Chapter 3

Despite some injured in the gun fight with a Mexican gang, Byakuya's seven best agents: Ichigo Kurosaki, Renji Abarai, Toshiro Hitsugya, Rangiku Matsumoto, Kisuke Urahara, Zaraki Kenpachi, and Shihouin Yoruichi stood in Suite 435 of the Seiretei, Byakuya's main base of operation. Suite 435, Lord Byakuya's personal apartment he shared with his sister Rukia, was a plain sparsely furnished space with not but a couch, round table and small television in the main area.

From a door down the hall, the mafia lord of Karakura Town emerged with Rukia at his side. He wore a silk white Kimono and leaned on a black gentlemen's cane topped with a carved wolf's head. Rukia tried to support his left side, but he shook her off. A proud man, Byakuya strode to where his company waited with his jaw set against the pain. The company shifted to let him sit on the couch.

"Very well, you all already know what this is about. Orihime Inoue has disappeared," he opened. He gestured to Rangiku. "Rangiku here thinks she was kidnapped by the Mexican mafia gang we encountered yesterday. Given the circumstances, I must admit it's likely the gun attack was a cover to take her from under our noses."

"Well then what are we standing here for? She's probably being starved in a Spanish prison by now!" Ichigo blurted.

"No," Byakuya quieted. "The leader of mafia called Espada in Hueco Mundo is Sousuke Aizen. If he took Orihime, he won't harm her. He took her as leverage for something."

"Well we still can't leave her there!" Ichigo protested.

"Quiet moron!" Yoruichi snapped. "I'm sure Lord Byakuya has a plan."

"Of course he does," Rukia put in with a glare at Ichigo.

"Hm-mm, could we get back to business?" Byakuya questioned.

Ichigo nodded apologetically.

"I plan to send six of you Mexico to retrieve the girl and discover Aizen's plans, if you're willing. And yes, Ichigo, you'll be going, but I want, Hitsugya to head the mission. Is that understood?" Byakuya made sure. He knew Ichigo to have a habit of going his own way and getting into trouble.

"Kenpachi Zaraki, I'm sending you as reinforcement for Hitsugya's small problem. Do you accept?"

A lion's grin spread across the Pro-wrestler's face. "Any chance to smash some Espada crack-heads is a gift to me." He flexed his massive fist threateningly.

Byakuya nodded in approval, then turned to Rangiku and Yoruichi.

"Rangiku, your skills as woman might be handy as a distraction or cover should you need it. Yoruichi, you're a skilled assassin and wise advisor as well as good control for the others," Byakuya complimented.

Both women nodded their agreement to the mission.

"Urahara, I would like you to strategize from here. You may use any resource you wish."

The always smiling man nodded.

Finally Byakuya turned to Renji.

"Go along and make sure Ichigo doesn't get into trouble."

The attractive red head nodded.

"Byakuya, please," Rukia began.

"No, you're not going. It's too dangerous. I won't put you in direct danger," her brother objected.

Renji bowed respectfully. "Excuse my interruption, but my Lord, if Miss Rukia were to go, I would gladly protect her myself and not let her from my sight."

"You would, would you?" Byakuya grumbled.

"I'd be happy to take over your duty of watching over Lord Byakuya, Miss Rukia," Urahara chimed in.

The Shinigami mafia lord let out an irritated, sigh. "I see. It seems then I have no choice. You may go, Rukia. If she comes back with even a scratch, I will hold you personally responsible then, Renji."

The tattooed red head made another bow. "Of course. I swear on pain of death, I will protect Miss Rukia with my life."

Byakuya looked over his seven best. "Then the board is set. Go now, rest and ready yourselves for a game of lies." Refusing the help of Rukia again, Byakuya rose and strode back to his private study suppressing the pain on his face and leaving the company in his wake.