Disclaimer: I do not own any of the following and do not claim to. This story is for entertainment purposes only.
"You're not him either."
Naruto Uzumaki cracked a bleary eye, trying to locate the source of the strange voice. A rotund figure skipped away from him through the blackness. He could barely make out the large off-white coat that fell below its knees. Swallowing the dryness in his mouth as his vision focused, Naruto failed to make anything but a faint gasp come out.
The figure turned, a white smile of dagger shaped teeth consumed most of a long face as menacing yellow eyes glared wickedly from behind a pair of thin wired glasses. The little skin showing was smooth and grayish, highlighting the long pointed ears pressed out by the rim of a tall hat.
"Good evening." The creature's grin never stopped, nor did the clenched teeth separate, leaving the voice slightly muffled. "How sad it is for you to be up so early my little friend."
Naruto attempted to question the strange being, but the words wouldn't come out. He struggled to sit up, but not a single muscle moved. What was going on? Did he finish Madara? Oh hell, what if the makeshift technique teleported instead of killed?
"It is so odd for you to be up so soon; most spirits take years to awaken." The creature gave a slushy sounding laugh. "The residents of your world continue to impress."
Naruto delved down into himself. Where was his chakra? If he could pull even a tiny amount out, he'd be back on his feet. It should be so simple to find, so why was there only emptiness where it usually sat?
"Things have been so busy since someone tore the gate down on your side. Those creatures and the three before were interesting – as are you three."
Naruto followed the shift in the creature's gaze. Stretched out on their backs, Hinata and Lee slept so still he worried they were dead. Well, if the thing told the truth, they were dead, but so was he. He'd shake his head in confusion if his body would just respond.
"But none of you are that Sage." The creature spun around on its toes. "Now I can continue my work in peace but what to do with you three?"
Naruto's throat tightened as the creature moved over to Lee, paused, then crouched over Hinata.
"Ooh, she is such a beautiful creature." Naruto could have sworn the thing added a heart at the end of its statement. "Maybe, I should spare her from the void."
Naruto pulled harder on his missing chakra as the creature's gloved hand reached down for Hinata's cheek. His muscles refused to budge no matter how hard he willed them to.
Damn it move! He struggled more frantically. Move!
Out across the sea of dark, three bright stars blinked into existence. The thing looked up as the lights raced toward them.
"Oh dear." It hopped back as the beams engulfed each of the ninja. "I'm afraid this won't do."
The creature stretched out a hand encased in malevolent energy and shoved Naruto further into the void.
What could he do?
His left arm, charred down to the bone, hung limply by his side as his sword lay buried in the ground miles away. Such a thing by itself did not leave him overpowered, but being drastically outnumbered did. And that man hadn't made a move yet. He simply stood above him, calculating several moves in advance as honey brown eyes shined mirthfully.
Ignoring the gloating man, he cast his wrinkled eyes to the destroyed city around them. The broken remains of his army unceremoniously left where they dropped, as the strongest were held at blade point, barely breathing and in no condition to even stand.
The honey eyed man pulled out a small dark orb from his vest and held it out in his palm.
"You performed admirably, Genryusai-dono. Thanks to your arrival, I now have plenty of energy to fuel my Hogyoku." The man smiled arrogantly. "Your names will be etched on the throne of God in remembrance of your sacrifices."
The orb shimmered and the world seemed to shift, before a dark purple light engulfed everything.
The red caricatures flashed as the scene faded away to black. An audible hiss arose as the front of the chamber slowly opened. Genryusai Yamamoto placed his long calloused fingers against his face and attempted to rub the fatigue away. This was the twelfth simulation they had run in the past thirty-two hours. One immediately after the other and all of them failures.
"This is not working Mayuri Kurotsuchi." He growled out, his tone rougher than its normally plain gruff sound. "There have been over three hundred simulations in the past month and nothing has provided answers."
The hunched over doctor came around from the side.
"I lack the necessary data to accurately produce a suitable situation. We have already logged over forty thousand variables with two hundred thousand more in development. Get me useful data on Aizen and I would be more than happy to provide a flawless simulation."
