The Bird of Hermes, Free Again.

Welcome back ladies, gentleman and ghouls. This chapter took a lot longer to actually get out since I was still debating the details for Tatsuki's powers and Alucard's history. Thanks to everyone that reviewed the last chapter and I hope you enjoy this next instalment.

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or Hellsing.

"Normal speech"

'Thoughts/Inner Speech'

"Kido/Zanpakuto release"

"Zanpakuto speech"


Chapter 3: The Truth of Our Soul.

Walking down the path to Tatsuki's home, Ichigo winced at the sheer number of memories that were running through his head. They ranged from being light-hearted moments like their first spar, or to her most recent birthday party. Others left him red faced in embarrassment as he listened to her mother explaining what her 'period' was to her. Shaking his head vigorously to rid himself of that memory, he heard Alucard chuckle from within his inner world.

'Care to explain this Alucard?' he asked with a slight bite to his tone, stopping underneath Tatsuki's window.

"Nope not particularly master, maybe later," he replied, making Ichigo grit his teeth in frustration.

'Why won't you explain it now?!' he snapped, trying to control this unnatural anger he was feeling.

"Because we have bigger things to worry about right now," he chided him. "Besides, what are we doing here?"

'That should be obvious if you look at her outfit,' he answered, phasing his hand through the glass to lift the latch. Climbing into the room, he laid Tatsuki down on her bed and turned to her closest, swallowing the lump in his throat. Sliding open the door, he hastily withdrew a pair of shorts and leggings and a large t-shirt he had seen her wear outside of school. Turning his attention to the drawers and what they probably contained, he prayed that Tatsuki wouldn't pummel him into oblivion for this.

"You've faced down hollows and a Menos Grande without fear, yet at the thought of rummaging through a girl's underwear draw you freeze up?" Alucard asked in shock. "You're kidding me right?"

'Hollows I can handle, girls are more complicated,' he snapped back, mentally thanking Tatsuki's organisation skills. Grabbing a pair of matching underwear, he wrapped it in the shirt and placed everything in her backpack, slinging it over his shoulder so that he could carry her with ease.

"I'm just saying that it's quite unbelievable that's all," Alucard commented, while Ichigo carried Tatsuki out again and latched the window shut. "After all most of your generation would leap at the chance to do what you just did."

'Since when have I been like most of my generation?'

"Good point master."

Minutes later, Ichigo sighed in relief as the Urahara Shop came into view. Feeling out with his senses, he could tell that Kisuke was up and waiting for his return.

"Welcome back Kurosaki-san!" the shopkeeper greeted him as the door slid open. "What took you so…long?" Seeing Tatsuki's bloodied body in the teen's hands, he cleared his throat and ushered him into the room that he was currently sleeping in. "Set her down gently while I go get Tessai," he ordered, disappearing from view.

'Great more questions to add to the list I need to answer,' he grumbled, setting Tatsuki down on his futon. Looking up when the door slid open again, he could see Tessai walk in with a bag in hand. Stepping back to let the big man work, he saw Kisuke gesture to him, to follow him out. Back in the dining room, he saw the shopkeeper fix him with a blank look.

"What happened tonight Kurosaki-san?" he asked quietly while Ichigo fidgeted in front of him.

"I underestimated a hollow," he began slowly, hanging his head slightly. "I was more focussed on making sure that she was okay, than with cleansing it. I paid for that mistake when it recovered and tried to impale me with a telephone pole." Looking back at the room with Tatsuki in it, he sighed and continued, "My armour was able to deflect the blow, but Tatsuki didn't have the same protection. I don't know how I saved her, since I still need to talk to my zanpakuto about it."

"Well then you best do that now," Kisuke chimed in as he stood. "She's probably not going to be awake anytime soon, so you have time."

Nodding his head at the man, he shifted slightly to make himself comfortable and placed the Casull across his lap, willing himself into it. Falling back into his inner world, he landed lightly on his feet. Looking around for Alucard, he found the spirit seated at the familiar dining table.

"A drink before I begin master?" the spirit offered, waving around an empty glass.

"No, just tell me what we really are," Ichigo requested as he took a seat next to the spirit.

"Very well then, but it was an awfully good bottle too," he replied with a sigh, savouring a sip before he began. "First, you need to understand some basic concepts, like who and what zanpakuto are. For the vast majority of soul reapers, we are born from their soul and are a representation of them. Just as no two soul reapers are the same, no two zanpakutos are the same."

