Chapter 16:

Well this took a long time to get back into this story. Sorry about that. I don't really have any excuses so… Here you go. A special thanks to Sekiseishi for being my best role-play friend for the last few weeks and for cyber smacking me back into my writing groove.


Was it a good idea to leave his squad behind on his first mission as Captain? No. Was it smart to go after a guy who beat him to a bloody pulp, twice, and alone at that? No. Was that going to stop him? No.

Renji stopped on the crest of a large sand dune. He surveyed the area, reaching out with his senses extended. 'I'm sure I felt his presence just now… Where?' He looked back, where his new squad was still at the base. To his left, he had long since lost the reiatsu of the 2nd Squad Captain. After a brief respite, he was about to continue south when a light flickered to the distant west, looking all but like a star on the sand. 'Ignore it. It's probably a trap.' He flashed south, but no matter how fast or far he moved from the spot he was in, the star-light stayed in the same spot of his vision, as if he was moving around it in a circle.

"What would Byakuya say about it? Oh, I know. 'It is like the flame of a candle. No matter how you try to ignore it, you'll be attracted to it like a moth. Eventually, you'll go after it, but only find yourself burned, Abarai.' Yep, that's what he'd say…" Renji shrugged and flashed toward the light. "I never listened to him in the old days, why start now?"

Surprisingly to Renji, the light had to have been larger than he thought for his flash steps carried him farther and farther across the bone-white sands. Less than a mile from it, Renji stopped, his head tilting back as he gazed up the side of the plain white pillar. It glowed with an eerie light that no flame or light bulb could have made. "It almost looks like… kidou. What's that doing here?" Renji said as he circumnavigated the odd thing.

On his second journey around, he moved closer, testing for traps. Finding none, Renji settled a hand on it, expecting it to be cool like marble. His hand stayed on the warm surface for just a moment before slipping through. He pulled it back quickly, watching as the white surface rippled like water. 'I should go get back-up… But I may not find it again if I leave it...' With a groan, Renji reached his hand out again, slowly sliding it through the wall as he stepped fully inside.

The first thing he noticed other than the pitch blackness of the glowing pillar's inside was the rancid smell of decaying flesh. "Ugh, what the fuck died?" He groaned. Lighting up a kidou spell, Renji jumped as he looked at all of the hollow carcasses that littered the floor. "It's like a slaughterhouse." He held the light up, following the black wall he'd just come through to the edge of his vision range. There were no stairs, only four walls that continued up farther than he could see. Placing a hand on the wall he came through, the redhead sighed in dismay as he only felt a solid wall. "Damn…"

A rustle sounded behind him, causing Renji to whirl around, his sword drawn. He looked for movement but saw nothing. In fact there was something he didn't see as well that revealed quite a lot. "Hey hey hey," he said as a shiver went through him. "Last time I checked, even Hollows bleed when you cut them up…" He backed against one corner, his sword extended in front of him. "So where's all the blood?"

"I'm so glad you remember, Renji-chan."


Kira stood by his squad, looking out over the sands. It had been nearly four hours since Renji departed. All of the squads were supposed to return soon. He severely hoped his captain would return with the others.

The sounds of rustling cloth sounded behind him, revealing the special ops. Soi Fon stepped forward with a smirk. "Where's Abarai? You haven't lost him, right?"

"Captain Abarai has yet to return from his independent search. I have faith that he'll show up any moment," Kira replied indignantly.

"Hmph. If he's not already dead."


"Midori!" Renji looked back and forth quickly but saw no one. He heard that same rustle as before and looked back at the bodies. One of them was moving! The green Hollow rose up, its head hanging low, only to be tossed aside as someone moved beneath it.

"Nice to see you again, Renji-chan! Oh? Is it Captain Abarai now?" Midori smiled.

The redhead stared, wide-eyed at the noble. "What? What the fuck happened to you?" The eyes that met his were not the same maroon he remembered them being. They glowed red, reflecting the light of his kidou like a cat's in the night. His hair hung free from its normal braid, tumbling longer than normal over his shoulders. His already pale skin was translucent, white smoke swirling beneath its surface. A white half-mask hung loosely over the left side of his face.

"Fault on my part. I had never drained the blood of a Hollow before to use as a weapon. Apparently, it's a bad influence for my zanpakutou. It ruined her, and through her it ruined me. Now my beautiful face is gone." Midori didn't look remorseful and Renji couldn't tell if he truly wasn't or if it was just the effect of those eyes.

