A Traitors Promise

In the midst of betrayal, battle, deception, and death, Ichigo makes Rukia a promise.

Ichigo stared down at his fallen enemy, the bloody carcass that was all that remained of one Aizen Sousuke, and reflected on his last words.

For all his scheming, all his plots, all his preparation, Aizen had been pushed back at the fake Karakura Town. He had appeared aloof, cunning, calm. But all that had changed when the Vaizard had entered the fight.

The entry of the Vaizard had been explosive. Where the shinigami Captain's were troubled, the Vaizard won with ease. Many had been greeted warmly by past comrades, as they each joined with a Captain to engage a member of the Espada. With the fall of the fraccion, the real battles had begun.

But the Vaizard weren't content to wait for their vengeance. Kensei had ripped Tousen apart within the blind man's own Bankai, emerging covered in his opponents blood and wearing his mask, while Rose toyed with Gin, before putting the ever-grinning man out of his misery.

As Gin's lifeblood pumped from him, another Garganta was ripped in the sky. Shinigami and Vaizard alike had turned, expecting to come face to face with a new wave of Aizen's supporters.

A welcome sight awaited, however.

A shock of orange hair, and numerous haori's. Kurosaki Ichigo was leading the victorious Gotei Captains along with his nakama, returning from Hueco Mundo.

Aizen had smiled, and commented on their appearance.

"You always were an interesting boy."

Masks were donned, and two separate blurs, one black, one grey, sped towards Aizen. His smile had widened, full of confidence, as he drew his sword to block Shinji's attack, holding up his other hand to catch Ichigo's sword.

His smile had faltered in the seconds before Ichigo's blow connected, as he forced all the reiatsu he could muster into the hand about to catch Ichigo's blade. His face openly displayed the shock he felt, when the force behind Ichigo's attack was greater than that behind Shinji's.

And it was in that moment that Aizen showed his true colours. Retaliating with more force than they were prepared for, Aizen pushed his two attackers back, before tearing open a Garganta in the sky. He fled to Hueco Mundo, leaving his followers to their fate.

The Garganta slammed shut behind the traitorous Captain, preventing any pursuit.

Shinji had come close to collapsing, denied his vengeance after coming so close after so long. Then he steeled himself, flying to stand alongside Kyouraku as he faced off against Stark.

Ichigo stared around him, as Shinigami and Vaizard alike accepted the fact that Aizen had escaped, turning their attention to their last three foes.

"Let it go, Ichigo." Rukia could see the disbelief across his features. "We will get him. Just not today."

"No." Ichigo's jaw was set. "I won't accept that."

His reiatsu began to rise, dark and powerful, and Rukia felt herself becoming lightheaded from the pressure being exerted. His nakama had all looked on worriedly, as his reiatsu grew darker.

All eyes snapped to the Shinigami Substitute as he let out a Hollow roar, before doing something none of them expected.

He tore open a Garganta of his own, following Aizen into the depths of Hueco Mundo, ignoring Rukia's pleading to wait. He couldn't let her follow him. Not into this battle.

Yamamoto Soutaicho watched wordlessly as he departed.

The moment Ichigo stepped foot in the throne room of Las Noches, he could feel Aizen's presence. Ichigo charged forward, as Aizen defended desperately, fear in his eyes, feeling as every blow counted towards his death. Numerous cuts were inflicted, and Aizen's previously unscathed visage was ruined.

The combination of Ichigo's Bankai and mask was too much for him to handle. His voice was panicky as he called out.


Aizen was cut off as Ichigo's blade pierced his neck, skewering him. Aizen seemed to sag, even as Ichigo removed his blade and pierced him once more, taking no chances. Again and again, he pierced Aizen's body with his blade, hacking and slashing at the limbs of the man who caused so much pain, hurt so many people. Hurt Rukia.

"You think you've won." Aizen leaned forward, his blood gurgling in his own throat. "Just wait until you see the reception that's waiting for you."

Ichigo gave one last roar, before decapitating him with a single swing.

Ichigo stared down at his fallen enemy, the bloody carcass that was all that remained of one Aizen Sousuke, and reflected on his last words.

He let his mask and Bankai dissipate, feeling the relief that the action brought. The war was over.

