Chapter Three: Then & Now
The massive lizard gillian crouched low, fangs rending apart the bloodless black and white form of one of its mindless brethren. It huffed and milled about in wide lazy strides as the last few scraps disappeared down its gullet. The middling power of the uniformly masked giants was getting less and less satisfying with each new meal and already it felt the demands for more growing within it. Great jaws clacked in the darkness as the monstrous beast prowled its territory within the Menos Forest.
Perhaps it would finally track down and devour the tiny, sweet-scented thing in black. Perhaps.
But for now a new hunt was beckoning and other concerns presented themselves. Something had entered this place, something immense and powerful beyond its reckoning. And where those greater than it tread, scraps of beings equally as vast may fall. The white and red, flat masked reptile leapt onto the ceiling above and silently stalked across the white sands, keeping both distance and trees between it and the greater powers that intruded here.
Once it had drawn close, close enough to feel the choking, cloying weight of power, it hesitated. Nothing it had encountered in all its existence had staggered it as thoroughly as the stifling, encroaching force of this source. The scents drew it on, a sticky sweet smell of battle and carnage that promised of slain adjuchas and the thing in black. The gillian lurched closer, lurking as near as it dared to the slowing fight.
Where? Where was the source? What could be so powerful as to- There, between those trees. Two tiny specks of beings stood within a puddle of blood. One was a mixture of crane and human, mask a long, narrow beak with wings on its back and taloned hands. The other stood, a broken mask covering its chin, clad in white and wielding a sword, much like the thing in black had.
They shrieked and screeched at each other in elaborate patterns.
Words, some deeply buried part of itself supplied. They were using words. Suddenly the thing in white cried out more words and its own power grew to almost equal that of the source as its mask regrew and its body transformed. They battled, flashing from place to place at speed beyond its ability to follow, the red beams of cero and round bursts of some similar skill littering the area as they flew at each other and parted repeatedly. Drawing closer.
Knowledge blessed the lizard too late as the two greater forces clashed almost on top of it, chance blows wounding it as no hollow it had encountered had done before. Desperate and confused, the gillian unleashed a cero of its own into the mess, managing nothing but a wide swath of pointless deforestation. The far smaller fighters ignored it, almost contemptuously slicing into its arm the single time it came close to striking either.
And then the battle was over. The thing in white fell, its restored mask shattered as its body melted back into the form it had started as, missing both sword and a leg. Words were exchanged again and the source devoured the challenger.
Injured and disoriented, the gillian scrambled its long limbs to right itself as the source turned its attention onto it. The source approached, power waning slightly, using more words.
In its panicked state the enormous beast did what instinct demanded and lashed out in fear.
The source tore away the limb it was struck with, screeching more angry words as it drew closer still. As the lizard charged a cero, the greater hollow struck.
The gillian was lost in a sea of voices, some were those that were once its own, others were new and distant. But all fell silent as an immeasurable voice echoed over them, singing to itself in yet more words beyond comprehension in both tone and scale. But one voice was not silent, not completely. A voice it vaguely recognized as the thing in white rose up, muffled and dimmed but still audible.
The gillian raged at that, as the tyrant's voice echoed down in song again, stifling and choking the sound from the thing in white. If its voice could be heard, if it could still speak, then why should the gillian be silent? Why should it quell at a mere song?
The lizard roared in fury and anguish, a quiet groan all the sound it managed to truly emit. But as the tyrant turned its attention, crushing and suffocating the insignificant noise it had made, the thing in white spoke again, louder, crisper and more defined than any noise it made before.
From there the other voices rose, pulling the singing tyrant into their own vocalizations and undulations as the world returned to a sea of nonsensical whispers and cries.
Every voice clashed in biting, blistering rage, icy, piercing determination and wild, primal fear. It fought back as they all did, striking back pain with more of the same in a hateful, agonizing cycle of self torment. But soon some of the quieter voices fell away and no matter how much hurt it accrued, the ability to continue the fight never wavered.
As silence drew nearer it became clear that all had become equal in this and even as it roared and shrieked at the singing tyrant itself, it knew. Knew the cold agony it had struggled through would not silence its voice, knew that it and only it would be the final one speaking when this was over. With a triumphant cry it drowned out the tyrant and smothered out all other sounds within this realm. The voices fell silent as it ascended, devouring from the inside out.
