No one got the Narnia reference...but a few of ya got the Advent Children one. Now let's go see what happens when you piss off a Kurosaki...
Ichigo delivered a powerful backhanded blow to Berserk Renji's mask, sending the Hollow crashing through a number of trees and into a demolished clearing. The beast began to get to its feet once more, causing a scowl to spread across Ichigo's face. The damn thing was a persistent fucker.
Then the Hollow faltered. It began to howl, swinging Zabimaru around wildly with one hand as the other clutched at its 'face'. The white armour that covered its body began to crack, red light shining through the gaps. The three red lines below the left eye started to glow, before bursting out of their constraints and sending a maze of cracks across the entire mask.
Berserk Renji gave one last, anguished howl. There was a detonation of reiatsu—perfectly balanced reiatsu, that of a true Vaizard—and smoke was kicked up all around the clearing the Hollow stood in.
Ichigo grinned. Took the bastard long enough. He took up a guard position around his once again sane friend with one eye on the skirmish continuing around them, the other observing Renji's mask. It had remained mostly the same, more of a helmet than an actual mask as it wrapped around his head with a circular cut out of the top that forced his hair out of its pony tail to flow out the gap.
"So slow, Renji," Ichigo drawled as he dropped out of his guard and sat on the edge of the remains of a tree stump. "What were you waiting for, your Hollow to die of old age?"
"Shut up, bastard," Renji gasped back from his position kneeling on the ground. "I was probably faster than you."
"If that's what helps you sleep at night," Ichigo teased him good naturedly, conveniently ignoring the fact that he knew he had taken much longer.
Renji's breathing slowly began to even out as he took in his surroundings, raising an eyebrow at the destruction they had caused in their battle. "Damn. We kick ass. Seireitei's gonna have a ball fixing this up," he stated with a chuckle.
"Ah, fuck em," Ichigo replied freely. "It'll keep them on their toes. Maybe it'll distract the stuffy old buggers in the Central 46 from more important things, stop them from screwing anything else up too badly."
Renji felt a slight chill at Ichigo's words, but shook it off as the strange feeling of his reiatsu—it was controlled, he realised. No longer a chaotic mix of hollow and shinigami; it had become more powerful and streamlined. Well, comparatively streamlined. His reiatsu had always been pretty wild.
"Should we join the party overhead?" Renji asked, watching as Urahara, Yoruichi, Hitsugaya, Tatsuki and Rukia tore through the masked SMC members while Soi Fon seemed to be holding the advantage in her fight with their commander as she threw blow after blow enhanced with Shunko at her replacement.
"Nah," Ichigo answered, plunging Zangetsu into the ground between his knees. "The battle feels like it's just about to start winding up. And you're going to be hit with the bitchiest wave of exhaustion you've ever felt."
"If you say so," Renji replied doubtfully, but conceded to Ichigo's prior experience. There was also a nagging feeling at the back of his mind, the part where his Hollow had always seemed the most active, that seemed against the idea of arguing further.
Ichigo's prediction bore out within the next five minutes, as Renji suffered through a bout of weakness unlike any he had felt before, save the time he had fought his Captain shortly after gaining his Bankai, and the Onmitsukido squads began to fall back, forming defensive squares around the location the Senkei gates had first deployed them. They seemed to be waiting for something, yet Ichigo couldn't guess it for the life of him.
Another powerful presence appeared on the edge of the battlefield and began to streak towards the SMC holdouts. Not recognising the reiatsu signature, Ichigo's comrades were on their guard but made no move to stop the newcomer. When he appeared within the defensive square next to all of the incapacitated SMC their still fighting comrades had managed to salvage, he was breathing rapidly and taking deep gulps of air, seemingly hyperventilating. Ichigo recognised him as one of the Kagai Captains who had assaulted the Urahara Shoten shortly after the infection of his friends.
"Nakamura!" he screamed, an air of panic in his voice. "Mission accomplished, we need to leave!"
Soi Fon's opponent made a quick gesture and there was a small explosion of Kido between them, giving him precious seconds to distance himself from her and make it to the transient safety of the defensive square. Another burst of Kido along with a more complicated gesture and a row of small Senkei gates began to open and within ten seconds the Onmitsukido squads had retreated from the world of the living.
"Well," Urahara remarked, as he and the others dropped down to ground level to surround Ichigo and Renji, "that was unexpected."
It was then that Ichigo realised that the powerful late addition to the battle had left a reiatsu trail leading all the way to his home.
X x X
Ichigo flickered into sight on the road outside his house, eyes narrowing as he felt two heavy reiatsu signatures lingering in the air. One matched the Kagai Captain who had ordered the retreat of the SMC, while the other was unknown and much stronger...or still present. His fist tightened around Zangetsu as he strode into the house, paying no attention to the hard looks on his comrades at his back.
