Sorry for the delay in updating, things have been stressful at home and things have had to come before my writing.
And, well, the votes are in! A massive thank you to everyone who placed their votes, Ichigo will reveal the outcome promptly!
Boy this was a hard chapter to write, I'm not sure why but *passes out* I struggled with it. I hope it is an enjoyable chapter, please review and share your thoughts.
Chapter Sixteen: Ultimate Revival:
Ichigo tensed momentarily as he felt Stark's arms slid around his middle before he relaxed.
"Are you alright, Ai?" the brunet asked softly.
"No... Not really." He turned in his arms and looked up at him, "Stark I... The second Hell Butterfly's message it..." he faltered and swallowed hard, "I don't know what to make of it..."
"Well why don't you start by telling me what it said and we can work through it together." He replied, kissing his forehead.
Ichigo swallowed and nodded closing his eyes, "It was from Central 46..." he licked his lips and took a breath, "They have made a decision on who should replace Yamamoto-Sou-Taichou."
"I see... They don't waste much time do they? He hasn't been dead an hour." Stark frowned slightly before looking at his lover's torn expression, "Did they tell you who they have elected?"
"And who was it?"
"Well... That's the thing... You see..." he trailed off and looked at Ukitake and Kyoraku who were stood together talking quietly, "Things really are changing in Soul Society. Central 46's decision... Is that Yamamoto's two best students take on a dual leadership role."
Stark's eyes widened for a moment before he too looked at the pair, "You mean-"
"Yes. And they have left it to me to inform them." He sighed and straightened himself up, brushing the dirt and dried blood from his uniform.
"Why would they leave it to you to tell them the result?" the brunet asked.
"Because..." he looked at him expressionlessly, "Central 46 nearly chose me."
Ichigo smiled at his reaction and ran a hand through his hair, "I'm glad they didn't pick me." He said quietly, "I have enough responsibility as it is! And I don't have the experience like they do."
Stark smiled and reached out, resting a hand on his shoulder, "Go and give them the good news Ichigo. Despite their grief I am certain it will surprise them both."
"... You're right." He nodded once and grinned before he turned and disappeared in a flicker of Shunpo.
The strawberry haired Taichou arrived a short distance from the two longest servicing Shinigami, "Ukitake-Taichou, Kyoraku-Taichou," he began, "I have some news for you before we head out to find Koga."
"What's wrong Kurosaki-Taichou?" Ukitake asked with a weak smile.
"Only moments ago I received the message, from Central 46 declaring their choice for who should replace Yamamoto-Taichou as the Head Captain," he murmured before he bowed to them, "Their decision is definite. They desire Ukitake Jushiro, and Kyoraku Shunsui, to dual lead together as they were unable to choose between your extensive and consistently excellent profiles."
The two stared at him for several moments before they shared a look of surprise, "You mean to say that they desire two Head Captains?!" Ukitake asked.
"They do, although they would usually continue to vote until there was a unanimous decision they were unable to do so, and the only way to resolve the problem was to suggest that you to rule together, at which point, all 46 councillors votes for the action to be taken. They have full confidence that because of your long history of friendship there will be no disputes between you, and you will be able to rule side by side with ease." Ichigo told them.
"Well," Kyoraku murmured, "I do wish they had at least allowed us to mourn the passing of our Sensei before pouncing this upon us, but if they are decided and there are no complaints I suppose we have no choice but to follow suit. What do you say Jushiro?"
"I agree, it is callous to spring this on us when we have only just lost Yamamoto-Taichou, however I understand that they require a stable leading figure to maintain peace in the Soul Society. And I have no qualms about their choice." The white haired Captain agreed after a moment of contemplation.
Ichigo straightened up and smiled, "I will leave it to the two of you to inform the other Taichou when the time is right, for now, with your permission, we should move out to locate Koga, and end this rebellion."
"Of course Kurosaki-Taichou, get them on their feet." The brunet nodded before he looked around, "I have one question."
"What is it, sir?" he asked.
"Where did Sousuke-kun disappear to?"
Ichigo's head snapped around and his eyes narrowed as he discovered Aizen had indeed disappeared, "I don't know, however, under the terms of the temporary treaty we both signed, I don't think he will cause any trouble."
"I will leave it up to you to find him once this whole thing is over, and then we can discuss this 'temporary treaty' you mentioned." The brunet Taichou murmured, his eyebrow raised slightly.
"Yes, sir!" he responded before turning and heading back over to the group behind him, he winked at Stark who smiled in return.
