Summary: The Kuchiki mansion is successfully infiltrated.
The room had known nothing but silence for a long time. Servants regularly dusted and polished the objects in the room and maintained good order. It could be called the Kuchiki family museum, but a more accurate description would have been storage room. Everything in the room was valuable, just not needed at the moment. It was a resting place for trophies, treasures and honored heirlooms. Those objects shook and wiggled as something thump, thump, thumped under the floorboards. After a while, this changed to the sound of wood being broken and splintered followed by a profound silence. Slowly, the tatami mat in the center of the room was lifted and Nemu raised her head up just enough to glance around.
"All clear Madam President."
Yachiru popped out of the tunnel like a jack-in-the-box. "Wow Nemu-chan! You sure can dig!"
With the dry moat providing cover, Nemu had no problem tunneling under Byakuya's mansion and finding a quiet spot far from any perceived reiatsu. Yachiru turned around and took Nemu's hands to help her out of the hole.
"How can you dig like that and not get your hands dirty? Can you teach me how to do that?"
Nemu didn't know what to say. She was aware that her ability to use her hands as high powered excavation drills was an unusual modification. For Yachiru to have the same ability would mean having Mayuri-sama modify her hands. An image arose in her mind of Yachiru, strapped down on a table, unconscious and helpless while her father approached her with a scalpel. For some reason, the thought of the little pink haired girl being modified by Mayuri-sama alarmed her. Why? She wondered. Why did she think that way? She was modified and experimented on routinely. Why did the thought of the little girl being cut bother her? What should she tell her? It didn't matter. In the typical fashion for someone her age, Yachiru soon forgot her questions as she looked around the room.
"See, what did I tell ya. Look at all the cool stuff!"
Nemu could see there were indeed many valuable treasures in the room. Ancient armor and finely crafted weapons shared space with large celadon vases and subtly painted wall scrolls.
"I don't think these things are of interest for you Madame President." She said.
"What are you talking about?" Yachiru said.
She put on an elaborate lacquered helmet decorated with large horns and plumes.
"Look. I'm a Shogun!"
The large helmet slid off her too small head and hit the floor.
"Nothing here looks suitable for playthings." Nemu said.
"You think so?" Yachiru replied. She had picked up a vase with a painting of a young courtesan playing a samisen under a willow tree.
"Yes," Nemu said, "I would even go so far to say these things are boring."
Yachiru looked over at Nemu and scrunched her eyebrows in thought. She looked back at the vase she was holding.
"I guess you're right." She said. "Let's see what else this place has."
She turned towards the door and threw the vase over her shoulder. Nemu casually snatched it from the air and put it back where it belonged.
"This place looks even bigger on the inside." Yachiru said.
They had taken a few twists and turns down long corridors and found themselves exiting to a beautiful garden. The cherry trees were in full bloom and provided a pleasant shade while they walked along. Hearing a splash, Yachiru turned her head.
"What was that? Let's go look."
They soon found a pond. The splashing was caused by a large carp jumping out of the water trying to catch a bug.
"Cool!" Yachiru said. "Did you see the size of that thing?"
She grabbed Nemu's hand and pulled her right up to the pond's edge. The fish were swimming in slow circles around the pond, a parade of bright colors under the water. Yachiru watched them swimming with delight. Nemu wasn't pleased with the situation. They were in the open with no cover. The rooftop guards would most likely be looking outside the compound, but movement of any kind drew the eye.
"I believe there is an entrance over that bridge Madam President." She said.
"OK," Yachiru said, "I'll come back and check on the fish later. Bye fishies!"
Entering the building, they found themselves wandering through long corridors again. It seemed quite some time before they found anything interesting. There were plenty of closets, storage areas, what appeared to be guest quarters and some currently unoccupied offices. Yachiru began to get bored and grumpy. You could hear the disgust in her voice as she went from room to room.
"Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Oh, here's something. Hey, Nemu-chan, check it out!"
Nemu had been checking the rooms on the other side of the hall. Looking where Yachiru pointed, she could see a huge calligraphy brush and a pad.
"I believe this is an instruction hall Madame President." She said.
Yachiru had already run inside and grabbed the brush.
"Watch what I can do." She said.