The first thing Ichigo noticed as he stepped through his wall was an unfamiliar shinigami kneeling on the floor with his head bowed. The muscles in his arm twitched unconsciously and his blade was halfway to the man's neck before the fact that it was his father filtered through to his brain.
"Dad? What—what the fuck?" Ichigo stammered, halting the motion of his blade. "What's going on?" he asked, watching his father yet receiving no response. He turned next to Karin, noting her pale face and unfocused eyes. "Karin? What happened?"
Still getting no response, Ichigo looked over his shoulder at his comrades only to receive a number of helpless shrugs in reply. Intending to shake the answers out of his father, he turned back to face his family. It was then that he noticed who was missing.
"Dad, where's—" Ichigo paused, his eyes sliding over his father's shoulder and into the doorway leading to the kitchen, "-Yuzu? What happened to these two?"
Isshin's head snapped up and towards the kitchen area, where he caught sight of his daughter standing in its entrance. He was on his feet before Ichigo could even process his reaction, Karin rapidly on his heels. They crashed into Yuzu and pulled her to the floor as they wrapped their arms around her, giving Ichigo a short glimpse of her confused face.
Ichigo could hear quiet sobbing coming from Karin, perplexing him further. Karin never cried. He took a step towards his family before continuing, "guys, can someone expl-"
Rukia, Tatsuki and Renji each felt a spiritual tremor run through their bodies as Ichigo froze, wincing at the sensation. Despite the force of the reiatsu, it appeared that the three of them were the only ones who had felt it. They exchanged an uneasy glance.
Rukia stepped up to put a hand on Ichigo's shoulder. She made to speak, before catching sight of what had stopped her partner so suddenly in his tracks.
Yuzu's decapitated head sat on the kitchen floor staring lifelessly at him as the spiritual body of his sister was being embraced tightly by her twin and his father as her soul chain trailed behind her.
Ichigo watched as his father rose to his feet, leaving Karin clutching at a still confused Yuzu. Isshin turned to face him as thoughts and reactions blasted through his mind.
Isshin began to explain, his face hard, "Ichigo, there is a reas—"
Isshin stalled at his son's interruption, slightly confused. "I'm still your father Ichigo. Never dou—"
"I'm not," Ichigo raised a and forestalling any arguments, despite his gaze remaining locked with the severed head of his sister on the floor. "I'm sure you have your reasons. Some of them are probably even good ones. The question I asked was 'who'."
Isshin hid a small shiver at his son's tone, before gathering his thoughts. "He wore the haori of the 5th Division Captain," Isshin recalled.
"Nakajima Hayato," Hitsugaya interrupted, recalling the vain man's introduction from the battle for Urahara's shop.
"He dies," Ichigo spoke in a heavy monotone.
"Ichigo," Isshin began to warn, "now isn't the time for a blind revenge trip."
A cruel smile made its way across Ichigo's face as his gaze shifted away from Yuzu's head. His comrades tensed as they caught sight of the encroaching darkness and yellow pupils in his eyes. "Revenge is a dish best served immediately. And we will not be blind. We know exactly what we are going to do."
"We?" Urahara asked curiously in his careless voice, as Yoruichi rested her chin on his shoulder with a grin playing across her face.
"The King, the Blade and the Servant," came Ichigo's cryptic reply. A flicker of slight understanding crossed Urahara's face, although Rukia, Tatsuki and Renji paled.
There was a pregnant pause in the wake of Ichigo's declaration. It was Rukia who broke it.
"Yuzu cannot remain in the world of the living. We must perform the soul burial to keep her safe from the Hollow who pick up her scent," Rukia said, holding a hand to the bridge of her nose.
"If we perform the konso, the 12th Division will be able to track her to Soul Society," Isshin argued. "That was probably their goal from the start."
"She can't stay here," Urahara pointed out from behind his fan. "A wandering soul with a spirit as tantalising as a Kurosaki's? Not to mention the deteriorating effects that come from remaining in the living world for too long after death."
"We could manipulate the area that she arrives within the Soul Society," Yoruichi suggested idly. "Sneak in and get to her before any of the Gotei patrols located her."
"And take her to an ally," Isshin continued, relief showing on his face. "Kuukaku will not begrudge me this favour, regardless of her personal problems with me. We can hide-"
"Sneak? Hide?" Ichigo interrupted harshly. "They have attacked the family. We will not cower. They must be punished for their transgressions."
"What would you do against the Gotei 13, Ichigo? Even dissatisfied as they are, the Captains will not take an attack on Seireitei lying down," Soi Fon argued. "Even you can't take them all on their own."
