Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction (obviously..) that I wrote for my own enjoyment and hopefully yours as well. I own nothing related to Bleach (except for a nifty keychain that I got with one of the dvds), and can only claim the plot as my own.
"This emergency Captain's meeting is called to order!" the Captain Commander ordered with a thump of his walking stick on the floor. The room shuddered ever so slightly and all of the attending Captains gave the old man their full attention. "A matter of importance has come up and I require your full co-operation."
Several of the Captains seemed surprised because as far as they knew, aside from having to deal with Aizen and the Arancar, there were no other immediate threats to Soul Society that they could think of that would warrant a full emergency meeting. The only unusual thing of note was the barest hint of a rumor floating around Sixth Division that Ichigo Kurosaki had visited with their Captain briefly the other day, but even that was being kept very quiet so few outside the squad had heard it.
"A new Shinigami has joined us and has asked to challenge the Lieutenants and Captains to practice matches due to his need to familiarize himself with his Zanpakuto's abilities against multiple opponents of that level of strength," explained the Captain Commander to reactions ranging from amazement, curiosity and disdain to excitement, fear, indifference and shock. "I am asking you to co-operate with this request due to the unique nature of his Zanpakuto's abilities which will be of immense help in the upcoming battle with the traitor Aizen."
"How could a new Shinigami be so powerful?" Captain Kurotsuchi asked with a huff as he looked around. "It is inconceivable."
"Yet it is true," replied the Captain Commander sternly, causing the Twelfth Division Captain to gulp and shrink back slightly. "I have tested him and deemed him fit to serve in a special capacity, reporting directly to myself. While not formally a member of any of the thirteen squads, he shall have equal standing with the Captains yet not be one but shall be above the Lieutenants in rank. Unless he is following my direct orders he is free to act in whatever manner he deems worthy."
"That's a fair bit of power and freedom to give to a single individual Yama-jii," whistled Captain Kyoraku . "Are you sure that he's someone who can handle that sort of responsibility?"
"Did you not hear me say that I tested him?" the Captain Commander barked. "He can be trusted to act in the best interests of Soul Society and protect that which needs to be."
"So just who is this Shinigami?" Captain Hitsugaya asked.
"Former Substitute Shinigami Ichigo Kurosaki, step forward," called the Captain Commander, again rapping the end of his walking stick on the floor causing another shudder to pass through the room.
All heads turned as the large set of double doors slowly swung open and revealed Ichigo standing just on the other side. All eyes were examining him and taking in his changed appearance, but most attention was directed towards the new Zanpakuto he carried. Eyes widened as they recognised the Zanpakuto and more than one pair turned to stare incredulously at the Captain Commander.
"Why does the Substitute carry that Zanpakuto?" Captain Kurotsuchi questioned, looking interestedly at the teen.
"Former Substitute you idiot," corrected Captain Zaraki, "Weren't you listening?"
"And just how did you become a 'Former Substitute' then, eh?" continued Captain Mayuri, ignoring Captain Zaraki completely.
"How does a soul normally change and become a Shinigami?" Ichigo replied getting some questioning looks as a few tried to put together what he was hinting at.
"A soul takes up a Zanpakuto and if that soul is strong enough it bonds with the spirit of the Zanpakuto and becomes a Shinigami," explained Captain Kurotsuchi, completely missing the sarcasm in Ichigo's question. "Every fool knows that."
"Then why did you ask?" Ichigo responded, drawing amused snickers from some of the other Captains.
"Enough!" growled the Captain Commander as he again hit the floor with his walking stick and restored order. "Ichigo Kurosaki has bonded with the Zanpakuto Muramasa and his soul is now properly a Shinigami. He still retains his original Zanpakuto as well, but it is with his new one that he needs to practice. You all know that it has the ability to control an opponent's Zanpakuto. It is this ability that Ichigo Kurosaki needs to practice and master, especially considering the potential it has to be used against the traitor Aizen and his Zanpakuto's ability."
Captain Unohana's eyes widened as she heard those words and turned to look more closely at the new Shinigami standing before them. His appearance had changed since she had last examined him, but that was easily explainable due to his bonding with a Zanpakuto. What surprised her was the change she felt in his spiritual power. His reserves had always been enormous, but his power felt different. Not the quantity of it, but the quality of it. She was well aware of just what Aizen's Zanpakuto could do but was equally aware of Muramasa's ability. It would seem to be the perfect counter. Understanding the Captain Commander's message, she allowed herself a small smile.
"I'll fight him first!" Captain Zaraki offered loudly with a crazed grin.
"No, you'll fight me last," answered Ichigo evenly. "And I'm looking for training, not fighting."
"Fine.. whatever.." muttered Captain Zaraki .
"I don't mean it like that," an exasperated Ichigo replied to the Eleventh Division Captain. "Think of it as saving the best for last. Besides, this will be a fight you'll never forget, I can guarantee."
"Oh?" Captain Zaraki questioned with a raised eyebrow. "I'll hold you to that Ichigo."
"So what exactly do you need to do Ichigo?" asked Captain Ukitake.
