Disclaimer - I do not own Bleach

Chapter Twenty-Two - Release

The news that the Espada was going to resort to releasing her sword to it's next form didn't so much as cause Shiro to flinch. He merely continued to gaze at Solara through cold blue eyes, waiting for her to deliver on the threat. The young Shinigami didn't even make an effort to attack the woman while he stood calmly, giving her all the time that she needed to call upon her blade.

Far from being grateful for this fact it only served to make Solara even angrier over the situation. This encounter wasn't going at all the way that she had envisioned. She had thought that the Fraccion would knock the two Shinigami around for a little while before she stepped in to deal the finishing blows. Unfortunately all of her Fraccion had been killed and now she was actually struggling against the white haired Shinigami brat.

Unheard of and completely unacceptable as far as she was concerned.

"I will not fail you Lord Heikichi," she murmured as she held up her blade. Calling out to her sword in a barely audible voice Solara was suddenly consumed by a bright light. Glowing wings seemed to grow from her back, comprised of bright yellow feathers that were the color of the sun. The hollow mask that was perched on her head changed shapes as well, growing to more closely resemble the beak of a bird of prey. "You are going to regret making me resort to this boy," she growled as she used her wings to launch herself into the air.

"Well that made them more even," Kasumi said in a quiet voice, her hand gripping her bow so tightly that her knuckles had actually turned white. "But there's no way she's a match for Shiro in this form."

Far from arrogance on the part of the girl, Kasumi only said this in regards to her friend because she knew what had transpired the last time that he had undergone this frightful transformation. He had taken on several high ranking Shinigami, including his father, and had nearly defeated all of them. The fight between Ichigo had ended before it could reach a conclusion so that one was labeled a draw but, according to those who had borne witness, Shiro had actually held his own against his father.

Shiro didn't comment on Solara's new form but merely used his own black ice wings to launch himself into the air so that they were staring at one another. Holding out his sword with the blade parallel to the ground Shiro paused a moment before swinging Hyourinmaru and unleashing a black dragon. The creature swirled around it's master for a moment before traveling toward Solara at a speed that seemed almost unreal.

Reacting out of pure instinct and little else Solara used her wings to block the dragon, which exploded in a spray of midnight black ice. Unfortunately, much to her horror, Solara didn't emerge form this unscathed, several of the feathers that comprised her wings now coated in ice. This served to make them heavier and harder to move but the Espada was far from defeated. Narrowing her eyes she launched herself forward, determined that she was going to end this battle before the brat had the opportunity to try anything else.

Hands still clasped together Kaien and Masaki turned their attention away from the screen that was projecting their brother's fight with the Espada. They had picked up on the increase in Solara's powers as she released her sword but even at their young age the twins could tell that their was a vast difference between her and Shiro. But even this knowledge didn't make them feel better about the situation since it seemed to have unlocked something dark within their brother.

Something that they didn't understand and that frightened them.

"What's happening?" they demanded in one voice as they gazed at Heikichi, seeming to have remembered the fact that they weren't alone in this room. That they were, in fact, with the person who seemed to be responsible for everything that was happening.

"It's nothing," Heikichi tried to lie, holding up his hands in a placating gesture that he hoped would serve to calm the twins. Because, while he was sure that with the powers of his sword he could beat them, the young man really didn't want to test that theory.

That and he was still content to watch the battle between Shiro and Solara. It was beginning to grow incredibly interesting and Heikichi wanted to see how it was going to end. The fact that Shiro's powers had increased to an almost alarming level could not be denied but Solara's were nothing to laugh at either. No matter the outcome of the fight the young man was certain that it would be something to see.

And he didn't want to be forced to miss it because he had to deal with a pair of small children.

"You lie," Masaki stated, glaring at the man through angry violet eyes. She didn't know what was going on with her brother but knew for a fact that it wasn't 'nothing' as Heikichi maintained.

Kasumi had to resist the urge to join the fight on more than one occasion but knew that Shiro wouldn't appreciate her interference. And it didn't really appear as though he required her help. Solara had been knocked to the ground by a fierce blow from Hyourinmaru and now Shiro was hovering over the fallen Espada, a cold expression in his icy eyes. There was no remorse contained within and it appeared as though the young Shinigami had no mercy to offer.

"Thousand year ice prison," he whispered in a cold voice, swinging the blade of his sword. Solara screamed as she was instantly surrounded by black ice, not even given the opportunity to react to or attempt to counter the move. Turning away it appeared, for a moment, as though Shiro was going to leave the battle at that but then, after a couple of moments, he turned and flash-stepped toward the large ice sculpture. Flying directly into it ice sprayed in all directions as the tip of Hyourinmaru collided with the ice within which the Espada was imprisoned.

"Toushirou!" Kasumi exclaimed, her gaze frantically searching for any signs of her friend. Unfortunately it was almost as though he had disappeared in the spray of black ice that was left behind in the wake of his attack.

"I've got to find him," she muttered to herself as she held up her bow and searched for signs of her best friend's reiatsu trail. She was concerned for her friend and desperately wanted to snap him out of this episode before it was too late.

Before the Shiro that she knew and loved was lost forever.

Heikichi actually gaped in surprise as he watched the fall of one of the top Espada. It wasn't exactly that he had expected Shiro to lose it was just that he hadn't expected the battle to be so short or decidedly one sided.

"I guess he really has improved," he mused to himself.

A/N - End of another chapter, hope that you enjoyed.