and broken. They all looked so peaceful, as if they were merely sleeping.
Over Inoue, he lingered, as if searching for something, any signs of life. But there were none. Though her skin was still warm, and though she had yet to turn pale, the redhead, like all of his friends and family, had ultimately breathed her last.
Again, his hands strayed to the two zanpaktou, as if seeking comfort. Both were plain katana, there was no obvious distinction between it and another. However, one had a red sheathe, and the other's sheathe was a dark blue.
The first was Renji's Zabimaru.
The second was Rukia's Sode no Shirayuki.
They'd imparted their blades to him, just before they died on the front lines.
Everyone had died.
Blast this war!
Blast it all!
Tears, unfiltered sadness, began to pour down his face. A ragged, choked sob escaped his throat, and he covered his face with both hands, falling down to his knees, the tears leaking through his hands
They were gone.
Everyone was gone!
What will you do now, Ichigo? Asked Zangetsu.
I am quite curioussss myssself. Hissed Zabimaru.
A gentle hand on his shoulder now, even though it wasn't really there.
Take your time and think. That was Shirayuki.
"Revenge." He hissed through clenched teeth, opening his eyes, his mouth set in a grim line. "I...want revenge. I want to make them suffer for what they've done. All of them."
"Ichigo!" He felt a hand on his shoulder. "Ichigo! What happened?!"
"Yoruichi-san." He mumbled. "Take me to Hat n' clogs."
He knew what he must do.
"Kurosaki, how're you feeling-
Ichigo cut him off with a glare, and proceeded to explain everything.
"Open the garganta. I'm going to Las Noches."
He looked up, and was not surprised in the least when he saw a familiar figure emerge from the garganta. The intruder was hale and healthy, whilst he was wounded and weak. The traitorous captain was covered in burns, and his sword arm was useless, chopped off at the elbow. His brown eyes were hazy almost, as he watched the strawberry approach him.
The damned vizard had finally come to kill him.
He'd known this day was coming, but oddly enough, he felt no fear, even as he saw Gin and Kaname, standing just outside the door. That and some strange human girl, with short black hair, and an angry look in her eyes. (Its Tatsuki. More will be explained in a flashback)
He'd been betrayed.
It felt rather...
Odd, that it would end like this for him. It would have been interesting to see how his successor fared. After all, this had been his grand goal, his ultimate scheme, and in the end, it would be brought about by his own death.
"Kurosaki. You've come to kill me, haven't you?"
"I have." Replied the man in the dark robe.
Brown eyes closed, peacefully.
"Then I impart all of Las Noches to you."
"Rest in Peace." Whispered Ichigo.
He raised the blade up, and brought it down with the slightest of hesitations, ending the life of Sosuke Aizen, who even in his last moments, died smiling. After a second of silence, Ichigo then took up Kyoka Suigetsu, and held it aloft. Deeming it useful for later, he took up the sheathe, and held onto it.
Its illusions may be useful in the future, though it would doubtlessly take time to master. Slowly, he whiped the blood off Zangetsu's ebony black edge. Then, the new ruler of Las Noches turned to Gin and Kaname, the latter handing Ichigo the Hogyoku.
He'd start it over from the beginning.
New ranks, arrancar, new and old, he'd start it from the very beginning.
There would be no mistakes.
His words were cold, emotionless, when he spoke to his two subordinates and one equal, via looking over his shoulder.
"This time...This time we will do it right."