"Well... that was interesting," Ukitake sat with his old teacher Yamamoto and his fellow captain Shunsui Kyoraku. They had just finished their interview with the giant Hercules, and it wasn't that the big man had been uncooperative that had all three of them sitting here in shock: the incredulousness of all three captains was due to the fact that the tale they had been told was almost too fantastic to believe… and yet. Either all three of them had been faced with the greatest liar of all time, or the man had actually been telling the truth. And that possibility was more frightening than any of the other possibilities.
"I never knew you had such a gift for understatement, Ukitake," Kyoraku said as he fingered his bamboo hat in both hands.
"Oh, I have my moments," Ukitake said with a chuckle, his hand rubbing the back of his head.
"Even so," Shunsui went on a little bit more grimly, "if he was telling the truth then we are in for one serious fight when this Kratos decides to drop in for tea."
Yamamoto nodded, agreeing with his subordinates' sentiments.
"Do you mean to tell me," Yamamoto said, opening one eye and staring very hard at the soul in front of them, "that the Soul King himself sent you to us?"
Hercules looked bewildered at the sudden change in atmosphere in the room.
"Well, yes; why do you ask? Is that bad," the giant asked.
"Well, no, not exactly," Ukitake said slowly.
"The Soul King, my old teacher, has not been seen in Soul Society for nigh on 2,000 years since he and his family retired to a different dimension," Yamamoto replied.
"Oh," the giant said rather dumbly.
Hercules then just shrugged his shoulders, "Well, I do not pretend to know all the ways or motives of the gods: what they do is their business and it is not for mere mortals to question the ways of the gods."
"Sound judgment and good philosophy," Yamamoto replied, "but even so, a fantastic a claim such as that would have to be verified," Hercules sighed, "I suppose I could tell you what he looked like; would that be enough?"
Yamamoto raised one eyebrow, "You saw him yourself?"
"Yes," Hercules closed his eyes, "I recall him wearing a white robe similar to the ones you wear with a string of prayer beads in one hand and an enormous black and white reaping scythe in the other. He wore a demon mask that covered his face and his eyes were yellow.
Yamamoto closed his eyes again and sighed, the description matching everything he knew of his old master, "That is my old teacher. What did he say to you?"
"I remember he said, "Do you wish for another chance at life?" I said yes and he told me of this place and its comings and goings. He told me that I would undoubtedly be approached by Soul Society to become one of them. He told me not to refuse them because my strength would aid his sons in the coming war."
All three captains' heads shot up at that, "War?"
"What do you mean?" Ukitake said standing from his seat, "Who is it?"
"Now, now, calm down, I don't know," Hercules replied, holding both of his large hands in a submissive gesture. "All he said was something about Vasto Lordes stirring in Hueco Mundo or something along those lines. Does that mean anything to you all?"
Yamamoto stared hard at the giant; he was telling the truth, or at least the truth as far as he knew it.
Ukitake and Shunsui did not like the way this conversation was starting to turn and this stuff about Vasto Lordes stirring in Hueco Mundo was not exactly a pleasant thought, either.
"Sit down, both of you," Yamamoto ordered. The two captains composed themselves and sat back down.
"Did he say nothing else?" the Commander asked.
"Not to me, at any rate," Hercules said with a grin, "he might have said something else to the one you're so hyped up about; you know, the one whose reiatsu signature almost matches mine. That's more than likely one of my numerous half-siblings," Hercules again looked embarrassed, "you see, my father - while being the King of the gods - was rather licentious in his ways,"
"Wait, wait, wait one minute!" Shinsui said, his eyes coming full open, "your father was the king of the gods?"
"Of my world, yes," Hercules answered, "you see, when the gods overthrew their parents, the Titans, the three greatest of the gods drew lots for the three greatest realms of the world."
Seeing the blank looks he was getting, Hercules elaborated, "Those three realms are the sky, the sea and the underworld or what you people would call hell. Zeus, my father, won the kingship over the sky, his younger brother, Poseidon, won mastery over the sea and the final brother, Hades, was made lord over the underworld. Understand that in our world there were no rules about whom gods could fall in love with. If a god fell in love with a mortal woman, they could keep seeing each other for as long as that god saw fit; well, as long as they kept it quiet, and really nobody could complain except when a mortal hero was born."
"Mortal hero?" Yamamoto asked.
"Like me," Hercules said, thumping his chest, "I am the son of Zeus king of the gods, where do you think my massive strength comes from?" he asked with a grin.
"I see," Yamamoto said thoughtfully, "so the blood of gods grants certain abilities, correct?"
"That's right," Hercules nodded, "now, it can vary from hero to hero because there were different gods with different attributes like Helios, god of the sun, who would grant his suns unnatural strength and near perfect physical form, Aphrodite - Goddess of Love - who would grant her children magnificent beauty, and Poseidon would grant his children some of his own mastery over the sea."
"So you're telling us that in your world there are such things as half-gods?" Ukitake asked.
"Well, we call ourselves demi-gods, but yes, that is correct," Hercules said, "and as I said before, my father was known for his… erm, less than faithful ways to his wife, Hera - the goddess of fidelity. All of her children were gods themselves like Ares, the God of War, so as you can imagine, this hero might be any number of heroes. If I saw him, I might be able to help you because I knew all my half-brothers, but without that…" Hercules shrugged helplessly.
"Well, we managed to obtain a partial description of him," Shunsui said.
"That might be helpful; what does he look like?" Hercules asked.