The stench of Hollow reiatsu in the room rose, to the point where Karin and Yuzu found it hard to breathe. "I will not be alone, woman. My Court will support me," Ichigo boasted, his words causing his three fellow Vaizard in the room to straighten up subconsciously. He bared his teeth at those in the room. "And attack is such a mild word. I was thinking of something more along the lines of invasion."
When there was no response forthcoming, Ichigo grinned in satisfaction. "Tatsuki, Renji," he directed, "return to the Den and explain our intentions." His eyes flashed, "I am sure the Quincy would love an opportunity to demonstrate why his race was feared by the Shinigami centuries past. Our Queen and I have business in Heaven."
Renji and Tatsuki nodded once before flash stepping away, their instincts telling them to obey the King. Ichigo and Rukia made to follow, only to be blocked from the door.
"Ichigo," Isshin barked, his face hard, before relenting. "Cause as much chaos as you can. Make them pay for what they did to Yuzu," he ordered. "Try not to kill any of our allies," he finished airily as he moved out of their way, just a hint of his old goofy personality showing through.
A rumble of approval in Ichigo's throat was the only response, sending vibrations though the reiatsu he was emitting. Rukia seemed to shiver in pleasure, before the darkness began to spread across her own eyes.
And then they were gone, leaving only the barest of flickers in their wake.
Those remaining in the Kurosaki living room exchanged glances, not entirely sure on what the next step should be. It was Karin who summed up the situation nicely.
"They're fucked," she stated bluntly as she stood at Yuzu's side, each of them with an arm about the other.
Isshin seemed to take this as his cue, although he managed to refrain from pouncing on his daughters. "Such language, my lovely twins! Where did I go wrong for you to pick up such vile words?"
Urahara ruffled Yoruichi's hair as he flicked his fan shut, revealing a wide grin to offset his fervent eyes. "Come now, my darling! We have preparations to make!"
Yoruichi scowled as she licked her hand and patted her hair down flat once more in a very feline action. Nevertheless, she did follow her companion out of the house—although her eyes were firmly fixed on his precious fan.
Isshin turned away from his daughters to face the remaining two figures standing in his living room. "Where do you stand with what you know, Soi Fon, Hitsugaya?" he asked, despite his lack of doubt to their loyalties.
Hitsugaya replied for the both of them, "we split from the Gotei 13 because I could not agree with the orders coming from the Central 46."
Soi Fon nodded her agreement before continuing, "they've only gotten worse since then. Ordering the execution of a civilian...?" she shook her head. "That is far beyond their authority. To dare to go so far, they must have begun to relieve the Soutaicho of his peace-time powers."
A look of satisfaction crept across Isshin's face as he absorbed their words. "Then it seems we've found what we can do to advance our cause."
Hitsugaya gave Isshin an inquisitive look whilst a savage grin of understanding appeared on Soi Fon.
"We give the Captain-Commander back his wartime powers," Isshin stated, the controlled rage in his eyes rising to the surface as he gazed at Yuzu's empty corpse. "Leave them in no doubt of the consequences of fucking with a Kurosaki."
X x X
In the skies above Seireitei...
The sound of reality tearing pulsed through the air as a dark gaping maw opened above the 5th Division barracks, sending the shinigami below scurrying for their posts as they cried the alarm. Two masked figures stepped out from the Garganta, one mask adorned with red stripes, the other with snowflake teardrops. The taller of the two figures gazed down upon figures below and raised his slender black blade above his head.
"Getsuga Tenshou," came the whispered command.
The wave of dark crimson lined energy swept towards the earth and impacted in the mess hall with a mighty crash. Ichigo smirked. The opening blow of his war on Seireitei had been struck.
Rukia parried the hastily swung blade, smirking at the fearful expression on the rank and file shinigami's face. Her reiatsu enhanced fist pummeled into his jaw, sending the hapless grunt flying. She wasn't quite up to pulling up a Bala, their time in Hueco Mundo hadn't taught her that, but she was close.
Ichigo continued his wanton destruction of the 5th Division headquarters with Rukia guarding his back. Resistance had been minimal-they had been above the Seireitei for close to five minutes, with only the local shinigami squads opposing them.
Ducking a slightly more skilled opponent, Rukia gestured and a rope of golden light curled around her attacker and two other shinigami who were attempting to sneak up on her King as he blasted the earth with another Getsuga.
Wordless low level binding Kido, Rukia smirked internally. I could get used to this kind of power.
"Stop! Why are you doing this? We are your allies!"
Ichigo paused in his attack, casually grabbing a nearby shinigami by the throat before replying, "Seireitei ceased being my ally when its 5th Captain took the head of my kid sister off her shoulder in our own home, in front of my own family." He squeezed the neck of his captive, cutting off their air supply. "Whether I take just his head in payment or all of yours first is up to you."