Dipping the brush in ink, she vigorously painted on the pad, sticking her tongue out in concentration. Nemu watched as a series of stick figures in quick succession appeared on the paper.
"Tadaa!' Yachiru crowed. It was a picture of Captain Zaraki, grinning with big spiky teeth as he chopped up several weeping, cowering hollows. "Now you draw something Nemu-chan."
Yachiru handed the big brush over to her. Nemu looked at the brush in her hands. Imagination was not her strong suit. What could she paint? Unable to think of anything, she painted a little stick figure Mayuri-sama.
"That's pretty good." Yachiru said. She tore the page off of the pad. "What will I draw next?" She asked.
She placed the paper on the side of the room, then froze. Slowly rising up, she twitched her nose as she took deep breaths.
"I smell something good to eat." She announced. "Let's go!"
Dragging Nemu along, she ran down the hall towards the source of the smell.
Nemu was impressed by Yachiru's sense of smell as she didn't smell anything. After jogging for several minutes, she finally began to smell something like baking bread that grew stronger as they went along. Turning a corner, they saw where the mouth-watering smells were coming from.
"The kitchen." Yachiru said. "I wonder if they got any snacks we can have?"
The kitchen was very active with the first people they had seen so far. There were cooks stirring and chopping, servants bringing in ingredients or stoking the cook fires and scullery maids peeling and washing vegetables. Yachiru waded in with Nemu close behind. She made herself at home, taking a slice of carrot here, sampling the soup there, commending everyone on a job well done. Everyone was too busy and focused on their tasks to wonder what a little girl was doing wandering around. The head chef was different. Entering his kitchen from his office with the evening's menu, he soon felt something was throwing his staff off their usual rhythm. It didn't take him long to spot a head of bright pink hair moving around the counters. He stalked over to her to sort things out.
"Hey you!' He shouted as he came up behind her. "What are you doing in my kitchen?"
Yachiru jumped at the voice. She slowly turned around, then straightened up to her full three and a half feet. As seriously a she could, she answered the angry cook as if he were out of his mind.
"What are we doing here? Weren't you expecting us?"
This threw the man off. "Expecting you?"
Yachiru raised her eyebrows. "Our Captains are coming to afternoon tea tomorrow. You were supposed to have sample platters ready for us today to see if you can prepare stuff they like. Don't tell me you didn't know?"
The head cook was very confused. "Afternoon tea? Sample platters? I don't remember hearing anything about this."
Yachiru turned to Nemu. "Nobody told him we were coming. Isn't that terrible?"
"It is most regrettable." Nemu said while shaking her head.
Yachiru turned back to the chef. "Well, I guess I'm just gonna have to go home and tell my captain you guys weren't ready. You know my captain don't you?" She turned her body around to display her eleventh division badge. "Zaraki Kenpachi."
The chef turned a pale.
Nemu added more food for thought.
"I believe Captain Kuchiki will be most displeased over the loss of face for slighted guests."
If the mention of Kenpachi had turned the chef white, the thought of dishonoring his clan chief made him turn green. However, he had not made it to head chef without learning to handle emergencies.
"Now there's no need for hasty actions. I apologize for this obvious oversight." He gave a deep bow. "Please, step this way and my staff will have some things made up for you in no time."
He led them to a small dining table in the corner.
"Alright, let's see what ya got!" Yachiru said as she walked to the table rubbing her hands together.
Nemu bowed to the chef. "Thank you for your considerate actions."
She also went to the table and took a seat. The chef went to the front of the kitchen to start ordering up sample dishes. Along the way, he grabbed one of the servants passing by.
"You. Contact the majordomo's office. Find out why I was not informed of the lieutenants visit today and when was somebody going to tell me about the captains coming tomorrow?"
"Yes sir!" the servant said and he rushed off down the hall.
As they left the kitchen Yachiru rubbed her pleasantly full stomach.
"Man, that was some good stuff."
Nemu agreed. Never in her life had she eaten so much. The food had been artfully prepared and was so pleasing to the eye she didn't want to spoil the effect by eating any. Yachiru had no such problem. There was a wide range of flavors from spicy to sweet to tangy to savory. It was an experience of tastes and sensations she would not soon forget.
"Should we make our exit now Madam President?" she said.