"He has white skin and a red tat-"
"WHITE SKIN!" Hercules shouted, jumping to his feet a look of anger mixed with fear clouding his face, his reiatsu spiking furiously . He abruptly turned away and seemed driven by an insane emotion, his hands clenching and unclenching. All three captains stood, looking confused - Shunsui and Ukitake had their hands on their swords just in case.
"Are you alright, Hercules?" Yamamoto said, his hand gripping his staff harder than normal, ready to bare the steel of Ryuujin Jakka.
Hercules mastered himself and turned back towards them, "Yes… I-I'm sorry, I was not master of myself for a moment, I just… I never thought… why would… him of all damned heroes, Why? Why him!
"So you know him," Yamamoto said, motioning the group to sit once again.
"Oh, yes, I know him," Hercules stated through gritted teeth, "I know him as the Slayer of Gods."
All three captains sat in shock as Hercules sat back down and continued, "That man's name is Kratos and he alone of all my brothers is the most feared, for in the cause of vengeance he murdered Ares and claimed his throne on Olympus for himself. Had such a thing happened before? No, this is why he was feared; he destroyed what should have been immortal. He shook the very foundations of Mt. Olympus and finally brought them crashing to earth."
"Do you mean to say - !" Yamamoto began and Hercules nodded, "Yes. He is the one who destroyed the gods of my world and brought my world… to an end."
The captains stared in shock at the revelation that a man ended a world.
"Although," Hercules said, looking down at the floor, "I suppose I cannot blame him."
"What?" Ukitake asked, rising from his seat, "why? How can you not blame someone for ending an entire reality, an entire world?"
Hercules looked up and his face turned sad, "because it truly was not his fault that his soul became as hard as steel. He was caught in a fate so terrible that lesser men would have broken under such trials as that man went through. I will tell you now and I will not take it back that that man has been through more hell than anyone in this room."
Hercules looked down at the floor again, "After all, what man can forget being tricked by a god into killing his own wife and child, into fighting his own brother to the death and being betrayed by the very gods he swore to serve again and again?" Hercules looked up, his face hard, "any lesser man would have given up and resigned himself to death. But not him. Never him. He clung to the tenant to which he was born. Spartans die before they surrender, death before dishonor, never ceases to fight until the crown of victory is in your hand."
Yamamoto sat, thinking over the information they had received and he did not like it one bit; the 80th killer was without a doubt this Kratos, but the question that was burning in his mind now was why? Why would his old sensei give this man an opportunity in this world to wreak havoc? What could this mean, was their world the next one to end? Or was this a test to see if they would stand firm against the tide that now threatened the walls of Soul Society?
Yamamoto gripped his cane harder: this man, this Kratos, could it be possible that he has retained some kind of power from his world? The power of the God of War! If so, Yamamoto did not want to think about the consequences of that.
"What do you want to do, Yama-Jii?" Kyoraku Shunsui asked, his face worried.
"Should we keep this from the other captains?" Ukitake Jushiro wondered out loud, "but how can we justify not telling them? I hate to think of what would happen if we lost one of our captains to this man and if he had known what we know…"
Ukitake shook his head, the implications obvious; Shunsui nodded at his old friend.
"It's a tough choice either way," Shunsui said, putting his hat back on his head.
"I have decided," Yamamoto intoned standing, "I will personally inform all of the captains but they will be forbidden to tell their subordinates or make it generally known what this Kratos is or what he is capable of. We will tell them to keep their subordinates away from any area Kratos may choose to assault. We can only hope that his intentions aren't completely hostile towards us."
"Agreed," his two students said together.
Sajin Komamura was occupied with writing reports in his office when he received a knock on the door.
"Come in," he called.
His lieutenant, Iba Tetsuzaemon, knelt in the doorway, "pardon me, Taichou, but there is someone here to see you. He is waiting in the barracks training ground."
"I see. Very well," Komamura replied, "I will be there shortly."
Komamura never believed he would meet a man bigger than himself. Well, himself being a fox made it rather a moot point, but even so...
That was before he made it to the training grounds of his division and saw a man that was taller than any captain in the Gotei 13 and that included Zaraki and his spike hair. Of course, he also might have been surprised by what the man was doing: at the moment, a crowd of 7th squad members were watching him work on the weights he himself used. He was lifting slabs of metal that weighed almost seven hundred pounds, the slabs each weighed a hundred pounds and could be added to by a system of levers. The jaw-dropping thing was that Komamura couldn't feel him using any reiatsu to help himself lift that amount of weight and he was still lifting it.
The seventh squad members cheered for him and a few passed money around as there had been a few bets on the giant's strength, as he finished his final rep and set the weights back to earth.
"Impressive," Komamura stated as he joined the group; the seventh squad members all bowed and greeted him as strode over to them while the man simply looked at him: his face was of the handsome sort, Komamura supposed, at least according to human standards. His hair was short and brown, his eyes grey and small. Across his chest were the marks of some kind of animal's claws were visible.
"I take it you are the Captain of the Seventh squad, Sajin Komamura," the man stated, looking him up and down.
"That I am. Who might you be, stranger?" Komamura asked.
"Ah, my name is Hercules; I was told by your Sotaichou that I was to report to this division," the newly named Hercules said.
The squad members went back to their training routines and Komamura motioned for the giant to follow him back to the main barracks. While they walked, Hercules gave Komamura a scroll on which was detailed the Sotaichou's directive to train him in the Shinigami arts as it would be impractical to send a man to the academy.
