(Author's Note – Final Chapter you guys! Hope you all enjoy. It has been an honor writing for you all.)
For the second time, a new "land mark" was created from the resulting explosion of Ichigo's full power. Another permanent scar that would be an awful reminded of what tragic battle had occurred. After all, who could forget the site? All the spirits from the far off reaches of the spirit world, and those who remained in the Seireitei to await the outcome of the battle, saw the terrible calamity. Even the sun seemed to be eclipsed by its presence.
A massive black orb of condensed, self-sustaining, reishi that feed on the Spirit World to grow indefinitely... And within its blackness; Sosuke Aizen and Kurosaki Ichigo.
Though the "black orb" continued to feed on the lands reishi, it enevitably died down.
The stillness in the air... Not even the wind howled anymore, nor did the earth quake from the stress of having to hold up two Titans.
In the center of the colossal crater Ichigo slowly descended, his bare feet touching earth; a weakened expression on his face. He turned his head to the side, watching as his reishi formed dragon-like wings began to slowly disintegrate, as did the Halo above his head.
As he brought his hand up to his chest, where the Hogyoku was embedded, he pulled it out; no longer feeling anything coming from it.
It too disintegrated as Ichigo focused his gaze a few feet away from him. White and dark purple bits of reishi were slowly gathering together forming "something". He looked on, uncaringly; knowing that Aizen was regenerating.
He had secretly hoped that, with the Hogyoku having been cancelled out by his own that Aizen's immortality would be taken away. Unfortunately that wasn't the case, it seemed.
When his head (which had reverted back to his pre-demonic form) half of his upper torso, and left arm regenerated back, Aizen dug his clawed hand against the earth.
"You have lost, Kurosaki Ichigo."
Ichigo, just watched, feeling his power diminish by the second. 'My powers... Are fading away.'
"Your Hogyoku is gone, it rests within me now. Surely you know what this means!" He shouted angrily "You have lost the power that put you on the level of a God! This is your en," Aizen's eyes suddenly widened as his own Hogyoku, once more embedded in his chest, glowed brightly before releasing countless tendrils that tightly bound him. "What... is the meaning of this?!"
"Thank you, Kurosaki Ichigo..." Hogyoku's voice echoed between Aizen and Ichigo, stunning the "God" "Now I... We... can "die" in piece. And he... will lose his immortality. For doing me this service, I can do one final thing for you. Though I cannot revive the dead, I was able to do the next best thing. Wait here for them... I used the remained of my energy to tie them to you." he whispered cryptically. "If only for a brief moment in time."
"This is your Hogyoku's doing! Binding me?!"
The sound of both Sonido and Shunpo filled the air and both watched as Halibel, the unconscious Captain Commander still thrown on her shoulders, appeared. Stark came next, badly hurt; barely standing.
Orihime's personal guard arrived as well, one of whom was carrying who Ichigo immediately recognized as an unconscious Yuzu: a white substance coated her face. The other two needed help lifting Zaraki's massive form. The last, holding a small girl with two pig tails.
To Ichigo's slight surprise, Isshin appeared as well; holding an unconscious Karin in his arms.
"Father..." The word left Ichigo before he had realized he said it. His heart beat double, realizing his two sisters were badly in need of medical attention.
"Ichigo..." He glanced at Yuzu in the Arrancar's arms, worry etched on his face. He was still bleeding from Yuzu's sudden attack and Karin didn't seem to be doing good either.
Aizen's pained growled drew everyone's attention back to him. The ground shook as he tried using all of his power to break his bindings.
Ichigo quickly snapped his fingers.
Instantly the sky above them ripped open, and a column of light engulfed Aizen.
"I don't know any sealing techniques, but Urahara will know how to deal with you."
Aizen's eyes burned with rage as he was suddenly lifted off the ground, ascending towards the Garganta that had opened, "Seal me?! You fool! For all your infinite power you know nothing!"
"Wouldn't it be wise just to kill him?" Stark asked.
"It would be merciful, just to kill him." Ichigo replied softly, "He has much to answer for." Ichigo locked eyes with him one finally time before turning his back to him.
