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Chapter Thirteen: Bound By Law But Not By Soul:
Koga's smirk was infinite as he was fitted with blood red fingerless gloves to match his silk gauze scarf; an array of kensaikan were slotted into his hair and he was garbed in a new Shinigami uniform.
The Council, in lieu of his display of strength and ruthlessness in the Council Chamber, had been forced into the intolerable position of conceding to Koga's wishes and instating him as the official heir to the Kuchiki Head of the Clan position.
And as the new heir of the Clan, they had no choice but to instate him as Captain of Division Six as well. And as the servants slipped the sleeveless white haori over his shoulders, his ascension was completed; leaving the Council powerless and fearful of their own fates as well as the fate of Soul Society.
Smirking broadly at the Elders who were trying to heal the head wound Koga had inflicted upon Norio he turned and left the Chamber with a smug sense of satisfaction.
"We are finally one step closer to recreating the world, Koga." Muramasa's voice's echoed like it was being called down a tunnel in his mind.
"Indeed, but there is still a long way to go; in order to get Yamamoto to accept us we will need a bargaining chip. This comes in the form of you being able to return the Zanpakto to their rightful owners."
Koga walked onwards towards Division One; by now, no doubt, Yamamoto had sensed his return and might well attack him, and when he did he would simply put him in his place and insist on discussing things in a mature and dignified way that did not include him being imprisoned for a second time.
When he crossed the wooden pathway to the old man's office, Yamamoto, who had been forced to abandon his former attempt to defeat Ryujin Jakka, and the recently recovered Fukutaichou Sasakibe appeared in a crack of shunpo, their swords drawn and in a defensive stance.
"Whoa, you are a little previous no?" he said, raising his hands in resistance, "I'm not here to fight. I am here to talk. Or are you so senile now that you will no longer consider diplomacy before action?"
"Where you have been concerned, action has always been necessary." Yamamoto responded coolly, "Why should now be any different?"
"Because if you don't listen to what I have to say, your Zanpakto will continue to wreak havoc on Soul Society until you are all dead. I you do listen, Muramasa can recall them and peace will be restored." Koga said simply, raising one sculpted eyebrow in defiance.
"I will listen. My later actions depend upon your words." The old Captain rumbled, gesturing for the younger man to lead the way into the Division.
"How do I know that once I have assisted you, there will still be the promise of a truce?" Aizen asked.
"A wise question, I would expect no less." Ichigo stated before he crossed one of his legs over the other, "We will draw up a transitory truce here, in this very room in the presence of two Captains, and when the issue with Koga is resolved, a permanent one will be put in place."
"Two Captains?" he asked sceptically.
"Yeah, two." Stark said as he walked forwards, "Coyote Stark, Taichou of Division Fourteen."
"Ah, so they have made a lot of changes in Soul Society, I am surprised, for such rigidity they seem remarkably malleable in the hands of the right person." Aizen chuckled as he looked at Ichigo.
"Maybe they are." The strawberry smirked faintly before raising an eyebrow, "So, what is your answer?"
Aizen looked across at Ichigo for a long moment before a smirk pulled at the corners of his mouth, "Alright. Let us draw up this treaty and I will assist you however I can."
"Very well." Ichigo stood up and followed Aizen over to the ornate wooden desk which was new to the room since the last time he had seen it, "How shall we start it?"
"How about we have someone on neutral ground write out what we want, one of your human friends perhaps?" the brunet proposed.
"Ishida?" Ichigo glanced around at his friend, "Would you please do the honours?"
"Of course, Kurosaki." The spectacled Quincy strode forwards confidently and pulled to him a piece of the expensive paper Aizen kept on his desk, followed by a pen.
The three looked at each other for a moment before Ichigo spoke, "Uh... How about... Signed below to the effect that... Uh, no member of Soul Society will attack or harm any member of Las Noches, past and present to the effect that the same applied to Las Noches concerning Soul Society?"
