A/N: It's official! I'm updating again! As I said in my previous post, I've also made a decision. SEVERAL fics are going up for adoption, SEVERAL others shall be continued, and SEVERAL are available for co-writing. If you're interested, feel free to PM me. By the way, this fic is seriously AU. The timeline has been a bit changed, as I'm sure you've all noticed. Then again, that was something I decided a long time ago, back when my writing ability was in its infancy.

I think I've clearly improved upon that, don't you?

An assassin needs no one...because he has nothing.

~Kurosaki Ichigo.

Prelude to Inferno

Yamamoto Shigekuni Genryusai.

A man amongst men; a shinigami amongst shinigami. A great god of man who had no peer, no equal. He was the Captain-Commander. There was no shinigami greater than him in the last thousand years. Founder of the Shinigami Academy, each and every student swore an oath of fealty to him upon their graduation. Those who refused to do so, those who would not ally themselves with this great and vindictive death god...

...simply ceased to exist.

All respected this shinigami; because all feared him.

But in this day and age, even gods can fall. They can die slowly or they can perhaps perish in the blink of an eye. They can even be killed. Painfully or painlessly; their death so swift that they're not even aware of it at all.

Kurosaki Ichigo was leaning toward the latter.

He alighted effortlessly upon the Sou-Taichou's balcony, gracefully stepping off the railing and into the darkness. Had the Head Captain fallen asleep at his desk after such an arduously long wedding ceremony? Quit possibly. Such a shame. He wanted to look into the man's eyes as he died. He wanted to see the life, leach from his frame; the flame of his soul extinguished forevermore. He wanted the man responsible for his mother's murder to know that her son had wrought just vengeance upon his hide.

"Sting him to death," He hissed softly. "Suzumebachi."

With nary a whisper he ushered Suzumebachi from her sheathe; the slim wakizashi transforming, assuming the form of her shikai. A slim gauntlet ending in a pointed stinger coated in malcontent. Death in two steps. That was all it would take. The first would leave the mark. The second would drive the deadly dagger home, ending the life of Head Captain Yamamoto. Just like that, it would end. Soul Society would be leaderless. Helpless, against the invasion that was to come. And he would finally have his revenge. The thought brought a small smirk to Kurosaki's lips. The old bastard didn't deserve a clean death, not after what he'd done to his family, but it was easier this way.

He thrust Suzumebachi toward Yamamoto's slumbering face. The Head Captain lay there in his seat, head downturned, fingers clenched around the hilt and pommel of his one and only zanpakutou. Clenched. Around. The. Handle. Shit. Shit shit shit SHIT-

Too late, Kurosaki Ichigo realized his mistake. He'd erred on the side of bad judgement. Made the mistake of assuming his prey, a feeble old man, was just that. Feeble. Weak and unable to defend himself. He was wrong. The Head Captain was not asleep, as he'd expected him to be. He was awake.

And he was waiting for this, the precise instant in which he'd committed himself to the attack, to strike. Ichigo had just enough time to raise his free hand, to close it around a clothed handle at his back before the head captain answered in kind. He was still tearing the massive blade free from its wrapping, still summoning the reaitsu needed for their release, when the first spark sizzled across his flesh.

"Ryujin-Jakka!"

A great gout of flame burst from beneath the desk as the katana swept toward his face.

'Not enough time!"

With a snarl of disbelief, Kurosaki Ichigo broke off his attack; Suzumebachi's gleaming gauntlet shrieking in protest as the burning blade crashed against her. Ouch! Instead of his life blood, he was greeted by a shower of sparks, staving off the attack. It hurts! She wailed as the ancient zanpakuto drove them back, master and spirit alike. That really really hurts, dumbass!

Unable to do anything other than endure, Kurosaki Ichigo was sent crashing into the courtyard below. Black spots speckled across his vision as his head struck the many tiles of the first division. He was up in an instant, skipping backwards as a second firestorm descended upon his head.

Yamamto brought the blade back around, contemptuously batting aside another strike. His blade tore through empty air as his attack reappeared on the gondola opposite him the flames licking hungrily against the ground as the intruder danced out of their reach.

"Why are you here, youngster?" he demanded. "Do you not know who I am?"

"Of course I know you are, Head Captain. " The assassin grinned, a gorgeous streak of white in the night as he dragged himself upright. "I've done my research." Abruptly, his smile vanished. "Which is why you're about to die, you sick, twisted bastard."

He held Suzumebachi forward, her golden stinger glinting in the moonlight. "Bankai." This was the last word Yamamoto Shigekuni Genryusai heard before the courtyard burst into a thousand shards and enshrouded itself in golden light. And then it was gone, as quickly as it came. In place of the miniscule Suzumebachi; a massive construct loomed outward from the young Kurosaki's shoulder, sheathed in a curtain of saffron.

"Jakuho Raikoben." the ryoka announced, brandishing the hulking launcher menacingly, sighting down its scope.

But before the Head Captain could truly comprehend the magnificence of this, the boy drew the blade upon his back. He unsheathed it, a massive, cleaver-like weapon bearing a strong resemblance to a certain oversized butcher knife. He had but a glimpse of the unwieldly weapon before the assassin levered it upward its tapered tip swiveling like an immovable pivot toward the flabergasted commander.

"And-

"Foolish!" With a flick of his wrist, the captain-commander brought an impenetrable inferno down on the boy's head. Rather, he tried. For no sooner had the flames neared the young Kurosaki than they dissipated. They simply ceased to be; vanishing against a sudden outpouring of reaitsu. The other smirked, golden eyes shining in sinister mirth. His grin had been menacing before, now, it was downright malevolent as he raised his gaze; revealing the grisly demonic visage gathering across his face.

"Ban-kai."

A tidal wave of azure roiled outward from his form, tearing across the tiles and devouring everything in its path. Midway through its expansion the light darkened; losing light and becoming something twisted. Reddish black radiance burst across the courtyard, swallowing it whole, leaving only the Sou-Taichou himself untouched.

"Getsuga Tenshou."

Yamamoto didn't even have the opportunity to hear the name of the ryoka's second bankai, nor did he gaze upon it; because in that instant, something cut through the smoke and fog. A swathe of deadly energy tore past him, incinerating a voluminous sleeve and the arm within.

He turned, expecting a follow-up, a counter of some sort...

...and that was when the missile that was Jakuho Raikoben screamed into his line of sight. His last thought wasn't a thought at all. It was more of an instinct, as he raised the blade, as he attempted some feeble manner of a guard-

And then there was only the all encompassing whiteness.

A/N: And there you have it! I am back to my wilely ways of updating! I've already updated A Change of Perspective, put several others up for adoption, and, as you can see, this is one of the stories I've chosen to update. Sorry if this one was short! I know, I know, its impossible for someone to have two bankai, let alone two zanpakutou, but this is Ichigo we're talking about, and this is fanfiction! The laws of reality do not apply! Anyway, things'll get heated as of next chapter! Literally!

Next chappy:

Ichigo vs Yamamoto!

R&R! =D