"What I need," Ichigo replied, "is practice with Muramasa's ability to control other Zanpakuto. The best way we could think of was to ask the Captain Commander if we could practice first against the assembled Lieutenants and then against any individual Lieutenants who's Zanpakuto wasn't affected in the first round. After that, I'd like to do the same with the Captains and their Zanpakuto."
"And just what would be involved in all of this?" asked Captain Kyoraku. "Would we have to fight our Zanpakuto's spirits again like we did not too long ago?"
"No that was Muramasa's ability when he was wielded by Koga," Ichigo answered. "Basically when I release Muramasa's Shikai he can take control of an opposing Shinigami's Zanpakuto and give me control over its release and abilities. All I'd really need to have you do is keep your Zanpakuto in its sealed form and let me release Muramasa so he can take control. Both you and your Zanpakuto need to be on your guard and resist the control if you can detect it. Then you call your Zanpakuto and see what happens. After we're done Muramasa will release control."
"Would you care to demonstrate on myself and Hyorinmaru?" Captain Hitsugaya challenged as he stepped out of line and stood before Ichigo.
"If you're sure," answered Ichigo after receiving a small nod from the Captain Commander.
"Show us Kurosaki," Captain Hitsugaya demanded as he drew his Zanpakuto from across his back and held it out in front of himself in a ready stance.
All of the assembled Captains backed up to give the pair some room, not knowing what was going to happen. They could all feel the temperature in the room drop as they felt Captain Hitsugaya draw upon his spiritual power while he stood there in the middle, waiting for Ichigo to make his move. With a confident grin on his face, Ichigo drew Muramasa and held the blade out in front of himself like before. Taking a breath to calm himself, Ichigo reached deep and drew upon his reserves of power as well and made them available to his Zanpakuto. The other Captains looked surprised at the amount of spiritual pressure Ichigo's power was causing because it was much heavier than before.
"Whisper, Muramasa!" commanded Ichigo causing a flare of light blue spiritual energy to sparkle in his eyes as the pulse of energy radiated outwards from him.
All eyes were on Captain Hitsugaya's Zanpakuto as he called out for his own blade's release.
"Reign over the Frozen Heavens, Hyorinmaru!" called out the smallest Captain, expecting a dragon of ice to appear.
"Hah! Is your Zanpakuto broken or something?" laughed Captain Zaraki as the assembled Captains looked on in astonishment.
"Hyorinmaru, Reign over the Frozen Heavens," Ichigo commanded, not taking his eyes off of his Captain Hitsugaya.
"What..?" Captain Hitsugaya exclaimed as his Zanpakuto responded to Ichigo's call and an icy dragon formed and encircled the young Captain.
"Suzumebachi," continued Ichigo, shifting his gaze to the petite Captain of the second division, "Sting all Enemies to Death."
A gasp was heard as the second division's Captain's Zanpakuto materialized in its released state of a black and gold gauntlet connected by a golden chain to the articulated golden stinger on her middle finger.
"Ashisogi Jizo, Rip," called out Ichigo with a smirk as he looked at the surprised expression on Captain Mayuri's painted face.
The Zanpakuto of the twelfth division's Captain changed to its released state as well and tore through the scabbard as the blade split and the two additional golden blades angled off from the main one forming a sort of trident. The surprised Captain let out a girlish shriek as the one blade which was facing inwards tore through his shihakusho and gashed his thigh causing him to be affected by the paralysis it caused.
Eyebrows were raised and expressions of shock and amazement could be found on most of the Captain's faces. Byakuya merely looked smug while the Captain Commander looked on with approval. Captain Zaraki was laughing his ass off at Captain Mayuri's reaction.
"Muramasa, please release Hyorinmaru, Suzumebachi and Ashisogi Jizo," commanded Ichigo as he released his gathered spiritual power now that the demonstration was over.
At his command the trio of Zanpakuto immediately returned to their sealed states and Captains Hitsugaya and Soifon dropped their Zanpakuto to the floor with matching expressions of shock and horror on their faces. Captain Mayuri's Zanpakuto slid out of the torn scabbard and fell to the floor as well, but his expression was one of annoyance and intrigue.
"I trust that settles things?" asked the Captain Commander while observing the reactions Ichigo's demonstration had caused. "All captains are ordered to collect their Lieutenants and assemble at the First Division's training area. You have one hour. Dismissed."
The assembled Lieutenants were awed and the Captains were suitably impressed with Ichigo's newly acquired Zanpakuto and its abilities. Some were jealous of the 'mere human' and the level of power he displayed, but none could resist Muramasa's ability and all lost control of their Zanpakuto. The amazement was taken up another level when Ichigo actually commanded the ability of Byakuya Kuchiki's Senbonzakura and directly controlled the movements of the multitudes of petal shaped blades with his free right hand.
Finally when everyone but Kenpachi Zaraki had their turn facing Ichigo, the big man with the evil grin stepped up and drew his Zanpakuto. Giving it a few swings to loosen himself up, Zaraki stood at the ready and waited for Ichigo.
"I don't know what you think that sword is going to mine," called out Zaraki confidently, "but in case you forgot, this Zanpakuto doesn't have a name."