"Heh, you're full of shit," one of the watching shinigami scoffed. "The two of you can't take the 5th Division, let alone our heads, no matter what kind of freaky Hollow-shinigami reiatsu you're putting out."
Any reply that Ichigo was about to make was cut off by the harsh tearing that accompanied the forming of a second Garganta. The arrogant shinigami watched as four new figures stepped forth.
"Wow. Three traitors, two mere humans and a wannabe shinigami. Watch me tremble," he sneered, causing several of his companions to laugh in the background. A number of others, perhaps the smarter ones, subtly began to inch behind the offenders.
The realisation of just how wrong he was began to worm its way into the arrogant shinigami's mind as the shorter of the two 'mere humans' gestured and formed an electric blue bow from nothing to aim at the assembled shinigami with a crazed gleam shining out from behind his glasses as his fellow human tensed and caused his arms to morph into their battle state, reeking of Hollow reiatsu. The three traitors grinned as one and pulled a single hand across their faces, leaving their foes to watch in horror as their terrifying new visage spread across their faces and the air around them grew heavy with reiatsu, weighing them down.
Ichigo grabbed the chin of his mask and tilted it back, revealing his golden black eyes for all to see. He smiled lightly, showing an expanse of sharp pointed teeth that only served to make him all the more terrifying.
"I'm glad that you understand your situation."
X x X
The tumult echoed throughout the chambers as a number of frightened men and women argued over how to respond to the incursion taking place in the locale of the 5th Division headquarters. The numerous raised voices in the room made it impossible to distinguish what any one person was saying—or rather, shouting at their peers.
In the upper tiers of the Central 46 chambers, a much quieter discussion was being held by the three members that controlled the true power of the governing body.
"Your scheme has failed to produce favourable results," Lord Ryosuke, member of the Triumvirate accused.
Hirato glared at the man and his sunken, bloodshot eyes. "I fail to recall your offer of an alternative solution. Based on past interaction, a vengeful attack does not fit the Kurosaki boy's profile. He should have been reduced in his grief."
Lady Murasaki, the third member of the Triumvirate, allowed a brief feeling of victory to seep through her mind as she watched the results of her manipulations unfold before her. Keeping her face blank, she redirected the conversation with the reminder, "this misjudgment is not the issue at hand. We must focus on fixing our error before we can uncover where we went wrong."
Hirato and Ryosuke gave her grudging glances of acknowledgment. Ryosuke continued, "we can pit the Gotei Captains whose loyalties we are unsure of against the intruders."
Hirato nodded his agreement with the younger man. "They are still under our peace-time command, it is a plausible idea."
"That solution has been preempted by the Soutaicho," Murasaki cut her colleagues off swiftly. "According to our friend Kurotsuchi, he received a communication declaring the establishment of a war time footing from the 1st Squad moments before their sensors detected the portal above the 5th Squad."
Hirato scowled heavily at the information. "He will send our supporters in as a first response."
"No doubt he is aware of Nakajima's most recent mission," Ryosuke replied with a sour twist of his mouth.
"Then we need leverage. From the few reports we have received, the Kurosaki brat and the allies he is most likely to have brought with him more than match our Kagai Captains," Hirato asserted. "We should be thankful that the group they call 'Vaizards' chose to leave Karakura Town recently."
"Order their unofficial subordinates to battle with them," Ryosuke supplied as he ran his eyes over the squabbling chamber.
"I do not believe we should tip our hand as to our true military capability until we hold the advantage, rather than waste the surprise as a buffering action," Murasaki intervened, the sly gleam in her eyes going unnoticed by her colleagues.
"Force is not the only leverage we have to apply," Ryosuke answered the rebuke with burning eyes.
The feeling of victory Murasaki was concealing turned to one of pleasure as her 'fellow' Triumvirate members approached the solution she wished them to find without any further prodding or subtle hints on her part. Their actions would tear the established powers apart and leave the victors weak and ripe for the taking.
Her Master would be pleased.
X x X
Ichigo sighed as his blade tore through the shoulder of the foolish and arrogant shinigami, cleaving bone in two. The air surrounding him and his five comrades was momentarily clear, giving him the time to sense a number of powerful reiatsu presences approaching in the distance. One of them, one he had felt only once before as a lingering trace in his house, set his mind alight with thoughts of carnage and sweet bloody vengeance.
His gaze swept to the compound below. He was done playing around.
"Burn it," his layered voice permeated the air around them. "Burn it all."
Notes: I have come to the conclusion that I am a lazy bugger. When there is work to be done, I have an urge to write. When I have time on my hands, all I want to do is read. Thankfully, Uni starts again in less than a week so I shall have ample amounts of work to put off in order to write again.
Encourage me to write more! Review! I want to hear your thoughts.