So it appears that whatever is wrong with my laptop, the same issues that I had taken it in for and paid to have fixed, are still not right. So I don't know if I'll end up being without my laptop again, and if I am, I'll be unable to write until I get it back again. :/ I'm pissed, to say the least.
I hope you guys are excited for this chapter~ I quite enjoyed writing it. Which I needed after a horrible week...
Glass shattered, beakers and jars of unknown contents crashing as a shelf toppled under the scientist's weight. Brightly colored liquids dripped down cabinets and a sulfurous stench wafted through the air, but nothing could wipe the manic, twisted grin from angular features. Grimmjow snarled as his hands fisted in the scientist's lab coat, the front of the once sterile and white material stained a gory red from the blood that dripped down Mayuri's face from his nose and mouth.
Mayuri, the second most hated person within Aizen's bioengineering plant, spit out a few teeth and a mouthful of blood as he stumbled upright, pulling himself from the tangled wire and metal of the now broken shelf. His crazed, seething yellow eyes turned toward the see-through cell that contained Octava.
"Why are you just sitting there?!" He screeched, his words accompanied by more frothy blood, thinned by saliva to drip down his chin.
In the locked cell, Octava held up his manacled hands, his fingers out stretched in a helpless gesture that didn't quite reach his effeminate features. Behind his muzzle, his lips pulled into a thin smile as his intelligent eyes flashed behind his glasses, taking in the sight Sexta was quickly painting. "My apologies, but even if I was unbound and free of my cell, my training dictates that I only throw my life away for Aizen-sama or by his orders and pitting myself against Sexta would surely qualify as throwing my life away."
Mayuri sneered, his eyes going wide but Grimmjow's laughter echoed through the room as he grabbed hold of the man that had caused him so much pain. The shatterproof material of Octava's cell shuttered, making the trapped soldier jerk back as the scientist struck it. Sliding into a slumped over sitting position on the floor, a crazed grin took over Mayuri's black and white and red painted features. He didn't bother attempting to stand, nor did he attempt to get away as Grimmjow stalked in again but that smile didn't bode well.
"Grimmjow..." Ichigo's voice went unheard by the bigger man.
Broad shoulders heaved, every muscle of the soldier's corded frame tense and ready for more. He came to stand before the scientist and slowly lowered into a crouch, sitting on his haunches as he tilted his head slightly. His blue eyes were cold, manic and seething with all that had been done to him, all that had been done to Ichigo. The man before him, Aizen's head scientist, had torn him apart and put him back together more times than he could count, probably more times than he could even remember. He and Aizen had taken everything from Grimmjow, they'd turned him into Sexta, a monster, a weapon. And now, as the thoughts flashed through his skull so quickly he could hardly put conscious effort into focusing on them, he began to wonder if he could even remember his life before the laboratory anymore, if he could remember what and who he was before he was this. He didn't try often, not anymore. He used to sit in his cell and reminisce of times before he'd been locked away, before he'd been tested on and trained, but those few moments of calming memories were decreasing, becoming few and far in between. Now, he couldn't even remember the last time he'd thought of his old life, let alone remember what he used to think about, what those thoughts used to contain. Memories, he knew that much, but what had he been remembering? He was just blank, he was nothing, no past. He was just... this; anger, rage, the need for blood. A monster.
Ichigo tried again, edging a little closer and away from the frosted glass of the laboratory doors. They didn't have time for this and the longer Grimmjow played with his prey, the longer he gave the crazy scientist to think of a way to put a stop to their plans. "Grimm."
But again he went unheard as the soldier's hands closed around the scientist's throat, a quiet but no less threatening growl rumbling in his own throat. Grimmjow's blue eyes held an almost far away look, seeing what was in front of him, yet not.
Even as Mayuri's features began taking on a sallow, bluish color below the strange paint the man wore, he laughed. It was like he could see what Sexta couldn't, showing off long teeth in a wicked grin. His laughter was mocking, making anger seethe through Grimmjow's veins all the quicker. The scientist's mustard colored eyes were aglow with his manic joy, though bloodshot at the corners from the beating he was taking on top of lack of oxygen at the moment.