"Okay guys, if you're all ready, it's time to go." He announced loudly, "Are you all clear on what you have to do?" he nodded once as everyone murmured their answers.
He watched as everyone got to his feet before he walked over to Inoue, "Can you manage it?"
"Absolutely Kurosaki-kun! You can count on me!" she smiled.
"I know I can." He ruffled her hair before watching as Ishida put an arm around her so that they could Hirenkyaku together; the strawberry then joined Stark and smiled at him, "Let's go then." He murmured.
With only a moment's pause, they all moved off and away from the scene of Yamamoto and Ryujin Jakka's death. They headed back towards the city, where fresh smoke could be seen rising from several areas behind the white walls.
Rushing through the West gate, they infiltrated Seireitei again and kept their hands on their Zanpakto. Ichigo glanced at the surrounding Shinigami, Humans, and single Arrancar.
"Everybody split!" he called, "Take out your designated targets, and then reconvene on my position!"
With a chorus of: 'yes, sir' they split up, leaving Ichigo; Stark; Ishida; Chad and Inoue on the path they were following.
"I hope your plan works Ichigo..." Stark murmured as they moved onto the rooftops and increased their speed, "If it doesn't I fear what might happen."
"Don't worry... It will work. I'm sure of it." The strawberry murmured in response, his eyes narrowing as they approached Koga's reiatsu.
"Kurosaki-kun's plans always pull through!" Inoue smiled from Ishida's grasp.
"Thanks Inoue..." he chuckled before turning serious and dropping down in the grass field.
He stood up and glanced around quickly before his eyes settled on Koga's form, he was wearing the Division Six haori and the official Kuchiki family scarf. The newly promote Shinigami had his back to them, but Ichigo was certain that he already knew of their presence.
"I'm guessing that Yamamoto died since his reiatsu has faded. Did they kill each other?" the Kuchiki asked, glancing over his shoulder at the new arrivals.
"No, we put Ryujin Jakka to rest ourselves." Ichigo answered before he walked forwards, drawing his Zanpakto, "And now it is time to do the same to you."
"Tut-tut, don't you know that attacking a fellow Captain is a criminal offence?"
"You were only made Taichou on the assumption that Kuchiki Byakuya was dead. And unfortunately for you, you lack the ability to kill a man like that." The strawberry smirked slightly and raised an eyebrow, "I'm here to strip you of your position as Taichou of Division Six."
"Oh are you? I'd like to see you try. Whisper, Muramasa!" Koga unsheathed his Zanpakto and Muramasa appeared, gliding towards Ichigo with his talon like fingers outstretched, ready to take control of his Zanpakto for a second time.
Ichigo's smirk widened slightly before he closed his eyes and dropped his head slightly, "Inoue. Now!" he called confidently.
"Shunshunrikka, Santen Kesshun!" she held her hands out as her hair clips glowed and flew from her hair, she used her newer control over her powers to mould the barrier into a triangular pyramid which closed shut around Ichigo and Muramasa, sealing them both inside, "I reject."
Koga's eyes widened slightly before he growled, "Hadou 4: Byakurai!" he yelled as he pointed at the barrier.
"Danku." A voice said from behind him, a white barrier formed between the Kidou and Ichigo.
Koga spun around and his green eyes widened as he saw Byakuya stood there with his hand raised, the remnants of the Kidou flickering around his fingertips. His teeth clenched together as he saw the redheaded baboon that had made it possible for him to 'kill' Byakuya appear beside him, cloaked in a pick fur jacket which hung around his shoulders.
"Hihiō Zabimaru." The redhead called, his sword transforming in an instant into a giant segmented serpent with a flaming red mane and yellow slit-like eyes.
"Bankai. Senbonzakura Kageyoshi." Byakuya iterated as he dropped his sword and it was swallowed by the ground.
Koga's expression darkened as a two rows of large blades emerged on either side of the rightful Kuchiki Head and his Fuku-Taichou, "How are you alive?" he growled, turning to face the pair with his sword gripped tightly in his hand.
"Simple. You have neither the power nor the strength to defeat me. Your claws cannot reach me, Kuchiki Koga." The raven haired noble answered, "And now... I will be taking my scarf back before you sully it any further with your filth."
"You won't even touch a hair on my head." The other Kuchiki scoffed.
Byakuya's eyes narrowed very slightly before he swept a hand forward and the blades surrounding him disintegrated into an ocean of pink petals, "Renji, I leave it to you to ensure Ichigo is not interrupted." He murmured before he vanished amongst the torrent of petals.