Yamamoto let a hint of his power leak out from its tightly controlled veil.
"There is no time for excuses." The old man stood and reached for the gnarled cane resting on the outside of the chamber. "Aizen's attack could possibly arrive days, even months earlier than expected. You have what is available. Make use of it."
Spinning on his heal, he strode out as his white torso length beard swayed with each step. Holding up his free hand, a black glittering butterfly floated down and gently landed in his palm.
"Attention all Gotei 13 Captains. The Hueco Mundo rescue mission is to be cancelled immediately. Report to First Division Headquarters in three hours, no exceptions."
He dismissed the little creature with a gentle wave, helping the air catch under its wings. The grip on his cane tightened as he walked out into the night sky and stood upon the science division balcony. Inhaling the fresh air deeply, his red eyes scanned the horizon and all below. The pearl white facings of the city's many buildings stood proudly as if nothing could ever topple their grandeur.
He kneaded out a knot tightening in his opposite shoulder.
It was subtle, but every year the weight on his shoulders grew a little heavier – the threats a little more difficult to surmount. What they were up against now was not new, nor would it be the last crisis. There was always going to be hollow, rogue shinigami, or some other force bent on destroying Seireitei or harming innocent souls.
Yet at the heart of it, Aizen raised more concern. There existed no reason to justify such a thing. He was skilled at deception, dangerously intelligent, and had hidden all the cards.
It wasn't anything new. Still, the anxiety remained.
The primary concern stemmed from the issue that Aizen had an unknown force, could no doubt duplicate and enhance it at will, and was fully aware of theirs.
The latter was something in need of immediate change.
This place smelled funny. It was too clean and bland, almost like scent in itself. Even worse, they covered up another scent, something familiar.
Clear blue eyes opened to a dusky sky. It looked painted on, fake, just like the air. He knew the false sky hid something. What that something was had to be important because his heart cried out for it, and a big part of him wanted to get up and tear down every last inch of it, despite the feeling it held something terrible back.
"So you finally decided to get up, huh?"
The world shifted around him so he stood on a barren dirt field. It lacked the stale scent of dust, just more blandness. A man appeared out of the wind, his nearly glowing red eyes causing a nervous shiver down Naruto's back.
"Who are you?" Naruto clenched and unclenched his hands into fists.
"Me? I'm your knew master, kid." Naruto went to bite back a retort but the man's predatory grin froze him in his tracks. "You better get used to the fact quick."
"What do you mean, you're my new master?"
"Cause you're going to be my new sword, Naruto."
While not the most intelligent of responses, it definitely summarized his entire mind frame. This odd place, and the unsettling man, confused him … as did the name. Naruto, he knew it was his name, or at least, it felt like it was. He lacked the feeling of any bond to it though. It lacked the significance name's carry. Memories and weight, the definition of who he was remained absent.
It felt like his name should mean something. Like the painted sky, the name seemed to hide so much potency behind it.
"What do you mean, huh?" The red eyed man took a step closer, kicking his chin up and glaring down at him. "Don't tell me your memories haven't kicked back in yet."
"Yeah." Naruto scratched the back of his head with a nervous grin. "Sorry, everything's kind of a blank."
The man stomped up and picked him up by the collar of his plain white shirt using only one hand, the raven colored hair billowing out around the man's shoulders as anger rolled off him.
"I haven't sat around in this damn place for three hundred years for you not to remember who you are!"
Clenching his teeth, the words bubbled up in Naruto's chest and he grabbed the man's wrist.
"What the hell does it matter to you if I remember who I am?"
"Because your power is attached to who you are, and if you can't access it we can't get out of here because your body won't wake up."
The man tossed him back with a frustrated sigh and folded his arms across his chest as Naruto struggled to stay on his feet. Dressed in silken black, the baggy robe like garment hid what had to be powerful muscles. For whatever reason, Naruto knew most people couldn't make him stumble.