"I see," Komamura said, "so... Hercules, was it? You are to join my squad?"
"Aye, sir, the Sotaichou decided I would be best suited to your squad and I have heard that your squad is one of the toughest besides the eleventh," Hercules responded with a smile.
"Hm, that we are," Komamura responded; although he did not like being compared to the battle-happy eleventh squad, he could understand that it was meant as a compliment.
"We are known as the heavy hitters of the 13 Court Guards: when we meet a tough opponent, we go right through them and then move on to the next one," Komamura stated with pride. Hercules laughed heartily, "Good! I enjoy using my own two arms on my opponents, and there is nothing as boring as trying to go along with some deep convoluted strategy. Hell, who needs strategy when these," Hercules indicated his own two fists, "will suffice?"
"True, but overconfidence in one's own strength has led to the downfall of many," Komamura stated as they walked together, "do not let pride in your own abilities make you look down upon others abilities."
"I will heed your advice," Hercules said, a far off look in his eyes, "ah, if only someone had told me those words years ago, I might not have met my end because of my pride."
"You still remember your lifetime?" Komamura asked, glancing at the giant.
"Aye, and that life will be a lesson to me and the example I will hold before my eyes before I look down on anybody again," Hercules stated solemnly.
"A wise thought, unfortunately I have paperwork that binds me to my desk. Iba!" Komamura called.
"Hai, Taichou," his sunglasses-wearing lieutenant appeared on one knee.
"Be sure to show Hercules around the barracks and introduce him to the rest of the division," Komamura said before flash-stepping away.
Two days later in the human world
Kratos watched Ichigo limp home after he had gotten through training him. The boy was impressive, his capacity for growth was unnatural, and in just three days the boy had mastered the attack of his Zanpakuto: Getsuga Tenshou, huh, Kratos smiled to himself while keeping his stoic Spartan exterior. Kratos glanced at the sky: it was nearing dusk but he felt no desire to sleep. Instead, as he gazed into the gathering dusk, he felt a different desire, the desire to hunt. While training, he had been forced to be inactive, confined to the cavern beneath Urahara's shop. It felt nice to be free of the confines of that cramped space.
He was also sure that he would never again be allowed to use it. Urahara had almost cried when he had seen the nearly destroyed state of his basement.
"Uh, Kratos-san," Urahara stated in a slightly trembling voice as he surveyed the carnage, " Unless you intend on helping me rebuild my basement after you use it I really don't think I can ever let you use it again!"
Kratos stared at the man who seemed on the verge of tears, "Hmph. If you say so. I am going to see that Ichigo gets home safely; considering the state I left him in, the smallest hollow could destroy him."
Urahara turned and drew something from his sleeve, "well, if you insist on going out, then at least wear this."
He held a small black chain in his hand that looked like it was meant to be worn like a wristband.
"What is it?" Kratos grunted, taking the small thing in his hand.
"It's a limiter," Urahara explained, "it limits your reiatsu output to one-fifth of what you would normally have so humans won't sense and be affected by your power."
Kratos slid the thing around his left wrist and instantly felt the decrease in his reiatsu.
"Whenever you take it off, all the reiatsu that has been siphoned off will return to you so please be careful with it," Urahara warned as Kratos examined the chain on his wrist.
"Very well," Kratos said, leaping up to the trapdoor that led out of the basement.
"Now, then," Urahara said, turning back to the blackened and charred remains of his basement, "where do I start?"
Luckily, Ichigo made it home and was taking a well deserved sleep. Kratos then noticed the lights of the city and decided to go and see this new world.
One hour later
Kratos was fascinated as he gazed upon a world that was not his but nonetheless intrigued him. Every kind of luxury or item he could imagine and that he had seen in a more drab form in the marketplaces he had walked was on display. People milled about unconscious of him or his walking among them.
There were so many things to see that he hardly knew what to see first or last. The nightlife in Karakura town was just getting started: the night was young, after all.
Then he sensed it; he forced himself to keep walking as if unaffected but he started to take a route to a more solitary place, a reiatsu signature following him from a distance. An almost imperceptible crack appeared in the stoic face of the Spartan warrior: whoever it was - he or she - was about to find out the folly of attempting to surprise a Spartan.
Tia Harribel gazed down on the humans that milled about below her, heedless of her presence. The techniques that she and the other arrancars had been taught came in handy when scouting the human world.
Looking down from the skyscraper she sat upon, her green eyes narrowed as she caught sight of a strangely colored human walking along a riverbank in a park on the outskirts of downtown-Kakaura. The reiatsu he gave off sent a shiver down her spine.
Such power, she thought as the she eyed the man continuing on his way, oblivious to her presence, you interest me, mortal. Who are you to posses such power, her eyes narrowed as she saw him stop close to the river bank and sit Indian-style and seemed to be meditating.
At the very least, Harribel thought, you will provide me with a decent meal. Her finger hooked into the loop of her Zanpakuto that she kept on her back, slowly drawing it and spinning it into her hand. To catch one of this caliber, she was truly lucky and she shivered in delight at the thought of consuming such glorious reiatsu. Damn, this being's spiritual pressure had her licking her lips beneath the remains of her hollow mask that covered her neck and lower jaw.
Slowly descending from her perch, she kept herself a few feet of the ground so as not to alert this being to her presence. As she neared him, though, his spiritual pressure got more and more dense until she was only a few feet from him, her sword poised to strike. With a triumphant smile she lunged...