Renji nodded once, despite no longer seeing his Taichou and moved forwards with his giant Bankai; he flash-stepped over to the cage in which Ichigo and Muramasa were trapped and coiled his Bankai around it, ensuring he could protect it from every angle in danger approached.
Stark, Ishida and Chad looked around suddenly as they sensed fast approaching reiatsu and realised that Ukitake, Kyoraku and Urahara had successfully done their part of the plan, and had gather the other Taichou and Fuku-Taichou who hadn't been badly injured during the rebellion.
Pair by pair they arrived, Ukitake and Kyoraku first, then Urahara with Yoruichi and Soi-Fon, Gin and Kira came next, as well as Hitsugaya and Matsumoto who had Hinamori tagging along with them, Shinji appeared a distance away with the other Vizards and finally Kenpachi arrived with the Arrancar excluding Grimmjow.
Only a heart beat later there were crows and jeers emanating from behind him; he turned slightly and saw that the group of Zanpakto who were still under Muramasa's control had followed the mass of Shinigami reiatsu, just as Ichigo had surmised.
Koga growled as he flash-stepped just out of the path of the petals, noticing the arrival of the others, he spat blood from where he had been struck once by the petals and looked at the Zanpakto who were still under the control of the rather trapped Muramasa, "Don't just stand there! Fight your blasted rebellion!" he hollered at them, "This is your chance to end them all!"
Thanks to Muramasa's power they listened and instantaneously attacked, each lunging whole heartedly at the Shinigami, Arrancar and Vizards.
Inside his inner world, Ichigo threw his fist into Muramasa's face, following up with three kicks and a further two punches before Shiro appeared out of nowhere and booted him squarely in the face.
"Good timing." Ichigo commented as his inner Hollow came to a stop beside him, "Where's Tensa?"
"I'm right here." The black haired Zanpakto replied from his other side.
"Alright, Shiro and I will keep you covered while you tap into Senbonzakura's conscience and replay the battle with Koga in here. If this goes correctly, Muramasa will be shown Koga's true colours. The rest is up to Byakuya." The strawberry murmured.
"Understood." Tensa nodded before he closed his eyes and began to glow a pale blue shade as he connected with the Samurai clad Zanpakto.
Ichigo looked at Shiro before they shared an affirmation and both drew their swords, flash-stepping towards Muramasa.
Byakuya swarmed Koga in petals, briefly sensing a change in Senbonzakura's reiatsu and taking note of it as he got closer to his enemy and summoned Senbonzakura back into his sword form, taking a swipe at the other Kuchiki.
"You seem unconcerned about your Zanpakto's welfare while trapped in that barrier. Are you that uncaring?" he asked as they came into close quarter combat.
"He can handle himself," the other responded, "Besides, he is a mere tool."
"What?" Byakuya's eyes narrowed slightly, "I cannot believe you just called your own Zanpakto a tool..."
"You heard me. He abandoned me for decades when I was imprisoned; whatever happens to him now is nothing short of what he deserves." Koga snarled.
"Tch, such cold heartedness is unbefitting the image of the Kuchiki family. Carriage of thunder, bridge of a spinning wheel; with light, divide this into six!" he held up a hand and fired the Kidou at his relative, watching as he was impaled and unable to move any further.
Muramasa froze suddenly and a small frown formed on his face as a screen popped up inside Ichigo's mind and revealed the battle between Byakuya and Koga, along with sound. His ice blue eyes widened as their voices filled the room and his shoulders slumped in response to his supposed "master's" voice.
Ichigo grabbed Shirosaki's arm as the albino went to renew the attack and shook his head, gesturing to the frozen Zanpakto, "It's working." He whispered.
Inoue's head snapped up suddenly as she sensed the change within the barrier she had created and she stood up from where she had been kneeling while Chad and Ishida made sure no one interfered with her barrier at her end of things.
She held out her hands, "Shunshunrikka." She called out, watching as the barrier altered and freed Ichigo, leaving only Muramasa imprisoned. She ran over and rested her hand on her orange haired friend's shoulder, "Did it work Kurosaki-kun?!"
"Yeah, you did brilliantly Inoue, thanks." He smiled at her and rested a hand on her hair, "You know what to do next and when?" he asked.
"Yes! I will do it!" she grinned and looked around, "Just let me know when to release Muramasa-san."
