Bleach Copyright to Tite Kubo and whoever else owns it (not like they'll be reading this). Also, as you might imagine, I'm not the greatest with titles... anyway, hope you enjoy this first chapter, and don't forget to leave feedback when you're done!
"Alright, this is it, time to finish what Ulquiorra started!"
The intense Reiatsu in the area indicated to Grimmjow and his Fraccion that they'd hit the jackpot. The presence of several high-ranked Shinigami meant they could at least enjoy wiping this pitiful town off the map. Grimmjow , with his rictus grin plastered across his face, saw no problem with destroying a nearby building with a Cero, before heading off in search of the strongest source of Reiatsu, leaving his Fraccion to deal with the rest.
Instead of splitting up and tracking down Shinigami, the Fraccion converged in one spot, luring their targets toward them, which would hopefully allow for swift elimination of their enemies. However, as low-level Arrancar, especially D-Roy, they were unable to establish exactly how many they would be facing, which could have led to their downfall.
"Prepare yourselves well, comrades, for there are several Captain-ranked Shinigami among our opponents tonight," Shawlong stated, acknowledging the power of those who would oppose them, "Release your Resurreccions if needed. Snip, Tijereta!"
Shawlong began to transform, half his face obscured by his hollow mask, his hands lengthening and becoming clawed, complete with another clawed appendage growing from behind.
Edrad released his Zanpakuto, his arms turning white, growing larger, resembling his Adjuchas form.
"Skewer, Del Toro!"
Ilfort also released his Zanpakuto, his body gaining armour that fused with his body, even covering up his Hollow hole, the end result looking like an overgrown demonic bull. D-Roy and Nakeem elected not to release, the former because he suspected the others would taunt him over how pathetic his Resurreccion was in comparison to theirs, the latter because he was gratifyingly mute and overly-confident that his initial strength would be all he needed.
"This Reiatsu... it can't be..."
Everyone in the surrounding area who had the ability to sense Reiatsu knew something was wrong, something terrible. After the close encounter with Yammy and Ulquiorra before, Ichigo couldn't afford to take it easy this time. Sure, Yammy wasn't much of a threat, but he was just one Arrancar, and if the rest were anywhere near that power, but more focused, Ichigo knew that he would be unable to defeat them himself. Of course, there were other Shinigami around now, so that would make things easier, but Ichigo felt that he had to prove himself as more than just a Substitute Shinigami, to control his power more efficiently. Once this was over, he'd take up Shinji's offer and join the Vizard, but only for his own purposes.
"Here they come. Keep up your guard, as we are dealing with Captains." Shawlong warned his comrades of the incoming danger once again, re-iterating the fact that if any of them used less than their full strength they would surely fall.
"Who put you in charge?" D-Roy asked, irritated by the temporary leader's manner.
"I am the Undecimo Arrancar, thus I have more experience that the likes of you, Dieciseis."
"Shut it, weakling, or I'll strike you down myself, brother!" Ilfort said, feigning a charge, causing D-Roy to cower while Ilfort laughed at his fear.
"Stop. They arrive." Shawlong pointed past the ruined building that Grimmjow's Garganta had dropped them off near, where several figures could be seen moving towards the Fraccion. Ilfort and Edrad turned around, sensing a spike in Reiatsu behind, as the rest of the Shinigami appeared on the opposite side.
"Got you surrounded! Give it up, Arrancar!" Renji Abarai gloated, swinging Zabimaru forward to strike Ilfort.
"We won't go down that easily, Brother!" Ilfort charged for real this time, catching Renji on the backswing, knocking him back and bringing another building crashing down with the force. The two groups of Shinigami, made up of Renji, Ikkaku Madarame, and Yumichika Ayasegawa on one side and Rangiku Matsumoto, Toshiro Hitsugaya, Rukia and Ichigo on the other, prepared for a gruelling battle, hoping to drive the threat away.
"Shawlong Qufang, Undecimo Arrancar." Shawlong introduced himself to his chosen opponent.
"Captain of 10th Division, Toshiro Hitsugaya." Hitsugaya returned the favour, before releasing Hyorinmaru's power in the form of a huge ice dragon, "Wait, if you're eleventh, does that mean you're the 11th strongest of all Arrancar?"
"Only the ten strongest Arrancar, the Espada, are ranked in that way. The rest of us are numbered according to the order of our creation. I was the first, hence Undecimo. I must warn you, though, that one of our numbers is an Espada."
"Oh, that's good to know. At least that means this should be a little easier!" Hitsugaya launched more ice towards his opponent, attempting to stop his attack, but Shawlong effortlessly sliced through it before striking down Hitsugaya, who hadn't even thought to use Bankai yet.
"If this is the level of a Captain, it is disappointing to say the least," Shawlong said, digging into Hitsugaya's flash with his taloned hands.