...only to have him disappear.
Harribel's eyes widened, then quickly she soinidoed away to avoid the two flaming blades that zipped through where she had been standing a moment before. Harribel appeared further down the bank, the oddly-colored human standing there with two burning blades in his hands. He was crouched like some predator waiting to strike, his hard grey eyes burning into hers. Harribel panted, glancing down she saw the two rips in her jacket; that had been too close, he had fooled her into thinking he was normal because he did not wear a black shinigami outfit. Harribel gritted her teeth, "Who are you?" She questioned.
The human in front of her did not respond; instead, he flared his reiatsu. Harribel's eyes widened in shock: had she known he possessed this level of reiatsu, she would not have tried to grab a quick snack. But she did not have time to think as the strange human shot forward, slamming into her blade with his burning sword. Harribel's arms groaned in protest as they were pushed to their limit trying to fight off his sword. Deciding that his physical strength was too great, she sonidoed behind him, trying to strike at his blind spot. Her blade met his second sword as he swiftly turned trying to slash her midsection in two.
Again Harribel was forced to Sonido to safety, panting; she watched as he slowly turned towards herm crouching in that low stance again. Bastard, she thought, he is playing with me! I have to end this soon: I cannot face him here at my present level and if I do, Soul Society will know. Harribel gritted her teeth in frustration and sheathed her sword; the strange human noticed her action and lowered his blades only by a fraction.
"You are strong, stranger." The human did not respond, but rather stood to his full height, his blades still in his hands.
"Forgive me, but I cannot fight you here," she said.
"Who are you?" the question was asked slowly.
Harribel cocked her head to one side, "it is considered polite to give ones name before asking for another's."
The strange human placed both blades on his back, "Kratos."
"Harribel, Tia Harribel," she answered. They stared at one another for a long moment, "Why did you not attempt to strike me when I sheathed my blade?" she asked.
Kratos' eyes narrowed and he turned his back to her, "I do not kill those who have lost their will to fight. Besides, I do not know you and asides from attacking me, you have done me no wrong."
Harribel raised one eyebrow, "Surely, you must know what I am."
Kratos grunted, "A hollow."
Harribel stared at him again, "you are not alarmed."
"You pose no threat to me, woman," Kratos said walking away.
Harribel's eyes narrowed as she watched him walk away before giving a small smirk, "You interest me... human."
"Maa, Aizen-Taichou, I assume you had a meeting with the Soutaichou, same as me," Ichimaru Gin walked beside his leader along with Tosen.
"I did indeed," Aizen replied with a hint of a fascinated smile on his face, "I trust your meeting with the Soutaichou was as interesting and enlightening as my own?"
"Oh, of course," Gin replied, "still, what I would like to know is what are you going to do? I would think you would be slightly put off by something like outside interference in our plans. And not only that by Divine Royal interference."
Tosen tensed slightly: Gin was Aizen's first pupil and therefore was privileged to speak more freely with their master but Aizen only smiled at Gin's question.
"I will freely admit that I am intrigued," Aizen replied, a thoughtful look crossing his face, "this incident proves one neither can nor should make theories without sufficient data. I had come to an entirely erroneous conclusion concerning the 80th district incident. I had hypothesized that it was the work of one of my failed experiments but I am relieved that it was not so."
Aizen tapped one finger against his cheek, "Still, I am more than interested in the actual culprit."
Tosen nodded, "A being that has already touched divine power and perhaps still wields it. A formidable advisory. We cannot approach this demigod lightly if that man Hercules is anything to go by."
"Nor will we," Aizen said; actually, Aizen was even more interested in the 80th killer than he let his subordinates know but was also interested in that man, Hercules, a giant with more strength than brains, but even with that handicap, that kind of raw strength coming from his heritage alone was quite intriguing. Still, someone who could bring down the legendary Jidanbo without any sort of formal Shinigami training was not someone to be taken lightly.
The fact that he and the 80th killer might be an answer for him specifically, an enemy that the Soul King himself had set against him, sent a shiver down his spine. That he was worthy of divine notice that his powers had finally been strong enough to cause even the Soul King to notice made him sigh in delight. Aizen knew that the activities he involved himself in could not remain secret forever and he had prepared for such contingencies. His Zanpakuto made that easier with its powers of illusion but Aizen knew down to the darkest pits of his black heart that the Soul King's eyes could not remain blind forever.
After all, he could not expect the true ruler of Soul Society to not see through his illusions …eventually.
"We will do nothing for the moment except proceed as planned," Aizen said with finality, "we will keep away from this man for the moment and observe. After all, as our beloved Soutaichou has decreed us to keep our subordinates away from this man, it would not be prudent to engage him directly."
"Hai," his subordinates replied.
"Lesse," Ichigo opened his window and stared out at the night sky just like old man Urahara had wanted.
"I've got one helluva bad feeling about this," Ichigo said with a grim expression on his face, looking out again at the city, "well, at least there is a nice breeze out tonight."
Suddenly, something sparkled in the distance and then a ball that seemed to be made of paper flew into his room and splashed against his wall, covering it in crimson liquid that looked oddly like blood.
"Wh-what the hell is that bastard doing to my room!" Ichigo wondered out loud as the liquid flowed down the wall, forming a message that read.
Cometh immediately to the front of Urahara's Store
"What the hell, that looks like some dying message someone would leave at the sight of a massacre! That had better wash off, damnit!" Ichigo shouted at the wall, then blinked as the liquid revealed something else, "Huh? More message?"
