UPDATED JUNE 22, 2014- I changed parts of their discussion 'cause I felt Yamamoto was REALLY OOC after rereading this story. Hopefully, he isn't as OOC, but for those of you who've read this story before, I think you'll find quite a difference.


Nine Lives

By Curiosity Killed Kristy

[Chapter 1: The Object and the Objected]

The wind blew a sand dune to shreds, the miniscule specks flashing beige. He paid no mind to it. He didn't have the time to fret over such trivial matters. This place was empty and swept of any life-force that he hadn't already experimented on. The sand, what the headquarters was made of, reishii. Spiritual particles made up this barren wasteland.

The moon casted an eerie glow on the forever nightfall of Hueco Mundo, deterring the scientist none from his excavation. What else did he want to know about this place? The plants? Nothing but roots belonging to sky-high trees in the Menos Forest, where the Menos Grande resided.

Such vile creatures. Living in an existence devoid of functional intellect and emotion. It was disappointing. He knew almost about everything of this place, and it did no good for his research. It didn't expand his knowledge and only reminded him of what he already knew.

Fruitless.

He'd only visited to find himself a new specimen, but all the high-ranking arrancar and Espada had been obliterated to smithereens. Brutes. Such brutes. He'd have appreciated the captains a little more if they had been subtle in their advances to kill.

He never did fight simply for one such as battle. Instead, he used it for wisdom. Take the eighth Espada for example: Syazel Aporro Granz. The man who claimed himself a scientist did not impress him at all. Instead, he had disgusted him in more ways than one.

That man talked about a thing such as perfection. In all his years of conducting experiments and investigations, he'd never met a man so ridiculous and feeble-minded.

Mayuri, of course, had already had in mind to run tests on the Espada, but said Espada had crumbled to nothing. No spiritual pressure had been left of him. The scientist had been infuriated.

Evidently, he'd stumbled upon the man's lab, overflowing with species he'd never heard of. It was a disturbing sight, yes, but it filled him with joy to the brim of his being. He began to take samples immediately, but the task grew to be boring.

He'd thrown that study in the garbage, never to be looked at in the future again. Yet here he was, scavenging for anything left of this blank badlands.

"Nemu." She stopped her ministrations on the screen.

"Yes, Mayuri-sama?"

"Open this door," he instructed.

"Right away, Mayuri-sama." Standing to her feet, she strode over to the bulky door. Nemu quickly made handy work and rotated, pressed, and traced all of the secret codes. The door lifted, hissing as it did, sunlight flooding the secluded lab.

Mayuri stepped from inside his cocoon. He breathed in the scent of emptiness and sand, and stared at the fake sun. No wind in this far corner of Las Noches. He left footprints in the sand, taking in the sight of fallen buildings and pillars.

A crash immediately alerted him.

Mayuri instinctively shunpoed away, watching as a red pillar fell where he originally stood.

He searched through the midst of sand and smoke, his golden flecks zeroing in on a heaving man, head bowed down to catch his breath. His hand gripped a long gash on his chest, dried blood clotting the upended skin. He concluded that this man was the cause behind the fallen red pillar.

The man's legs gave out from under him, as he fell headfirst into the sand. "This… is… It's… my fight…" he mumbled.

"Oh," Mayuri gathered with amusement, raising a quizzically painted eyebrow. He concluded that this man had to be an arrancar, with that six tattooed on his lower back. "You spent all these days trying to stand? Pathetic." The 12th captain snuck a hand in his robe quickly, whipping a weeping syringe with green acid.

"Ah, such a hassle you arrancars are." The needle pricked the arrancar's arm. The arrancar didn't flinch or react to the injection, instead muttering nonsense again.

"Kurosaki… Ichigo…" the man seethed. Mayuri cocked his head, wondering if he'd heard that correctly.

"The Substitute Shinigami?"

The man's eyes fluttered, his conscience fading in and out. His vision was a blur. Everything was swirling around him, and he couldn't stop the rotation.

Mayuri's eyes scanned the arrancar, as a Cheshire grin pulled at his lips.

"You're going to make a fine specimen, Espada." The scientist's lips stretched from ear to ear, displaying his cheesy teeth, and smiling, mustard eyes.

XLXLXL

"Captain Kurotsuchi," Yamamoto Genryusai, the Head Captain, boomed out with his gruff and scratchy voice. "What is so important that you've gathered all of the Gotei 13?"