"Alright punk, let's go over the basics. I'll talk. You shut up and listen, got it?"
Naruto frowned but slowly nodded.
"Your name is Naruto Uzumaki, and you're dead."
"Shut up." Naruto yelped as the man punched the top of his head. "Right now, you and I are spirits who have formed this mindscape to talk to each other. It's our common ground. Your body is nothing more than energy waiting to reform around a spirit and form a soul."
Naruto rubbed his head and stuck out his bottom lip in a pout as the man continued.
"Only one of us can claim that body and become physical souls. The other one will be tied to the soul's zanpakuto."
"A sword derived from a person's soul, or in our case, a sword binding our two individual souls. One of us takes the body; the other gets stuffed into the sword and gives up his power to the wielder." The man flashed a feral grin as a murderous aura radiated off of him. "And punk, I ain't sitting tight and giving my power to some snot nosed brat."
Give me back my precious research you brat!
You brat, have some respect for your sensei!
Brat, what makes you think you have what it takes to be Hokage?
Naruto's eyes lit up as the image of a smiling man with long silver hair flashed through his mind. He knew this man. He knew how important he was to him.
Good job, Naruto.
Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes as bittersweet warmth filled his heart.
Look Ero-Sensei, I did it! I got the Shunshin!
And how many trees did you take out in the process?
"Are you actually crying, punk?"
Naruto wiped his eyes on his bare forearm and stood to his full height as countless images streamed through his thoughts. Jiraiya, even now, the old pervert was helping him. His sky blue eyes locked on to the smoldering red of the much taller man. Plastering a grin on his face, Naruto pointed his finger defiantly.
"I don't know who the hell you think you are, but that body belongs to me, Naruto Uzumaki, the greatest ninja to ever come out of Konoha!"
Killing intent swept out and kicked up dust as the man's eyes narrowed.
"You want to repeat that death wish?"
"I sure as hell don't know what's going on, but if I'm here, Hinata and Lee have to be somewhere close by. And if that creepy ball shaped thing has them, I don't have time to waste on you!"
Light blue energy swirled up around him, pushing back the man's rage and sweeping out across the ground. It felt different than chakra – purer, and moved through his entire body instead of a series of pathways. But the oddest part was that there was nothing to mix. There were no physical or spiritual energies; it was just one mass of power.
Crossing his fingers in front of his chest, a grin grew as the man's lips dipped into a tight frown.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu."
A brief gust of wind blew between them, the energy dying and leaving them in a staring contest.
"Did you just try and attack me?"
Naruto's grin became more nervous.
Why the hell hadn't it worked? He made the hand seal, although none of the energy had moved with it. That didn't make any sense though, seals were supposed to direct the chakra through muscle memory so a ninja only needed to worry about the sequence, not moving the energy itself. A hand seal had a defined balance of chakra volume and movement, things that didn't change with a jutsu. It was why they were drilled constantly in the academy, or why a completely new hand seal needed to be created for a technique outside of the basic elements. It was why they weren't always necessary after the body remembered how to form a technique from countless repetition.
When he was … alive, he could form one or two clones without a seal. Was it possible for him to do it now? By only having a single energy in the body, it should be easier. Or maybe it would be better if he tried to retrain his body to shape the energy freely.
"A good dog knows better than to bite his master's hand." A katana, nearly five feet long with a golden hilt materialized in the man's hand as his face twisted up into a scowl. "Now, be a good boy and play dead."
The man lunged at him so fast Naruto barely dove to the side, the tip of the lengthy katana barely missing the edge of his neck. The ninja leapt high up, crossing his fingers and consciously moving the energy through his system. It had taken him hours to make the energy flow naturally when he first learned the technique, and with the way his opponent looked at him now, he lacked that sort of time. He needed to go big.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
Six hundred copies burst into existence around him.
He bit back a curse, so his control had crapped out completely. He'd hoped for a number closer to a hundred. So much of his growth had come from filtering his massive amounts of chakra, leaving it untamed for any length of time asked for trouble. It needed to be his main priority.