"Very official sounding," Aizen chuckled, "How about adding in something about assisting each other in times of need and setting up some trade route? I believe we have much to offer each other."
Ishida began scribbling across the piece of paper in his elegant script, taking ten or so minutes on it before he finally set the pen down and picked it up, "How does this sound?" he asked before clearing his throat, "Signed by the major parties concerned to the effect that Las Noches and Soul Society have come to an agreement concerning peace and cooperation between their people and political figureheads. As stated here, no harm shall be caused to either party by the other or else termination of the contract will ensue, putting an end to all alliances, against antagonist that may rise against one World or the other, and trading participation."
"Sounds perfect." Aizen nodded, "What do you say, Ichigo; Stark?"
"That sounds perfect to us as well." Stark said as he looped an arm around his husband.
"Then sign on the dotted line and let's get to work." Ishida said as he stood up and handed the pen to Aizen first.
It took a matter of seconds for the three of them to sign the paper, which was then taken by the Quincy for safe keeping. Aizen then turned to Ichigo and smiled, "Come, I will open a Garganta for us." Ichigo, Stark, and Ishida moved back over to the others and waited as Aizen said his goodbyes to Kitsune.
"You had best ensure nothing happens to prevent you from returning here to me, or I might get a little bit annoyed." The feisty blue eyed male murmured as he looked up at his brunet lover.
"Don't concern yourself; we will bring this affair to an end quickly." He responded with a slight smile, "You have no reason to get annoyed."
Kitsune leaned up and kissed him heatedly for a moment before releasing him and sitting back, "Mm, alright."
"Look after this place while I am away."
"You don't have to ask me to do that."
"I know, but I don't like assuming you'll do it." Aizen shrugged slightly before kissing his forehead and stepping back, "And behave."
"Me behave? What about you?" he smirked slightly before nodding, "I will."
Aizen nodded at him once before picking up his Zanpakto from its resting place in the sword holder by the wall and leading the troop from the room and down the corridor.
"So were Nelliel and the others useful to you in combating the Zanpakto?" Aizen asked as they walked.
"Yes and no," Ichigo replied, "They saved us from Ryujin Jakka when he was drawn out of Yamamoto-Taichou but... We left for the World of the Living to try and stop Muramasa freeing Koga before we really saw them doing anything."
"I see, well Nelliel is a strong force and will be able to keep them under control no problem." He said simply, "I must be honest I am surprised Grimmjow isn't with you again, he seems very fond of you."
"Grimmjow..." Ichigo looked down, "Has more important things on his mind at the moment."
"Oh? Such as what?" Aizen looked at him and then at Stark's solemn expression; his tone changed instantly, "What happened?"
"Szayel... Szayel died while we were in the World of the Living. Grimmjow sensed it, and returned to Soul Society." The strawberry haired Captain said quietly.
Aizen was silent for several long moments as he processed the information, "I... Have no doubt that Grimmjow will have avenged Szayel by now and is now trying to find a way to bring him back."
"I agree, but the agony in his soul was painful to see, when he discovered what had happened, he was inconsolable. I pity whoever it was who killed Szayel, because I have no doubt that he would have caused them the same pain that he felt." Stark inputted.
"The Hogyuku brought Stark back to me when I was able to control its' power..." Ichigo pointed out, "Could it not do the same again?"
"I am uncertain," Aizen said honestly, "You truly desired Stark's return to you and you were strong enough to make it happen and although now back in my possession the Hogyuku has done several strange things of late."
"Including saving Kitsune's life?" Ichigo asked curiously.
"Yes," he said, "Although I would have healed him, the Hogyuku acted of its own will and healed him first by splitting in half and subjecting half of itself into his body."
"So... You finally have an equal who can sit beside you," Ichigo smirked faintly and looked at him from the corner of his eye, "He seems very lively."
"You have no idea..." the brunet sighed, "This trip of Soul Society will be like a holiday."
"Do you love him though?"
"Yes." He said without hesitation, "I didn't think I would at first but he grew on me very quickly and I believe I do."
"I'm glad for you."