Anyone who looks at this and thinks something normal like it's a dying message at the scene of a massacre…
…obviously has no talent for comedy."
"Shut the hell up!" Ichigo yelled throwing his pillow at the wall.
Ichigo made sure his sisters were asleep before walking out the front door, "See you Yuzu, Karin, Pops." And with a determined look he boldly…
"GGGOOOOOODDDDDDD MMMMORNIIIIINGGG, IIIICCHHIIGOOO!"
...until he was forced to dodge his insane father trying to elbow drop him from the roof and ended up getting a face full of concrete.
"You were able to dodge that attack - you truly are my son."
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Later at Urahara's store
"Wow, this is so cool," Inoue Orihime clapped her hands as she stared at the massively reconstructed cavern beneath Urahara's store, "It's like a secret base."
"Really! I, Tessai, am deeply moved," a crying Tessai appeared in front of the young woman, "what a magnificent reaction!"
"Oh, it was nothing," Orihime said rubbing the back of her head.
"Oi, Ichigo," the voice belonged to Ishida Uryuu, "where is this supposedly badass teacher of yours?"
"The Hell if I know," Ichigo shot back, "Oi, Geta-Boshi (Hat n' Clogs), where the hell is Kratos-sensei?"
"Ah, Kratos-san should be here any moment," Urahara said, "I believe he is retrieving his favorite book from the library."
"Ah, his favorite book, I see… wait, Kratos-sensei has a favorite book?" Ichigo looked shocked.
"Yes. I think the title was something along the lines of The Art of War by Sun Tzu."
Ichigo sweat dropped, "I don't even want to imagine…"
"Imagine what?" Kratos said, appearing behind Ichigo.
"WWWAAAAGGGHHH," Ichigo nearly jumped out of his Shinigami outfit, "Dude, don't do that!"
"What?" Kratos replied cocking his head to the side.
"Heh, never mind," Ichigo said knowing he couldn't win in a fight against the man. His companions, on the other hand, were gazing at the large man with fascination. Uryuu couldn't believe the reiatsu the man was giving off, Orihime looked slightly frightened of the warrior in front of her - everything about him screamed danger. Chad was having the same thoughts, his recently found reiatsu senses screaming that this man was one he did not want to piss off.
"Yosh," Urahara shouted, getting everyone's attention, "Now listen up, people! I am going to give you instructions for getting into Soul Society…"
"…so you'll only have about four minutes to get through. Understood?"
The group simply stared at him as if he was crazy, "Do you wish for me to flay you alive?"
The simple question came from Kratos who had one eyebrow raised; Urahara raised an eyebrow and quickly snapped open a repaired fan. Kratos looked rather dumbfounded that he would go that far to preserve his fan, get a new one already. "Well, you see, that's as long as I can keep it open. If you go through it at your maximum speed and not doubt that you will reach the end, you'll make it."
"I see," Kratos said, narrowing his eyes at the man.
"I do not see thank you very much," Ishida protested, shoving his glasses back farther onto his nose, "what has our doubt got to do with anything?"
"Fool," Kratos said, rolling his eyes, "if you have doubt at the beginning of a battle, you have already lost half of it."
"Correct," Urahara said cheerfully, "now, here is the Senkai gate." Urahara made a weird motion as a ornamental gate opened before the group.
"Now don't forget, run as fast as you can and don't look back."
After one long run with an irritating Quincy bitching about weird train like spirits...
"Remind me to hit that idiot when we get back," Kratos commented to Yoruichi as he dusted himself off, "was there any reason to come hurtling out of the sky?"
"Well, we're here, anyway," Yoruichi said.
"Damn, that was messed up - this isn't what I signed up for," Kratos rolled his eyes at the Quincy's complaining; "I didn't think I would have to use my spare cape so soon."
Ichigo and Chad just stared as Uryuu pulled out a second cape and elegantly put it around his shoulders. Kratos raised one eyebrow and then shrugged; in all honesty, he did not want to know.
"Th-That freak... he brought a spare," Ichigo mumbled and Chad just grunted.
After walking for a while, Yoruichi led them to a spot where they met an old man sipping tea. Kratos was - to be brutally blunt - bored and bad things happen when a Spartan is bored. Usually what happens is the strongest thing closest to said Spartan gets attacked and mutilated…rather badly. In the meantime, the ghost of Sparta tried to meditate and commune with his Zanpakuto. Kratos found that while he did not particularly care for the three beings who had become his Zanpakuto, he found that it was rather a fitting fate for those who had stood up to him. To be forever bound to the one you had been defeated by, serve, live, fight, and when the time came, die side by side. The genius to this whole formula was the three spirits in his Zanpakuto were the three most self-absorbed and selfish Zanpakuto who only thought of themselves but now for survival's sake were forced to work together with the one being they all had a justifiable reason to hate completely. Kratos grinned to himself at the irony.
Suddenly, while Yoruichi was talking to the old man, the group heard the sound of hooves on the ground; again, rather suddenly, a man wearing a stupid pair of sunglasses bust through the door to the house the group sat in and the group was introduced to Ganju Shiba.
Of course this didn't go over with Kratos very well as Ganju and Ichigo hit it right off… erm, I mean tried to kill each other.