The man rested his sword on his shoulder and glared up at him.
But first, this guy was going to eat dirt.
The Naruto army shook the air with a synchronized battle cry as they rained down on the swordsman, fists and feet raised to pummel him flat.
The softly spoken word had been hidden by the shouting clones, but the effect of his sword piercing the ground was not. Hundreds of blades made from tightly compressed air erupted up around him in a protective dome, slicing and dissecting anything caught in their path. Naruto quickly pushed off of a clone's back out of the attack's range, a stray gust slicing the double to pieces an instant later.
Landing, he darted straight for the man. Long range was out, so close range would have to work.
The blade flashed and another torrent of razor wind rushed toward him. He twisted around it, the swordsman already over him and swinging down.
The energy wrapped around Naruto's body in a shell, and then rocketed him in an uncontrollable line three hundred yards away. He bounced and flopped along the ground for a hundred more feet before finally rolling into a crouch, blood trickling down from the cuts on his head.
That hadn't worked as planned.
The man charged at him again, rapidly closing the distance with burning eyes. Naruto stretched his hand out in front of him. The energy began to spiral into a dense sphere. Suddenly, shooting pain raced from his fingers up through his arm as the phantom sensation of it being ripped apart cancelled the technique.
A cold sweat breaking out on his pale face, he gave a shaky look down at his cramping, but unharmed, appendage.
"Pay attention!" Eyes snapping up, Naruto flipped back as the blade swiped at his head, claiming a few blonde hairs. "What's the matter? You won't get your body back like this!"
The man kicked him hard in the rips. He coughed violently, the air in his lungs vomited up with specks of blood and spittle.
"Don't worry though, punk. If she's in trouble and can't handle it herself, I'll save that woman of yours."
"Either way, I promise she'll be well taken care of."
"She wouldn't fall for a creep like you."
"Kid after she meets me, Hinata will forget all about you."
"You stay away from her!"
A large red claw of energy caught him straight in the chest, soaring high up into the air and then slamming down into the ground.
Naruto crouched down on all fours. Enveloped in red with two fox tails swinging behind him, the ninja stalked up to the dust cloud. His feral eyes focused on the shadow climbing to its feet. That little attack wasn't going to take him out, and it wouldn't be any fun if it had.
No focus, don't let the demonic energy influence your thoughts.
The plume blew away in a burst of rage backed power. The swordsman stood proud, scuffed and bruised, but otherwise unfazed.
"You're going to pay for that, punk."
They exploded for each other, blade and claws clashing in a furious barrage of sparks and snarls. Naruto used his tails in conjunction with his hands and feet to strike at the man, the rapid fire barrage ensuring at least two attacks struck at any given time. He stabbed with his tail while throwing a kick or sweep low while punching high. The combinations once even made Lee break a sweat during one of their sparring practices.
And the bastard blocked all of them with a single sword.
Naruto sucked in a lungful of air and unleashed a might roar, knocking the man off balance long enough for him to slip underneath and slam both his feet up into the scowling jaw. Spinning on one hand, Naruto whipped the other around while extending another energy claw and catching the man in the side.
The man soared through the air. Two claws caught him and smashed him into the ground, pinning him in place as the bubbling energy sizzled and hissed. Naruto approached slowly. The bastard shouldn't be a problem held down like this, and ribs had definitely cracked.
"Who are you?"
Naruto's voice came out harsh and animalistic despite his best efforts. Even with the Kyubi dead and gone, its chakr- no, it wasn't chakra anymore. It was just energy. Regardless, it still radiated evil. It was really going to suck having to relearn how to mix it into his system again without Jiraiya's guidance. And he had just mastered it before he fought Madara too. Sure, the power still rested in him somewhere, barely out of reach, like whatever lurked behind that annoying sky.
"Why are you trying to take my body?
"You didn't listen to a damn thing I said did you?"
"Stuff about swords, souls, soul swords, and spirits is kind of hard to follow."
"It's going to take a little history lesson."