Mayuri cracked a sly grin. "It seems that not all of the Espada have been eliminated."

"Nelliel Tu Oderschvank is-"

"I do not speak of the girl child, Captain Ukitake," Mayuri interjected. "I speak of a whole different matter." The scientist sneered. Captain Ukitake's eyebrows knitted together in confusion.

"Are you saying that another Espada lives?" the 10th squad's captain, Hitsugaya, vocalized for the entire majority, blunt and straight to the point. Mayuri smirked.

"All of us, we are all well acquainted with this individual," the scientist spoke with a definite tone, "the Substitute Shinigami." The room grew eerily silent.

"Are you implying that that boy is associated with an Espada?" Byakuya Kuchiki, the head of the Kuchiki clan as well as the captain of squad six inferred; that steely gaze of his steelier than was before.

"Ah, ah, ah…" He wagged his finger in front of the man's stoic face. "I advise against jumping to conclusions."

"Kurotsuchi, we're dying of suspense here. Stop beating around the bush and tell us already." Captain Kyoraku, leader of squad eight, sighed. He tipped his straw hat at the scientist.

As Mayuri opened his mouth to retort, Captain Yamamoto tapped his cane on the floor twice, bringing their attention onto him. "Enough! Captain Kurotsuchi, tell us what you have found," he spoke with finality, jabbing his cane on the floor once more.

Mayuri harrumphed with a glare at the Captain's way, facing the other twelve with a smile. "Yes, an Espada lives." He paced the room, eyeing the expressions on the captains' faces. "It seems he was in combat with the Substitute Shinigami. From my analysis, he remained in the Dome of Las Noches for what I surmise to be a few months with very severe injuries."

"You say that an Espada lives, though from the story you're telling, it sounds like he should be dead by now." Soi Fon crossed her arms, glaring with that placid look in her eyes.

"Ah, yes, I said so, didn't I?" The captains' gazes on him were daggers. "I am sure you guys believe me to be a traitor for resuscitating the sixth Espada now." Shocked faces were sent in all directions, as shouting overtook the hall with protests.

"Silence!" the Head Captain yelled above the roar of his students. "Captain Kurotsuchi, do you provide a reason as to why I shouldn't hand you to the Central 46 for treason?"

"As a matter of fact, I do." The 12th captain scratched his chin with a fingernail. "I gathered us together to ask for admittance on bettering my studies with this Espada, and for that, my reasons are understandable. If I had left the Espada for dead, I couldn't have possibly run tests on him. So you see, I am no betrayer. I simply did not want my discovery to die out."

The hall was incredibly quiet.

"I have made a decision." The Head broke through all of their reveries. "I grant permission on your experimentation." Mayuri would've cracked a smile, but the captain continued. "But, reviving an enemy without the Gotei 13's consent will have its punishment."

Mayuri frowned at the Head Captain, lifting an eyebrow. "The Espada may not be tested on until it is at full health."

"I apologize for chiding in, Head Captain Yamamoto, but if the Espada is restored its physical strength, it could very well cause problematic circumstances," Captain Komamura Sajin inputted.

"I am well aware, Captain Komamura," the old man continued. "And that is why the Espada is to be trained properly. He is to see us as allies. Captain Kurotsuchi, you spoke of the Substitute Shinigami, Kurosaki Ichigo, did you not?" Mayuri didn't utter a syllable. "I take the Substitute Shinigami to be the perfect candidate to train this man. If what you say is true about their battle in Hueco Mundo, the Substitute Shinigami knows him best out of all of us, be it his persona and his abilities."

"Captain Yamamoto," Jushiro Ukitake again intervened. "Forgive my bluntness, but what would be the purpose of training this Espada?"

"We still remain short on manpower since the Winter War, and I take this opportunity to be the best one to get the Gotei 13 back in order."

"The Espada is an arrancar, a hollow, Head Captain," squad four's captain, Unohana Retsu, brought to mind. "The districts may not be very appreciative of this decision. Who's to say that we can trust this Espada?"

"We cannot." The captains stared at him in anticipation, wondering what the point was.

"Then how are we to rely on him?" Unohana reiterated.

"I believe that adding the Espada will increase our manpower tremendously. Much like working with assassins, we cannot trust them individually, but trust in their ability."