"Is that so? In that case... BANKAI! Daiguren Hyorinmaru!"
"Growl, Haineko!" Elsewhere, Matsumoto released her Zanpakuto's Shikai against Nakeem, who, by rights, should have been the weakest of the group, having been only Gillian level when he was promoted to Arrancar status. Surrounded by whirling ash clouds, he had to dodge with Sonido to avoid being torn apart, with no time to charge a Cero. Mastumoto gave chase, her Shunpo skills proving to be superior, as Nakeem was unable to stay ahead. Haineko struck with its full force, tearing at Nakeem's outer flesh, but not dealing lethal damage. It seemed that Nakeem had retained some of the high-speed regeneration powers of his previous form, as the shredded skin began to quiver and reform itself, a power that so far had remained unrevealed.
"Impressive. Sure makes up for your poor Flash Step skills, anyway. You guys got a name for that, by the way?" Rangiku enquired, somewhat curious as to how the Arrancar worked, and what differentiated them from the Shinigami.
"Sonido," Nakeem said simply, not wishing to expend time and energy with needless idle chitchat.
"Oh. We call ours Shunpo," Matsumoto replied, before using said skill to lunge forwards and catch Nakeem in another cloud of sharp ash particles.
"Looks like you're unlucky, since you got two of 11th Division's finest to contend with! Extend, Hozukimaru!" Ikkaku released his zanpakuto, ready to face Edrad Leones in combat.
"Do not think you are so fortunate. You aren't even captains, yet you think you can defeat the likes of me?" Edrad swung his right fist at Ikkaku, knocking him clean off his feet, as Yumichika tried to strike with his unreleased zanpakuto, but the Arrancar's Hierro prevented anything more than a glancing blow. Edrad's right arm swung the other way this time, taking down Yumichika as well. Flames erupted from Edrad's shoulders as he prepared for the final blow, confident that these two low-ranked Shinigami wouldn't survive.
As Ikkaku arose and thrust Hozukimaru forward, he considered whether it would be worth him releasing Bankai. Up to this point, he'd hidden the fact he'd reached Bankai level as he would inevitably be made Captain of another division, and he didn't want to be moved from Kenpachi's squad. He was happy where he was, and nothing was going to change that. Not even a life or death situation like this one. It would've helped if Yumichika hadn't been just stood there preening himself like an idiot and actually released his shikai for once.
"You're good... but not good enough! Have this!" Ikkaku's reiatsu built up at the end of Hozukimaru, focused on breaking through the impregnable barrier of Hierro. The blow struck, and sure enough Edrad was down, but not completely out. After all, that blow only had 20% of Ikkaku's true power behind it.
"Give it up, brother! You still haven't managed to land a real blow yet!" Ilfort continued to remind Renji who was more powerful, as he had been doing for the whole time they'd been battling.
"Alright, you asked for it, pal! Bankai! Hihio Zabimaru!" Renji called out to his Zanpakuto, bringing forth its full power, in the formed of a coiled skeletal serpent. He'd learned to control it better during the months since Aizen betrayed Soul Society, and now was his chance to test it out in the field of battle. The snake headed straight for Ilfort's mask, but seemed to bounce off without much effect, before one blow from Ilfort's horns completely shattered it.
"Fuck, how did you manage that?" Renji cried in disbelief.
"That's the difference between you and me, brother!" Ilfort said, and Renji sure as hell knew it. This guy was at least as powerful as Byakuya if he was able to smash through Hihio Zabimaru like that, maybe even more so. Renji was helpless, without his zanpakuto's power, he'd have to retreat, or hope that the limit imposed on his power would be released soon, or else he'd be killed.
The arrival of Kisuke Urahara could not have been timed better, as he, Jinta, Tessai and Ururu all joined the fight, after a long trek from the shop. Tessai's high-powered Kido, which didn't even require an incantation, kept Ilfort at bay while Ururu fired blasts of concentrated reiatsu from her cannon and Jinta swung his heavy baseball bat as hard as he could, hoping to concuss the Arrancar.
"Scream, Benihime!" Urahara ordered, his zanpakuto more than happy to oblige, sending a huge crimson blast of energy straight towards the incapacitated Fraccion. It seemed to work, as Ilfort no longer offered any resistance, but now was not the time for any allies of Soul Society to let their guard down, especially not with four other Fraccion in the surrounding area and Grimmjow lurking around Karakura Town.
"Hey, no fair, there's two of you and only one o' me!" D-Roy, the weakest of the Fraccion, got the worst deal out of all of them, with Rukia and Ichigo ready to unleash their most powerful techniques and destroy him in an instant.
"Sorry, but we don't do fair when it comes to Hollows!" Ichigo said smugly, "Yeah, I went there. Your reiatsu's nothin' special, I've faced Gillian more powerful than you."