The lizard woke in a new, smaller body and promptly shed the itchy, wet skin it was confined to. It rose from the discarded remains of the vasto lorde who'd dared devour it, crooning in victory as it tore away the last clinging fragments of hierro. Taking a moment to adjust itself, it found new knowledge flowed through its mind and new power swept... no, that was wrong, reishi. Yes, an ocean of reishi swept through its body. But for now it appeared far too human for its tastes.
Shedding a mist of particles, the new vasto lorde knitted a monstrous, horned and clawed hierro exoskeleton to hide both its power and its form. Without another thought it slept, digesting everything the voices had known and integrating that until it became its own.
The vasto lorde headbutted his way through another wall, mind and direction locked like a compass driving him closer and closer towards what he was beginning to suspect was an arrancar vasto lorde. No more would he follow the pathetic course of traps and tricks Aizen had made the corridors to be, lurking about like a coward in the lair of the enemy. Of the ten reiatsu sources he thought to be the espada, two had vanished like asphyxiated candles while he had allowed himself to be distracted.
No more, a purpose drove him and to lose that purpose because something shiny was dangled before his mask was completely impermissible. A triumphant cry heralded the lizard bursting through the final wall, standing tall in the middle of a throne room. An old man looking arrancar sat upon the heavy white chair, two fraccion flanking him on either side. On his head sat the remains of a mask, fractured down to a five point crown that stood out as white stripes over pale gray hair. Yes, this was what he came here for. A shame even this one was infected by the scientist's parasites, though at least he'd be easier to kill for it.
"So, you must the brat causing all the damage. Come to usurp the king have you?" The espada rumbled before laughing loud and low. "Do you really believe you can defeat god within his own realm?"
"You are not Aizen." Ichikuro shot back, refuting the elder's claim to rule this world.
"Hmph. That shinigami ant's time will come. Or perhaps you're here for the power of an arrancar and seek to have him give it to you?"
The masked hollow paused as he measured Barragan's reiatsu directly. He hissed in shock. "Vasto lorde! How has one of us fallen to serve another?"
"Hm hm hm. You're a young one yet, for me to not know you or you of me. There are only a dozen or so vasto lordes in existence at any one time and I remember them all until that annoying shinigami intruded in my realm. Less than a quarter of a century at most, why are you here, brat? Why do you dare to stand before one millennium more ancient than you can comprehend?" The old man rumbled sourly.
"I have come to become a god." Ichikuro gnashed his fangs at that, his intention clear.
The old arrancar laugh, a regretful, pitying sound. "This, this is what I was meant to rule over! Nipping at ants and sitting through those droll meetings, forced to drink that vile liquid that shinigami dares to call tea. We were not meant for that! Know this, brat, your end will be remembered! Rot, Arro-"
"Your majesty." The thin blond fraccion with a mostly intact mask interrupted suddenly. "Aizen-sama will-"
"Silence ant!" The former king seized the fraccion by the throat as he stood. "What stands before us now is one of my subjects, one who lives with the sky as their roof and the edges of the world as their walls. He deserves to die facing the true power of his king!" The elder roared, throwing the fraccion into a wall with jarring force and pulling free a massive, black axe hidden within his throne.
Ichikuro thrilled at the thought of this fight, his reiatsu rising until it formed a thin mist around him, particles inter-knitting and merging among themselves.
The arrancar warily eyed his enemy, the fraccion falling back without being prompted.
The hollow narrowed his eyes in annoyance as a staticy burst preceded the appearance of his experiment in what looked like rudimentary sonido. He swiped out to catch the girl before she headbutted him, dangling her by the back of her shirt, eyes locked with the fallen king of Hueco Mundo the entire time.
"I gave you an order." He growled dangerously as another static burst heralded his puppet.
"The brat can use sonido! That's an elite uro skill." The puppet countered defiantly at first, cringing as she saw what was about to take place and realizing who she had just back talked.
"Phef. Gathering discarded espada are you? The old, natural arrancar were proven useless long ago, ants even when they were vasto lorde before. Are these the chocobo you choose to ride upon?" The old arrancar boasted proudly.
The vasto lorde's eyes widened slightly. They were unaware of what the pink haired one had done to them all. By his measure, the puppet he had mistaken for a gillian was truly an adjuchas of mid range power at this moment, still recovering towards the upper tier of plain hollow adjuchas. Likely she had been a median level adjuchas before tearing her mask away and had plateaued just short of lesser vasto lorde.
