Kurosaki Ichigo, Master of Time and Space
To those who don't remember Hvìtt Myrkur, he was the antagonist of Adventure 4, which Hitsugaya Toshiro, Matsumoto Rangiku and Shihoin Yoruichi participated in along with Ichigo. Myrkur was an arrancar but has turned into a Custodes Tempus. Read Chapter 10 to find out about his abilities as an Arrancar.
Adventure 8: The Endgame [Part 3 – Secret Strategy]
Kurosaki Ichigo lay on the ground with a serious stab wound on his stomach and his back, where a sword had been thrust right through his torso. The last thing he remembered before blanking out was a sword being tossed casually towards him while still in its scabbard. After bouncing on the ground once, the sword came to a rest near Zangetsu, which was still in the loose grip of Ichigo's hands. After that, he vaguely saw two men dressed in black coming towards him, and then he lost consciousness.
Three Hours Later
Ichigo opened his eyes slowly, and then hurriedly, as he remembered that Rose had been taken away by Hvìtt Myrkur. He hurriedly got up, and then groaned in pain and laid back down muttering, "Shouldn't have got up too soon!"
"Lie down, kid. Your wounds will open up again if you get up suddenly like that."
While still lying down, Ichigo looked at the person who had talked, and let out a cry of shock when he realised that it was Ichimaru Gin, the smiling fox himself. Aizen's co-conspirator was wearing a black suit with a red shirt and a yellow tie and had his usual thin-lipped grin and eyes reduced to slits. Next to him was Tosen Kaname, in an identical suit, except with an immaculate white shirt and a pitch black tie. Keigo, Tatsuki and Mizuiro were also there, and while the latter two were not shivering in fright like Keigo, Ichigo could see the genuine fright in their eyes. Yoruichi was there as well, along with Urahara and his employees, all of whom looked apprehensive, but were clearly making no move to attack the two men who had betrayed Soul Society along with Aizen.
Ichigo looked at Urahara and demanded, "What in heaven's name is going on, Urahara?"
"Well...we're in quite a...unique situation, Mr Kurosaki. Your friends Miss Arisawa, Mr Asano and Mr Kojima came here a short while back intending to ask me if there was anything they could do about the war. And then suddenly, Mr Ichimaru and Mr Tosen came here with you, saying that you needed to be bandaged up. I too was extremely surprised by their presence, and I tried to defend my shop, thinking they were here to attack. But Mr Tosen was far more strong, and he could have killed me easily. But he didn't even injure me. He just demanded that we do not attack him, and that we were to heal you."
Tosen said, "Now that you're awake, Kurosaki, let me explain. Gin and I are no longer in Aizen's service, although he does not know about that yet."
Yoruichi said, "That explains your different clothes. But how did you slip out without Aizen knowing?"
Ichigo answered in a serious whisper, "Time Energy. Tosen's got lots of it. He's the same as me, a Custodes Tempus. If he somehow learned the skills of the Custodes Tempus like I have, it shouldn't have been too hard to walk out of Hueco Mundo. Tosen, you'd better not have been lying when you said you were no longer on Aizen's side. If I find out we've been played for fools..."
Tosen said expressionlessly, "I am not lying, Kurosaki. I have no reason to. I serve Justice now – true Justice, not Aizen's warped version of it that I have been following until now. I have been in contact with the Military authority of the Custodes Tempus. They told me that there is a greater threat than Aizen himself – an arrancar named Hvìtt Myrkur. Was he the one who attacked you, Kurosaki?"
"Yes...and he took Rose too! I've got to get her back!"
"Rose...the woman who was assigned to you, right? Would this be her Zanpakuto?" Tosen held up the sword that had been tossed near Ichigo. The orange-haired reaper looked at it closely and said, "Yeah, this is the one. I remember Rose using this same sword."
Urahara interrupted, "I'm sorry, I don't know what you two are talking about. Who's Hvìtt Myrkur? Who's Rose? And what is a Custodes Tempus? I've seen many things before, but I've never heard of such an arrancar of of the term Custodes Tempus."
Ichigo sat up slowly and explained to Urahara everything that he had gone through after he had become a Time-Traveller. The scientist barely almost dropped his hat in shock. After a few seconds of open-mouthed silence, Urahara put his hat on his head and said, "Well, this is indeed an astonishing new development. If you're as powerful as Mr Tosen, I think we can easily win the war against Aizen, Mr Kurosaki."
Ichigo glared and said, "Yes, except the war with Aizen is hardly significant anymore, what with a time-travelling Arrancar who's as powerful as us, and probably as old and experienced as Yamamoto himself!"
"Alright, alright. But does that mean you're no longer going to participate in the war? The Gotei-13 will probably rely on you to turn up, since you are a Captain-level fighter who hasn't seen Aizen's Shikai, and therefore won't fall to his illusions. If you don't turn up, the battle will go very badly for them, I imagine."
