Been a long time, huh? Got distracted, been going back and forth on the direction I want to take this, and finally have a decision on how to finish it. That said, after this chapter, we're in the home stretch. (I haven't abandoned any story, I just cycle through fandoms and sometimes it's a while before I get back to one. That, and I am really lost with what's happening in the manga, so I have to go back and re-read it.) Next chapter should be longer.

Shattered Pieces V

Mayuri couldn't care less about morals or ethics or a person's right to their own body. All that mattered to him was the quest for information.

The samples he had taken from Kurosaki Ichigo were fascinating, if only because there was evidences of Hollow reiatsu in them that didn't come from an outside source but Ichigo himself. It was similar to the so called Visored, even, but there was something else to it, some other component that made the unique reiatsu of Kurosaki Ichigo.

So, he ran it through another analysis, and got a bit of a surprise.

Quincy, the final element of Ichigo's unique reiatsu was Quicny. It wasn't an exact match to the Quincy reiatsu he had on file, but it was similar enough for him to draw the conclusion.

It also explained why the boy was blind, his quincy abilities had tried to heal him, but had reacted poorly with the hollow reiatsu poison.

A fascinating discovery, really, and if the boy hadn't been made a captain, he'd have asked for him to become a test subject. (Because mayuri did have some rules, otherwise he'd have been taken back to his cell otherwise, and he might be crazy but he was still logical enough to know that others did not share his views, and therefore there were some things he could not mess with.)

And from the small sensor he'd injected while getting his samples, the boy had potential to be the most unique creature in existence.

"Mayuri-Taicho, Kurosaki-taicho to see you." Nemu announced, and Mayuri glanced over his shoulder to see it was Kurosaki Ichigo, arms crossed and quietly listening to his movements.

"Thank you, Nemu, please, check on the rest of our division's projects." Mayuri slipped up to the Hybrid. "I've found the problem for your eyes, but I'm afraid there's little I can do, I'm sending the information to Unohana taicho."

"Thank you, Mayuri-san, but that's not why I'm here." Kurosaki gave a small tilt of his head in thanks before straightening. "I'm hesitant to ask this from Urahara-san, but I think you might be able to do it … is there anything you can do to make the Hogyoko weaker, or make something that counter-acts its effects? It's really the most dangerous weapon Aizen has, if there is a way to negate it or remove it from his arsenal …"

"Ah, an interesting thought." Mayuri was amused by the idea. No one else had brought it up, and that included him.

"I have them from time to time." Kurosaki's lips twitched, apparently, he had heard Mayuri's amusement.

"The only problem is the lack of information we have on the hogyoko and what it can do. Hollowfication seems to be only one facet of its abilities." Mayuri hated admitting that he didn't know something.

"Then you'd have to get the information from Urahara-san, if he'll actually say it straight forward." Kurosaki scowled. "I have a second thought I'd like to run by you, if I may?"

"Of course, I have the time."

"A way to intercept Gargantuas. We're able to detect them when they open, and they seem to all be made by the hollow's desire for the shortest distance between them and souls … I'm afraid I don't know how to put that any clearer."

"Of course, if we can sense when one is opened by a hollow, perhaps we can extrapolate where the hollow is going." Another clever idea, one that Mayuri had briefly entertained before dismissing as an impractical avenue of research. We'd be able to predict when the next attack was coming and where."

"Ideally, or find a way to disrupt them before they can exit."

"I'll have to look into it." Mayuri declared, and felt amused by the thoughts of the hybrid in front of him. The boy was clever, but only in tactics, he wouldn't care much about science or knowledge save for how it could be used to aid him in battle, but Mayuri was sure he'd actually understand the explanations, unlike the meathead that ran the eleventh.

It was a shame that he couldn't have him as a specimen.

"Thank you for listening." Kurosaki turned to leave, then turned back. "Regarding my eyes, Mayuri-san, that thing you injected into me, it itches." Kurosaki tapped the area near his tear duct. "I'm crying blood a little more often now, it seems, and I believe it is a result of the object."

Mayuri gaped for a moment, before regaining some composure. "I see, I'm afraid there's little I can do about the irritation the sensor causes, however, but I'll make a note in your file."

"Thought you should know. Also, if you dare to inject anything into my sisters or Nel without their knowledge or permission, I will kill you." Kurosaki smiled, reiatsu not flickering out of control, and that made Mayuri even more wary. "It will be swift, of course, you are an ally, but I don't care what you do to me, you leave my sisters and Nel out of your experiments."

"I understand, we have an agreement." Mayuri nodded, accepting these terms. He was more interested in Kurosaki, though the younger hybrids would one day be interesting. "You should know, you have an unique reiatsu, there are elements of hollow and quincy mixed in with the shinigami and human. You might want to ask Shiba-Taicho about it." That was as close to an apology that he would ever give.

Mayuri had rules, despite what others would believe, and he would adhere to them.

Grimmjow snarled as he tore through the remains of a shinigami patrol. He wanted to fight a real opponent, he'd wanted to fight that Ichigo. Still snarling, he looked to the sky of the Soul reapers, and the dome that was currently repelling their attacks.

He sensed it, when the dome went up, that Ichigo was still alive, despite the claim of Aizen. He bet Ichigo's little sister was in there too, and maybe he could convince them to let him and Ichigo battle it out.

Because he didn't care about Aizen's plans, he only cared about fighting strong opponents and so far, there were none outside the dome.

His decision made, Grimmjow abandoned the other arrancar and hollows he was fighting with, slipping away to find a way inside the dome and to his opponent.