"Don't turn your back to me boy!" Aizen seethed with rage, "Not hours ago you were a mess. If it was not for me you would still be crying about not knowing who you are. You still know nothing about yourself!" His eyes blazed with purple fire as he tried with all of his might to break his binding, but to no avail. "All of your friends you left behind; Rukia, Renji, Byakuya! You still harbor feeling for them... You fight for them and you don't even know why! Not once did you bother to go to them on this day... You could care less if they all died."
Ichigo glared up at him, "Be silent."
Aizen hunched over, smirking as he did so, "You are just another heartless hollow who is attached to those in your past life because of a few memories. All the bonds you have formed are broken! And the new bonds you have formed with the Espada is just your way of replacing you old life. You live a life of lies, Kurosaki Ichigo! You!"
A massive "BOOM" echoed as the Garganta slammed shut, silencing Aizen before he could finish...leaving an uncomfortable silence in the air once more.
(Karakura Town - Urahara's Underground Training Area)
"Divisions One through Seven are still in critical condition!" A member of the Fourth Division shouted, ushering in Shinigami after Shinigami into the Training area. All that remained... those that had fled the place they had sworn to protect.
The looks of defeat were one every single one of them as they entered, "Those that are need of immediate medical attention are being kept to the west! Everyone still able bodied that are learned in any type of healing Kido please come with me!" Another member of the Fourth Division shouted.
"Where is Vice Captain Kotetsu?!" Someone from the Ninth Division asked.
"Acting Captain Commander Unohana has left me, 3rd seat Yasochika Lemura in charge while she and the other Captain's and Vice Captain's Convene!" He replied, scanning the area for anyone in need of help.
Everyone, confused...shocked...terrified...angry. They had lost.
He looked towards the back of the massive Training Area, where he knew his Captain was.
Unohana frowned as she looked around those that had gathered.
Chojiro, Ikakku, Renji, Momo, Kira, Iba, Hisagi, Rangiku, Shinji, Rukia, and Yachiru were the only ones present.
She frowned, and sadness welled up within her as they all continued to hear the current report.
"Captain's Ukitake, Kyoraku, and Tsubaki, as well as Vice-Captain Nanao and Otoribashi, are in critical condition," Hanatoro whispered sadly, "Vice Captains; Kurotsuchi and Kotetsu, ..." His voice caught, "Their injuries were too great. They, along with Vice Captain Yumichika as well as Captain's Zenpachi, Komamura, and Kuchiki...lost their lives in battle. The Captain Commander's status is unknown at this time."
Silence passed between all of them.
Rukia did not bother to stop the tears that flowed freely down her cheeks, "Brother..."
Renji could not believe Byakuya was gone, and stared at the space before him in disbelief.
"Yumichika," Ikkaku whispered sadly, fighting back the tear's that brimmed in his eyes.
Yachiru on the other hand, cried out for Zaraki; refusing to believe he had died. It took Renji and Matsumoto to hold her down.
Unohana slowly stood up, refusing to let them see her cry. They all looked to her now. She would let herself cry later. 'Isane...'
"What do we do now?" Kira asked weakly, though he didn't sustain crital injuries, they were enough to weaken him greatly. In fact, none of them escaped the war without injury save for Captain Unohana.
Unohana and Shinji glaced at each other, an unspoken message passed between the two.
"The Royal Gaurd... Something must be terribly wrong at the Soul King's Palace or they would have undoubtedly came to our aid" Shinji began, "I do not think it involves Aizen, or why would he have need to attack us with such force? No..."
"I don't know much about the Royal Guard, but maybe they just didn't think it was there problem." Hisagi interrupted.
"No, the Seireitei is destroyed, the Gotei 13 in disarray... and I fear the power that was unleashed in the Spirit World has caused damage to the very spirit dimension. This destruction...the Royal Guard would ever ignore. We are left without defense, hidden in the Human World...unable to do our jobs. The Spirit World defenseless." Unohana began, "Right now we need to focus on gathering ourselves together. If it is as we fear and the Royal Palace is in trouble, we need to remain on high alert." Shinji explained. "I think Captain Commander Unohana will agree with me when i say that we need to deploy Shinigami to maintain as much order as possible."