He bit back a groan. That type of crap had been forgotten once he got out of the academy. It was the worse aspect of going there in the first place. Boring, confusing … boring, the last day of history class was the happiest day of his life.
"Fine, but keep it short."
"I died three hundred years ago. Something I couldn't kill hunted me down and killed me."
"What was it?"
"They called it a hollow. It was a soul warped into a monster by regret and negative emotions. You came across one once. It called itself the death god."
Naruto's eyes widened the fraction of an inch. The Shinigami, that wasn't a creature he wanted to remember. None of his attacks had done much against it, something about Reiryoku only damaging it. Now that he thought about it, hadn't he figured it out that that stuff was spiritual energy? Is that what he was utilizing now that he didn't have a body?
Since he was dead?
"So there's more than one of those things?"
"There are millions of them. Although now that I could become a soul, I'd crush every last one of them."
"You keep saying souls and spirits. What is all of that?"
"You are dense aren't you?" Naruto frowned and gave a warning squeeze. "Think of the soul as the physical body. It's more durable and stronger than mortal flesh, but still has all the same sensations and weaknesses. The big difference is that souls are constructed out of what your world would call spiritual energy, reishi. The more you have the more powerful the soul becomes. The spirit is the individual's personality, who they are."
"So if my body is still unformed, we're talking as spirits right now?"
"Yep. This place is where our spirits can meet and communicate. It is identical to how you used to visit the giant fur ball. Enter your mind, and you'll find me here. I enter my mind, and I'll find you."
"And all the talk about being in a sword."
"We both have enough power that when the soul forms we will become Shinigami. Not the fake one from your world, but epitomized versions of ourselves."
"The best version, I was becoming an old man when alive, but I'm in my prime now. I'd still age in a soul, but it would be over hundreds, if not thousands, of years." The man shifted against the claws. "Shinigami create Zanpakuto, a sword that is an extension of the soul, but houses a different spirit. It is no different than you having two chakras and the fox in you, except one of the chakras and personalities is kept in a sword."
"How do you know so much about me?" Naruto dropped the cloak and the claws along with it. "Do spirits always fight over who goes into the sword and who goes into the soul?"
"Our situation isn't normal." Kyo sat up with a grunt and brushed himself off. "Normally, the other spirit is a reflection of a part of you. I'm from a completely different person. When I died, I took part in an experiment that would give me a chance to get another body, or at least add my power to someone worthwhile. You died, and for whatever reason, my spirit was similar enough to be drawn to you."
"And what, you can read my mind?"
"I was given all of your memories."
"Why don't I have any of yours?"
"You couldn't even remember your own name five minutes ago. The mind takes a little while to get back to normal after death, and with as simple as you are it will only take longer."
Naruto ignored the slight and cautiously walked up to Kyo.
"I remembered who I was after I died. Why did I forget?"
"You only woke up originally because of your power. Most people remain asleep until they've fully moved onto the afterlife. Of course, no one from your world actually comes over to this side. They go straight to the true afterlife. And no, I don't know how you are here. But as for the memory loss, when your entire spiritual being is nothing but a scrambled mess of energy, it takes a few moments for your brain to sort things out."
"So when people die, they become these Shinigami?"
"Only those with a high amount of spiritual energy, and again, that only relates to the people on this side."
"Who did this experiment and why did you do it, revenge?"
"The Shinigami have an entire society similar to the living world, scientists included. I agreed because I was the strongest when I was alive, and if that thing's alive again, I'm going to need to be again." Kyo rolled his neck and then leveled a smirk down at Naruto. "Actually, you know what? It might be kind of fun to see what you can do."
Kyo picked up his sword and climbed to his feet.
"What do you-?"
"That thing you saw messed up with us meeting directly. You were supposed to wake up right next to the physical form of our zanpakuto soon after your death. He did something that sent you and the other two spiraling off into the ether. I have no idea where you will wake up, and I'm not happy that it's taken this long for our spirits to meet up."
"How long has it been since I died?"