"Why?" Yachiru asked. "We've hardly seen anything."
"I fear we will not be able to stay much longer without our presence being noted." Nemu replied.
"Relax," Yachiru said, "they think we're guests now."
No sooner were the words out of her mouth than they rounded a corner which revealed two men standing in the way. They were dressed in the Kuchiki livery of purple uniforms with their faces covered. Security guards.
"Stop right there ladies." The first one said.
The other was calling in on his radio.
"Dragon 17 to Dragon 1, we have the gate crashers at this time, over."
"Is there a problem?" Yachiru said with her eyes as wide and innocent as she could make them.
"You bet there's a problem." The first one said. "According to the head office, you're not supposed to be here."
"You definitely didn't sign in to the visitor log at the front gate." The other one said. "In fact, we have standing orders to never let this one in ever!"
He pointed at Yachiru who stuck out her tongue. The first one put his hand on Nemu's shoulder.
"Please come with me miss. We'll sort this out at the head office."
Grabbing his hand Nemu put him in an arm bar using the leverage to slam him headfirst into the wall. He slumped to the ground unconscious. His partner got on the radio immediately.
"Dragon 17, send back up, repeat, send…"
He ducked as Nemu fired a blistering right hook at his head. Tossing aside the radio, he and Nemu circled each other, punches and kicks met with blocks and counter strikes. Their movements speeded into a blur as each sought an advantage over the other.
"Cool!" Yachiru said, and she sat down cross legged to watch.
The security guard did his best, but he was no match for the stone faced lieutenant. She finally saw an opening and caught the guard in a sleeper hold. His struggles to break free became weaker and weaker as the blood stopped flowing to his brain.
"Madam President." Nemu shouted. "We have lost the element of surprise and these men are too strong and well trained for me to handle many more. We must flee!"
She dropped the now unconscious guard to the floor. Yachiru leapt to her feet.
"Right! Follow me Nemu-chan! I know exactly where to go."
Yachiru ran down the hall with Nemu close on her heels. They ran around twists and turns, taking lefts and rights, running so fast the walls became a blur.
"We're almost there!" Yachiru said. "Just one more turn!"
They came around the final bend and found themselves in a dead end.
"Huh?" Yachiru said. "I coulda swore the door would be here."
"We will have to find another way." Nemu replied.
Yachiru turned around preparing to run.
"OK, I know where it is this time."
Again, they ran down the halls, air rushing past their faces as they raced one after the other.
"This way, this way!" Yachiru called as she made turn after turn.
"Uh oh." she said.
The last turn put them right back in the hall where Nemu had defeated the guards. Two more had shown up and were trying to help their comrades back on their feet.
"I can't stop!" Yachiru yelled, then she knocked all the guards down like bowling pins. "Sorry" Nemu shouted as she ran past.
The guards were quick to get back on their feet and were soon in hot pursuit. More and more guards joined them as they ran down the hallways.
"C'mon, let's take a shortcut!" Yachiru squawked as she burst through a doorway.
The chase went from the hallway to a confusing room-to-room scramble. They disrupted a board meeting of the clan elders. They startled two matronly women having tea. They knocked over the easel of a painter working on a young maiden's portrait. They scared the heck out of a girl with a large bang between her eyes who appeared to be drawing bunny pictures.
"We're almost there!" Yachiru called over her shoulder. "Pour on the speed so we can lose these guys!"
"Yes Madam President!" Nemu called back.
Their feet became blurs as they returned to the hallways turning this way and that as they followed Yachiru's sense of direction.
"Here it is!" She shouted in triumph. "Just around that corner!"
They took the corner at a speed that left marks on the floor, then skidded to a stop as they almost collided with a dead end wall. They stood there panting, staring in disbelief at the barrier before them. Nemu looked around.
"I believe this is the same dead end we were in before Madam President."
"Well darn" Yachiru said. "I guess we'll have to try something else."
They turned around to see that the end of the long hall was packed shoulder to shoulder with guards. Many were trying to catch their breath. All looked angry. Several were wielding a jutte, the specialized club favored by law enforcement. A man wearing the rank of guard captain stood in the center.
"All right." He said. "Enough's enough. Come quietly down to the head office and we'll sort this all out. We're all too beat to want a struggle. Is it a deal?"