Trying to talk things over never went well with either of them so when Ichigo punched Ganju across the floor for getting in his face, Kratos knew they were going to be lifelong friends. Wonderful. First, they have to get rid of the notion that they want to kill each other, Kratos mused, thinking back to the days when he had been a newbie and had struck up a similar relationship with another new recruit. The two of them had been total opposites and yet they found their skills complimented each other.
"What the hell did you hit me for, uh? You pickin' a fight?"
"That's totally my line! You bust in here and start getting on my case, you boar riding ape man!"
"Boar riding ape man?"
"What're you RETARDED!"
"No I ain't!"
"I got a name, dammit!"
"Is it Boar-ney or Boar-kinson!"
"What'd you say!"
"You heard me!"
Okay, by this time, Kratos was getting irritated, so he stood up, grabbed both of them amid their protests and dumped them outside, and then went back in and closed the door behind him.
"Oi, Kratos-sensei what the hell was that for!" Ichigo shouted from outside the door.
"Yeah, dude, not cool!"
"You were being too loud," Kratos said simply as the others just stared as he went back into his meditative trance, "get your bonding done out there but not where I can hear it."
Even the crickets stayed silent this time as the entirety of that district was treated to a massive double voiced, "WHAT!"
"So that's the gate where the Shinigami live, huh? Funny - the street looks way different from over here," Ichigo inquired, staring at the massive structure in front of them.
"Yep, but don't even think about…" Yoruichi began, not finishing in time for Ichigo to actually hear and charge the gate.
"Fool! We can't just assault the gate like that!" Yoruichi screamed after the orange haired Shinigam.
"Don't worry, I'll get him," Kratos said, walking after the young fool; before he had taken even ten steps, however, he saw a giant jumping down from the top of the gate, "ICHIGO, WATCH OUT!" he roared after his student.
Fortunately, Ichigo saw the big man coming and was able to hop back out of the way, "It's been a long time…"
Ichigo glanced up at the massive figure before him, "…since anyone tried to come through the gate of Pure Souls without a pass."
The giant Jidanbo stood before the young soul reaper, "long time since I've had a visitor."
The giant almost looked look a giant ape with a red fez and sideburns.
"I'll take good care of you, little boy."
Kratos stopped out of sight of the giant, he knew once he was seen all of Soul Society would be here in a minute. He could feel a few other shinigami, one of at least lieutenant level; well, now, that just wouldn't do to have lieutenant running off squealing to his Captains. Ares decided this would be a good moment to drop in, what are we doing, waiting outside the - wow, that's one big ape. Kratos rolled his eyes, 'no, you think?' 'Let's just see how well the boy plays his cards with this one,' he thought, folding his arms and leaning against the wall.
Kratos watched the boy defeat the giant handily; he sweat-dropped when the giant started crying over his axes. 'That is just plain sad to watch,' Ares readily agreed, 'so can we kill the idiot, already?' Once again Kratos rolled his eyes: with Ares it was always kill this kill that. Then again, he was almost the same way so who was he to talk?
Kratos' thought was interrupted by the arrival of the captain; he instantly hid his reiatsu signature.
"Oi! Who the hell are you!" Ichigo shouted at the strange fox-faced man who just suddenly appeared in front of both him and Jidanbo.
"This ain't good," the fox-faced man continued to walk forward, "what do you think you're doing, Jidanbo? you're supposed to guard this gate, right?"
"Ichimaru-Taichou, forgive me but I lost so I have to open the gate," Jidanbo replied, shaking at what the captain might do.
"That's not quite right, Jidanbo-san," Gin said, continuing to smile with his hand on his sword, "when a gatekeeper loses," Gin drew his sword and swiped it at Jidanbo's left arm, a cut almost instantly appearing, "he is supposed to die."
Gin was forced to bring up his Zanpakuto as a massive cleaver that looked like a giant butter knife aimed to cut him in half top to toe.
The smile never left Gin's face but Ichigo was pissed, "what the hell do you think you're doing you sunavabitch!"
Yoruichi, who had finally managed to catch up to the group, thought 'that's my line.'
Ichigo pointed his sword at the still smiling captain, "Don't you come out afterward and expect to give orders, ya fox-faced bastard!"
"Any piece of shit that attacks an unarmed man without a second thought… is mine to kill!"
Gin, on the other hand wasn't phased, by Ichigo's threatening attitude, "What a funny kid. Ain't you scared of me?"
"Not one bit!"
"Oi, Ichigo, cut that out - we have to retreat for the moment," Yoruichi shouted at the orange-haired Shinigami.
While Ichigo argued with Yoruichi, Gin was gratified to find the one Aizen had told him about, Ichigo... so, this is the one, huh?'
"Hey," Gin interrupted the cat-Shinigami discussion, "your name is Kurosaki Ichigo, right?"
"Wait, you know about me?" Ichigo asked, a bit confused that he would be known by this weird fox guy.
"Oh... so it is you," Gin turned and walked a few steps away.
"Oi, where you think you're going? This fight just got started!" Ichigo shouted after him.
"All the more reason," Gin continued, "that I can't let you pass through here." Gin withdrew his Zanpakuto and held it at arm's length. It was a short sword more like a wakizashi than a true katana.
"What are you gonna do, throw that wakizashi at me?" Ichigo questioned, raising his sword once more.
Wait a minute, Ichigo thought, his training with Kratos coming to mind, there has to be a reason he walked away from me for a few feet. Kratos told me and old sandal hat has inferred that every soul slayer has different abilities… what if his is…
"Shoot to kill, Shinsou," Gin suddenly spun and thrust his Zanpakuto at Ichigo. His sword's blade instantly extended to slam into Ichigo's cleaver and flinging him and Jidanbo out of the gate with resounding crash.