"The next thing is that we are classified between Elemental, Kido and Melee type zanpakuto. A zanpakuto that is solely used for melee combat without any kido-based special abilities is considered a melee type. Your opponent Renji Abarai would be one such user." Pausing to take a sip of his wine, he watched Ichigo patiently wait for more.

"Kido type zanpakutos are then further split into various subsets based on what their zanpakuto allows them to do. Kisuke Urahara possesses a kido type zanpakuto as evidenced by his shield and energy attack that we have seen him use."

Ichigo nodded his head in understanding, remembering when the shopkeeper had sent a crimson energy blast to counter his own bullet.

"The last and final class is of course elemental type zanpakuto. These are Fire, Ice, Earth, Wind, Water, Nature, Light and finally Darkness. Now while the other elements can have multiple wielders, there is only one Darkness zanpakuto in existence at any one time. As you have no doubt guessed, you are the lucky soul chosen to wield a Darkness zanpakuto this generation."

"Wait a minute…how do you know all this? Why is there only one Darkness wielder at a time? What does this have to do with what I did to Tatsuki?" Ichigo rattled off, his mind racing as he tried to make sense of it all.

"If you want answers, be quiet and listen master," Alucard snapped back at him. "I can only answer so many questions at a time. Now where were we? Ah yes…the reason why we only ever exist individually, is because of our power. Now when young Rukia Kuchiki transferred her powers to you, she merely woke me up. Now if she had done it to a completely normal human being, that power would have disappeared within the week. This holds true for the majority of times when soul reapers give a portion of their power to humans."

"However, when a Darkness wielder transfers their powers, they don't simply give a portion of their power away. You infused Tatsuki with a portion of both your power and mine, rewriting her own soul as it were. Given enough time, her soul will take that piece of us and merge it into her own, granting her abilities unique to her soul. She is not a soul reaper, but she is not human either."

"Due to the fact that pieces of us live on in her, her mind and soul are linked with your own, allowing you delve into her past and to speak and control her actions with your mind. This allowed a single Darkness wielder in the past to recruit an army of simple humans and coordinate them to form a single cohesive unit of devastation. When such wielders begin to head down that path, they are hunted down by the Gotei 13 without hesitation and executed by Sokyoku, a weapon designed to remove that soul from the cycle of rebirth."

"Now hold on…you're saying that by using your power, I just might be hunted down and executed for that reason alone?" Ichigo asked incredulously, his face a mixture of horror and anger.

"Only if you seek to raise an army to conquer the world master," Alucard replied after taking a sip of his wine. "Ah such an exquisite taste."

"How do you know all this Alucard?" he asked, tilting his head to the side. "If you are born from my soul, then you shouldn't have this knowledge."

"Ah yes I nearly forgot about that. You see, due to our…short life expectancy, each Darkness type zanpakuto has access to the ancestral memories of those that came before them, allowing us to better guide our master. Sadly it is the temptation of such power that drives most to madness."

"If this is true…then the odds are already stacked against me," he muttered with his head down as he thought of the consequences. "What else can you tell me about your abilities?"

"Well I can tell you now that I am not a ranged type zanpakuto, no matter how much it seems like that," the spirit chuckled darkly. "What I will say for now, is that if you fall…you won't be in control of a ragtag group of fledglings. You will be the General at the head of an army that will devour this world and any that you encounter." Minutes passed in silence as Ichigo digested the implications of what his zanpakuto had told him, until it was finally broken by his tired voice.

"Why is it that the more I speak to you, the more worried I become for anyone that crosses our path?" he muttered rising from his chair.

"Because you should be master," Alucard replied with a scoff. "I just told you that you could create an army and destroy the world…what person wouldn't be worried about such consequences."


Appearing back in the real world, he could see both Tessai and Kisuke waiting for him.

"Well how'd it go?" Kisuke asked as the teen rubbed his tired eyes.

"I'd highly recommend having a drink ready Urahara-san, because this won't be short or easy to take in," Ichigo breathed out in exasperation.

Puzzled at the teen's request, he nevertheless signalled for Tessai to retrieve a bottle of sake and two cups for the two of them and some juice for Ichigo. An hour later and he was draining his glass in light of everything that Ichigo had learned from his zanpakuto.

"So you just created you first soldier, is that the gist of it Kurosaki-san?" Kisuke asked in a shaky voice.

"What?! No…well yes, but that wasn't my intent!" he yelled. "I was just trying to save her life."

"Even if that is how you see it, others might not be so kind. Now then we still have a lot of work to do tomorrow, so I suggest you go and get some sleep Kurosaki-san," Kisuke 'requested, seeing the teen nod his head and walk away with his head down. "Well Tessai-san, this week just got even more interesting," the shopkeeper joked, missing the way his assistant rolled his eyes.


