As promised, chapter 10 did not take as long as chapter 9 did.
Thanks for the new reviews. They put a smile on my face.
I think Eduard clearly picked up on what I was trying to do in chapter 6 and I'm really glad that you liked it. The development Cyris and Layna go through to the story is one of the most important elements.
As for darkmachines request. I'll say this, I really like the Privaron espada too. Like a lot of characters in bleach they show a lot of promise and in my personal opinion not too much is done with them. But then again Bleach is stocked full of characters. How they end up… I can't spoil that yet.
Grimmjow sat on a broken pillar, hands locked behind the back of his head. Before him stood his two discarded Fraccion, both were tired and seemed almost unable to stay on their feet. Their surroundings were damaged from the long fight the three had been through. Grimmjow spoke. "Aren't you two embarrassed of yourselves? Even if you join forces you can't injure me. If I was as weak as either of you I would have ripped out my own throat."
Shawlong sunk down to one knee, lowering his head. "I know there is a difference between us. You are a king and we are but your soldiers. It has always been like that, and that will never change. However, from now on we will fight and struggle to grow stronger. We intend to always be soldiers that you can count on."
Grimmjow appeared very annoyed at all of this. He looked away and shook his head, his hands unlocking and moving forward to be places on his knees. "Shut up about this soldier nonsense. You've done nothing but disgrace me. When I brought all of you to the Human world I did it so you could assist me. Instead one after the other you were cut down, like useless trash."
Illfort took a step forward, swinging his arm as he spoke. "We've gotten stronger. You should be able to tell the difference. We're not going to lose to Shinigami anymore. The next time we're going to beat them, you'll see."
The sixth Espada sighed. He didn't seem to know what to do.
Shawlong spoke. "Let us become your fraccion again. Also, let Cyris join our group. We've trained alongside her, she is a good warrior. I have confidence that the three of us will be able to aide your cause. Give us one more chance. This time we will not disappoint you."
There was a long silence as Grimmjow stared at the other two Arrancar. After about three minutes the blue haired man rose. "Meet me back here in thirty minutes." This said he turned around to walk away. "We still have a score to settle." A smile worked up on his lips as he left his two men behind.
Illfort looked at Shawlong, delighted and the older looking Arrancar gave him a nod. "Let's get healed up. We want to be at our full strength when Grimmjow calls on us."
Ulquiorra was quickly moving through the hallways of Las Noches. Something had been going on near his prisoner's cell and he didn't like disturbances over things he was in charge of. As he came around a bend he found that Stark, Lilynette and Cyris all present outside Orihime's cell.
"She looks boring." Lilynette was saying to Stark. The man did look bored, but he shook his head as though he didn't agree with her assessment.
"You look like a little brat." Cyris countered.
This gave rise to Lilynette trying to launch herself at Cyris, but Stark was holding his fraccion back. "Lillynette, just relax. If you two end up fighting it's going to be a pain. Just get along."
"Why are you here?" Ulquiorra asked. Though he didn't look like he was angry, his reiatsu was thick around him. The other three Arrancar were very much aware that he was running on a short fuse.
Stark pointed at Cyris, Cyris crossed her arms, only Lilynette answered with words. "The idiot brought me here. He said that it was going to be interesting to meet her. I figured that since he was the one who said it, she had to be something special. Let's face it, all Stark does is just lay around and do nothing. For someone to actually catch his interest, that person would have to be special right? But look at her! She's just so plain and normal. There is nothing special about her!"
"I don't think that I'm plain at all." Cyris told Lilynette. "However, I'll grant you this; between the two of us you're the special one." She twirled her finger near her ear before smirking.
Once again Stark needed to step in to stop Lilynette from assaulting Cyris.
Ulquiorra now walked up to Cyris, getting up in her face. "Why are you here?" He asked again, this time the question sounded more like a threat.
"I'm on your side." Cyris replied. "I'm not here to harm her; I'm here to make sure she doesn't get harmed. Lord Aizen said that she wasn't to be harmed, right? I'm just following orders. If you don't believe me, just ask her yourself. I haven't touched her."