Gin, still smiling, walked up to the closing entrance and waved to the group, "Bye bye."
Chad, Uryuu and Orihime ran to see how Ichigo was while Kratos walked up to the door and placed one hand against it.
"Impressive," he muttered mostly to himself, "so that was a Captain," he turned to the black cat that was hissing in frustration, "did you know him or what division he was from?"
"Yes," Yoruichi replied, "Ichimaru Gin, Captain of the 3rd Division."
"The division known for its unusual Zanpakuto," Kratos muttered, "well, this looks like as good a spot as any."
Yoruichi eyed the Sparatan, "Good spot for what?"
"A demonstration," Kratos smiled.
Inside the Gate
"Ichimaru-taichou," Hisagi ran up to the third squad captain ahead of his small platoon, "My sincerest apologies that we are late."
"Eh, don't worry about it; while we're at it, though, why weren't you fellows here to begin with, hmm?" Ichimaru turned away from the gate, still wearing his fox-like grin as he addressed the guard patrol, "abandoning your post isn't gonna sit very well with the other captains, ya know."
"Hai," Hisagi looked ashamed of himself, "it's just we counted on Jidanbo-sama stopping them outside the gate. When we saw the gate open we hurried back as fast as we could," Hisagi explained."
"Hmm... well, I can accept that for now… I guess," Ichimaru was suddenly almost thrown into the 9th squad lieutenant when the gate behind him suddenly reverberated with a loud explosion.
The entire platoon including the captain and the lieutenant looked back at the gate with an expression of shock.
Then suddenly the gates were struck again and again from the outside and this time a tiny crack appeared in the center of the gate.
"Impossible," Hisagi gasped as the gate moved slightly inward with the next blow, "no one has ever managed to break down the Gate of white Souls!"
Ichimaru was also perturbed: while his mission to stop Ichigo from entering by way of the Gate of White Souls, no one he had seen out there could possibly have the strength to…!
This time he had to take a step backwards as part of the middle of the door almost seemed to cave in the middle if only slightly. Gin knew there was no way for him to take on anything that had the kind of strength necessary to pull that off.
A long, slender crack appeared, stretching out from the one that had already appeared; Gin drew his sword - orders or no orders, he could not be seen to be abandoning fellow shinigami when an enemy was before the gates of Soul Society itself. Not even Aizen's Machiavellian plots could save him from the Soutaichou's wrath if he did that.
This time there were multiple cracks stretching from the middle of the gate. The gate would fail; Gin no longer had any doubts about that.
"Ichimaru-taichou, what should we do!" Hisagi shouted at him from the entrance of the courtyard where he had ordered his men to retreat to.
"Alert the other captains along with the Soutaichou," Gin looked back and to Hisagi's shock was still smiling, "Looks like I am in for a serious fight, here."
Hisagi could only stare at the seemingly unflappable Captain of the 3rd squad for a long moment when…
Another strike finally shook him from his shock, "Go, now!" Gin shouted at him, for the first time raising his voice although Hisagi could not detect any hint of anger in the taichou's voice. No, only looking back on it would Hisagi be able to tell what the emotion in the 3rd squad captain's voice had been but at the moment he could only nod and haltingly issue orders to his men.
One by one they disappeared into shunpo, going as fast as they could toward the different divisions.
Hisagi looked back at the gate once more, not believing the cracked and splintered appearance of the once mighty gate.
He paused for one moment more: since he was the lieutenant, he had designated himself to go to the first division and could go farther with Flash Steps than any of his platoon mates…
A loud groaning sound and then a loud CRASH - Hisagi looked back one last time and shivered in terror: the gate was laying face-down, a cloud of dust expanding from where it fell. He couldn't see Ichimaru-taichou in the cloud of dust.
"Ichimaru-taichou!" he shouted into the dust, "Ichimaru-taichou!"
"What do you think you're doing?" a familiar voice made itself known behind him, "didn't I tell you to get going?"
Turning, he saw Gin standing behind him completely unscathed, Hisagi breathed a sigh of relief then almost laughed at himself. A captain getting crushed by a falling gate, how absurd he must have been, crazy to think that someone like Ichimaru Gin would be…
Suddenly Hisagi felt as if the world had suddenly gone red: a weight like he had never known settled upon his shoulders - he even had trouble standing and a fear like he had never before thought possible struck at the very core of his being. Suddenly, for some strange reason, Hisagi did not want to look behind where he was standing.
Move, Hisagi commanded his limbs. Nothing. Move, again nothing, move, damnit, move - I have to move, I have to get out of here!
Hisagi realized with growing horror that his limbs truly could not move.
Suddenly, a powerful hand descended on his shoulder and Hisagi watched in terror as Ichimaru's eyes widened in apprehension and even a little bit of fear.
Suddenly there was a breath close to his ear that told him whatever was causing this fear had brought himself close to his neck.
"I think you should do as your captain tells you… boy," a cold beyond reason voice echoed through Hisagi's consciousness and he chanced a look down at the gloved hand that held his shoulder; his eyes widened as he saw the ends of white fingers poking from the end of the fingerless gloves, "I do not give second chances often… Go." It was him - the 80th killer.
