I know what you're thinking. An update! At last! And well, you're partially right.

I am deeply, deeply sorry. But it seems after five years I still haven't managed to work up the interest in this fic enough to properly update it. The problem with finishing this story is partly that it requires an in-depth knowledge of the universe. You can't completely rewrite canon based on a single premise without keeping in mind actual canon. Or at least, I can't. Not and be proud of my efforts.

And with that comes the fact I'd have to re-read/re-watch Bleach and, to put it plainly, I don't want to. What caused me to lose interest in Bleach is a long and yet boring story so I won't go into it. But it did cause me to have so little interest in the series that I don't even want to revisit the beginning when I still liked it. To get this fic moving again, that's what I'd have to do.

Therefore, I don't think, as of this time, there's much of a chance of me ever finishing this. I'm not saying there's no chance of it in the future, but after five years, I do think my readers deserve an answer for their patience.

So I've updated below the nine pages of chapter nine here. And then I'm summarizing what I had intended for the rest of the story that way you are not left hanging.

After a thirty day period, or some time after when I do remember, I'll be deleting this story from this website. I don't like half-finished fics lingering about, reminding me of my failure.

For those who want to read the half-finished fic and the summarized events after I delete it, I will keep a copy of the story on my personal website (http)(:)(/)(crya2evans).(tripod).comin the Fic Graveyard.

So once again, I am so sorry that I can't get this story complete. I hope that at least knowing how it was going to go and end will partly make up for that.

And though it should be obvious by now, I will reiterate. This was last updated five years ago. It was largely written five to six years ago. All of my plot outline and notes were written six years ago. Therefore, it does not take into account anything that has happened in the manga in the past six years. Not any of the revelations about Ichigo's origins, or revelations about other characters.

I stopped reading Bleach after the Butterflaizen arc. I am aware, to a certain extent, of Ichigo's new background thanks to a friend of mine who still reads Bleach, but I have not ever taken that information into account. I have not updated this outline in six years. Should I choose to continue this someday (however unlikely), I will not be taking any of this new information into account.

That being said, I present to you half of chapter nine.

Chapter Nine: Pride and Blade

"Kira-fukutaichou, and Hisagi Shuuhei-fukutaichou have been sent to find and question Shiba Kuukaku concerning her connection to the ryoka," Iemura Yasuchika, third seat of the fourth division, droned from the front of the meeting room, accounting for the absence of two of the vice-captains.

Ise Nanao had always believed that Iemura must have taken lessons in boring oration from Yamamoto-soutaichou. He had a voice fit to put anyone to sleep, despite Nanao's great efforts to pay full attention. To be honest, however, there was little for Iemura to report, making this meeting both a waste of time and energy.

"Witnesses confirm the arrival of six ryoka in west Seireitei, just beyond the twelfth division an hour prior," Iemura continued, and finally Nanao perked up, this tidbit of information actually proving interesting.

"But… I heard that there were seven," Hinamori Momo inserted, looking faintly disturbed at the process. It was unheard of for so many to pierce the barrier surrounding Seireitei. The mere act of it provided clues to the level of strength the Shinigami would have to face.

Iemura looked at her over the top of his glasses. "Six ryoka, one known entity," he clarified, and winced as though reluctant to admit the information. "Shihouin Yoruichi is among them."

Gasps rang throughout the room, but Nanao was far too controlled to let her surprise show. Though they should have all expected it. Shihouin's connection to Urahara wasn't a secret and she had disappeared with him those hundred years prior. It stood to reason that they would be working together, though Nanao hadn't expected Shihouin to reveal herself in quite an obvious fashion. It wasn't the second division's way, after all.

"What about the others?" Nanao asked, adjusting her glasses. "What do we know about them?"

Iemura shook his head. "Very little, I'm afraid. One we are certain is extremely powerful, the Shinigami rogue. We can only assume the others carry abilities of their own."

Matsumoto frowned, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "A rogue Shinigami? From what division?"

"No one knows. No one recognizes him."

More murmurs rippled through the room. This sort of incident was unprecedented. No wonder everyone was confused.