"All Zanpakuto have names Zaraki," Ichigo replied while he sheathed Muramasa. "If you would just listen, you would be able to hear it screaming out, trying to reach you with its voice."
"Why are you putting your Zanpakuto away for then?" Zaraki questioned. "Use it to call out to my Zanpakuto and tell me it's name."
"You really don't get it, do you?" asked Ichigo as he drew Zangetsu from off of his back and held it out in front of him, allowing the white cloth to wind around his arm. "Bankai!"
Puzzled and amazed gasps from the assembled crowd could be heard by the pair as with a flash of light blue spiritual power that caused all of the Lieutenants to drop to their knees, Ichigo was revealed standing wearing his Bankai coat and wielding the long slim black blade of Tensa Zangetsu.
"Fight me with everything Zaraki or you will die!" Ichigo roared as he vanished in a flash of shunpo only to appear in front of Zaraki with his blade held high.
His eye widening in amazement, Zaraki couldn't react in time to block the powerful downward slash and received a deep gash across his chest running from shoulder to opposite hip. He swung his sword in answer, but hit only air as Ichigo had retreated the instant after he had completed his attack. Growling in frustration, Zaraki reached up and ripped off the patch from over his right eye. Most of the Lieutenants were again forced to their knees as Zaraki's massive amount of spiritual power was released.
"That's more like it," Ichigo called out as he repeatedly flashed in circles around the large Captain, flickering in and out of perception and leaving multiple afterimages of himself.
Rushing in to attack from multiple angles, Ichigo was rewarded as most of his strikes found Zaraki and cut him deeply. Some were stopped though by Zaraki's sword as he seemed to start to get used to the stupidly fast movements and attacks coming at him. It wasn't enough though as strike after strike found him and wounded him. Grinning like crazy, he kept at it, not caring that he was apparently losing.
Finally, with one last overhand strike, Tensa Zangetsu sliced cleanly through Zaraki's blade and sliced deeply into Zaraki's chest. Jumping back with a small burst of shunpo, Ichigo drew Muramasa with his left hand.
"Whisper, Muramasa," Ichigo called out to his Zanpakuto, allowing it unlimited access to his increased pool of spiritual power caused by Zangetsu's Bankai, causing the flare and flash of spiritual energy from it.
After a moment of concentration Ichigo looked over to the Captain of the Fourth Division who with a nod of understanding and a snap of her fingers caused a flash of green kido to surround Zaraki and begin healing his wounds.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Zaraki roared as his wounds closed and he was able to stand normally again.
"You'll need it Zaraki, trust me," explained Ichigo. "Your Zanpakuto is pissed at you so I'm going to help it out a bit. Chiniuerukoto, Kill them All!"
All of the assembled Captains and Lieutenants looked on with curiosity and apprehension as the broken Zanpakuto in Zaraki's hand glowed yellow and began to repair itself. The broken part of the blade on the ground vanished suddenly and the remaining part began to change. The nicks and gashes along its edge vanished and the blade took on a bloody red sheen. Slowly, the blade reformed itself until it was its original size. Zaraki held the released Zanpakuto up in front of him to take a close look at it.
"So this is what you should look like, eh?" Zaraki asked his Zanpakuto quietly.
"It is," a voice replied from behind him before a copy of the blade in his hand stabbed him through the back and protruded from his chest, directly in line with his heart.
"Release Chiniuerukoto please, Muramasa," Ichigo whispered to his blade before sheathing it. He also released his Bankai and put Zangetsu back across his back.
"Hey Ichigo I thought you said that Muramasa couldn't force another Zanpakuto's spirit to manifest," Renji asked the orange haired teen as he fell in beside him to watch Zaraki and his Zanpakuto.
"I didn't say that," corrected Ichigo quietly. "I only said it used to be Muramasa's ability when he was Koga's Zanpakuto. As long as I have control of a Zanpakuto because of Muramasa, I can command it to manifest it's spirit. With that one though, he was screaming to get out, so I hardly had to give him any power at all to force the manifestation."
"Oh," Renji replied simply as he returned to watching the spectacle that was taking place.
Zaraki sank to his knees after the blade pierced his heart with an expression of shock and regret upon his face. The Zanpakuto spirit behind him had vanished and he was left there with a blade stuck through him. Slowly, his eyes closed and he crumpled to the ground, causing concerned cries from some of the others assembled to participate. The Captain Commander however was looking on with approval and gave a slight nod to the newest Shinigami for his actions.
A/N: We still don't know the name of Zaraki's Zanpakuto yet but I'm going with Chiniuerukoto, which according to Google Translate is Japanese for 'Bloodlust'. I was re-watching the fight between Ichigo and Zaraki and the part that stood out as inspiration was when Ichigo appeared to get stabbed in the back and out through the chest after Zaraki revealed himself. Ichigo commented on how it felt like bloodlust, so I figured that was pretty good for a Zanpakuto's name. And for those wondering, no Zaraki's not dead, he's been taken to his inner world for a long overdue chat with his Zanpakuto. The inspiration for Unohana healing Zaraki came right from the more current issues of the manga.