To be dampened that much made the creature that stood before far more frightening to consider...
But she had had three or four times as many parasites as any of those that he'd seen since. He pinged his reiatsu again, confirming that the arrogant being before him did have the power of a vasto lorde, less than he himself, but still substantial. Without the parasites he would likely have been the stronger of the two of them at full power.
As it was...
The mist of reishi thickened and billowed around him, concealing over half the chamber from sight.
"Rot, Arrogante!" The espada's reiatsu spiked dangerously high, the room crumbling under the sheer pressure of it.
With an unspoken command, Cirucci grabbed Nel and vanished in a burst of sonido, leaving through the same opening they'd entered.
At the edges of the cloud of reishi the wall disintegrated and peeled inwards, their particles added into the existing mass. In contrast, at the other end of the room the walls and floor rotted away, their decrepit remains slowly collapsing into dust under their own weight.
"Hm hm. Those others cannot understand. In a battle between gods, there can be no holding back. Respira!" The black wind struck the white, hardening it into a shell. Behind his mask Barragan's eyes widened before a blinding white cero burst through the shell and filled the chamber.
"Dammit!" Tatsuki punched through one of the walls circling the school. Ichigo thought he could keep secrets from her? Turn her aside like some defenseless kid while everyone else fought and put their lives in danger... And there wasn't anything she could do!
She promised herself that once she got her hands on him, she'd make him regret ever thinking she was too weak to help.
"Interesting. You seem to have a lot of reishi, young lady. Perhaps you are the proof of her infidelity." A white haired man with red eyes and a thin scar on his chin spoke up, gazing semi-interestedly at the damaged wall her fist was still pressed into.
"Rei... shi? Look, you seem to have me confused with someone else."
"Arisawa's hair and nose, Yoshino's eyes and cheeks. Are you the thing she keeps seeking for beyond the mansion? Hmm. I will give you a chance to learn the other side of your heritage. If you survive the first few steps, that is."
"Hey! Don't come any closer. I don't want to have to hurt you..."
After a brief struggle the man lifted the now unconscious karate champion runner-up. "Merely having the strong survive, even among immortals, is all but begging for our end to come. Be strong, Yoshino's child. Be strong and give us a new generation when the time comes."
"Zeige dich Kakutou!" Tatsuki reveled in the thrill of battle as ribbons and folds of dark fabric poured from the belt at her waist, the euphoria of power and the security it offered filling her once more.
"Ha ha ha! Stupid bitch, my hierro is the greatest among the espada, you think you can fight me with ribbons?" The tall, thin arrancar with an eye-patch and a scythe demanded. He didn't bother waiting for a reply and instead swung his zanpakuto even as he stopped speaking.
With a buzz of static the girl and doll were gone before his blade struck the ground. "Fun fact, besides their own powers, a doll can exhibit the powers of whatever their bount absorbs enough of. If they're a weakling who only preys on humans there's nothing to gain, but if they're a reckless tomboy that takes down hollows..."
"Kakutou..." Tatsuki growled.
"What? You know you're a tomboy." The form finalized itself, a dark mass of strips of cloth floating behind and around its wielder, a white costume ball mask of a young woman's face with a serene expression on it floating above the martial artist's head. "Running around, setting things on fire. All I can really do is sing."
"Nina, this is not a foe you can defeat alone." The injured privaron espada declared, standing beside Ishida.
"She isn't alone." The quincy muttered angrily, his bow already in hand.
"Si, now that I am with you." Dordonii replied, completely oblivious to the young man's ire as he moved to stand with Tatsuki on the battlefield.
A roaring explosion echoed through the air and suddenly a skull-mask monster landed a few hundred meters from them, his every move displaying frustration and anger. A horrible pressure sent the entire group to their knees, choking as the crowned arrancar pulled a chain, sending a black shard of sharpened metal flying back to his hand. He laughed suddenly, bitterly. "For all that Aizen can claim, to leave a beast such as you running free..."
Suddenly a pure white arm burst from the scythe wielding arrancar's chest, bending upwards to clamp its claws onto his spine through his throat even as fangs bit off his right arm at the shoulder.
"I am still your opponent!" Barragan cried, sweeping his black blade in a wide arch that the pure hollow leapt over, leaving Nnitorii bisected at the thigh.