"I'd like to say I feel sorry for you… Too bad I don't enjoy lying." Renji kept his sword pointed at the former shinigami, his free hand sliding across the wall, hoping for an exit.

"You have to kill me… Only then can you escape."Midori's head fell to the side, his red eyes never leaving Renji.

"Is that all?" the redhead joked.

Midori smirked. "I do feel bad for Rukia-chan though. Yet another person she'll have to bury. I know she was fond of that maid. Shizue, wasn't it?"

Renji lunged forward, his shikai clanging with Midori's. "Bastard!" Midori shoved Renji away, the redhead tripping over a hollow limb. He stood quickly, looking around at the tight space they were in. 'Maybe…' He stepped back, his eyes on Midori. "Bankai, Hihio Zabimaru!"

Midori stepped back as the snake filled the small space. It pressed against the sides of the tower. "Are you insane? If you attack in here, you'll kill us both!"

Renji moved the snake's head to point it towards Midori. "Hikotsu Taiho!" The red beam lit up the pillar, blasting through one of the walls. Renji hid beneath the body of one of the hollows as the heat and smoke filled the air. When it cleared, he pushed aside the charred flesh, flashing towards the hole in the wall.

"Very good. Just what I'd expect from a captain." Midori brought his released zanpakutou down above Renji, it's blood red blade sinking into the sand as Renji flashed away. He pulled the curved blade out fast, tossing sand up into the air in Renji's direction.

"Gah!" Renji jumped back his left eye closed to try and get out the debris. "That was cheap. have destroyed any sense of pride." He flash stepped, spinning and striking Midori's blade, moving very much like Byakuya's senka. "You were much more frightening when you were a real shinigami. Now you're just a half-assed Vaizard!"

The sounds of flash steps filled the air. "ABARAI!" Soi Fon shouted. She began to draw her blade.

"NO!" he called back. "He's mine! This is not your concern." He lunged at Midori again, their swords crashing. He knew he was being selfish, that it was very uncaptain-like. The scythe swung, closing in on his head when it was stopped. Kira stood between Midori and his captain.

"Taicho. Please, at least let me fight with you. I know you hate him but I don't want you to fight alone."

Renji lowered his sword, reality settling in. This isn't what a Captain would do and he knew how Kira felt. Hell, up until yesterday, he'd been a lieutenant himself. "So you don't want me fighting alone, huh? Then let's kill this bastard."

"Hai, Taicho!" He released his zanpakutou, meeting swords with the half-hollow. Kira was easily pushed aside, red fire erupting across the desert as Renji released another volley of Hikotsu Taiho.

Soi Fon watched the three carefully before turning to her squad. "Cover them! Use your Kidou." She whirled back, quickly firing blue fire into the fray.

Midori flashed away, moving as fast as he could to get away. One shinigami was enough but not a dozen. The sand swirled through the air as he flew across the dunes. The sounds of Kidou and the screeching of Renji's bankai disappeared quickly. 'Wait.' He slid to a stop. 'It's too quiet.' Metal sliced through the air, and Midori's shoulder, nearly taking off his arm. He was tossed to the ground, his blood staining the sand. Renji stood over him, blade pointed at his throat.

"It's over, Midori Kuchiki."

Midori's eyes grew wide. "No! This won't end me!" He moved back, several feet from Renji. He pointed his own sword at the redhead. Kama to chishio glowed bright red. A tugging sensation came over Midori and his equally red eyes fell to his zanpakutou. His blood rose from the surface of his flesh and was drawn towards the blade. "No, stop!" He ordered. "Kama to chishio! Stop!" But his blood continued to flow into his sword, sapping at his strength.

Renji stared, unable to move. He wanted Midori dead, but by his own sword?

Midori threw his zanpakutou away into the sands. He turned to flash step away from it but fell to his knees. "No… C-can't be happening…" His blood still slithered through the air slowly. His breath caught, his arms gave out and Midori Kuchiki fell to the ground one last time.

Soi Fon flashed forward. "Is he dead? What happened?"

Renji stood, looking at the man. "He told me he had absorbed a lot of hollow blood… Maybe the evil was too much… Even for him."

"Turned on by his own zanpakutou… How fitting." She said.


Well well well! Honestly, thank you all for the reviews so far. I expect another chapter or two, can't leave Bya out of this. I enjoy reviews as much as I enjoy Dr Pepper so leave em if you can!