Ichigo saw it before it happened. His warm eyes chilled, going wide as something metallic flashed in the bright, artificial lighting. He surged forward, but Mayuri was already in motion and Grimmjow was blind to the danger in his rage. The thin blade, some sort of medical knife Ichigo had never seen before, punched through the muscle of Grimmjow's abdomen just before Ichigo made it to his side, but the big soldier didn't move, didn't let up in strangle hold. He didn't even seem to notice.
"Grimmjow!" Ichigo wrapped his hands around the straining muscle of the man's upper arm. He heaved back with all his strength, but nothing would move Grimmjow if the soldier didn't want to move. "Grimmjow, please, we have to get out of here!"
Finally, with the slightly elevated pitch to the civilian's voice, Grimmjow paused in his mindless anger. Blue eyes swung to the right, finding Ichigo much closer than he had remembered the lad being only moments before. The bigger man's brows furrowed slightly, more so than they naturally were, but still he didn't relinquish his hold on Mayuri as the scientist wrapped thin fingers around Grimmjow's wrists, his grin finally falling away as he began growing light headed.
"We don't have time for this..." Ichigo said quietly, urgently. His eyes remained locked with Grimmjow's, despite his growing need to look around and make sure they weren't about to be swarmed by guards.
Grimmjow finally let go, allowing the scientist to fall backward to the floor as he gasped for air and coughed, his throat already bruising to show hand prints. As Grimmjow straightened, he grunted, a wince pulling at his features as he looked down to find the silver handle of a knife jutting from his abdomen.
As Octava, still locked within his cell and still seated upon the edge of his cot as he had been through out the entire show, was given a good look at the knife's handle, he slowly shook his head. His intelligent eyes danced with mirth as he enjoyed the unexpected events unfolding before him. "Ah, what a shame, Sexta. That should slow even a brute like you down."
The blue haired soldier sneered at the thin man that was supposed to be one of his partners, one of his comrades. He curled his lip to bare his over-sharp teeth as he almost carelessly pulled the knife out and tossed it away. It slid across the tile floor to clatter against a wall with a hollow sound in the otherwise silent room. That silence was shattered as Mayuri finally found enough oxygen to begin laughing anew. His manic and sudden joy made the unruly soldier flinch, turning his aggressive expression toward the scientist once more.
"Aizen should be out of his meeting any moment, Sexta!" Mayuri screeched, an over-wide grin creasing his still bluish features. "And he'll be accompanied by the most powerful men and women in the military as they inspect his facility and laboratory."
A rumbling snarl accompanied Mayuri's words as Grimmjow went to lunge for the scientist again, anger roiling off him in waves. His quick steps faltered, his balance off. Mayuri cackled again as he stumbled to the side, the fury draining from Grimmjow's expression to be replaced by confusion and surprise. He flattened a big hand against Octava's cell behind the scientist, hunched over as he shook his head to clear it.
"Grimmjow?" Ichigo eyed the still downed scientist as he edged passed. He rested his hand on the big man's shoulder, bending slightly to look at the soldier's face.
"Think we need to get out of here now." Grimmjow muttered, sucking in a deep breath. He stood and turned back toward the scientist, his steps not quite dragging, but off all the same. He latched a big hand in the front of Mayuri's lab coat, bodily hauling the scientist to his feet.
Mayuri pushed back against him and the big man stumbled backward far easier than he should have. The scientist snarled a vicious laugh, somehow managing to seem both furious and amused. Grimmjow didn't release him though, and as he stumbled, he yanked the scientist with him before righting himself and straightening with a hard right hook. Mayuri's head snapped back hard enough to throw the man from his feet. Supported only by the soldier's strength, the other sagged, a groan bubbling wetly in his throat and nasal cavity. Blood smeared Grimmjow's fist, splattering against his bare torso. It dripped from Mayuri's nose and from between his lips.
Pushing the scientist into motion, Grimmjow unsteadily forced Mayuri to face Octava's cell. With a surge of force, his hand fisted against the back of Mayuri's head, he slammed the man he hated so much against the shatter-proof cell. Thick, bullet-proof walls shuttered with the force. Red smeared the otherwise colorless, clear material. Still locked within, Octava's brows arched as he leaned away from the angered soldier and his victim, though his cold, yellow eyes didn't leave the scientist's mangled features.