The vasto lorde bounced as he landed, still messily biting and gnashing at his victim a few times before discarding most of the left half. From both the discarded section and the severed arm, a writhing, bubbling mass of pink grew, dragging the remains into itself.
"Damn. Respira!" The two waves of black wind rotted the recognizable pieces to dust while fossilizing the pink blob into a hardened white shell. And as his attention was focused on that, the orange maned hollow appeared in front of him, talons raking diagonally into his ribs to hold him in place for the few fractions of a second it took to complete the alabaster cero that plowed into his chest, launching him backwards through the air.
With an inarticulate shriek the hollow gave chase.
Isshin shifted uncomfortably again, sitting in the kitchen of his modest clinic. The hollow was drawing very close, yet the shinigami was waiting upstairs in Ichigo's room. It was an absolute that whatever shinigami was assigned to the area was competent, she felt to have the power and control of a forth or third seat so why was she loitering when she had work to do?
He was deeply tempted to leave his body and do her job for her, but that'd bring attention uncomfortably close to his family. He could put up with a close shave once in a while...
But what the hell was she doing up there? Any moment now the hollow was going to burst through the front wall.
Ichigo's enraged shout told him all he needed to know and sent him scrambling towards the stairs. If he'd attacked the shinigami thinking they were a burglar…
Even that worry fled from his mind as his blood chilled, Yuzu was coming down the stairs, yawning cutely.
"Yuzu-chan, it's late. Go back to bed you have school tomorrow. What will your mother think if she saw you staying up so late?" He told her, doing his best to act as though he was his usually self and everything was alright.
"I'm just getting some water daddy." Her answer left him with no grounds to send her back without altering her to the fact that something was wrong. He swallowed, the hollow was right outside, the shinigami was still upstairs.
Sitting himself down, he slowly unsealed his powers, just a crack. Just enough to-
The front of his clinic exploded inwards and the shinigami bounded down the stairs even as it reached for Yuzu. He couldn't act without revealing himself now, not unless the shinigami slipped up badly enough for him to kill her before she could notice him.
Dammit, she even had her communicator in her off hand right now. This was bad…
"Karin, Yuzu! Dad!" And then Ichigo came down as well. Could he dare to kill in front of his own son? To reveal what he was and expose his children to the horrifying struggle of the spirit world? He fought with himself over it, too wrapped up to notice until his son was already condemned as a shinigami, right in front of him.
Forgotten in and among these emotional events, the partially undone seal began to slowly degrade, opening wider and wider as the next months passed.
Isshin sheathed his sealed zanpakuto, the remains of his opponent laid out behind him in five pieces with a smattering of shattered glass and some unidentifiable liquid glittering above its headless shoulders.
He'd wasted too long here, stalled on the fact that this... thing had adopted a face so much like Ichigo's as it bragged of stealing the face and ability of whatever it ate. For most of the fight he only dodged and parried, unable to lash out at his son's visage, no matter how fake he knew it was.
Bizarrely enough, it was his enemy's weapon that finally let him break through the illusion of what he was seeing. His son's power was a mirror of his own, a heaven-striking-moon-type zanpakuto.
This guise used a spear. That one third seat from way back, one of the Shiba clan, also used a spear. And, after a few moments thinking really damned hard on it, looked quite a bit like a black-haired Ichigo. Incidentally the arrancar also had black hair.
Charging on, Isshin cursed himself for having such a moment of weakness. It was a nice fantasy he'd told his dear sweet daughters and his son's companions, that they could restore Ichigo. It might even be true. But unless they already had Orihime on hand with the full will of her power behind them when they met his son again, there was no hope of it coming true.
And if he met his son anywhere in this base now, or even anywhere apart from Orihime later, he knew what was really necessary. What his son would want him to do.
He couldn't hesitate again. If Ichigo had a choice between being cut down and being a hollow... It was Isshin's duty as his father to make sure he passed swiftly.
"Yuzu!" Karin cried as the large, masked form rose behind her twin, shoving one limb through her. A limb that came out the other side of her body, holding her sister within it, a chain gleaming from where it hung at her chest.
"K, Karin-nee? What's, what's going on?" The gentler of the two twins asked as she was made aware of the surreal beast holding her in a giant, sickle-fingered hand.
"Eh heh heh. What a delectable little treat you are. Now hold still, we wouldn't want the other one to panic too much, now would we?" The hollow asked, its fingers clipping through the chain two links from where it ended, its other hand reaching towards the dark-haired twin.