"As possible?" Kira asked.
"We no longer have enough resources to maintain order completely. It will take years... and in those years we can expect nothing but chaos; lost souls... an increase of Hollow activity... the unbalance of souls between worlds will cause untold destruction."
"Has this ever happened before?" Momo asked worriedly.
"Once...and it led to our decision to end the Quincy threat."
There was silence for a few moments.
"Was it really wise of us... to retreat like that?" Hisagi whispered sadly, his body trembling with anger. "We should have stayed...to help the Captain Commander."
"That type of thinking is not path we want to tread down." Unohana whispered softly.
Matsumoto placed a hand on Hisagi's shoulder, "Don't be so stupid," she whispered to her friend, "Captain Unohana definitely wanted to stay and help Captain Commander Yamamoto. Much more than you or me."
"There is no need to say anymore, no matter what had happened... In the end, we had to retreat. That is the last order the Captain Commander gave to us..." Unohana replied, standing up and walking away from the group; leaving everyone to their thoughts.
Shinji watched her leave, eyeing her closely before following after the Temporary Captain Commander until they were out of range.
"Are you okay, Captain Unohana?"
Unohana smiled sadly, "Of course i'm not."
Shinji seemed nervous, "I mean... well. You hear things, being around as long as I have... If Captain Yamamoto does pass away, it was rumored..."
She smiled, a genuine smile, as she turned to him, "My oh my, it's funny how wildly rumors spread. Do not worry. I can assure you, Captain Hirako." She then frowned, "Though, I cannot help to think... that if I had done what you are referring to, the outcome of this war would have ended differently."
"I...I think that as well. I can't help but think...we have gotten too soft."
Unohana nodded, "Though, that is not always a bad thing. After all, it was long before your time when we, the original Gotei 13 were known as nothing but a group of murderous thugs." Her eyes hardened, "We will not revert back to those days..."
"Ichigo," Stark began, stepping towards the Primera. The stillness in the air was still present. Almost as if Aizen's threat still loomed over their heads.
It was hard to believe, it was over.
"Stark, head back... go get some rest." Ichigo replied tiredly. "You four as well."
Stark made to object, but nodded; opening up another Garganta. "You coming?" He asked Halibel, who frowned as she stared at Ichigo.
"I'll...be fine." Ichigo promised. "Father," Isshin stepped forward, "I leave the Captain Commander with you. When he awakes...warn him, not to come after us."
Halibel made to turn around, but froze; everyone looked skyward.
Stark's eyes narrowed on the two small orbs of immaculate light that shot down from the sky; resting, floating a few feet of the ground. Eveyone stared, wondering what they were.
Ichigo closed his eyes, feeling warmth surrounding them. It was even powerful enough to make him forget his drastic loss of energy.
Realization dawned on him after just a moment, 'So... this is what Hogyoku meant...'
"Though I cannot revive the dead, I was able to do the next best thing. Wait here for them... I used the remained of my energy to tie them to you." he whispered cryptically. "If only for a brief moment in time."
Isshin stepped forward, "Those are..."
Both orbs slowly began expanding and after a few moments, both transformed; taking on human shapes.
Ichigo could not believe his eyes.
Orihime and Chad stood before everyone that was gathered around.
Ichigo feel to his knees, overwhelmed... Orihime smiled at him cheerily, kneeling down next to him while Chad came up and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't blame yourself, Ichigo." He whispered, smiling. "To bad... We can't thank Hogyoku for tethering our souls to this world for just enough time to say goodbye."
"It's okay, Kurosaki-kun," Orihime whispered, rubbing his cheek.
"I'm so sorry..." Ichigo replied, tears finding his eyes.
Isshin's heart ached to see his son in such a state.
"Silly, Kurosaki-kun," Orihime giggled, "We can't stay here much longer, or..." She looked over her shoulder and locked eye with Halibel, "Maybe we can."
Chad turned, locking eyes with Stark and smiling, "Yeah, maybe we can..."