Just like that, Hisagi ran and Shunpoed away from that awful pressure that made him want to commit seppuku just to get away from it. Tears of humiliation and shame streamed down his face: he had been blindsided when he had been given a direct order to move and he had delayed. Hisagi hung his head as he flew toward headquarters, his captain would not be pleased. But there was a job to do; personal penance and punishment for freezing up could come later.
Ichimaru Gin never thought he would be faced with someone whose presence rivaled Aizen's for raw power. He chanced a glance at his hand, it was shaking. My hand's shaking? Hmm... once again, WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE! Oh, yeah, I'm supposed to be a captain and that means dying in the line of duty and all that stuff.
"How long do you plan on daydreaming, Ichimaru Gin?" Gin's eyebrows rose.
"You know me?" he questioned stalling for time.
Kratos turned to fully face the fox-faced captain, "no, I would have remembered and probably killed someone with such a treacherous look."
"Now, that isn't very nice," Gin said, quickly sliding back into the stance he had used against Ichigo and Jidanbo. Gin knew his technique wouldn't kill Kratos: he just needed to put some space between himself and his enemy so he could think, so he could plan at the very least and if worse came to worst, figure out a way to escape from this monster in human form.
"Shoot to Kill, Shinsou!" Gin shouted.
It might have been that his senses were still affected by the amount of reiatsu Kratos was giving off, but Kratos saw his technique coming from the very first moment Gin had moved. Kratos waited until the blade was almost to him before putting sliding one foot back and putting his armored left arm in the path of the oncoming blade.
Gin was shocked when instead of piercing the armor Shinsou stopped dead. This had an unintended consequence of shooting him backwards as his blade continued to extend. Kratos grabbed the blade and yanked only for it to dissolve into dust in his hand. Kratos watched as the Gin waved to him from the distance he had been thrown, "Sorry, Kratos-san, but I can't play with you today," he said as he took off into the air.
Suddenly there was a spike of reiatsu behind him and Gin looked backward. He instantly wished he hadn't. He could see an arching, hissing, yellow colored…was that a lightning bolt in Kratos' hand? Gin's eyes widened as Kratos smirked, "I hope you can run as fast as your mouth can leak, Ichimaru Gin." Kratos arched his back and cast the lightning bolt.
A scientific fact: lightning from the sky can flash at about 1/1000 of a second. Unfortunately for Gin, although Kratos' wasn't that fast, it was fast enough that he had absolutely no time to dodge and was struck dead in the middle of his back.
Kratos watched as the body of the unconscious captain fell to earth like a broken doll. The man wasn't dead and would probably survive but it would send a message. The God of War had come! Soul Society… prepare yourself.
Unfortunately for the rest of the members of Hisagi's platoon, the Captains were all together in a meeting so none of them were able to find their respective targets to deliver the message.
While Kratos was facing down Ichimaru Gin, the Captains were waiting impatiently for said captain to discuss strategies to deal with said God of War.
"Strange," Aizen suddenly spoke out, "it isn't like young Ichimaru to be this late."
"Damnit, where the hell is that idiot?" Kenpachi growled, "if he doesn't get here soon…"
"Oh, pipe down, will you?" Mayuri rubbed the side of his head that was facing Kenpachi, "it's too early for you to be giving me a headache!"
"What was that?" Kenpachi said in a threatening voice.
"Not this again..." Toushiro Hitsugaya rolled his eyes, "old people and their arguing"
"Well, what do ya know, tempers are running high today," the flamboyant 8th squad captain said jovially.
"Can we at least have a proper meeting for once," Soi Fon grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest.
The bickering went on for a few minutes until Yamamato flared a portion of his reiatsu that he normally kept hidden, the arguments were quickly resolved.
Suddenly, all the captains present heard a slight disturbance outside along with someone running towards the meeting hall. A few captains put their hands to weapons, "hey, what the where do you think you're going!" "hey, a captains' meeting is about to start, you can't go in there!"
Abruptly the doors burst open and there stood Hisagi Shuhei, Lieutenant of the 9th divison, panting heavily; his face was red and everything about him spoke of exhaustion.
"Hisagi," Tosen said, as shocked as everyone else.
"Taichou," Hisagi collapsed to both knees and finally to the floor. This snapped the captains out of their shock and normalcy was restored.
"What is the meaning of this, Hisagi-fukotaichou," Yamamoto rose from his seat as the 9th squad captain turned his lieutenant over.
Unohana had instantly gone to the side of the lieutenant, placing glowing green hands over him.
Her eyes snapped open a moment later, "the poor boy is exhausted."
"Taichou," Hisagi was able to gasp out in a halting voice, "Hisagi, stay with me." Tosen held his lieutenant's face in both hands.
"A-a-attack… at… white… gate… *cough*, *cough*… Ichimaru-taichou… needs help."
"Hisagi, you're not making sense," Tosen tried to keep his lieutenant conscious for a few more moments though a feeling of dread descended on all the captains present.
Suddenly, alarms began blaring all over Soul Society, "Red Alert! Red Alert! Attention, all Soul Reapers! Attention, all Soul Reapers! We are under attack, repeat - we are under attack! The Gate of the White Souls has fallen, repeat - the Gate of the white Souls has fallen!"
Well, that's it for now. Please read and review, constructive criticism only!
Anyway, I know that Kratos only had the lightning bolts during the first GoW game, but I'm writing under the hypothesis that he had regained all the spells he had learned throughout the games as he arrived at Soul Society; after all, Zeus represents one of his Zanpakutou and he'd want his wielder to have a signiature move of his, right?