"Your services here are no longer required. I will ensure her safety." The fourth espada stated before he opened the cell door. He gave Cyris one last look. "Leave."
Stark placed a hand on Cyris' shoulder. "Let's go." This said Stark lead the two women away from Inoue's cell. The red haired Arrancar kept looking back over her shoulder. She clearly didn't want to leave. "He'll do his duty no matter what. With him there she is in no danger at all. To think that you actually care about…"
Cyris slapped Stark's hand away. "Care about her? I… I don't care about her! She's a human. We're enemies."
Stark brushed his fingers through his hair. "If you say so. But if she was my friend, and if she really cared about me, I would make sure to cherish that bond we shared. Human or not, it wouldn't matter." Both Cyris and Lilynette looked at Stark in confusion. "Being all alone is a fate worse than death. These bonds that we all share are more important than anything else. So don't lose them." He placed his hand on Cyris' head and smiled at her, which gave cause to her to step back, a little startled.
Stark turned to Lilynette. "Let's go back to our room. I'm getting a little tired."
Lilynette turned to Cyris. "Despite you being really boring, I wouldn't mind playing with you some time." This said she turned to run after Stark.
Cyris watched them leave and when they were gone from sight she smiled. She wondered what Shawlong and Illfort were up to. Hopefully they had passed Grimmjow's test. She decided to go look for the duo.
Ichigo was running through the hallways, a dedicated look on his face. He was running with all his might, he had no time to waste. Quite suddenly he sensed someone above, leaping from one pillar to another. It was a dangerous reiatsu, an enemy had appeared. "Come out!" Ichigo shouted as he turned towards this new threat. Before he could do anything the figure suddenly missed his step and came crashing down. The impact looked quite painful. "Are you alright?" He asked, not sure what to make out of this Arrancar.
"TADAAAA!" The figure proclaimed as she smoke lifted and he appeared in all his glory. He was a strange looking man with a mustache. Ichigo could do nothing but stare at him. This guy was a real weirdo. "What's with that reaction!" The Arrancar demanded pointing at Ichigo dramatically. "Don't pretend that you're calm!"
Actually Ichigo felt strangely calm. Probably even calmer than he had felt before he had encountered this man. "I'm not pretending. I actually feel really relaxed."
The Arrancar struck a pose. "It doesn't matter. For soon you will be defeated. Now prepare yourself Shinigami. For I, Arrancar 103, the great Dordoni-sama, shall have the pleasure of crushing you here!"
Ichigo pulled forth his blade. "That sure is a large number. You must not be too strong. You certainly seem incredibly weak."
Dordoni launched himself at Ichigo, arms flaying wildly through the air as he closed the distance. "Go ahead and test whether I am weak or not. But don't come crying to me later, nino!" Ichigo tried to strike him down, but instead he was struck along the shoulder.
The teenager couldn't believe he had been struck he quickly turned around to face Dordoni again. "Getsuga Tenshou!" He shouted as a wave of dark energy shot towards the Arrancar. But the man didn't seem concerned at all.
Just before the energy struck he brought up his right leg and slammed the heel of his foot against it. With ease he split Ichigo's attack apart, sending the remnants slicing into the walls of the long hallway. "My my, didn't your mother ever teach you not to judge a book by its cover." He said as he smirked at Ichigo.
Meanwhile Ishida was in a large chamber filled with pillars. He was forced to leap from one sanctuary to another as the Arrancar kept on attacking him. "Could you stop trying to avoid my attacks?" She asked as another pillar was destroyed by her disc like weapon.
"You expect me to just stand still so you can kill me?" He asked as he pressed his back against another pillar.
The female Arrancar lashed out again, sending the disc spinning wildly and destroying Ishida's new hiding spot on impact. "Kahaha! There is no point in hiding. How many times have I told you now? You can't run from Ciru-"
This was the chance Ishida had been waiting for, a moment that she was distracted. He leaped from his hiding place and fired. But before his arrow could strike she pulled her metal disc back and stopped his reiatsu just before it struck her. "Cirucci. Could you please not attack me in the middle of my lines?" She asked, sounding just a little bothered. "Have some tact."
