Review please! I just wrote 5,000 + words for you guys and gals, AND tried to keep everyone reasonably within character and the like! Therefore, this story both deserves and needs some serious reviews! Remember, bold italics equal hollow thoughts, and italics equal hollow speak.
He swore, pivoting on one heel as his attacker fired the cero, lashing out in an aggressive arc to cleave the juniper green blast entirely in two. He'd taken a gamble on Ulquiorra being out for at least another minute, but now, he realized it was too late to do anything other than hold his stance and weather the incoming assault, for behind that cero, Ulquiorra darted in, sword slamming down in a thunderous crash.
"Inoue, get behind me!"
Amazingly, Kurosaki had deflected the strike with ease, surprise appearing on his face at the realization that he'd been able to hold his own with just one arm. Ulquiorra noticed it as well, his eyes widening as his blade began to crack and chip against that of the newly reborn arrancar's.
"As I thought."
But to his surprise, Ulquiorra didn't follow up on the attack, instead, he took three steps backward. Before Ichigo could fathom just what was going on, the espada shot past him and into the sky, dragging his Orihime, now his unwilling hostage up with him. Ichigo stared after them a moment, then swore vehemently.
"Bastard! Get your ass back here!"
Inoue gave up resisting after the first five seconds, such was the vice-grip Ulquiorra had on her. Ichigo wasted no time in coming after them, something which only made Orihime's heart flutter with joy as the arrancarified vizard rapidly gained ground.
"Kurosaki-kun won't let you...get away with this! He'll catch you! You'll see."
"I know, woman."
Moments later, they smashed through the dome, the sky shattering like glass as they burst into perpetual night. Immediately, Ichigo recognized the humid night air of Hueco Muendo, with its eerily slanted moon shining its foreboding light down upon him.
He didn't know why, but his heat rejoiced to be in the open air. It was if he'd fallen away from his body and into another's, but in a good sense, as the energy rushed through him, revitalizing his once leaden body.
He started in surprise, staggering back a step as Inoue was violently thrown towards him. Ichigo didn't think, he just moved, his body dissapearing with a sharp static buzz, then reappearing to snatch her back. She squeaked in surprise.
His hair, it had grown out quite a bit, she now realized. Ichigo also noted something off about the way he'd just moved, this being enough for him to glance down a himself with concern.
'Wierd, I never noticed it before, but why does my shunpo sound different now?'
"That wasn't shunpo."
"You still haven't noticed?" Ulquiorra stared at him intently, this strange, foolhardy boy that had only recently become the focus of Aizen-sama's attention. "Even after all this time. That your mask refuses to be dispelled, and that you still have a hole through your lower chest cavity?"
"What's your point?"
Ulquiorra stared at Ichigo with disbelief.
"I see. Then allow me to elaborate on why I have brought you here. You see there are two things forbidden under the dome of Las Noches, two acts that warrant severe punishment, even death at the hands of lord Aizen himself, should they be committed. One, is an espada's cero, the Gran Rey cero. The other is that the Espada one through four are forbidden to release their zanpakutou beneath the dome. Both are so powerful they would destory Las Noches itself."
Thrusting his zanpakutou outward, Ulquiorra allowed himself a faint smirk. "Now watch and learn well, Kurosaki Ichigo. I will now prove the distance between us."
Black rain burst into the air, blotting out the moon and plunging everyone into darkness. Ichigo stared up at the pillar in horrfified awe, focused on the two black wings that had just burst out of Ulquiorra's back and the new, complete helmet that rested firmly upon his cranium, lending the espada an almost vampiric appearance.
"H-His reiatsu..." Inoue slumped to her knees, her eyes wided with horror and disbelief as the heavy spiritual pressure threatened to strangle her. Had Ichigo not placed himself firmly between the two, she might've died right then and there. "It's so heavy."
"Don't tremble." The espada began, swiveling his chilling gaze to fall once more upon the former shinigami. "Don't break your stance. Stay aware of your surroundings." Slowly, the espada gathered light within his palms, and began to shape it as he so chose, forming two thin lances of pure juniper green radiance. "And don't let your guard down for an instant."
Ichigo didn't have time to move, he simply wasn't fast enough, couldn't move in time. But he did blaze a vicious Getsgua in retaliation, the blow blasting Ulquiorra back to his original position.
"You used Getsuga reflexively. A prudent decision. If you hadn't, your head and the rest of your torso would be at my feet right now."
Ulquiorra remained silent a moment longer, looking on quietly as Ichigo groaned, slumping to his knees, clutching the severed stump that had once been his shoulder, the blood leaking through his fingertips.
"Stay back, Inoue!"
Still, Ulquiorra droned on.
"Your hollow form has gotten stronger, Kurosaki. You've gained new powers, you can maintain it longer, and you've even been able to rival myself, a vasto lorde class arrancar in the process of it all. And yet, I was still able to sever your left arm from your body, thanks to the speed and power of my resurrecccion. Now what will you-
He stopped short when the skin began to swell and bulge, almost as if something were trying to force its way out of the wound. With a pained cry, Ichigo screamed in raw agony, just as a fresh new limb tore itself free from the stump, lacking only the black sleeve, which wouldn't have stood up to the viscous fluids that spewed out anyway.