With another strike, something cracked and Grimmjow finally let up, dropping Mayuri's limp body to the floor. The gore smeared surface of Octava's cell sported a spiderweb of hairline cracks as Mayuri fell still at the base of the cell, his jaw sitting askew and his nose flattened.
Grimmjow staggered away from the scene, taking a backward step before attempting to turn. He grunted an unhappy sound and curled his lip as the room tilted. Before he could actually loose his footing, a warm, strong arm circled his waist. Ichigo pressed close to his side and began guiding him through the lab to a sort of storage room in the back.
"Grimm, you alright?" Ichigo asked, looking up at the bigger man's features. He didn't really need to support the man's weight, only help him keep his balance. Tranquilizer seemed to be their drug of choice against Grimmjow, but he wasn't acting the same as when he'd been drugged with that. Whatever had coated the knife didn't seem ready to knock him out, as had been done to him numerous other times, and that made Ichigo wonder and worry all the more.
"Yeah, fine." Grimmjow grunted, using his other hand to guide himself as he led the civilian toward the back corner of the stockroom. "Just kind of dizzy. Seems like the room's spinning."
This room was nearly the size of the large lab itself, lined in shelves and display cases. Tables and counters were set up in rows in the middle, various jars and tools and other bits of experiments laid across them. A scull, cleaned and unstained but still obviously real and rather fresh, sat upon one table. Something about it seemed off, it was obviously human, but the jaw was wrong, the eye sockets too large. Documents, notes and photos were laid out next to it, some of which showed a living man, others that showed the same during a dissection of sorts. Charts and graphs were laid out on another table, more tools and sharp blades sitting near by.
Ichigo gave the room a once over, disgusted by most of it, knowing the cruel looking instruments had been used on people, on the soldiers. On Grimmjow and maybe even on himself. Beside him, Grimmjow rumbled an indistinguishable sound as he unlatched himself from Ichigo.
"You think this stuff is bad, just wait." He mumbled as he eyed one of the shelves in the corner. Without caution or hesitation, he grabbed hold of the wooden frame and began yanking. Jars toppled and crashed to the floor around him, spilling clear fluids and solid bits of once living things. The big soldier ignored it, pushing more bottles out of his way. Snarling, he jerked one of the shelves from the frame and threw it aside, grabbing hold of the wood that made up the back of the shelf, he began prying it up, pulling it from the frame and from the wall.
Instead of a solid, cinder block wall behind the plank like there should have been, the edge of a door peeked out, the crack between it and the wall beside it allowing for a sliver of dim light to shine through. Grimmjow wrapped his fingers around the edge of the next wooden board and began heaving again. This time, the entire frame of the shelving groaned before beginning to slide under his strength and weight.
Ichigo stepped back, staying out of the way as the big man threw his enhanced strength around. Tile peeled up under the solid frame's bottom, where the wood had been sealed to the floor in the attempt to keep the door safely hidden. When Grimmjow finally pulled the heavy shelving aside far enough to slip behind it, Ichigo moved forward, searching the door for a way to open it. No handle could be seen and the door was snug against the frame, flat almost indistinguishable from the rest of the wall. The civilian pushed at it, running his palms along the smooth, cool surface as he searched out a way to open it. "How do they get in here? Do they even go in there anymore?"
"Aizen and Mayuri have a hidden key somewhere in the lab, like a lever or something that makes the shelf swing out of the way and all that typical stuff I guess." Grimmjow almost gently pushed Ichigo aside, looking up at the door with a squared stance. "I don't really remember how they get into this back hall. I'm not even sure it was always closed off like this. I just remember the door being here."
With the last of his words, he turned his shoulder toward the door and threw himself against it. The handleless door shuttered on it's unseen hinges. The metal it was made of bent inward. Grimmjow pulled himself back again, a sneer on his features as he winced and shook his head a bit. His back step was a bit off balanced but he ignored it and surged forward again. Under his considerable weight and even mightier strength, the frame splintered around the bolt that held the door shut. Another shouldering by the big man had the door forcefully crashing inward.