Ishida quickly sought another hiding spot as Cirucci made preparations to attack again. He charged his reiatsu into his weapon. He could not take her lightly. This battle could well become a lengthy one. But he could not afford to lose, too much was at stake.
Chad could not believe his eyes. A large muscular old man stood before him, a man even taller than he stood himself. A skull mask covered part of his face, but not enough of it that Chad could not recognize him anymore. "Grandfather?" He asked.
The Arrancar shook his head. "Who I am doesn't matter." Chad and the man stared at each other for a while in silence until Dios continued. "I spoke to the fire haired girl. I saw into her mind. You're strong, but you are troubled. Your true abilities are locked deep inside of you." Dios lifted up both arms and his reiatsu formed around his arms into two gloves that covered both his arms; they looked like exact duplicates of the glove that covered Chad's left arm.
Chad created some distance between himself and Dios. The Arrancar looked exactly like his old grandfather used to. And his powers were similar to his own. But his grandfather had been a good and peaceful man; his soul should not have gotten stuck in Hueco Mundo. The teenager could not mask his concerns as he brought up his fists, his own weapon forming around his left arm.
"You don't want to fight." Dios stated and in a flash he was gone. Chad suddenly felt a powerful strike hitting him right in the back. The large Mexican was thrown across the room and hit one of the walls. He fell down, rubble from the wall crumbling down on his fallen form. "You lost sight of me because your mind was not focused on the present, on the now." Dios continued as he advanced on Chad.
Chad worked his way out of the rubble. "Ichigo and the others need my help. I can't afford to lose."
Dios crossed his arms and shook his head. "I know you want to help your friends, but despite your words, you're not dedicated. There is a part of you that does not want to fight at all. A part that feels guilty for even being here. Because by raising your fists at all you've broken a promise. And a man who doesn't keep his promises, isn't really a man."
Chad felt like he was cut down. Dios hadn't even attacked him, but he felt like this fight was already over. Those words were the same words his grandfather often told him. Chad lowered his head in shame, his eyes covered by his dark hair. By fighting at all, had he betrayed everything that he was?
It had been a long since Inoue had been this happy. She was a little confused too, but mostly happy. It was the first time in a long time that she felt like she could really save Tatsuki. True Cyris and Layna were still something of a mystery, but right now she felt that Cyris had most of Tatsuki inside of her. Talking to Cyris was a little bit like talking to Tatsuki and that just made her feel really nostalgic. She had also changed her plans. She wanted to get Cyris out of Hueco Mundo first. Once they were back home they could figure the rest out there.
The door to her cell opened and Ulquiorra was standing there. He just looked at her for a while and then his eyes focused on the blood on her clothes and on one of the walls. "Who attacked you?" He asked, focusing his cold uncaring gaze on her.
Inoue looked away from him. Layna might have tried to kill her, but a part of Tatsuki could have ended up in the dark haired Arrancar. Because of that she didn't want Layna to get hurt no matter what she had tried to do to her. "I cut my self. But I'm alright now."
Ulquiorra roughly grabbed her by the cloth at her chest and pulled her up to her feet. "Lord Aizen does not want you harmed. Someone tried to do so anyway. That person will be punished. Tell me who it was." Orihime looked away, refusing to answer. "Was it the red haired one?" He asked.
Inoue turned to him and shook her head. "No. No it wasn't Cyris."
He released her. "Don't forget that Lord Aizen owns you now. You will be killed when he decides that he wishes you dead. No sooner and no later."
Orihime fell back onto her bed and then looked up at Ulquiora with strong deviant eyes. This puzzled the Espada, until now the girl had been broken and weak. But now she had changed. He realized that she must have sensed her friends. "Do you draw strength from your friends? Your companions have come here only to die. One after another they will fall. And you will only be able to sit here and sense their reiatsu slowly fading away. There is nothing left for you to do, but to despair."
The orange haired girl looked back at him; his words had hurt her confidence. But he could tell that there was still a glimmer of hope left within her. He turned away from her. 'Why, why wouldn't she accept that her fate was already sealed?' This girl was a mystery to her. Despite everything she refused to give up hope. He just could not comprehend her.