The following morning, Ichigo jolted awake at the sound of a high pitched horn, followed by a shriek and pained yelp. Looking over at Tatsuki's futon, he chuckled as she pummelled Kisuke with her fists, a lone air-horn lying a few feet away from them. Struggling out of his futon, he walked over and pulled the furious martial artist off of the shopkeeper.

"Okay calm down Tatsuki, you can pummel him later in training," he said, struggling to hold her back. "Besides you should probably change first before you keep pummelling him."

Freezing as his words sunk into her, Tatsuki looked down at her body, feeling her anger return tenfold. While she remembered being injured last night as well as the pain of what Ichigo had done, she couldn't remember having her shirt stripped off of her and her torso bandaged up. Glaring over her shoulder at the orange haired soul reaper, she shrugged out of his grip and covered herself with her blanket.

"Where are my clothes?" she growled, watching as Ichigo picked up her backpack and held it out to her. Grumbling to herself, she stormed into the bathroom attached to the room and slammed the door shut.

"You couldn't have tried to keep her in a good mood could you?" Ichigo groaned as he looked down at the bruised and bleeding shopkeeper. "You know she's going to be difficult now and that was the exact opposite of what I wanted."

"How was I supposed to know that she wasn't a morning person?" Kisuke whined as he stood up straight. "You kids were oversleeping and breakfast is almost ready. Plus it sounded like a good idea at the time."

"Yeah sure," Ichigo muttered. "Just get out before you provoke her again." Seeing the shopkeeper leave, he sighed and began to get dressed himself.

"Ichigo…" Tatsuki whispered in a low dangerous voice. "Where exactly did you get these clothes from?" she asked, holding up the bag in question.

"Uh well…you see…" he trailed off, sweating bullets as she glared at him. "You were injured…and your mother was sleeping…and I really didn't want to…but I kind of had to go through your closest," he finally finished, only to grunt as she leapt the distance between them and nailed him with a right cross to his cheek.

"You pervert!" she screamed, before storming off into the bathroom once again.

Hearing laughter from his inner world, Ichigo growled and left the room.


An hour later, after explaining their story and mission to Tatsuki in detail, Kisuke, Tessai, Ururu, Jinta and Ichigo stood across from Tatsuki in the underground training chamber, causing the teenager to look back at them in worry.

"You guys look like I'm about to be executed or something," she joked, seeing Kisuke chuckle slightly at her comment. Tessai and Ichigo though, exchanged uneasy looks with one another.

"That's because it might very well be the case Arisawa-san," Kisuke commented, walking over to her and thrusting his cane through her head.

Feeling like she was being squeezed out of a very tight tunnel, Tatsuki gasped when her body fell back into her arms.

"What the hell did you just do?!" she screamed at the shopkeeper, staring down at her body in horror.

"Relax Tatsuki," Ichigo said as he walked over and took her limp body from her hands. "You're simply in your soul form. Um you don't feel any heavier do you?" he asked, cringing away when she turned to glare at him.

"What's that supposed to mean?" she threatened him, taking a step closer. Seeing similar looks of confusion and fear on the others faces, she looked down at herself.

Gone was her oversized t-shirt and shorts and in its place, she now wore a black business jacket with matching skirt, purple blouse and black leather gloves and boots. Feeling Ichigo next to her, she saw him pull a pair of purple tinted sunglasses from her breast pocket.

"You'll need these to hide your eyes," he explained, confusing her as to why she needed to hide them. Taking the handheld mirror from Ururu, she nearly shrieked at the blood red irises that stared back at her. A glint of black metal over her shoulder caught her attention, causing her to reach back over for it.

"What the hell is this?!" she screamed again, holding a pristine .50 calibre sniper rifle in her hands without any kind of scope attached to it. It was just under 4,5 ft. long and weighed over 36 pounds. Examining it closely, she could see a serpentine dragon engraved along the barrel, with the muzzle itself forming the maw of the beast.

"That would be your weapon Tatsuki," Ichigo casually remarked. "I'd wait before you try and pull the trigger though."

"No, really?" she said sarcastically. "I was just thinking of going off and squeezing the trigger on this for fun."

"Well Tessai-san, she's all yours," Kisuke remarked jovially, dragging Ichigo off to train elsewhere.


Several days later, Tatsuki found herself lying down on her back and panting for air that her body ever so desperately longed for. While she may have been used to gruelling training regimes, she was nowhere near prepared for what the demented shopkeeper had in store for her.