Starrk and Halibel stood side by side as Chad and Orihime walked over to them.
"Keep him safe," Chad asked Stark, who nodded. "Of course, but what are you..."
Chad slowly clasped his hand on Stark's left shoulder and slowly began to vanish.
Stark's eyes widened as he raised his right hand; it was becoming pale white.
"You're attaching yourself to my soul..."
Halibel frowned as she stared at Orihme, "I could never make him as happy as you made him."
Orihime smiled as she shook her head, "No, that's not it. I think...you were the only one...who could make him as happy as I did. Lead him." She giggled softly, "Guide him..." She began to vanish, "Be patient with him." She looked over her shoulder at Ichigo, "See, this way... even if you can't see me, even if you can't talk to me... I will always me with you. As long as she is..."
When she vanished completely, Halibel touched her hair, feeling a hair clip on each side of her head; the same as Orihime's.
Ichigo stared at Halibel for a few moments before nodding, knowing it was time.
"There is so much I want to know," Ichigo began sadly, knowing Isshin was close enough to hear. "So much I haven't been told."
"You stopped Aizen, the others... I can..."
Ichigo shook his head, once more, his vision fading. "This is where we say good bye." He felt his reiryoku level was dropping drastically. 'My powers almost spent...'
Isshin looked past him and at Yuzu's unconscious form.
"I'll watch over her," Ichigo took a step, nearly falling over.
Isshin's eyes widened as he stepped forward, "No! Ichigo!"
The Primera stood up and walked towards the Garganta, "You'll hear from me soon enough."
"You can't take Yuzu!" Isshin winced from the injury, falling to his knees. Karin winced painfully in his arms.
"You should go; you both need to be healed."
Isshin teared up, "I already lost you, not Yuzu as well."
"Ichigo!" Isshin roared as the Garganta slammed shut.
And just like that Isshin was left alone, his heart pounding as he felt his whole world collapsing...
(Las Noches )
"Former Lord of Las Noches, Aizen Sosuke." Ruddbornn began, "You have been sentenced to "Wasure no Kokoromi" the Trials of the Forgotten, for life. Imprisoned by order of the Primera Espada and Commander of the Grand Arrancar Army, Kurosaki Ichigo-sama."
Aizen, who was bound tightly to a throne like chair with black reishi absorbing bindings, smirked at the Arrancar. "How amusing that you think a prison like this would hold me for long."
"Good Luck, I designed this cell just for you" Urahara began, entering the prison block. "You won't be going anywhere. As we speak I feel Ichigo's reiatsu entering Las Noches, I'm sure he'll be here to visit you soon enough."
The smirk was washed from Aizen's face, "You...deserve to be ruled by that thing."
"Ahhhh, Sosuke. You are beginning to sound like a broken record."
"And I believe you are mistaken. I don't think Kurosaki will be visiting me for quite some time."
Before Urahara could ask what he had meant, a Sin Numeros rushed into the cell block, panic evident in movements.
"Forgive me, Lord Kisuke, you must come quick! Harribel-sama had me come here as soon as possible! Primera-sama...Kurosaki Ichigo-sama! He's... He's not breathing!"
Urahara's eyes widened, "What?!"
Aizen smirked, "I guess, the power was too much for him."
Urahara shot past the Sin Numeros, issuing him an order, "Cover his eyes and mouth,"
(Tower 1 Ichigo's Room - 1 Month after the war)
"How is he today?" Starrk asked, walking into Ichigo's room and staring at the now very familiar sight of Harribel sitting on Ichigo's bed side.
Urahara, who was once again staring at his glass "tablet", looked up. "You're back sooner than we had thought...There has been no chance."
Harribe's eyes narrowed, but she stayed silent, opting just to hear the two talk.
"And you still don't know, what caused this?" Starrk asked worriedly, his eyes passing over the Primera.
Ichigo lay on his bed before them, hooked up to several machines. A breathing mask fitted perfectly over his nose and mouth allowing him to breath in a light blue "mist" that Urahara was currently adjusting levels on. On his left arm, an I.V. that administered a glowing blue substance from a drip chamber.