Somewhere else an argument was unfolding. "You know. Just because I said that I wanted to come and help Rukia, it didn't mean you had to come too!" Kiyone declared, almost spitting the words out at Sentaro. "You're always doing this!" She continued, pointing an accusing finger at him. "You're always copying me."
"You're the one that's always copying me!" Sentaro countered. "You knew I wanted to come and help Rukia, that's why you asked her before I had the chance to do so first. That is so unfair. You always do stuff like that! You were just trying to steal my position as lieutenant again, right?" The man smirked and looked away triumphantly.
"Your position! Your position? You're not the lieutenant of the thirteenth squad. If either of us deserves to be lieutenant it should be me! I'm always bringing the captain fresh tea!" Kiyone countered.
"And who is the one who always gets him clean pillows?" Sentaro asked.
"I'd hardly call those pillows clean." Kiyone noted.
"Why you…" Sentaro glared angrily at Kiyone, who glared right back at him.
Watching the argument stood an Arrancar, his arms crossed. His most notable feature was his orange colored afro. He had thought that he could test his strength. But the way this was going he could only test his patience. "Are you two done?" He asked, getting rather impatient. "I was about to challenge this guy to a fight until you ran in here." This last part was said to Kiyone.
The woman with short blond hair turned on the Arrancar. "Challenge him? Why challenge him? He's a weakling."
"It is alright Kiyone. Why don't you step back while I deal with this Arrancar. A lieutenant should protect his subordinates." Sentaro said, before covering his mouth with his right hand and laughing into it.
"NO WAY!"Kiyone shouted. "I'll fight him. I'm the one who should be lieutenant."
Finally the Arrancar decided he had had enough. He attacked, striking Sentaro across the face and hitting Kiyone in the belly. Neither was fast enough to defend and both were sent flying. After delivering the attack he straightened himself. "I am starting to think that my talents are wasted on the two of you. God has been cruel to force you to confront me. Allow me to use this moment to introduce myself. I am Gantenbainne, the 107th Arrancar."
Kiyone was the first to recover; she pulled her blade out of its sheath and eyed Gantenbainne. "Attacking a girl while she's still talking? That's just like something Sentaro would do. That settles it, I'm going to beat you."
Sentaro was holding his nose as he got to his feet, his sword already in his other hand. "What sort of ruffian would strike at ones face? I didn't think anyone besides Kiyone would go this low."
"Oh, will you cut it out already! I'm not like that at all. I am a cute innocent girl." Kiyone declared. "You're the bad one, always trying to make me out as some sort of horrible person. It's not fair." She waved her sword in his direction while she shouted.
"Like you're any better!" Sentaro countered.
Gantenbainne sighed. After guarding this place for so long, he had hoped for a real fight. But these two appeared only willing to fight each other. "Even if you two won't take this fight seriously. I will." He announced as he summoned more of his power. "You two had better prepare yourselves."
Both Sentaro and Kiyone turned to Gantenbainne, sensing the immense build up of power. There was no denying it. This opponent was powerful. And if they didn't work together, they would probably never win.
Layna was watching the fights through Szayel's surveillance system. She wasn't happy, not happy at all. Everything was falling apart. She didn't care about Nnoitra's plan or about anything else. All she wanted was Ichigo. Nothing more, nothing less. Nnoitra was next to her, arms crossed and a wide smile on his face. Their fraccion were behind them, also watching in silence. "This is pointless." Layna said. "That fool isn't going to defeat Ichigo."
For a while now they had watched Ichigo fight Dordoni. The privaron espada had been a challenging opponent, but when the substitute shinigami called on his hollow transformation the fight started to become one sided. It didn't look like Dordoni was going to be able to fight on par with Kurosaki anymore. She smiled, a little proud of him. "A weakling like a discarded espada isn't going to defeat Ichigo. You should have gotten better pawns."
Nnoitra passed Layna a glance. "These are just the preliminaries. It'll give me the chance to find a worthwhile opponent for myself."