There was the sound of a ripping Garganta, and through it stepped the Primera Espada, Stark. Following him were Barragan and Halibel. Ichigo brought his blade up, prepared to defend himself.

Instead of attacking, the three Espada looked to the body of Aizen, before looking back at Ichigo. As one, they fell to their knees.

"You are the strongest." Barragan spoke first.

"We will follow you." Stark continued, albeit with a yawn.

"What are your orders?" Halibel murmured.

Ichigo faltered before replying. He had never imagined three of the most powerful Hollow in existence swearing allegiance to him. He responded with a question.

"Why did you stop the attack? Did you feel Aizen die?"

Halibel shook her head. "He lost our loyalty the moment he abandoned us."

"We wished to fight on, to die in battle rather than be hunted down like dogs by the Shinigami." Barragan continued.

"So why did you leave?" Ichigo was puzzled, if not entirely trusting of the Espada.

Stark looked him in the eye. "Because...they arrived."

Rukia screamed in vain as Ichigo stepped through the Garganta, pursuing Aizen on his own. She could only watch as her brother and his fellow Captain's battled against the last of the Espada, who refused to go down without a fight.

But then...

But then they arrived.

The sky was torn asunder, and light brighter than any Rukia had ever seen before poured through. All were blinded, although Rukia could sense figures moving around her. When her vision returned, the sight was not a pleasant one.

The Vaizard were all down, wounded but not killed. They were bound with Kido, and on their knees, trussed up like trophies. They were not the only ones.

Ishida, Inoue, and Sado, all had received the same treatment. All had blades at their throats, waiting for the slightest twitch.

Rukia barely noticed the closing of the Garganta that signified the Espada's retreat. She screamed at the veiled figures holding her friends captive.

"What do you think you're doing?!? They are our friends!"

Suddenly there was a veiled figure in front of her. It slapped her across the face, hard enough to draw blood. Rukia raised a trembling hand to the red mark, before her visage turned cold and she reached for her zanpukutou.

"Rukia. Stop." Byakuya's commanding voice ordered. "They are the Royal Guard." He turned to address the guard who had attacked Rukia. "What do you intend?"

The guard raised his voice, allowing himself to be heard by all. "This place has been declared an affront to the King. It must be cleansed before the traitor Aizen Sousuke can use it to create the Ouken."

"Cleansed?" Rukia hardly dared to breath.

The veiled guard regarded her impassively. "It will be destroyed, so that the spirit energy here may never be used against the King. As will all the souls residing there."

There was an almighty crack, and the pillars keeping the real Karakura Town in Soul Society collapsed in a heap of rubble and debris.

The guard was not finished yet. "For associating with Hollow entities, you, Kuchiki Rukia, as well as Abarai Renji, two humans Yasutora Sado and Inoue Orihime, and the Quincy Ishida Uryuu, shall receive the death penalty along with all known hybrids." He indicated the Vaizard. "As will all known family members of said hybrids."

Rukia's head snapped around when she heard a familiar voice roaring.


Kurosaki Isshin was dueling furiously with three members of the Royal Guard, the rage showing clearly on his face, as a fourth deposited Karin and Yuzu next to the Vaizard, forcing them to their knees along side them.

Rukia tightened her grip on Sode no Shirayuki, taking no time to ponder the fact that Isshin was a shinigami.

"Stop this!" The voice was strong, commanding, familiar. "You cannot do this!" Ukitake continued.

There were murmurs of assent from several of the other Captain's. The spokesman for the Guards stared them down coldly. "It is the will of the King."

"The King can go fuck himself." A voice, filled with venom spoke up.

All heads turned to the source of the new voice.

Kurosaki Ichigo stood his ground before the targeting stares of the Royal Guard, lifting his burden for all to see. He held Aizen's head by its hair, displaying his grim trophy even as blood dripped from its severed neck.

"If you leave now I might be able to forgive you." Ichigo spoke coldly.

"I have my orders." The Guard replied just as coldly. He drew his zanpukutou. "And they are to execute the hybrids, all known associates and family members, and see to the destruction of Karakura Town and all of its inhabitants."

Ichigo was livid. "You would murder others to secure your own safety?"

The Guards nodded as one, and those who had not already done so drew their blades.

