I don't own Bleach or World of Warcraft. I make no money off any of this. The only gain I derive from any of this is being able to bask in the glory of your reviews.
I'm looking for a beta for this story. I don't need copy editing – my spelling and grammar are pretty good and I like to delude myself into thinking I'm half decent at the technicalities and mechanics of the craft. I'm looking for someone who can help be a second pair of eyes – help ensure my characterizations are consistent and accurate (in the case of canon characters), and someone who can maybe help me machete away some of the dross. I'm the queen of motherfucking exposition, but not everyone finds that crap interesting. If one of you, dear readers, feels up to the task, drop me a PM.
Vellena Nightwind sighed from Coldgaze, her deathcharger's back. She'd clearly taken a wrong turn somewhere. Instead of Icecrown, she had somehow ended up in Storm Peaks, and she didn't know the way to civilization. This wouldn't normally bother her, but she was due with a report for Thassarian in two days. Routine, but important nonetheless. Like all Death Knights, Vellena did her duty. Being unable to galled her.
There was a storm blowing up, and it wasn't going to be a good one. While Vellena could withstand the cold a lot better than most due to being undead, it would still add even more time to her travel. At this point, it would almost be a better idea to just go back to Dalaran and pay for a gryphon to Thassarian. After the last time through Naxxramus, her armour bill had left her a little strapped, but she would be even more in the hole if she had to pay a late penalty. It was always worth it to kill Arthas' minions, but the cash situation was getting dire. Unfortunately, Death Knights had to pay like everyone else.
She dismissed Coldgaze, who evaporated to wherever acherus deathchargers went when Death Knights weren't riding them. She pulled out the scroll take her back to Dalaran and began to read, then grinned in triumph as she was wrenched through the twisting nether, out of harm's way. In the chaos of transport, she thought it took longer than usual. Was something wrong? But no – she was rematerializing now.
But instead of the familiar sights and sounds of Dalaran, the scene that greeted her eyes as she regained the physical world was totally alien. Vellena tried to figure out what went wrong. All around her were endless white sand dunes, above her was a black sky, and strangest of all was a single moon partially eclipsed by a smaller heavenly body, hanging in the sky like a child's drawing of a crescent moon. As she pieced together her surroundings, she realized that she had indeed forgotten to replenish her supply of the better quality recall scrolls; and that she had likewise forgotten to sell the lesser quality scroll she had generated with her glyph research. And now she was somewhere completely different – and that was her last scroll of any kind.
Nothing but the same in all directions – no, wait! Off in the distance to her right was a moderate-sized white building. At least, that's what it looked like. She had no way to judge distances here, but honestly, how large could it be?
But wait? Cursing herself for a fool, stopped dead in her tracks and attempted to open a gate to Ebon Hold. To her surprise, nothing happened. It was like there was some force blocking her death gate. She then tried to summon Coldgaze, with about as much success. The Death Knight ground her teeth. Her hearthstone had the same effect. Wherever she was, she'd taken a one-way trip.
Several hours of walking later, and Vellena was no closer to the building than before. It hadn't grown appreciably larger either. She halted, gazing into the distance with a sigh. She had food and water in her magic bags, of course, but if that thing was as far away as she was beginning to think, it might not last. Being dead, she could go a lot longer without the "necessities of life" – food, water, air… but eventually she would have to consume something to replenish her energy. And she had seen nothing out here even remotely edible – no plants, no animals, just crystalline 'trees' and sand. She had revised her original estimate – whatever that building was, it was huge, and it was more than a few days away by foot. Well, she would be late. There was no doubt about it now. She hoped the missive was as routine as they told her, because Thassarian wasn't going to get it. It burned her insides, but there wasn't much she could do about it now.
Her head whipped to the side as she heard an uncanny howl. Narrowing glowing blue eyes, she spotted a rapidly approaching figure. She drew her massive axe – an enormous, skull-covered monstrosity that had served some Titan as a throwing axe, and now served her well enough.
The creature's howling grew louder as it streaked towards her. The night elf could make out a black body with a hole in the chest, and a face with a bony white… mask? It raised its misshapen limbs as it neared, claws flashing. Definitely hostile.