Szayel tipped his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Let's not forget that every warrior that falls will fuel our own strength. Thanks to my new brilliant research we'll be able to drain all of them of their reiatsu. When all of these battles are over, we'll be the strongest in Las Noches." He smiled. "Perhaps even stronger than Lord Aizen."
"Fine. Just as long as I get what I was promised." Layna stated.
Szayel shrugged. "One more or less won't matter. I think the others will hold enough power."
The arrancar watched as Dordoni and Ichigo had their final confrontation. The two warriors leaped at each other and after an exchange of blows they both landed on their feet. They stood there a moment before Dordoni sunk down to his knees. The fight was over.
Szayel rose to his feet. "Now it's time to make our move." He gestured to the shadows. "Exequias. Collect Dordoni." From the shadows a dozen men stepped forward.
The first among them took a bow and kept his head lowered. "As you command espada." They took their leave, disappearing into the shadows again.
Once they were gone Nnoitra turned and walked away, his fraccion quickly following after him. "I am done waiting. I'm going to find someone to fight." He passed the pink haired man one last glance. "Szayel make sure that Aizen doesn't catch wind this. I don't want my fight to be interupted."
Layna watched Nnoitra, she knew he was dangerous. Dangerous enough to hurt Ichigo. "If you fight Ichigo…."
Nnoitra shook his head. "I'm not going to go after him. I want an opponent that I can break. Your demands take the fun out of my fight."
Layna turned to Menoly and Loly. "We're going too. The sooner we crush Ichigo's companions, the sooner this is over."
Menoly and Loly actually looked uncertain, whether they weren't sure if they should follow her orders. "Layna. Is it wise to go against Lord Aizen? I'm not sure he'll like all of this? And he is really strong, if he finds out we're all in trouble." Menoly said while fidgeting a little.
"Lord Aizen is power incarnate. We should try to appease him." Loly agreed.
Nnoitra smiled at the two girls from where he was standing. "Just listen to the two of you. Aren't you obedient little rats? All you can do is scatter around at Aizen's feet like the vermin you are." He turned his attention to Layna. "Keep your rodents in line or I'll do it for you."
Loly and Menoly were clearly insulted, but both were too frightened of Nnoitra to speak up to him. Instead they looked at Layna, clearly expecting her to take up their cause. "We're here for something important." She told the two girls. "I can't afford to lose this chance." Layna realized that she was stronger with these two with her, so she decided to use some kind words. "I am counting on you two to be there when I confront Ichigo. Don't worry; I'll make sure you'll be rewarded."
The two fraccion exchanged glances and then nodded. "Alright." Menoly said.
"Good." Layna replied with a smile. "Now let's go crush some intruders."
Kurosaki looked down at Dordoni who was lying on his back. "You are too sweet, you're like chocolate." The arrancar told him. "You went to great lengths to keep me alive. Do you think any opponent you face here is going to show you the same kindness?"
Ichigo put his sword away. "I'm not asking for a trade. I'm just doing what feels right."
Dordoni laughed at his words. "That is exactly what is wrong with you. You're trying to do what is right. Instead you should do what is required to win."
The teenager turned his back to his beaten opponent. He knew that there was truth in his words, but it was hard to take them completely to heart. When facing opponents who weren't truly evil, he just couldn't lay the finishing blow. He didn't think he was going to change in that regard. He started running, heading towards Inoue and hopefully Tatsuki too.
'I guess Layna really was lying after all.' He thought to himself as he ran through the long hallways. 'Perhaps it really was all too good to be true. But maybe the part about Tatsuki being inside Layna was true? He had to find out the truth before he left Hueco Mundo. Only if he found out where Tatsuki was could he save her. This wasn't going to be easy. And with all the espada still waiting up ahead, it could only get harder.'
So Chapter 10 had a lot of stuff going on in it. I'll be honest, I've tried to push the story forward as quickly as possible A fight like Dordoni's is almost exactly the same as in the manga so I left it out. Chapter 11 will have MORE FIGHTING! Might actually see Layna in her first serious fight.