"But there is one fault in your speculations, Head Captain," Mayuri interjected. "Kurosaki Ichigo sacrificed his spiritual link against Sousoke Aizen. Kisuke Urahara has informed us that he used the Last Getsuga-Tensho. In doing so, it risked his ability to sense spirits, and in a few weeks' time, his reiatsu will no longer exist.

"Let's not forget that an Espada is extremely capable of striking a human populace with little effort. There is no definite promise that that arrancar will not react to his battle instincts when it arises. The next person he could very well strike is the Substitute Shinigami. I surmise that the two were not on best terms."

"But you fail to see the point in why I chose to train this arrancar, Captain Kurotsuchi," Yamamoto elucidated. "The Substitute Shinigami is more educated about this arrancar. The Espada can start his training through learning to sift through temper management, and that is to begin with withstanding the enemy he longs to kill. I am confident that Kisuke Urahara will be able to modify a device that will disable the use of its resurrección before any further involvement."

Mayuri scowled at the Head Captain, his anger floating higher and higher. This old man had reasons for almost everything, and it did no good to hurry his studies.

"All in favor?"

"I am not in favor of this decision," Soi Fon interjected.

Yamamoto narrowed his eyes with purposefully inputted warning. "And your reasons are, Captain Soi Fon?"

"I find this very uncharacteristic of you. Why are you permitting a soldier of Sousoke Aizen's war a pass into Soul Society? No matter if this arrancar participated or not in the main war, it is still an enemy." Soi Fon met eyes with the Captain, suspicion held in their depths. "Why do you push this issue forth? You know better than anyone that this is bound to cause an emergence of unnecessary casualties."

Yamamoto remained silent, his expression indiscernible. "I am not prohibited to tell you the reason as to why, but I may give my thoughts on the matter, and it is this: mankind fears an evil man, but Heaven does not."

Soi Fon and the rest of the captains stared at him with incredulity, but none attempted to assuage the silent premonition they heard in his words. Mayuri formulated theories in his head, but he still couldn't decode it.

"Again I ask, all in favor?" Yamamoto swept his eyes around the room and found that all the captains held finality in their eyes. He nodded in recognition of their agreement. "Meeting adjourned." Yamamoto tapped his cane, his subordinates bowing in respect. "Captain Zaraki, you will remain, and as will you, Captain Kurotsuchi."

"Damn it," the 11th squad's captain complained. Mayuri lingered with a grimace, taking his place at the front of the barbaric captain.

"Captain Zaraki, assign your two most trusted subordinates to escort the sixth Espada to the Urahara Shoten in the Living World. The Espada shall be kept under vigilant watch at all times."

"Man, why am I being ordered to do this crap?" Kenpachi whined, patting his back with his zanpaktou.

"Do not question your commanding officer." Kenpachi harrumphed and spun his attention elsewhere. "As for you, Captain Kurotsuchi, you are to send the sixth Espada in his best condition, conscious or unconscious, to the 11th squad's barracks for its departure."

Mayuri glared at Kenpachi.

"You are dismissed."

XLXLXL

Kenpachi Zaraki trolled his way through Seireitei, balancing his zanpaktou on his shoulder as he did. He continued on his merry way to his barracks, complaining and whining on the way there.

That old man picked him, and he knew why. Espada were blood-thirsty, battle-frenzy beings. The 11th squad was blood-thirsty, and battle-frenzy, so picking the most brutal of all squads to guard the pest was only reasonable.

Once the Espada was to be deemed perfectly trained, he'd be sent back to the Soul Society. He scoffed at that, but trotted along to the barracks to find his two most trusted subordinates.

"Ken-chan!" He felt the slightest weight on his shoulder where his unsheathed blade met skin.

"Yachiru," he barked out in his booming voice. The little bubble gum-haired child inclined her head to the side, curious. "Where are those two bumbling idiots at?"

As Yachiru adjusted her spot on his shoulder, rubble flew.

Before he could even comprehend why dust was flying, a building behind him was blown to shreds. Smoke fogged his vision, but after a while, he could make out two figures. One was on his back on the ground in a pile of junk, while the other was standing.

"Did you say I was bald?" Kenpachi watched in boredom, already knowing where this fight would go. There was his 3rd seat, Ikkaku Madarame, starting up shenanigans again. "Well, if you got the guts to say that to your friends, why don't you grow some balls to say it to my face?" Ikkaku hissed, sliding his zanpaktou from its sheath.