Ichigo responded in a great voice. "Then prepare now to face your own destruction! BANKAI!!!"

The sheer magnitude and power the reiatsu unleashed caused the earth to shake, and all arrayed before him to tremble, in fear or in awe.

Rukia saw the head Guard position himself for the attack, and couldn't help but call out.


Ichigo's eyes snapped to hold Rukia's, and the Guard could practically see the link between the two. He appeared behind Rukia, holding his blade to her neck.

"Stand down, or she will die here and now." He ordered. He put pressure on his blade, and several droplets of blood fell.

Ichigo watched as her perfect skin was marred. His fury magnified his reiatsu, and he was not alone. Storms roared, and earthquakes trembled, as several Captain's of the Gotei 13 made their displeasure known along with Kurosaki Ichigo.

Without warning, Ichigo disappeared, and Rukia could feel the pressure of the blade against her neck lessen. When he reappeared, the was holding the head of the Royal Guard, along with Aizen's.

"Let them GO." Ichigo ordered resolutely.

The reprisal was too quick to prevent, and came without any sort of communication. Karin and Yuzu collapsed, as the Guards standing over them withdrew their blades from their young bodies.

And Ichigo's reiatsu was still.

Not a whisper, not a hint of it remained.

But then they felt it building. Building, building until the sound of it filled their ears like an onrushing flood. And then--


One word. One word, but laden with menace.

A dark reiatsu surrounded Ichigo, cutting him from sight. The reiatsu was deepest black, and a shroud of evil ran through it.

The lieutenant's still conscious in the cyclone of reiatsu watched in awe and terror at the events unfolding. The Captain's stared in shock, shock over the actions of the lofty Royal Guard, shock at the power being exuded by a human. Some didn't know how to react. Others knew exactly where they would stand, as they watched Kurosaki Isshin cradle the bodies of his daughters to his chest, weeping.

The storm around Ichigo relented, revealing him for all to see.

Horns. Long, waist length hair. The top half of his Bankai robes torn away. Elongated fingers. Claws. And the mask, the mask that surrounded his head. But the voice...

"Fear me and despair, for I am Power!"

As one, the forty six remaining members of the Royal Guard charged at Ichigo...charged and fell like wheat before a scythe. Forty six shinigami of beyond Captain level power...even a being such as Kurosaki Ichigo is not invincible.

There was a barrage of Cero's, and his assailants were forced back.

"Come to me, my loyal Espada!" The call seemed to pierce space itself, as it echoed around them.

A ripping sound, and all looked to see who would exit. Five figures. Five elite beings of Hueco Mundo.

Stark, Barragan, Halibel, Neliel, Grimmjow.

"The King and all serving him have been judged." Ichigo's voice alone was enough to send chills down even the most veteran Guards spine. "And all have been found wanting."

Ichigo built up his reiatsu as high as he could go, paralyzing the Royal Guards in place.

All below Captain level had long been knocked unconscious. Even Ichigo's friends were sprawled out where they had been captured. The Vaizard could only look on and watch, bound as they were. Only Rukia still watched him alone.

At an unseen signal, Ichigo's faithful Espada dove forward, tearing through the paralyzed Guards without effort. As the last of them fell, Ichigo fixed the Captain-Commander with a coal black eye.

"The King shall die by my hand. Get in my way at your own peril."

"Ichigo..." The voice was small.

Ichigo looked at Rukia, his expression hidden by his mask. He reached out towards her.


His voice sounded human, for the barest of moments. The way she was staring at him, was she scared? No, it wasn't fear in her eyes. It was something else...worry. She was worried for him. Even surrounded by enough reiatsu to crack her bones, compress her into dust, she cared about him.

Rukia began to reach towards him, her Black Sun, even as he let his own hand drop. He couldn't meet her broken expression. Instead, he reached into his pocket, pulling out a small object he had taken from Aizen's body. He twisted the Hogyoku between his fingers, even as he opened up a Garganta to Hueco Mundo, to the beginning of building his army. He knew that the Royal Guards defeated here were only a small part of the King's forces.

"I will come back for you Rukia." His voice had regained its Hollow quality. "That I promise you."

He disappeared through the Garganta, leaving behind his threat...and his promise.