Ichigo looked at him resolutely and said, "I have no intention of abandoning the fight against Aizen. I'm just saying that this is more serious. The last words Myrkur told me before he left with Rose were that he was going to ascend to a greater level and destroy the world."
Tosen commented, "So that's his plan. But how does he plan to do it?"
"The Blanks. There are a lot of them now, and I think he plans to use them to do it. He can use his own abilities to escape the destruction afterwards."
Urahara scratched his chin and said, "I do know of a way in which the worlds may be destroyed using the Blanks. You see, there is a place called the Valley of Screams. Placing an object called the Memory Rosary in that point will cause millions of Blanks to be attracted to that single point, creating a vacuum. This vacuum will cause the earth to merge with Soul Society and the two worlds will be destroyed as a result."
Ichigo asked, "Has this ever happened before?"
"No. What I just said is actually a theory. Nobody knows if it can actually be done. There was a time when a Memory Rosary was found, but that took place in China, in the late 1800s. The Memory Rosary was never taken to the Valley of Screams."
Ichigo grinned, "I was involved in that! Rose used the memory rosary to drive away the Blanks. I don't know what happened to it after that, though."
Tatsuki pouted, "You went time-travelling so many times and you never invited me?"
"Well, I myself went only because others asked me to. Besides, I protected you in the past when I met you. You almost got run over by a car the day my mother died, and I called out your name and stopped you. And some time later, you were almost killed by a Hollow, which I killed. Speaking of which, you could see spirits from a young age, and you never told me!"
Tatsuki blushed and looked away, saying, "I never thought you'd believe me! I mean, who'd voluntarily tell everyone that they could see ghosts? People would think they're lunatics!"
Ichigo chuckled, "Alright, fine. But if you want, I could bring you some place. Although, of course, the war comes first. Now, tell me, Ichimaru and Tosen...why did you leave Aizen in the first place?"
"I came to my senses after talking with my Zanpakuto. I then realised that I was not following the path of Justice by following Aizen. And then I decided to leave."
"As for me, I never was with Aizen to start with. I joined him because I knew that he had taken something from Rangiku, using the Hogyoku. I wanted to find out what exactly he had done to her, and to restore it to her. That's why I joined him. I also found out some of his secrets, like how to counter his Zanpakuto's illusory power: You have to touch his blade before he activates his illusions."
Urahara said in awe, "That is useful information indeed. But now that you have told us what the problems are, how are we going to solve them? Which problem comes first in our strategy?"
Ichigo looked at Tosen and said, "I trust you for now. There's no need for you to lie to us now, and we need all the help we can get. Right now, there are two of us Custodes Tempus, four Captain-level Shinigami, and three spiritually-aware humans. Between us, we have more information about Aizen than the Gotei-13, we have very unique abilities, and Aizen has no clue that we have convened. I think we should work on our own for now, and use Aizen and the Gotei-13's lack of knowledge about us to finish our mission."
Gin contributed, "That sounds good. As for our enemies, there's Aizen, who I know for a fact has fused with the Hogyoku. That makes him significantly more powerful than he already is. He's more powerful than two captains combined now. As for the other side, we've got an arrancar who's as old as Yamamoto, and as powerful as Ichigo, if not more. Soul Society will take care of Aizen's Espada, but I doubt they can kill him."
Tatsuki had a thought, and in an alarmed tone, she said, "Ichigo! Didn't you say that some of your friends were in enemy territory, looking for Orihime?"
"Damn! I should have just gone myself and brought her out instead of bringing them along!"
Tosen got up and said, "I shall bring them here instead. The last time I checked on their situation, almost all of them were injured somehow, so they would not be able to resist me. Rest, Kurosaki. You'll need it against Myrkur and against Aizen."
He disappeared through one of the cracks, and minutes later, he came back with the entire team that had gone to Hueco Mundo, all wrapped up in a Bakudo. Rukia was heavily injured, with three large wounds in a straight line on her torso, and Sado was unconscious too, with a deep wound in his shoulder. Ishida and Renji looked extremely shocked, and both were not visibly injured, but Ichigo knew something was wrong because of their low reiatsu.
Tosen undid the Bakudo and Urahara and Tessai started healing everyone. Ichigo got up and helped out with his own spells. Soon, the two unconscious team members woke up, and Rukia yelled, "Tosen? Ichimaru? What are you both doing here?"
Renji growled, "Good question! I've got something better though: Why's everyone sitting about doing nothing, when two traitors are here?"
Ichigo casually knocked him on the head and said, "Be quiet for a while, will you, Renji? They're no longer working for Aizen."