Grimmjow tumbled forward with it, crashing into the hallway beyond and only stopping and regaining his balance when he hit the wall of the opposite side. With a startled breath, Ichigo sprinted through the door to the man's side as the soldier slowly began straightening. Panting and clearly feeling the effects of whatever he'd been poisoned with, Grimmjow still dragged up the strength to grab Ichigo's hand and begin pulling him down the hall to their left. Rushed, almost panicked like, Grimmjow took off at a sprinting pace, Ichigo in tow.
The hall was dimly lit, narrow florescent light bulbs mounted to the ceiling above every dozen feet or so. The tile below them was white but it hardly looked clean and well maintained like the rest of the facility. It was dirty and tracked with footprints, some in dried mud, some in other old fluids. But none of that was what held Ichigo's attention. Around them, in cages and cells that lined the walls, creatures stirred as their presance was noticed. This was Aizen's stock of rejects, the failed experiments that didn't simply die off or weren't used to train the newer, more effective soldiers. Some of them had once upon a time been human, some of them dogs and other animals. Now, if they weren't dissected and studied, they were left to sit and rot.
Following behind Grimmjow, his hand still held securely in the bigger man's own, Ichigo watched the cells and their occupants go by as they ran. His eyes were wide and disbelieving, his orange brows arched to his hairline in his shock. He flinched, jerking away, as something almost human threw itself against the bars of it's cage, reaching through and toward him.
Hardly pausing, Grimmjow spun toward it with bared teeth and an animalistic snarl. The failed experiment, what had been intended to be a soldier, yelped in an equally animal-like way and dropped to cower in the corner as they passed. The motion threw the big man off and Grimmjow released Ichigo as he threw his hand out to the side, catching his balance on the opposite wall as he pushed back into motion.
"W-we can't leave these people here, Grimmjow..." Ichigo breathed, his voice barely audible through all the growling and snarling and general noise that came from the cages around them. The two slowed their wild pace as they spoke.
"They're not people anymore, Ichigo." Grimmjow told him, continuing down the corridor at a measured but steady pace, his steps faltering slightly every so often as he worked through whatever had coated the knife blade he'd been stabbed with. His voice was a controlled, stern tone, an obvious scowl tugging at his features. This was what he could have become had Aizen deemed him unworthy of trying to tame and control, had he not been powerful enough to earn the madman's greed. Had Ichigo not been so stubbornly set in helping him, hadn't consequently been captured with him, he probably would have ended up in one of these cages if not dead, just another uncontrollable, failed soldier left to slowly loose himself to the trapped, wild instincts running rampant within his skull.
"Most of them wouldn't survive anyway. If we let them out, they'd kill each other, try to kill us. They're soldiers, Ichigo, thrown away soldiers. This is Aizen's trash, the rejects that couldn't make the cut, but they were still modified to be weapons."
Ichigo fell silent and watched the cages go by, knowing that Grimmjow was right. As much as he hated it, as much as he wished he could help those that Aizen had ruined, he knew there was nothing he could do. It was clear by the way they acted, the way they lunged and snarled, that they would never be able to live in normal society. It was going to be enough of a challenge to help Grimmjow learn to adapt to everyday life again, the experiments around them would be hopeless.
"I wish we could do something about all this..." Ichigo mumbled as they hurried on.
Grimmjow grunted his agreement, but the only humane thing to do would be to put the creatures in Aizen's stock out of their misery and he and Ichigo just didn't have time for that. If what Mayuri had said was true and not just a bluff, than they were already nearly out of time.
As if on cue, shouting erupted from back down the hall in the direction they had come from. It was faint and distorted from the distance and the extra room that separated the lab from the doorway, but it was unmistakable to Grimmjow's keen hearing. Not a moment later the alarm flared to life like the dull but maddening throb of a headache.
Around them, the caged creatures that had once been people panicked at the extra sounds and the flashing red lights that circulated against the ceiling every twenty feet. Some of them cowered in the backs of their cells while others seemed to get more aggressive, attempting to get to Ichigo and Grimmjow as the two ran by. The big soldier simply continued on. He grabbed hold of the civilian's hand again, teeth bared in primal and recognizable rage, something even the barely human occupants of the cages could understand, and pulled Ichigo along with him.