"And their objective?" Iba interjected, his voice easily cutting through the muttered conversation to return their meeting to the task at hand. "Do we at least know this?"

Iemura shrugged, rolling up his report and tucking it under his arm. "Nothing but speculation." He sighed, fiddling with the rim of his glasses. "Yamamoto-soutaichou suspects that their appearance has something to do with the exile Urahara."

Confusion and understand ratcheted up the tension in the room. It was a name some of them didn't and couldn't recognize. Nanao was only familiar with it because she had heard her captain mention the man a time or two and had accidentally overheard Kyouraku and Ukitake discussing Urahara with notes of heavy regret in their voices. They always clammed up the moment they caught her listening, however, and couldn't be pressed to elaborate more on the matter.

It was frustrating.

"What about Urahara?" Matsumoto asked, flipping her hair over her shoulder in a well-practiced move. "Revenge or something?"

"We don't know," Iemura answered and shifted from foot to foot, barely repressing a sigh.

Omaeda grunted, scratching at his chin. "We don't know much of anything, do we?" he muttered under his breath with a very unattractive snort.

"We know enough to be careful. Whoever these people are, they are organized and skilled. With Shihouin Yoruichi leading them, they won't be walking blind," Nanao inserted, annoyed by the lackadaisical attitude the other vice-captains seemed to have adopted. "We need to be cautious since we don't know what, precisely, they are capable of."

There was a mulled silence in the meeting room as they gathered vice-captain's considered the state of affairs.

"Well," Tetsuzaemon said into the silence. "What's the plan then? What're we doin' about them?"

Hinamori suddenly turned around in circles as though looking for something. "Wait a minute. Where did Abarai go?"


Ichigo landed solidly on a roof, sending a few tiles skittering out from under his feet to crash loudly to the ground. He winced at the noise, eyes darting around to see if anyone had noticed it. Nothing stirred.

"How graceful," Yoruichi teased, landing beside him with a barely audible tap of her shoes against the roof, managing to not disturb a single tile.

"Men aren't supposed to be graceful," Ichigo grumbled, fingers tight around Zangetsu's hilt, the feeling of reiatsu in the air crawling over his skin. He wasn't used to being around this much reiryoku.

Yoruichi chuckled at him. "That's just an excuse. Don't worry, I won't tell Ki-chan how clumsy you've gotten."

Ichigo scowled at her. "Not like he needs to know anyway," he muttered, eyes narrowing as they surveyed the surrounding area.

They were closer to the tower now. She could see the white building looming over them. And directly in front of them were the long, winding steps that would take them higher to it. He felt his aunt expanding tendrils of reaitsu, no doubt searching for possible dangerous Shinigami nearby.

Taking a slow breath, Ichigo concentrated on doing just the same. His brow furrowed. There was no one immediately close but…

Ichigo's spine prickled and he rose to his feet, dropping down from the rooftop to land quietly on the ground below. His hand found Zangetsu and he curled his fingers around the bandage-wrapped hilt. He focused on the staircase, instincts screaming for him to be alert. He wasn't sure what he had sensed, only knowing that he had sensed something.

"Someone's coming," Ichigo said as his aunt landed beside him, tossing him a confused look, only to jerk her head towards the stair as footsteps became plainly audible.

Whoever it was hadn't bothered to hide their presence. Obviously, they wanted Ichigo and Yoruichi to know they were coming. They were looking for a fight. Ichigo flexed his fingers around Zangetsu's hilt. He would be more than willing to give them one.

A man appeared. Ichigo didn't recognize him from his dad's descriptions, but the Shinigami had to be relatively high level. The reiatsu radiating from his frame indicated that much. Third seat? No, definitely a vice-captain.

His grip on Zangetsu tightened. "Who are you?" Ichigo demanded, his reiatsu coiling tightly around his frame, preparing for the inevitable battle.

"It's rude to ask someone's name when you haven't given it yourself." The red-haired Shinigami smirked. "Well, it's not like I don't know who ya are anyway."