The group that had infiltrated Hueco Mundo were in an uproar for a short while, until Tatsuki decided she had had enough and punched out Renji and Ishida, who were making the most noise. Ichigo laughed and said, "Thanks, Tatsuki. It was getting too noisy here. Anyway, Tosen and Ichimaru both decided that they'll no longer fight on Aizen's side. On top of that, however, we've got some important news. Aizen's not the most important enemy, an Arrancar named Hvìtt Myrkur is."
He proceeded to explain Myrkur to them, of how he had opposed Oisín back in Ireland in the 6th century, and how he, Toshiro, Yoruichi and Matsumoto had helped Oisín fight the arrancar. Rukia paled, "I've already seen your power as a Custodes Tempus, and now you're saying that an Arrancar has that power? How are we going to defeat both this Arrancar and Aizen now?"
Ichigo said, "That's what we're working out now. We're thinking up our strategy."
As they tried to come up with a plan, Ichigo held Rose's Zanpakuto in his hands. Suddenly, Zangetsu spoke to him within his mind, saying, "Ichigo, come to your inner world. We have something to discuss."
Ichigo excused himself and went into another room in the Urahara shop, and placed his sealed Zanpakuto on his lap. He also left Rose's Zanpakuto leaning on his shoulder. Within seconds, he was in his inner world. Zangetsu and the spirit of Getsuga were both there, as well as Ichigo's inner hollow. Strangely, there was also a woman there, and she was dressed in a Soul Reaper's uniform, except with a bright red sash rather than the usual white sash. She had fair skin and dark purple hair tied with a red ribbon. She also had large bright orange eyes.
Ichigo asked, "Who are you?"
The woman replied, "I am the spirit of Mirokumaru – the Zanpakuto of Senna."
"Senna? Who's that? I remember Mirokumaru was supposed to be Rose's Zanpakuto."
Zangetsu said, "No, Ichigo, I remember it to be true. Zanpakuto spirits always remember their battles, and I remember the one time my blade clashed with that of Mirokumaru."
"But I've never fought Rose before! I don't even know this Senna person, so how could I have fought her?"
Getsuga said, "Materialise us, Ichigo, and let us show you that you were wrong."
Ichigo hesitantly did so, and Getsuga promptly opened up a crack leading to the past. Ichigo stepped through it with the materialised Zangetsu, Getsuga and Mirokumaru. He found himself on top of a building in a city which he quickly recognised as Karakura Town. He gasped in shock as he looked down and saw himself and Rukia. He then realised that they must have been the Ichigo and Rukia of the past. The Past-Ichigo and Past-Rukia were standing in their Shinigami forms, among numerous Blanks. There was a woman down in the street as well, gracefully sweeping through the Blanks, killing them. As Past-Ichigo looked at her in shock, she jumped high up and held out her Zanpakuto parallel to her shoulders, and said, "Bring forth the twilight-"
Before she could complete it, Past-Ichigo jumped up and stopped her from releasing. However, she easily pushed him away and completed her Shikai release.
"Bring forth the twilight, Mirokumaru!"
Her Zanpakuto then took the form of the staff with an arrowhead on one end and the circle with four rings on the other. Present-Ichigo turned to Zangetsu and muttered, "This happened to me in the past? How come I have no recollection of it?"
The spirit of Mirokumaru (Ichigo now noticed how similar she was to the girl who had killed the Blanks) said, "The Memory Rosary is a being made entirely out of memories, and it can expire after a while. I myself was lost in the Dangai Precipice world, but after a while, I came to serve a Memory Rosary as her Zanpakuto. That same Rosary expired, but she had such strong ties to the real world that she did not properly fade away. Instead of disappearing from existence altogether, she became a Custodes Tempus member."
Zangetsu urged, "Remember what happened, Ichigo! Remember Senna, the woman you once fought to protect!"
Ichigo placed a hand on his head and said, "Senna? I don't remember her. I know it's that woman down there, but I don't remember anything!"
"This is important, Ichigo. It could be the key to winning the war against both Aizen and Myrkur!"
Ichigo looked away in frustration, and then said, "Alright, you three. Get back in my inner world. I'll try to remember, ok?"
"How are you going to remember, Ichigo?" asked Mirokumaru, bewildered.
"I'm going to go take a walk."
Ichigo walked through the town, careful to avoid seeing anyone from the past. He walked with no particular destination in mind, and after a while, he stopped and looked where his little jaunt had taken him. It was a small cemetery.
Oh joy, he thought sarcastically before setting foot inside. He walked through the rows of gravestones, glancing at them without bothering to properly read them. Something soon caught his eye: a blank gravestone. He looked at it closely, trying to figure out the significance of this one unmarked grave. Suddenly, a voice said in the back of his head, "I'll see you again, right?" and for some reason, it felt as if the right answer to that question was, "Don't be dumb. Of course you will!"