They left the palace and headed across the sands to a safe distance before Aizen snapped his fingers, opening a Garganta and scowling as he felt some resistance; he poured his reiatsu out and forced the dark space beyond to stabilize.
"Mm, it appears someone anticipated further interference from Las Noches and they attempted to prevent entrance from here as well, however without the proper knowledge of my Garganta they have failed to do so." The Lord of Las Noches informed them, a hint of anger in his tone, "Tch, amateurs."
Ichigo smirked slightly, "Will there be any problem getting through?"
"None at all."
"Then let's go." Ichigo said coolly, shooting ahead into the Garganta with Stark right behind him.
Aizen watched him go for a moment before he sighed and glanced back at the palace longingly, "Things are going to get a lot more complicated from now on, I hope he doesn't get too annoyed..."
"What happens when he gets annoyed?" Ishida asked as the rest of the group set off after Ichigo and Stark.
"Hmm?" the brunet paused and looked at the young Quincy, "Oh, the power of the Hogyuku activates and he ends up materializing wherever I am."
"Interesting." The Quincy murmured as he flew beside them on his variation of Hirenkyaku which took the form of a surfboard like mesh of spirit particles.
"Annoying," Aizen corrected, "Especially in a situation like this when I will be in another dimension altogether; if he just appears he might get himself injured."
"Heh, you've gone soft." The Quincy smirked before speeding up and catching up to Ichigo and Stark.
The Lord of Las Noches narrowed his eyes slightly but didn't correct him, knowing it was perfectly true. He blamed Ichigo.
Yamamoto sat behind his desk; Sasakibe was knelt beside him as usual while Koga took the seat on the other side of the desk, crossing his legs with a self-satisfied smirk on his face.
"I want complete control of Division Six as is my right, as well as a complete pardon from my former crimes." The newest Kuchiki Head demanded smugly.
The Head Captain shook his head, "Do not be ridiculous. I have no sway over the decisions of Central 46, if you want a pardon you will have to appeal after spending the minimum time in prison."
"But I did spend a minimum time in prison, remember? You put me there, with the help of old Ginrei."
"That was not under Central 46's order, which was for the protection of the citizens of Seireitei." Yamamoto argued.
"I am not going to sit and squabble with you over this, either you grant my requests, or I snap my fingers and the Zanpakto annihilate Soul Society." Koga's smirk widened, knowing that he held all the cards in this game.
"Many of the Zanpakto have been defeated, I am certain we could win..." Yamamoto growled out.
"And how many of your comrades will you risk? How many do you want to see die before you can return order?" the Kuchiki asked.
Yamamoto fell silent for a moment before he gritted his teeth and opened his eyes and glowered at the younger man. Whatever he decided would have massive implications for the entire Society, and at the end of the day, there was truly only one option he could pick.
"I refuse to comply to your wishes." He said calmly, closing his eyes again.
Koga clenched his teeth and stood up so fast that his chair was knocked backwards, "I never expected you to purposefully lead your lambs out to slaughter, but very well... If that is the way you want it then you may have it," his eyes narrowed and he touched the hilt of his Zanpakto, "Whisper, Muramasa."
For a moment there was silence before an abrupt and terrifying roar broke through the sound barrier and shook the entire division from head to toe. Yamamoto half leapt to his feet and in a flash Koga had vanished, leaving them to deal with it alone.
Yamamoto flash-stepped out onto his balcony and looked around for the source of the abominable noise. His eyes widened as he saw a great flying fiery mass circling the Division and setting it alight in several areas. As the flames got closer he could clearly see that Ryujin Jakka had begun to take on a more physical form than simple flames; he saw glimpses of scarlet scales and curving horns and talons; the whip of a powerful tail and the glint of murderous eyes.
"Sasakibe, evacuate the Division immediately!" he ordered before he flash-stepped away, firing a bombardment of Kidou at the flaming creature to draw it away from the Division as he shunpo-ed towards Rukongai, to the most desolate area he could think of at short notice.