Ichigo scowled. "That still doesn't tell me who you are, asshole."

"Well, aren't you friendly." The tattooed Shinigami paused at the top of the stairs, one hand resting on the hilt of his zanpakutou. His other hand lifted his sunglasses, pushing them up to rest on his forehead. "Abarai Renji, vice-captain of the sixth division."

Wouldn't his dad be proud that Ichigo's senses had grown so attuned. "I knew your reiatsu wasn't captain class."

The flush of anger on Abarai's face contrasted nicely with the dark tattoos. His grip on his blade tightened, white-knuckled, reiatsu leaking free in furious tendrils.

Ichigo frowned, however, as more of Abarai's reiatsu touches at his senses. "Though it does feel familiar." As in, lingering in the area after Rukia had been taken. "Been in the Living World lately?"

"Ya'd know if I were, but ya were hidin' like a coward."

Ichigo's jaw set.

Just behind him, he could feel his aunt's reaitsu shifting. "Ichigo," she warned.

He shook his head. "No, this bastard wants a fight. He's itching for one." He drew Zangetsu, the sound of metal sliding through a sheath loud in the tense stillness. "And I'm pretty sure it's personal."

Abarai's eyes narrowed. "You're damn right, it's personal," the Shinigami snarled, his reiatsu rising around him in steady waves as he, too, draws his zanpakutou. "Whatever happens to Rukia is all yer fault and I'm not letting that slide."

"You're the one that dragged her back! Don't give me that bullshit!" Ichigo growled, hand slashing through the air.

"Don't pretend you care, rogue." The flush on Abarai's face darkened to full fury. "Revenge and rescue don't go hand in hand."

"Revenge? What the fuck are you talking about?" Ichigo's confused, but also, annoyed. This Shinigami didn't have a clue what was really going on, did he? He was just spouting nonsense while trying to provoke a fight.

Yet... Abarai's reiatsu was also filled with turmoil, rising thick and fetid across the open space between them. Sharp and jagged on the edges, as though he was barely holding on to his control. It felt bitter, like guilt and regret and shame, and there's an assload of something else in Abarai's words. Something that told Ichigo this definitely wasn't a Soul Society sanctioned attack.

Somehow, Abarai had gotten it in his head that Rukia's fate was Ichigo's fault. He would be right, but why would it matter to him? Why should he care what happened to Rukia? For the life of Ichigo, he couldn't remember Rukia ever mentioning an Abrarai, not that she talked about her personal life much. But here Abarai was, talking like a knight that failed to protect his princess and determined to slay the big bad evil that took her away.

Oh yeah, this fight was personal.

Abarai approached, steps filled with purpose, and Ichigo couldn't fight down the anticipation that boiled in his blood. He hadn't fought anyone but his aunt, his father and Tessai for the past three days. The knowledge of his bankai was like an eager predator in the back of his mind, but Ichigo won't need it here. It was his trump card.

Tensa Zangetsu? Shirosaki laughed at him, gravelly and amused. And here I thought we had somethin' special, aibou.

Ichigo ignored him, focused on the vice-captain with that intent to kill etched into his features.

"Your death is mine, rogue," Renji said with deadly promise in his tone, sounding like a vaudeville villain.

Ichigo smirked. "We'll see about that, vice-captain," he sneered and then, they were less than two feet apart, swords whipping through the air and the sound ringing with the kiss of metal as their blades met for the first time.

The force of the blow reverberated up Ichigo's arm and he felt an insane urge to laugh bubble up inside of him. Sure, he had fought against Hollow, but this was the first time he'd ever faced a human opponent with killing intent. Abarai's anger and disgust and shame swirled in his reaitsu, which lashed out at Ichigo as though it had a life of it's own, and Ichigo felt his own rise in greeting, twisting and whirling, a sheer cascade of blue-black power.

Abarai's pupils dilated in surprise, realization pouring down the vice-captain's face. And then Abarai gave a fanged smirk that sent chills down Ichigo's spine because he knew his own face must reflect the same.

"I think I'm goin' ta enjoy this," Abarai said.