"Why you... You better watch the fuck out!" D-Roy removed the blue bandages surrounding his right eye, ready to charge a Cero, which, of course, was anticipated by both Ichigo and Rukia, who both manoeuvred out of the way before attacking in a double-cross formation, leaving a huge X-shaped scar in D-Roy's torso.
"I had no need to even release my Zanpakuto in order to inflict that wound. But before you die, you should at least know the blade that shall take your life. Dance, Sode no Shirayuki!" Rukia's zanpakuto glowed with a harsh white light, and when the light faded the blade had become the same colour as fresh snow, rather fitting as it was the most elegant and beautiful of the ice-element Zanpakuto, "Now is the time of your demise! First Dance, Tsukishiro!"
D-Roy narrowly avoided being caught up in the circle before a cylinder of ice erupted from the ground, freezing all above it. Rukia readied her next dance, Hakuren, but was interrupted by a cry from Ichigo as Grimmjow discovered him at last. D-Roy used this opportunity to land a cheap hit on Rukia, sending her staggering backwards, before piercing her abdomen with the second blow. Seeing this, Ichigo fired off a quick Getsuga Tensho in D-Roy's direction before resuming his battle with the Sexta Espada.
"So, you're the one who Ulquiorra claimed was worthless. Now here's your chance to prove you're worth killing!" Grimmjow attacked ferociously, and Ichigo had a hard time keeping up, parrying blows from left, right, above, behind, just about every direction that he could defend himself from. Grimmjow deliberately took a break from the relentless onslaught to take a Getsuga Tensho to the chest, and Ichigo was shocked to see that it didn't even leave a mark. It was true, he did have a long way to go before he reached the level of the Captains and was ready to take on Aizen.
"Come on now, is that really it? Show me your true power! Don't hold back or I'll just kill you anyway!"
"Alright, this is it. Bankai! Tensa Zangetsu!" Ichigo, in desperation, finally released his Bankai, but even then he couldn't do much to Grimmjow. It seemed like his skin was made of steel, as every attack seemed to just bounce off ineffectively. After one final Getsuga Tensho, using all the power Ichigo could bring himself to use, he collapsed, physically unable to go on.
After over an hour of complete chaos in Karakura Town, and just before Grimmjow dealt the fatal blow on Ichigo, a Garganta appeared, and Tosen held back the Espada.
"You and your Fraccion have not been ordered to attack. You have violated the laws of Hueco Mundo, and the punishment shall be grave indeed," The blind ex-Captain guided Grimmjow back into the Hollow Realm, his Fraccion tagging along behind. Many of those involved in the battle were quite badly wounded, Rukia impaled by D-Roy, Ichigo close to death due to his own rashness, Hitsugaya still in shock after his Bankai was sliced in half by Shawlong. Ururu would hopefully pull through after being gored by Ilfort's horns after he lurched back to consciousness following a barrage of Kido, and Ilfort himself wasn't in such good shape either, struggling to keep up with the rest of the Fraccion.
"Well, that could've gone better," Renji said, Zabimaru slowly growing back to its original length after being wrecked earlier on.
"Looks like we weren't so lucky after all..." Ikkaku groaned, Hozukimaru shrinking back to its pre-release state.
"That Arrancar ruined my natural beauty. I'd just recovered from the fireworks incident too," Yumichika complained, his kimono still smouldering.
"We'd better head back to Orihime's place, most of us could do with healing," Matsumoto suggested, "Renji, you carry Rukia, Ikkaku can take the boy, I'll take my captain. As for you, pretty-boy, I don't care what you do. It's not like you helped out anyway."
"I did!" Yumichika protested.
"Shut it, and help me move the injured!"
"I said do it!" Matsumoto commanded, carrying Hitsugaya despite the fact he was still on his feet.
"If Soul Society had just listened to us and released the limit on our power that would've been easy..." Renji pointed out, still bitter over having to be helped out by Urahara once again. 'If this is what ordinary Arrancar are like,' he thought, 'I sure as hell hope I don't run into an Espada any time soon.'
Meanwhile, in Hueco Mundo, during Tosen's absence, an exceptionally powerful Espada had entered Las Noches, wiping out Rudobon's Exequias in the process, in order to present himself to Aizen, the self-proclaimed Lord of Hueco Mundo. His brilliant iridescent wings, made from pure reiatsu, signified his immense strength, and Aizen smiled slightly, knowing immediately that this arrancar was quite different to the rest he'd seen in his time...
A.N.: This is mostly just a prologue to the real story. At first I tried to follow the initial Arrancar Attack plot pretty much to the letter, but in the end decided that due to the circumstances most of it wouldn't really pan out the same anyway. Also, there will be some favouritism present in this fic, some characters will get a lot more 'screen time' than others. Also, don't expect regular updates, it took two weeks just to write this prologue!