Karin froze in indecision. She needed to save her sister, somehow, but every instinct she had demanded she run, save herself, forget how frightened her twin looked.
Long, spindly fingers passed through her body, shoving her out of it. But as they closed around her, an arrow shaped bolt of blue shrieked out of the sky and the creature howled in pain as it vanished into dust. "Twenty-seven!" A white clad man shouted, glowing blue bow in hand as he dashed off after more hollows.
The dark haired twin found she could breath again, a sob quickly drawing her to her sister's side. The brown haired girl was holding the two chain links left in her hands, crying to herself softly. She clung to Karin as her arms wrapped around her.
"K,Karin-nee, I, I'm not..."
"Shh. You, you're going to be okay. We'll... we'll just..."
"Hey! Don't say that! You'll be fine." Karin shouted at her twin before taking in just how panicked Yuzu was. It hurt, there was nothing she could think of to comfort her. But she couldn't just leave Yuzu, not like this. She didn't deserve to have this happen to her, alone.
One hand found its way to the chain on Karin's own chest. She paused, following the length of it with her eyes to where it attached to her body. It was easy to guess what happened when it broke. But Yuzu's was already broken... And she wasn't leaving her behind, if any of them ever had to go through this alone, it wouldn't be Yuzu.
The dark haired twin grabbed her own chain and pulled it apart to match her sister's. It hurt, oh kami, it hurt so much. Yuzu stopped sniffling as she noticed the agony her sister was in. And then the severed chain.
"We're twins, aren't we? I can't let you go anywhere by yourself..." The small girl shuddered in the aftereffects of tearing apart her own chain of fate.
Chad slid backwards as he narrowly got his arm between his head and the teal haired cat-man espada's claws. The tips still pierced through the immature hierro he could manifest and the cat-man was more than quick enough to evade the cero he fired from his other arm in retaliation.
"Leave Sado-san alone!" Yuzu shouted, a strange echo in her voice like talking through a whirling fan. She sliced in with her sealed zanpakuto as her spoke, her pupils narrow slits on golden irises, the sclera pitch black behind her mask. It was a bleached parody of a jester's face, fangs arrayed in a chesire grin, eyes curved mirthfully downward, and two long, smooth horns curled back towards the sides of her head from above, like a harlequin's cap.
"In fact leave all of us alone!" Karin added with a similar vocal effect, this one as though spoken through water.
She was already flying in from the cat-man's other side, her own katana whistling through the air. Like her sister she wore a hollow's mask, though hers took a different form. It resembled a crowned helmet, three spire-like horns pointing straight up from a round dome of material that hid her scalp, a narrow v shaped visor over her eyes with only the shining irises visible through the dark shadow beneath. Below that two strips of material covered her cheeks, ending just above her chin with another layer beneath them, conforming to her face and sporting teeth that disappeared underneath the cheek-guards on either side.
The cat-man evaded and retreated a short distance. "What the hell are you? Your powers are more like hollows than shinigami."
He then ducked a swipe from a white and red arm as its glowing fingers cut through the air just a little too close to his throat.
"Yours too, human. Heh heh, I don't know what you are but three on one ought to make it interesting."
The four combatants paused, an uneasy stand off as each waited for another to make the first move. On one end of the spectrum Chad stood perfectly still and resolute, one the other Yuzu fidgeted with her weapon, shifting her weight nervously from foot to foot.
There was a distant, powerful explosion as two clashing reiatsu washed over them, staggering even the espada with their sudden appearance. The ceiling far above cracked and groaned with the strain as a faraway flash of white light surged into a brief and powerful existence.
While the other three instinctive turned to look Karin, mindful of how limited her mask's time was, rushed forward with a thrust. And the battle began anew, ignoring the much, ongoing clash between two titans in the background as it traveled and faded into another, more distant corner.
Rukia watching in horrified fascination, struggling to remain conscious despite her injures. Renji crouched protective nearby, though she doubted he'd be able to interfere with what was happening.
"And what is this? Your zanpakuto has left you and now you use the powers of a hollow? Are the shinigami so desperate for power they'd readily turn to the same power as their greatest enemies?" A self-admitted zanpakuto spirit inquired, partially intrigued and partially concerned.