"How long is this corridor?" Ichigo asked over the low sound of the alarm. It wasn't a piercing sound like he would have expected, but rather a steady, almost dull one that seemed to vibrate in the air. It didn't echo and it didn't deafen him to the rest of the sounds around him, designed specifically to still allow those in search to hear any signs of where the escapee, in this case himself and Grimmjow, may have gone.
"I'm fairly certain it runs the length of the complex." Grimmjow pulled Ichigo forward and in front of himself, knowing who would be sent down the long hallway after them first. The civilian may have been undergoing changes and may be able to better defend himself in hand to hand, but he'd stand little chance against Aizen's generals and their swords. "The lab is somewhere in the middle."
"I didn't realize just how big this place was." The civilian's brows arched as he ran on. Their pace wasn't an all out run or sprint, but it was a steady, jogging pace that allowed them to cover ground but still pay attention to their surroundings and converse with one another. It was a pace they could keep up for a long time and Ichigo guessed that was why Grimmjow had set it as such.
"The above ground portion is just a fraction of what's hidden below. It's impossible to tell just how much Aizen's expanded it over the years."
Ichigo looked back at the bigger man, his orange brows furrowed at the cold tone the man spoke in. The soldier's gaze traveled over everything; the cells they passed, the failed experiments within, all the shadows and various recesses in the walls as they passed, even darting over panels that allowed access into the ceiling ducts and venting. His senses were turned outward, listening as well as looking for signs of their pursuers.
"They're already back here, aren't they?" Ichigo's question was more of a statement. All Grimmjow did was nod, his chilling gaze finding Ichigo's and locking with warm brown in a pointed look.
Ichigo understood and he kept his mouth closed as he turned to face forward once more, letting his own senses tune in on their surroundings. They ran in silence, barely even the echo of their footsteps giving away their positions. But the creatures around them weren't quite so silent. They continued their cries and snarling, they continued reaching through bars and pressing themselves up against the shatter proof glass Aizen seemed fond of.
Behind the civilian, Grimmjow slowed until he stood motionless in the hall. His head tilted to the side in the barest of motions but his cold eyes never strayed from Ichigo as the civilian also paused and turned to look back at him.
"Grimmjow, what's-" Before Ichigo could finish his question, the soldier's gaze snapped up and his stance lowered, bringing the big man's center of balance closer to the floor. A split second was all the time Ichigo was given to process the big soldier's impossibly swift movements before Grimmjow's full weight hit him, pushed him to the floor and had him sliding across the smooth tile.
The blue haired soldier surged back to his feet, spinning to face the direction they had come even as he too slid across the floor. He crouched low again and, as the ceiling tile crashed to the floor from directly above where Ichigo had been standing, he sprang forward.
The dark haired general didn't quite get his sword up as Grimmjow's impressive weight crashed into him with every ounce of power the escaping soldier could drive into his lunge. The two slammed back to the dirty floor of the hall, Grimmjow's weight enough to knock the air from Tōsen's lungs as they slide sideways and slammed into the bars of a cage. Grimmjow once more leapt to his feet. As he did, hands reached between the bars, the failed soldier within snarling as thick drool bubbled between it's blunt teeth and dripped from it's chin.
As a hand attempted to grab hold of Tōsen from behind, the general reached around his body, grasping hold of the creature's wrist with one hand. He brought the elbow of his other down, snapping bone without a second thought. The failed soldier yelped in pain and jerked it's mangled limb away, retreating into the back of it's cage.
Tōsen Began pulling his sword free as he faced Sexta and eyed him from behind his dark glasses, but Grimmjow had other ideas and he bared his vicious teeth as he reengaged the general. He slammed the smaller man against the bars of the cage at Tōsen's back, bending the iron they were made of with a harsh groan. The creature inside cowered further against the back wall as the two clashed.
Grimmjow didn't let up. He latched hold of Tōsen, pulling the general forward only to slam him back again. The soldier's inhuman strength was enough to snap the bars to the cage, a few of the general's ribs with them, and fling Tōsen inside the cage and to the ground in a crumpled heap, sword still only half drawn.