The man below him cowered in fear, snot trailing his cupid's bow. Ikkaku raised his sword above his shiny forehead, and swung downwards.

"Taicho!" The Captain's bells jingled at the voice. He leaned his body towards it, and was met with a cocky-grinning Yumichika Ayasegawa, his 5th seat. "What brings you to this side of Seireitei?"

"Old Man Yamamoto wants me to send two idiots to the Living Worl-"

"Ooh! Can I go? They have these amazing scarves that you can only get in the stores down there! Soul Society is just short on fashion these days!" Yumichika babbled on.

"Just stop shaking your ass, and you can go. Your ass-wagging is making me want to hurl." Kenpachi would've stuck his tongue out in disdain, but chose against it. "Go ahead and pick somebody, 'cause I ain't got the energy to do that shit."

"We're being sent to usher that Espada Captain Kurotsuchi found to Karakura Town, aren't we?" Zaraki halted in his tracks, and peeked at the corners of his eyes to glance at the young man's expression. All joking aside, seriousness was evident on Yumichika's face.

"Mm," Captain Zaraki grunted, Yumichika needing no more information than that. The 5th seat stared after his respected and well-feared captain, muscular and bold, and easily found in any ordinary or bizarre crowd; he couldn't help but to smile in admiration.

More rubble flew.

He watched with indifference as his best comrade and squad member finished the man with one final blow. The mustached man was out of it immediately. "Che, I hope you learned your lesson, ya jackass." Ikkaku abandoned the man with one last kick to the shin and spun on his heel.

The passing Soul Reapers gaped with wide eyes. "Man, these bastards never learn." Yumichika smiled genuinely at his best friend, who had that permanent scowl intact, approaching his lone figure.

"Ikkaku! I got some news for you!" Yumichika sang, grabbing for his wrist, and hauling him off.

"Yumichika!" Ikkaku yelped, struggling against the hold, but evidently failing.

XLXLXL

Damn that old geezer.

All he'd wanted to do was experiment with the Espada day and night, night and day, and continue on without rest until he was satisfied and dissatisfied. He traipsed along the route to his lab.

His lieutenant, Nemu, followed, falling three steps behind him. Mayuri clicked buttons and swirled his fingerprints in every which direction on a pad to open the door.

He stepped foot inside the lab, flicking his eyes left to right. His most trustworthy subordinates typed among their own computers, for what he was sure had been their twelfth week without breaks.

No greeting was spoken to him and him in return. He again pressed passwords and codes on a nearby pad, a door welcoming access for him. Nemu stayed silent and stood on the sidelines as she watched her master rush for his experiments, where he then began to conduct absurd yet fascinating gadgets together.

Three hours had long passed, yet her master barely blinked, maintaining his steady pace on the new device he was creating. He messed with liquids, and mechanical equipment yet she made no move to pursue her curiosity.

She knew by his jerky movements that he was trying to fashion a quick mechanism through all the gadgets he'd about used up and all the machines he ran through. After two more hours of observing, her master smiled that eerie smile she'd grown used to, and she knew he was finished. "Nemu." She jolted inside.

"Yes, Mayuri-sama," she answered with no reluctance.

"Initiate Embodiment and One Square at my command." Nemu nodded. Embodiment and One Square consisted of fusing a body and pill together; she could only surmise that the Espada would undergo it.

After all the preparations were set up and ready for action, Nemu awaited her master's command. The Espada's body was submerged in water, lifeless and still with the exception of his hair swaying in the water, stark naked.

"Nemu."

"Right away, Mayuri-sama." Nemu pressed the blinking red button. The water bubbled as the body swayed to and fro.

"Forgive my asking, Mayuri-sama." Nemu bowed her head to show her apology. "But, I believe you told me Captain Yamamoto prohibited any further experimentation until the Espada was deemed a worthy ally."

"No, he has stated I may not run tests on the Espada, so I am breaking no such commitment," the scientist sneered.

"May I ask a question, Master Mayuri?"

"You may," her master approved with a nonchalant wave.

"What have we injected within this man's body?"

She heard her captain smirk. "All in due time, Nemu." He turned towards the oval case, smiling at his new-found plaything, a mustard smile placed upon his lips. Nemu eyed the container, wondering what he was hiding up his sly, clever sleeve.