If Ulquiorra was surprised, Ichigo was dumbfounded. He'd just instantly regenerated a lost limb, something shinigami, something not even a vizard was able to do. That was instantaneous regeneration, and only hollows had that ability. So did that mean...
"Heh." Ichigo flexed his new arm, his hand, into a fist, eliciting a small popping sound as all the joints carefully realligned themselves. "I don't know what's going on here, but if you're speechless, then I guess that's a good thing...
Ichigo. Why are you hesitating? Why do you refuse to wield me properly?
You seem surprised, Ichigo. It is possible for an arrancar to have a sentinent zanpakutou, though it most cases it is very rare. However, the fact that you were originally a shinigami, has preserved my prescence and that of your inner hollow.
'Are you...here to help me then?' He couldn't focus properly as they continued to exchange both blows and blades, but he did his level best as the spirit of his sword resounded solemnly in his head.
Perhaps. Perhaps not. It depends on your answer to my question. Think long and hard before you reply.
You cannot fight to avenge in this battle. You must only fight to protect. To do this, you will have to accept the other facet of your psyche, and in doing so, you will learn to better grasp my inner power. But power is nothing but an uncontrollable flame if it is not directed towards a purpose, a greater goal that surpasses all boundaries and desire. Do you have that goal Ichigo? What will you do if I should lend you my strength in this battle?
The answer came before he'd even though to consider his question. It was the reason he'd come here, the reason he had fought, and was still fighting, even after all this time. It was the reason he had to win.
'I...want to protect my friends.'
Is that all?
Very well then. I will bequeath to you my ultimate technique, the purest form of the Getsuga Tenshou. Use it well.
Ichigo blinked in surprise, amazed to find that his mentor was gone again. Now, there was only Ulquiorra, ramming into him, sending the two to plummet downward towards the sands below.
"Kurosaki Ichigo. Use Getsuga."
"What?" Ichigo glared up at the espada as the desert floor rushed up to meet them.
"You're at your strongest now." The espada replied, the faintest of smirks pulling at his lips. "And Getsuga Tenshou is your strongest attack. Hit me with it now. I'll show you how much stronger I am."
With a sharp clash of steel, the vizard broke free, looking on silently as Ulquiorra soared back into the air, and he himself landed gently upon the frigid sands of Hueco Muendo.
"Use Getsuga? Don't make me laugh! I was already....planning on it!"
Once more, Ulquiorra was content to wait for the attack to come to him. But something was off about it. Not only was it far too large for a regular getsuga tenshou, but the red outline had been comingled with white, giving it an almost siver helix outline across the black and red. This was not the natural coloration of a Getsgua, so why...
"Tenrai Getsuga Tenshou!" (Divine heaven shocking lunar fang)
"Impossible!" Ulquiorra, realizing too late his peril rasied his wings in a desperate attempt to shield himself, only to have them blown clear off as the moon fang tore through the perpetual night of Hueco Muendo and into his chest. He couldn't hold his block for even a second, before the massive swathe of energy took his right arm and roared into the night to explode some distance away.
"How was that, Ulquiorra? I think you said something about proving how much stronger you were."
"I did.." Scowling, the espada returned his attention once more to his smug adversary. His wings and right arm were already beginning to regenerate, he just needed to stall the boy for another five seconds or so. He didn't trust himself to handle this one, not without his wings and both arms. "Still, it was impressive. That attack does resemble my cero, after all."
"That's right, you haven't seen it yet, have you?"
Ulquiorra stuck out a single finger on his remaining hand. Black light, darker than night itself, swirled at the tip, coallescing itself into a pitch black sphere that threatened to blot out the moon itself.
Too late, Kurosaki raised his blade to guard.
With a deafening roar, the black cero blasted downwards and plowed into the pinned vizard below. Sand blew up and out, blanketing the surrounding structures and the spectators that were perched upon them. Inoue shrieked and covered her head with both hands. He possessed hyper-regeneration? And what was this incredible cero that he'd just demolished the desert floor with? She was beginning to wonder why Aizen hadn't just ordered him to kill all her friends on the spot, after all, he seemed to be quite capable of it.
As the sandstorm settled and some sort of visibility returned to the arena in front of them, everyone within Las Noches gasprf somewhat at the massive crater that lay in the middle of the floor. And even more astonishing was the fact that Ichigo was still standing at the very center of it. Half of the mask shielding what had been on his face, a set of jagged teeth and a crooked jaw line and eye socket. The new arracanr, barely reatining any of his shihakusho slowly rose his way out of the massive divot, gasping heavily as he ascended.
"You think that's it?! That I'm done?!"
"Ya better not be." A voice interrupted We still gotta finish our fight, Kurosaki!"
Ulquiorra and Ulquiorra froze, as another reaitsu roared to the fore.
Note: Ichigo's current hairstyle is the same as when he went crazy badass hollow on Ulquiorra. Next time: Tag team?! Grimmjow and Ichigo vs Ulquiorra?!