"No more than me," Ichigo retorted as their gazes met across their crossed zanpakutou, Zangetsu vibrating against the unknown sword. "I won't accept defeat here. I'm not going to let Rukia die."

Abarai's surprise ripples through his reaitsu and Ichigo uses that to his advantage, forcing Abarai back a step and slashing Zangetsu through the air, catching the tip against Abarai's shihakushou. A flutter of fabric drops to the ground, revealing a thin slice in the vice-captain's chest, which quickly beads blood.

Abarai lifted a hand, touching the small cut, rubbing the blood between his fingers as he frowned.

"First blood," Ichigo taunted, feeling anticipation surge through him so strongly that he was forced to swallow it down. Damned Hollow getting too excited. He didn't want to kill Abarai after all. The redhead could be a potential ally.

Abarai's grip on his zanpakutou tightened and he glared at Ichigo, eyes blazing. "I'm not going to ask what ya meant by that," he said, ignoring Ichigo's prior taunt. "I'm just going to beat the truth out of ya."

Ichigo's fingers flexed around Zangetsu. "Go ahead and try."

Abarai growled and his zanpakutou flashed through the air, aiming directly for the vulnerable skin of Ichigo's throat. Ichigo moved quickly, bringing up Zangetsu in retaliation, barely flinching when their swords met with a noisy clang of metal. He could feel the redhead's zanpakutou vibrating against his own, their reiatsu clashing with a fierce smack of powerful pressure.

Ichigo would have to play this carefully. He knew he was stronger than Abarai, and more skilled. His bankai would be overkill on a man of lieutenant level.

Soft-hearted human. Shirosaki sneered.

Practical human, Ichigo retorted and narrowed his eyes, his focus shifting entirely to the battle between himself and Abarai.

Quick and efficient, he told himself. To battle it was.


"I think we're lost," Orihime commented, looking around them pointedly.

Tatsuki snorted, cracking her knuckles noisily as though itching for a fight that was sure to find them soon enough. "We'd have to know where we are to be lost, Orihime," she corrected.

Uryuu, for his part, refrained from commenting. His senses were already crawling enough as it was. Too much Shinigami around him. He hated the feel and the stench of them. His fingers were twitching, and he couldn't deny that being in Seireitei, surrounded by the reishi that composed everything, was taking its toll. Power all but flooded into him until he vibrated with it.

"We could stop and ask someone for directions," Orihime suggested, with that bright naivete that was somehow both irritating and endearing.

Tatsuki tossed her best friend a sour look. "I can see that going over so well. Excuse me, random Shinigami who is our enemy, might you help us? Oh, and if you don't mind, don't stab us with your sharp sword."

Orhime huffed. "At least I'm offering a suggestion."

Uryuu ground to a halt, half-twisting to see over his shoulder. He heard footsteps, along with the press of active reiatsu. "Quiet," he said, holding up a hand. "Someone's coming."

"Should we hide?" Orihime asked.

Tatsuki cracked her knuckles. "Hell, no. I'm ready to test out these new powers of mine."

That's all I had of chapter nine unfortunately. Here is the synopsis/summary of what I intended for future chapters and where I wanted the story to go.

Tatsuki, Ishida, and Orihime manage to kill Mayuri, though not intentionally. Tatsuki delivers a blow to his head that's meant to incapacitate him, but instead, it kills him.

Ichigo defeats Abarai without killing him but gets mildly injured. Yoruichi snatches the first fourth division member she sees, who happens to be Hanatarou. His teammates never even notice he's gone. They let Hanatarou go afterward, but he decides to help them both because they were nice to him and because he doesn't want Rukia to die either.

Chad and Ganju are running around when they run into Ikkaku and Yumichika. Fade to black.

Ichigo runs into Kenpachi, a fight ensues.

Chad and Ganju are beaten but Shunsui steps in to stop them from being killed. He puts them in the eighth division holding cell with a healer.

Tatsuki and Ishida go to the Eleventh Division to find Orihime because Tatsuki won't leave her with those ruffians so they avoid encountering Tousen. Kenpachi decides to help them and Tatsuki explains that Urahara, aka Ichigo's dad, and Yoruichi trained them.