The first few days were simple enough, since they were used to help her learn more about the powers she had just been granted, such as enhanced speed, strength and senses and their proper use on the battlefield. Once she knew the basics though, it kicked up a notch as she was thrown into a never ending spar with either Ichigo or Kisuke. While she may have been slightly stronger than Kisuke and her previous training made her slightly more technical than Ichigo, she soon found that they more than made up for it in their raw determination and experience.

Speaking of Ichigo, she turned her head to the side and stared at the orange haired reaper as he sat with his eyes closed and legs crossed on a boulder. When she had asked him why he'd been meditating, he had reached over their mental link to talk with her, startling her in the process. After explaining that the only way to learn to use it was practice, she found herself meditating with him on occasion. Now though he had shut her out and worked privately on his own secret project.

Rising to a seated position, she reached over for the rifle at her side. Like Ichigo's own pistol, it fired a bullet composed of her own reiatsu. Unlike his which could fire a volley of projectiles though, hers was designed for two purposes. The low powered shot was deadly and precise, tearing the target apart with ease. The high powered shot was an entirely different matter though. The rifle seemed to refine her reiatsu from its raw state and fire a projectile that exploded on contact with the target and engulfed the area in a catastrophic inferno, leaving little left but charred husks of the practice dummies. As it stood, she was reluctant to even use such power against another being, because of such fallout.

Feeling a hollow appear due to her enhanced senses, she looked over at Ichigo for his reaction.

"Tonight you get to deal with it Tatsuki," he called out to her, opening his eyes and meeting her gaze. "You're going to show me that this training wasn't for nothing."

"Don't go underestimating me Ichigo," she quipped back with a grin on her face. "In fact I bet I can get to it before you can."

"Confident aren't we? Okay then, if you don't kill it before I do…we're going for an hour long spar later," he said as he rose from his position and stretched his legs. Seeing that she had yet to even get up, he smirked at her. "You're not going to get anywhere sitting on your ass," he taunted her, watching her fume at him and leap to her feet. Seconds later, she had disappeared out of the room with him following after her.


"I don't get how you managed to beat me there," Tatsuki moaned as she reluctantly set her rifle down and looked over at a grinning Ichigo. "I clearly felt you behind me and then all of a sudden you're standing over the hollow I was supposed to kill."

"Overconfidence Tatsuki, that's what made you lose this match," he chided her. "You know better than to assume that you've got the upper hand. In fact you told me that the only time you can you've won, is when it's your hand being raised at the end of the race."

Cursing that her own advice was being used against her, she felt her ears prick up at the sound of gravel crunching behind her. Ducking her head down, she somersaulted away from the fist that sought to crush her skull and glared back at her attacker.

"I do believe I said that we'd go for an hour long spar if you lost," he grinned at her, seeing her groan again. "Don't worry…I won't go easy on you."


The following morning, saw the two teens being thrown back into their bodies and out of the Urahara shop at 5:00 AM, much to their displeasure.

"We need some peace and quiet now to get the gate ready for your departure," Kisuke said from behind his fan, ignoring their scathing glares. "So run along and enjoy your time with your families."

Grumbling to themselves, they started on their way home. On the way back, Tatsuki was glad that her eyes had returned to normal when she was back in her normal body.

"You know just because we can't train there anymore, it doesn't mean we have to stop," Ichigo commented, breaking into her reverie.

"What, you mean training on our own again?" she asked, seeing him nod in response.

"Yeah I mean we can still improve our technique and endurance while in our bodies," he said with a shrug of his shoulders. "Besides it's not like you could ever quit the dojo anyway."

"Hang on…" she said as she paused in her step. "Are you actually thinking of joining again?"

"What? No of course not," he replied. "With the way things are now, I wouldn't be able to commit to the practices or the tournaments. You can though, especially since I'll be there to cover and support you."

"Stupid overprotective Strawberry," she muttered with a slight blush on her face, slugging him on his arm. "No one asked you to do this."

"Maybe not, but I can't exactly turn my back on it now can I?" he asked as they stopped outside her house. "Get some rest and call Orihime, god knows how badly she's been missing you."

"What about you? What are you going to do?" she asked with her eyebrow raised.

"Me? I'm going to have to endure my dad attacking me again and placating my sisters over my disappearance," he chuckled waving his hand at her as he walked away.


Nothing I really want to talk about now, so what did you guys think?

There's a photo of how I imagine Tatsuki's rifle on my profile, just imagine it without the scope.