Naruto's face fell. He'd thought maybe a few months had passed at most. So many things must have changed. Konoha would be rebuilt, and his friends would all be adults and maybe even have families of their own now. What about his parents? Did his death wreck them or did they press on like they always had?
What about Hinata and Lee? Were they even in the same world as him? Have they been asleep as well or did they wake up earlier like Kyo planned with him? Had they assumed he would never be with them again?
Did Hinata move on?
"Stop thinking so hard." Kyo moved in front of him and held out the hilt of the sword. "I've given you as much information as I can without knowing where you are. Wake up, find out where you are, and try to find my zanpakuto form. We'll meet up again when you find your feet."
"And how am I supposed to wake up?"
"Why do you think I'm handing you my power, stupid?" He nudged the hilt closer. "You're about to get a nice little jump start."
Genryusai sipped at the steaming green tea as the last of the white clad captains exited his personal office. The meeting of all captains had become far more common place over the past year, and the three empty places sharply punctuated the betrayal of Aizen and his two cohorts. It amplified the hidden anxiousness they felt. A single captain was not easily replaced, especially one as dangerous as Gin Ichimaru or as skilled as Kaname Tosen. They lacked three, which also created the problem that three entire battalions were without full leadership. Though not without valiant effort, the vice-captains lacked the decisive power to keep their respective companies focused in the heat of battle.
Well, they were technically only down two captains. Tosen's replacement in the ninth division was promising, but unproven. Three months since his promotion, and he still had yet to meet the rest of the Gotei 13. The newcomer had already achieved great strides in reorganizing and solidifying his leadership, but even the most dedicated required time to fully grasp the responsibilities of a captain. He still depended on his vice-captain greatly for information on the day to day.
Hopefully, his previous experience as a leader would close the gap during all out warfare.
Genryusai set the cup down and stared at the rusted katana hanging on the far wall. The last artificial Zanpakuto remained dormant unlike the three others of its lot. Their wielders were now safely within the walls of the city. The recent two had yet to awaken, but if the first one was any indication, they would be immensely powerful assets.
Of course, that assumption relied entirely on who those people were. The first possessed honor and morality, a just and noble soul.
No one knew who would be beckoned by the artificial blades. They could be the heroes Soul Society needed – or the most terrible of villains.
Coming back to life, or after life, tickled. Like forming from vapor, energy churned and condensed as it shaped bones and muscles, skin and organs. It seemed to be a deliberate process, as if some great hand shaped each speck of ether into its original form, and then suddenly, the body was complete as if it had always been that way. There was no flash or dramatic actualization. He just simply existed again.
Naruto pat along his body. The sensations felt the same as before. He tentatively patted a little lower, breathing a sigh of relief. Everything was there. Pinching a cheek in each hand, he pulled his face wide, wincing at the sharp sting. The skin tightened back into place as he let go and ran his hands through same soft blonde hair he'd always known.
His voice sounded the same. Honestly, everything seemed the same, although he felt taller and leaner, but without a mirror who knew. The only things out of place were the baggy black kimono he wore. The pants billowed out around his legs and the top draped over his shoulders down his arms. It fit him well enough with the white obi around his waste keeping it together, but it was a far cry from his preferred attire.
"At least the obi could have been orange."
A sound teased his ears, and he focused his attention to his surroundings. The bright blue sky gifted the vast sands of the desert an air of tranquility. White towers jutted up out of the far off horizon, and if his senses weren't completely messed up, they were gigantic. Still, the entire setting seemed peaceful enough, except the air almost dripped with an unsettling atmosphere.
The sound echoed out again. While dull from distance, he still could tell metal clashing against metal created it. The echoes of shouts and screams only cemented his belief there was a fight going on near the towers.
"What to do?" Naruto folded his arms over his chest and closed his eyes in concentration. "Hmm."
He needed to know where the hell he was, and how to get to that Shinigami place. It'd probably help knowing what that actually was, but one step at a time. First, he needed to see who was around.
Sitting down in the sand, he cupped his hands together and stilled himself. He hadn't a clue to where his control stood, and if he could even activate Sage Mode as a dead guy. By consuming living nature energy would it bring him back to life? What if he became a zombie?