Meanwhile, Aizen gets dead, suspicions are born, and Kenpachi knows Ichigo didn't do it. Hinamori attacks Gin, not because she thinks he did it, but because he made a careless remark about Aizen and her mind snapped after seeing Aizen dead.

Ichigo runs into Byakuya on the bridge and kicks his ass. Byakuya recognizes in him some of Yoruichi's distinctive fighting style, something Ichigo could have only learned from her.

When Ukitake shows up, however, Ichigo runs. He doesn't think he can fight and win against Ukitake and Yoruichi also forces him to run away because she knows Ichigo can't win. She also knows Ukitake isn't going to stand by and let Rukia die.

Hanatarou frees Ganju and Chad from the Eleventh Division.

Hinamori breaks free from jail to attack Ichigo and Hitsugaya tries to stop her because if Ichigo took down Aizen, then she can't beat Ichigo and Hitsugaya doesn't want her to get dead. Hinamori gets mad, thinking that Hitsugaya is in on the plot. Aizen's last conversation with her, after all, had hinted that he felt he might be betrayed by someone he trusted. He'd warned her to be cautious, that even those she felt were dear to her might someday turn their back on her.

Gin actually shows up to help stop Hinamori and it's his well-timed kidoh that knocks her out so Hitsugaya thinks he's on their side.

They take Hinamori to the fourth division and Gin suggests that Hitsugaya check out Chamber 46.

With no one in custody, they move the execution up. Ichigo and Renji face off again and this is when Renji asks Ichigo to save Rukia because Renji can't do it.

Ichigo breaks the thing, stand and all, and takes off with Rukia. Shunsui and Ukitake give chase. Ukitake fights Ichigo while Shunsui takes Ichigo and runs. Ichigo tries to chase after her but Ukitake gets in the way.

Yamamoto chases Shunsui and catches up. Yoruichi helps Shunsui fight the old man. Renji takes Ruki and runs.

Hitsugaya arrives at Chamber 46 with Matsumoto and discovers the carnage. Aizen is there. He strikes down Matsumoto and has Gin strike down Hitsugaya, briefly giving them a glimpse of power they never knew Gin possessed.

Tousen snatches Rukia and Renji.

Tatsuki, Ishida, Orhime, Chad and Ganju fight Byakuya. Hanatarou helps via kidoh. Hinamori shows up thinking Ichigo will be there and helps Byakuya.

Unohana and Soifon arrive in Chamber 46, find the carnage and Hitsugaya and Matsumoto. Matsumoto is just conscious enough to tell them what happened before passing out, not that they can't sense Aizen's reiatsu.

Unohana's announcement stops Ukitake from fighting Ichigo and there is no victor with Ichigo encouraging Ukitake to understand.

Ichigo races back, beats Ukitake there, but gets beat up by Aizen. They manage to rescue Rukia, but Aizen and his allies disappear into Hueco Mundo.

And that is where my outline ends. I suspect I would have outlined more had I gotten further into the storyline, but as my muses up and left me. I never got around to it.

I had vague ideas of dealing with the other Arcs, perhaps culimating in an AU ending, especially since I was so displeased with the the Butterflaizen arc. I know I was planning on an Ichigo/Adult!Nel pairing as well as Urahara/Ukitake, but that's about as far as my ideas went.

If you have any questions about my outline, I'm afraid I can't answer them. I can't remember why I made the plot decisions I made or where I intended them to go.

If you want to ask whether or not you can ghost-write this for me, take over this fic, or something similar, the answer is 'no'. I'm fairly possessive of my work, even if I'm not going to finish it. Though if I do allow someone to do so, it will be my brain-twin Lady Azar de Tameran, because she helped plot and write this fic in the beginning.

Feel free to ask me any other questions you might have. But I will be taking this entire story down in about a month or two.

I hope this soothes at least a little of your anger. I know it's not the same as actual fic and I'm sorry it took me this long to realize I could never continue this.

Warm Regards,