"This? This is just another part of me. If I can't count on my sword, then I only have my own two hands." The masked Ichigo yelled defiantly, hair spilling over his shoulders and the white material expanded like flowing water over his arms. "I might have neglected Zangetsu. I admit it, but I know there are shinigami whose zanpakuto were treated right and if they're turning their partners aside just as easily... I guess I'll have to defeat you to see which of them really feels what, won't I?"
Both vizard and zanpakuto left her field of vision using sonido and shunpo respectively. She heard them clash repeatedly, watching Renji twist his head from side to side as he followed them. The sound of metal and flesh echoed through the still air from a dozen directions.
"So your zanpakuto was a stabilizing element... I have absorbed over a thousand hollows. Do you believe yourself to be capable of defeating me with such powers?" The zanpakuto spoke again, barely audible over the continuing sounds of combat.
"Are threatening to eat me? Cause I'm the one with all the teeth and if either of us was going to bite, mine would hurt more." The other voice sounded nothing like Ichigo now, the distortion made him sound like just another hollow as he bluffed.
At least Rukia deeply hoped it was a bluff. Losing Kaien had been one of the hardest things she'd ever endured, if she had to go through that again it would break her. But this, this was actually worse. Ichigo wasn't possessed by some hollow that invaded his body, he was giving himself over, willingly.
"Rukia-sama..." The white form of Sode no Shirayuki murmured apologetically as she approached, setting Renji on edge. "I... I am sorry that I... that I..."
"I understand. And, it's not your fault." The petite shinigami replied reassuringly.
"But Rukia-sama, because of me-" The zanpakuto knelt by her mistress, only to be cut off by a low, loud keening hiss.
A shadow fell over them as an enormous white and red arm expanded and crashed down, crushing a building beneath a clawed hand.
"Menos..." Renji utter softly, craning his head to look above. "It's opening a garganta!"
A crooning cry echoed over the city scape as the light of a negacion field fell around the newly created gillian, pulling it safely into Hueco Mundo.
"Rukia-sama, that was-"
"Don't say it. I know..."
Renji, Rukia and their opponent, an arrancar that had reveal himself to be a fearsome armadillo-dragon, leapt aside with a single instant's notice as the roof above them collapsed, two vasto lordes falling through it from tremendous heights, smashing into the floor below.
They stood for a moment, locked in a struggle on equal footing, one arm from each clasped to the other's wrist to try and mitigate damage from the other's grasp.
The skeleton had one hand clamped around his foe's throat attempting to choke the afterlife from the lizard as it in turn tried to claw deeper into the fur covered skeleton's chest.
The fully-hollow vasto lorde opened its mouth, a white glow revealing a nearly completed cero.
The skeleton barked one word in reply. "Respira!"
What little color there was across the lizard's form drained away into pure white like a spreading pool from where the skeleton's fingers touched. As with everything the younger vasto lorde produced, the shell-like skin hardened and fossilized.
As did the narrow, continuous beam of the cero, piercing through his elder's sternum and continuing on as a solid lance of bleached white.
The petrified hollow fell with a resounding thud as the hands keeping it balanced fell limp. An instant later it was joined on the floor by the slumped and bleeding arrancar whose mask and form crumbled back into that of an ancient barbarian lord as he succumbed to the gaping hole in his chest.
For a moment all was still.
I had thought, all the way up until Rukia fought old two-heads, that Ichigo was actually Kaien's reincarnation. It made sense, right? Because the only ways out of the cycle of souls are getting eaten by a hollow, which is undone when the hollow is purified, and quincy arrow. Since Kaien died by zanpakuto, obviously his soul traveled on and was reborn into a living human, Ichigo, hence the resemblances right?
Nope, he somehow ended up getting eaten and having his body used against his comrades again. In particular, the same soldier under his command that he traumatized the first time this happened. His luck sucks.
Yoshino is the only bount that can reproduce. How do we know this? Because Tatsuki's her child. Only, since all other bounts are infertile, Yoshino had to cheat on Jin to have had her. And really, at any point does it explain how they know Yoshino can reproduce in the anime, cause I don't remember it.
You can see the resemblance in the fact that they both use fire, which is in no way a basis for genetic relationship, but since heaven-striking-moon-type zanpakuto, quincy powers and other spirit based traits apparently breed true in all examples we see...
Also I can't find anything that tells when the unknown zanpakuto arc occurred relative to the main story line, hence it and the beast swords happen before Hueco Mundo by my discretion.
Oh and elder's and other's aren't words by site spellchecker standards.