As the dark haired man groaned quietly, attempting to role over enough to straighten, the failed experiment who's cage he was now inside bared blunt teeth, it's snarl taking on an angry edge as it cradled it's broken arm and edged forward. Sickly eyes landed on the general, nothing but animal rage simmering in their beady depths. The pain in it's broken limb was forgotten as it stalked closer.
Panting slightly, Grimmjow took a stumbling step back from the broken bars before he turned to Ichigo and took off again. He didn't need to tell Ichigo to get moving and civilian turned and fled as well. This time the pace the big solider set was much quicker, nearly a sprint. Behind them, Tōsen's deep voice rose in a startled and pained curse, accompanied by the almost yelling snarl of the mindless creature who's cage he'd been thrown into.
Tōsen's other half, the ever-present light to his dark, Gin, was no where to be seen and that could have only been bad news for the two attempting to escape. If the two generals weren't together, than that surely meant that the other was with Aizen and that Aizen was planning to step on to the playing field. No doubt the rest of the Espada soldiers would be in tow, soldiers that were on par with Grimmjow and far above Ichigo's level.
Down the hall and still back in the laboratory, Aizen stood with a calm indifference as he looked down at his scientist's mangled, destroyed body. Only one person could have done this, made this kind of mess. The carnage and destruction was signature to ony one of his soldiers. Even had Octava not sat calmly in his cell while he detailed his lord and master of the events that had taken place, Aizen would have known it was Sexta. He had no need to check the unruly soldier's cell and he already knew the guards he'd posted outside it were dead.
Mayuri was no great loss, Aizen would simply create a new one, a new copy. Mayuri may have been the head scientist, but Aizen had been the man to found the bioengineering facility and begin the experiments. Aizen had been the one to create the soldiers, the master mind behind all that happened within the walls of his domain. He'd created Gin and Tōsen and even Mayuri, none were simple humans. In his facility, he was like a god with the power to create and manipulate what he wished at his every whim and will.
And like a god that had been slighted, had been cheated and made a fool of, Aizen was furious.
Scattered in various states of shock at his back, the people he'd been showing around select sections of his facility stood agape, surprised and horrified whispers passing between them. But they remained calm, collected as was expected from the highest members of a powerful military. They'd known about the experiments, after all, at least most of them. They knew what Aizen was creating for them in his laboratories. As with all new equipment that was being tested, there were bound to be mistakes and accidents along the way. Sacrifices were made and people died when developing new and more powerful weapons.
The military leaders parted, each turning to watch as the silver haired, ever present general made his way back into the room. A large, toothless grin stretched across the lower half of his features and his eyes were closed but there was no doubt he observed and saw everything around him. At his side, his sword glistened maliciously in the bright, artificial lighting of the lab. His silence was almost disturbing as blood dripped from the fingers of his left hand and an almost dead guard was dragged in behind him, the fingers of his right hand fisted in the unfortunate man's uniform collar.
The door guard that had allowed Sexta to pass, the only one of the two to survive Gin's meeting, breathed in quick, shallow gasps. His features were pale, twisted in shock as he stared down at his entrails dragging behind him, his lower half left behind in the hall.
"Thank you, Gin." Aizen turned his gaze away from his mangled scientist. Tōsen had yet to report in but the powerful man had little doubt his general had already encountered Sexta. Coupled with the civilian that not only seemed to drive the renegade on harder, but was now gaining enhanced abilities of his own, it seemed Sexta and the young Mr. Kurosaki would prove quite the challenge in recapturing. Sexta had already tasted freedom once, and his bond with the civilian was strong enough to insure he remembered at least that. Aizen knew hope for the renegade was gone. Sexta would not be captured alive.
Long, even and unhurried strides carried Aizen into the back lab room. He studied the destroyed door and toppled shelf before turning back to the see-through cell where Octava remained obediently silent. Quickly punching in the numbers for the key code, he released the soldier and wasted no time in freeing him of his bindings.
"Let the rest of the Espada series free." He told his silver haired general. "I want Sexta's head brought back to me."
"A course, Aizen-sama." Gin sang with a smile.
I think my bad mood began to show a bit there toward the end... ^^; Ah well, hope you guys liked it anyway!
Pretty please let me know!