Vellena gestured sharply, and a lash of deathly energy whipped out from her hands and pulled her opponent close, lashing out with her heavy axe across its mask. It had time to give off its unnerving howl one more time before it dematerialized, sliced in half and blowing away into dust as she watched with mild surprise. Weak… Vellena thought.
Then, she heard another howl…
Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez threw his door open and glared angrily at the números dashing back and forth down the hall. Angry at the disturbance, he grabbed one by the shoulder. A terrified eye in a mask rolled over to meet his.
"What's fucking going on?" the Sexto Espada demanded.
"Someone said there were intruders," said the número.
"Grimmjow. Aizen has called a meeting. You are to attend." The emotionless voice of Ulquiorra Cifer, the Cuarto, interrupted the blue-haired arrancar's interrogations. Grimmjow released the número, who dashed off.
"Fine," huffed the Sexto, rolling his shoulders. He fucking hated this bullshit. Aizen and his stupid tea and stupid meetings. Grimmjow would rather do something constructive with his time, like staring at the wall, but he followed his superior without comment.
The two Espada joined the others as they all made their way to the meeting room. They took their seats uncomplainingly, though Grimmjow was pretty sure he wasn't the only one who was pissed off inside. The other faces around the table showed varying levels of disengagement and annoyance. Except for Starrk, of course. He was face down in a puddle of his own drool, snoring. Typical. Grimmjow squelched a stab of envy.
Sousuke Aizen waited with his hand curled around a cup of tea. Once all the Espada were seated and relatively quiet, he nodded to Ichimaru Gin. The ever-smiling vulpine ex-shinigami began to speak.
"Several hours ago, a disturbance was recorded around the vicinity of tunnel 31. We were not able to monitor the cause at that time, and whatever it was seemed to cause no further trouble for several hours. Then it apparently attracted the attention of the local hollow population, which proceeded to attack it. It's been making its way across Hueco Mundo for the last few hours, fighting more or less non-stop ever since. At this moment, it has killed countless lesser hollows, at least six Gillian, and two Adjuchas." Gin paused to let this sink in, and then continued. "We do not know if this is an invasion force or a single individual. We do not think it is a shinigami. No garganta or other known means of transport were reported in the area."
Grimmjow shifted in his seat. This sounded like it might be less boring than sitting around Las Noches, antagonizing the números. He didn't want to volunteer for anything, but…
"I would like two Espada to investigate and detain the cause of the disturbance. Ulquiorra, you will go to observe and record your findings." Aizen said. The Cuarto nodded, silent. "Grimmjow, you will take a contingent of números and detain the invading party. If possible, you will return any and all members, preferably alive, to Las Noches for interrogation."
Preferably alive, well, that took some of the fun out of it. And he was saddled with stupid números. Oh well, it got him out of this boring place at least. "I got it," said the Sexto.
"Very well," said Aizen, "you may leave at once."
Grimmjow gathered just two of his fracción (he was an Espada, after all, and Ulquiorra was there. Aizen had said números, so more than one, but damned if he was going to bring more than two – and they'd be his) and followed the Cuarto through a garganta. They exited in the sky, giving them an excellent vantage point of the battle below. And there was definitely a battle below.
At the end of what appeared to be an endless trail of shed blood in the sand was a knot of hollows attacking what appeared to be a single entity. As the arrancar watched, more hollows met their ends at the blade of a gore-covered axe that looked to be nearly the size of the woman wielding it. At least, Grimmjow thought it might be a woman. It was kind of hard to tell at this distance, and… caked in blood like that, and encased in some kind of unfamiliar armour.
He could tell what had drawn the hollows to her. Even from this distance, she radiated a strange energy, one unlike any he had encountered before. It was dark and deadly, reminiscent of clotted blood. Hollows would be drawn to that power, like moths to a flame. And like moths, they would go up in smoke before it.
"That looks like our disturbance." Grimmjow said, probably unnecessarily. Ulquiorra said nothing, nor did D-Roy or Shawlong. Down below them, a ring of what looked like boiling blood erupted from the sand. Several weaker hollows caught in it shrieked and died. "There seems to be only one. You two, follow its trail and see if there's any sign of others. Report back at Las Noches. I'm going to stop the party." The fracción nodded and both booked off, using sonido. Grimmjow allowed himself to drop closer to the sands and the intense melee.