Yachiru looked up to Nemu. Nemu looked down at the ground. She appeared deep in thought. Shields were being passed up to the men in front who formed a riot line. Receiving no answer, the guard captain took action.
"OK then. Riot squad! In formation on the half step. March!"
Shields and truncheons at the ready, the men advanced moving slowly forward one half step at a time. They stomped their feet with every step making a boom, boom, boom, sound. Nemu decided what she had to do. She picked up her head and started walking towards the guard.
"Riot squad! Halt!" The guard captain ordered.
They all halted with one final stomp as their left foot hit the ground. Nemu broke into a run.
"Now miss, be reasonable!" the guard captain called out.
The riot squad braced themselves behind their shields. Nemu was now going all out straight at them.
The guard captain shouted to his men, "Get ready!"
With Nemu less than an arm's length away, she spun in a graceful pirouette on her right foot and began to run back towards the wall. The guards looked at each other in confusion. What was she doing? If anything, she seemed to be running even faster towards the dead end. Indeed, it didn't seem possible for something to move that fast in that enclosed space. Where did she think she was going? While still several body lengths away from the wall, she launched herself into the air. Her body glowing with released energy, she curled into a ball and executed a half flip. As she uncurled, her feet met the wall. Combining speed and strength, she burst through to outside!
"Wow!" Yachiru said as she ran up to the hole. "That was coo…"
Nemu's hand reached though the hole and jerked Yachiru out. The guards got over their shock and ran to the hole. Their captain stuck his head out just in time to see the lieutenants run past the astonished gate guards, exit out the front gate and head off down the road.
They ran. They ran as fast as their legs could carry them kicking up a dust plume that trailed them for half a mile. They ran until the Kuchiki manor was no longer visible and they were deep into the wooded hills. Finally, by mutual unspoken agreement, they stopped at the same time near a large oak tree. They stood with their hands on their knees, panting with exhaustion after the long chase. When Nemu had caught her breath somewhat, she walked over to the tree and sat down, resting her back against its trunk. As soon as Yachiru could stand up straight, she began to laugh. She laughed harder and harder, her hands holding her sides, peals of laughter ringing out until tears rolled down her cheeks.
"That. Was. AWSOME!" She crowed.
She went over to where Nemu was sitting. "You were amazing Nemu-chan!"
Nemu looked up at her, but didn't say anything. After all the action, she was trying not to lose her lunch.
"Hey, c'mon." Yachiru said. "We did it! We got away! Smile."
Yachiru grabbed the corners of Nemu's mouth and moved them up into a crooked smile. When she let go, Nemu tried to hold her face in that position. Yachiru laughed some more and hugged Nemu tight around the neck. Nemu's eye went wide. She wasn't expecting that. She didn't know what to do. Yachiru let go, then turned around to plop down on Nemu's lap. She grabbed Nemu's hands and put them around her middle, then laid her head on Nemu's chest. Several minutes passed as she sat there watching the clouds pass by.
"I had a really good time today." She said after a while.
"You did?" Nemu replied.
"Yeah." Yachiru said. "Most of the time when I get an assistant for my presidenting stuff, they never want to do what I want. They always try to tell me what to do or say my ideas are dumb. They never just help me like you do. You're a lot of fun."
"Really?" Nemu asked. She had to think about that. She didn't think of herself as fun.
"Yeah." Yachiru said. "I like doing stuff with you. You know, Ken-chan is great, but he can't be with me all the time. When I'm with other people, sometimes I get the feeling they don't want me around. I don't get that with you."
The sun was low on the horizon as afternoon started to fade into evening. The clouds scudded like sailboats slowly across the sky. Yachiru's next words were the first time Nemu detected anything like hesitation or doubt in her voice.
"Say Nemu-chan." She said. "When it's just us two, you know, alone like this, is it OK if I call you big sister?"
In a flash of insight, Nemu realized something. This little girl, favorite of the fierce Captain Zaraki, a child who enjoyed power over hundreds of shinigami, was lonely. Nemu could understand that feeling all too well. She closed her arms around Yachiru's waist and hugged her tight.
"Yes." she said. "I'd like that very much."
She rested her chin on top of Yachiru's head and watched as the clouds changed color with the setting sun.