The image of his rotting corpse dressed in orange and mumbling threats at the gray blob in the hat sent a chill up his spine.
"Just a little bit at first."
He let everything go still as his energy reached out to pull in what surrounded him. Nothing. Did the technique fail? No, it actually worked perfectly. There simply wasn't any natural energy. Everything was lifeless.
"Being dead is going to suck."
Hopping to his feet, Naruto turned toward the sound of the battle, as flashes of light flickered in and out of existence. He wouldn't get anywhere standing around here. Brushing the sand off his pants, he pushed a little energy into his feet and blasted forward in a burst of sand.
His eyes stretched wide as he raced over the ground. He'd only applied a little bit so he wouldn't have to trudge through the sand, clearing expanses in seconds wasn't a consideration. This spiritual energy's potency compared to chakra like water did air. Had being alive really limited him this much? A cold chill ran up his spine.
"Lee's going to be unstoppable."
Crossing his fingers, he forced ten of an intended three clones into existence. They silently stopped and began to spread out across the desert. He needed his control back quickly or he'd be useless. His eyes drifted down to his empty palm.
The Rasengan failing fell under the same problem as a lack of control, but why it caused pain concerned him. His final technique was pure chaos in a ball and a spur of the moment creation. Did it damage him so badly his soul remembered it?
"That would be such bull-"
A concussive wave knocked him back a step as the sky blackened. Two different energies spiked as blue streams of light appeared in the sky. Gritting his teeth, Naruto dug in and ran harder. The source generating the beams definitely emanated a more bloodthirsty feel, and the other confronting it, while similarly dark, lacked the aggressive nature.
Naruto reached the base of the closest tower and leapt, his feet snagging onto the smooth wall with only mild difficulty. He stumbled once but managed to keep from falling. The less malevolent energy skyrocketed and Naruto heard something shatter as several of the beams roared by both sides of the tower.
"To defeat you Grimmjow!" Naruto could barely make out a voice as he approached the top. "To defeat you, and Ulquiorra, and Aizen!"
Naruto vaulted over the edge and landed smoothly on the top. Five claw shaped waves of blue energy split as a young man with orange hair ran his gleaming black daito through them. He couldn't make out who threw the energy wave, but whoever did lacked any chance of escaping the orange-haired kid's counter attack.
"Rukia, Chad, Uryu, Renji, and Orihime, I'm taking them all back with me." Naruto heard a gasp and he spotted a slender girl about Hinata's old age standing at the edge of the tower. Her long cinder hair billowed out as a small child in green rags wearing a skull clutched to her legs. Her large eyes stared wide as the kid closed the last few feet. "I can't lose to you Grimmjow!"
Naruto watched as the kid dressed in an ankle length jacket, stabbed whoever floated in front of him. The blue sky returned as everything gradually settled. The Grimmjow guy muttered a curse before falling back. The victor caught him by the wrist then slowly lowered him down into the sand.
Naruto swallowed a lump in his throat. The attack wasn't as powerful as Madara's final move, but the size of the energy dwarfed anything he'd seen before – and that kid literally ripped it to pieces with a sword. If these guys were average in this world, every fight would be a major struggle. If they were weaker, he needed his strength back.
The kid effortlessly leapt and almost floated to the top of the tower. He smiled at the two girls at the edge of the tower. He spotted Naruto and his brown eyes narrowed slightly. Landing softly he moved in front of them, his blade hanging loosely in his grip.
"Who are you?"
Naruto eyed the blade and the worried looks on the girl's faces before meeting the kid's gaze. The youth stood about an inch shorter than he did, and he looked about sixteen or so. The kid's thin face dipped into a faint scowl. Naruto sucked in a breath and put on a wide smile as he scratched the back of his head.
"Naruto Uzumaki, and I'm kinda- really, really lost."
So a week later than planned but I'm finally getting the story reorganized and splitting that promo chapter from before Christmas into the first and second installments.