"This is beyond my level of intellect," The former Shinigami explained, pressing a few icons on his tablet that showed several of Ichigo's vitals, "I cannot stop his Reiryoku level from dropping. I have been able to process reishi's raw liquid form, and even its rare smoke form, to "refill" his natural pool of energy... But... it's as if all this reishi is draining into a black hole."
Starrk glared, "Ichigo... Is this the price you paid for defeating Aizen?"
"One thing I am absolutely sure about is this...no one should be capable of containing so much spiritual power without being crush and obliterated by that very power. I can only guess that it was by the power of the Hogyoku that his body didn't shred apart immediately after undergoing that transformation. I just injected him with a new vaccine I call "Shin'eiyaku". Designed specifically to increase his already hollowfied abilities... including regeneration. We'll find out if this works soon enough.
An unease silence passed in the room.
"And you, Starrk?"
When word had gotten around that Ichigo had fallen into a coma, the remaining Espada had been stuck dealing with fractions of the army breaking away and attempting take control on Hueco Mundo, even acting foolish enough to attack the remaining Espada openly.
"I'm not sure who is leading them, but they are getting bolder with each attack. If we don't bring them together soon..."
"Neliel, Lilynette, Wonderweiss, and Ulquiorra are still in critical condition, as well as Pesche, Sung Sung, and Apache. And out of them, I'm not entirely sure Ulquiorra will pull through." Urahara explained, "And we lost Dondochakka, Poww, Findor, Grimmjow, Ggio, Szayel, Cirucci, Dordonii, and Gantenbainne. Almost half of our military power. Maybe, if they had someone to lead them..." He lead off, glancing at Harribel.
"They have a leader," Harribel explained, "I'm needed here."
Starrk scratched the back of his head, "This rebellion isn't a pressing concern," he explained walking over to the far side of Ichigo's room and pushing against the wall.
Dividing down the middle, he watched as it opened up a secret compartment.
"What of these two?"
Urahara and Halibel walked over to the two human-sized test tubes.
Zaraki Zanpachi and Yuzu Kurosaki were floating within the red liquid that filled the tubes.
"How is she?"
Urahara eyed both up and down, "It's odd, what Aizen did to them." He motioned to the white substance that almost comsumed their entire bodies. "Zaraki... looks as if he is going through Hollowfication, but it is vastly different. His reishi readings haven't stabilized as easily as they should. The Vizards stabalized almost immediately after going through this process. And his readings..." Urahara lifted up a tablet from a nearby table and inputted a few codes before giving it to Harribel.
Harribel nodded, "It's almost as if..."
"His entire reishi signature is "converting" from Shinigami to that of a Hollow's." Starrk whispered.
"Yuzu, on the other hand, is something else entirely. Without a spiritual body her human form SHOULDN'T have lasted this long. If I didn't know any better I would say she has not only skipped death, but skipped becoming a hollow and going through a transformation that will end with her becoming a..."
Harribel's eyes hardened, " Aizen had the ability to change the composition of an entire soul?"
"It appears that way. After all, it was my desire to destroy the boundary between hollow and shinigami that created the Vizards. Aizen, having been more fused to the Hogyoku than i ever was, merely took it a step further."
"A final insult to Ichigo." Harribel whispered.
"Our gain, in the end. After all, he was one of the most powerful captains in the Seireitei and she is a Kurosaki." Urahara replied calmly. The second he finished speaking, they felt a wave of reiatsu descend upon the room.
What surprised them was that the Reiatsu was coming from Yuzu. Not a moment later, Zaraki's reiatsu began to rise.
"What's going on?" Stark asked curiously.
Halibel shook her head, "I don't..."
Startling them even more was when a voice sounded behind them. All three of them spun around.
"How long... have I been out?"
Ichigo was sitting at the edge of the bed; hunched over and deeply breathing in the reishi from his breathing mask.
Halibel ran to him, quickly wrapping her arms around his neck.
Starrk couldn't help but smile, though Urahara remained eerily silent.
"How long have I been out," Ichigo whispered again, "We have so much to do..."
Devastaing Consequences: Becoming Vasto Lord... END.