Ichigo narrowed his eyes. Those two lines were oddly familiar to him. He rubbed his eyes and looked around. In the distance, there was a Ferris Wheel, and for some reason, it had some significance to him. He flash-stepped away and jumped on top of one of the passenger capsules. Standing on top of it, he surveyed the city.
Feeling some reiatsu, he looked in the direction of the source, and found that, on a hill some distance away, his own past version (indicated by orange hair) was with several Captains (indicated by white cloaks) and they were fighting some people in brown Shinigami uniforms. His eyes widening in shock, Ichigo flash-stepped towards the place, making sure to keep a low profile, and gasped out as he saw what was going on.
He quickly summoned reiatsu to his hair to make it turn black, and observed what was happening. Ganryu, the leader of the House of Ryodoji, the same man who had attacked him, Nanao and Rukia in China, was here, and his men were attacking the real world. The girl called Senna was in his arms, and Past-Ichigo was using his Bankai to get to her. But just before he could reach her, Ganryu suddenly produced a lance and stabbed him with it, right through the stomach. Present-Ichigo dropped to his knees and said softly, incredulously, "I remember now...Senna, the girl who waltzed right into my life, and tragically left. She was the Memory Rosary, and those guys tried using her to destroy the worlds! In the end, we defeated them, but it was too late. Instead, she sacrificed herself to prevent the destruction of Soul Society and the Earth!"
Wordlessly, Getsuga materialised next to him and opened a crack to the future. As he stepped inside with Ichigo, the latter grinned and said, "So Senna's not dead! She lives on as Captain Rose!"
"Indeed," agreed the dark spirit. Ichigo then turned serious and asked, "But something else is wrong, isn't it? Those guys in brown Shinigami uniforms attacked in China in the 1800s, and then they were arrested by the Chinese Soul Society, and probably handed over to the Japanese Soul Society. So, why are they here?"
Getsuga replied, "Ichigo, you've already learned that events can be rewritten, as long as you don't interfere with the future. When Senna 'expired', she not only physically disappeared, she also faded from everyone's memories. Because of that, one can change the events surrounding Senna any way they like, because nobody remembers it and so it's less likely to have a profound impact on the future. Someone displaced the members of the House of Ryodoji from this time when they were defeated and brought them away to China in the 1800s."
"Well, at least this gives us a good clue as to what Myrkur's doing. Rose is Senna, the Memory Rosary, and he plans to use her to destroy the worlds."
The two stepped out from the crack in Urahara's shop, and Getsuga went back inside Ichigo's inner world, and Ichigo stepped inside the room where everyone was gathered. Urahara informed him, "While you were away, we've thought of some ideas in the fight against Aizen. Tosen and Ichimaru could go back to him and pretend to be on his side to lull him into a false sense of security. Your friends will help to fight the Espada who will no doubt be turning up. As far as we know, Espada numbers 9 and 3 are out, but the rest can fight. Accounting for the Captains who are in Hueco Mundo now, I'd say that there may be up to five Espada who can join the battle in Karakura Town."
"I see. Well, I've just found out something on Myrkur's side. He does have a Memory Rosary, and it happens to be Rose herself."
He filled in the rest about the events surrounding Senna, which they had all forgotten. At the end of it, Urahara scratched his chin and said, "Well, I don't remember any of those events, but such things do tend to happen when a Memory Rosary is involved. It is an object that is never meant to exist, and when it expires, it disappears from everyone's memories. But this time, something different altogether has happened, it seems."
Ichigo commented, "Back in China, we thought that the Memory Rosary was an actual object, a Rosary made of gold and precious stones, because Rose used it to control the Blanks. But she could control them not because the rosary was special, it was because she was the Memory Rosary, and she never realised it."
Urahara asked, "So what do we do now?"
Ichigo answered, "First thing, we can't let Aizen know of this. If he were to know, he would take advantage of it, especially with Hueco Mundo being safe from destruction. Next, we must make sure Soul Society does not know of it either. I don't want them to get distracted. Tosen, did you put a time-loop within Las Noches to prevent everyone from noticing your disappearance?"
"Of course. I can set them free soon."
Ichigo said, "Alright then. Myrkur comes first. Let's assemble the forces, shall we? Urahara, please call up Toshiro. I think he'll want to come along for this..."
To be continued
One last thing: Check out the profile of author Shad999 who has taken up a project inspired by me. If you'll look at my own profile, you'll see that there is a section for story ideas that are meant for other writers to use. There is one idea called The Ark of Stars and Shad999 has expressed interest in using this idea for a story written by her (Please note that she may decide to change the title, so it won't be The Ark of Stars). As of now, she has not uploaded the story, but she will soon. Please do give her story a try when it is uploaded! The other story ideas are free as well, so if any of you want to use those ideas to write a story, just inform me via personal message or even review. Thanks everyone!