"I will." He nodded, 'You hear that Tensa? Let the lady know when she needs to release him.'
'Of course, but are you certain that this is a good idea? If it goes wrong-'
'It will work. I'm certain of it. One hundred percent certain.'
Ichigo's eyes narrowed suddenly and he flipped around, shielding Inoue behind him as they were abruptly set upon by a woman with long jet black hair and six arms. There was no need to guess whose Zanpakto she was, Nnoitra's resurrection appearance was very striking and there was no forgetting the six arms and six scythes he wielded when he went into that form.
"Santa Teresa..." he greeted, meeting her primary scythe with his Zanpakto.
"Kurosaki Ichigo." She replied, smirking slightly at him, "You are as exciting as Nnoitra always suggested. Quite the fan base you have going..."
"Tell me about it. Between him, Grimmjow and Kenpachi I never get any time to train alone. They all love getting their butts kicked." He replied.
"Allow me to alter your theory on that..." she hissed slowly before she stuck her tongue out and without warning fired a brilliant yellow cero at him.
Ichigo's eyes widened and he turned, shielding Inoue with his own body and preparing for the cero to hit home; he glanced around when there was an explosion which rippled heat over his neck and he gasped as he saw a burst of pink petals covering them in a protective dome. As the petals swamped back over to Byakuya as he continued fighting Koga Ichigo grabbed his sword and summoned his Bankai.
"KEEP YOU EYES ON YOUR OWN FIGHT! YOU GREEDY ASSHOLE!" he yelled at the noble in good humour before he pushed Inoue towards Ishida and ran at Santa Teresa.
He ducked the first two scythes, feeling a third snag his arm and a fourth catch his shin; he successfully knocked the next two aside with his reiatsu and met the sixth with his katana, he pushed hard and forced the attractive six armed female back several staggering steps before he arched his sword down towards her, "Getsuga Tenshou!"
He saw lashings of yellow and realised she had neutralised his attack with a cero; he ran forwards and leapt into a swift burst of Shunpo. Several effigies of him appeared around her as he grew faster and faster, to the very limit of his Bankai's power. When he sufficiently saw her eyes were blurred enough he lunged and aimed the tip of his katana towards her chest.
His eyes widened as she turned suddenly and captured his blade between two of her scythes before she snapped a third out towards him and caught him around the side of his neck. He twisted and untangled their blades before he shot to the side and rolled across the floor several paces. Touching his neck and feeling the warm slickness of blood which was dripping from the long thin slice which she had made.
"Good evasion... Had you been a second slower to an inch shorter I would have had your head on a spike right now..." Santa Teresa smirked.
"Then it is a good job that I am faster and taller, ne?" he replied, disappearing in a flicker of Shunpo before he appeared above her and held out a hand, "Number 63: Sajo Sabaku." His eyes narrowed as he watched the golden Kidou chains bind her in place; he took the opportunity of her distraction to shot forwards with his sword aimed at her chest for the second time.
Ichigo's eyes widened abruptly as a foreign sword knocked his aside and he watched in surprise as Nnoitra himself shot passed with his manic grin intact, "Hands off my girl, Shinigami!" he yelled before engaging his Zanpakto.
The strawberry stood dumbfounded for a moment before he sighed and turned around, his expression stiffened as he found himself face to face with a child with a skull mask which covered half of her face, and a large axe for a weapon; clad in purple. He gulped slightly as he recognised the skull from Barragan's resurrection form.
"Arrogante?" he asked, almost hopeful that it was a mistake.
"Yep that's me!" she beamed at him and clapped her hands together, "I bet I'm not what you were expecting for Bara-Bara's sword release am I?!"
He swallowed, "No... Not exactly." He said, trying to hold back laughter at her nickname for Barragan.
"No... Bara-Bara was the same when I walked into him!" she laughed before sweeping a hand to the side and summoned a large black axe from nowhere, "Now... Let's crack some skulls!"
Ichigo's eyes widened slightly and he jumped back several paces, watching as an eerie purple mist began to stretch towards him, killing the grass which is crawled over and rotting away at the earth as it moved towards him.
"Shit." He muttered and lifted his Zanpakto again, sparing a glance towards Koga and Byakuya, and then at Muramasa before he looked back at the child before him, "Getsuga Tenshou!" he cried and fired the arch of black and red light towards her.
He faltered and gawped slightly as her power simply rotted straight through his attack. Pausing and thinking back he sighed as he recalled Stark talking to him about Barragan's power; the girl was going to be a difficult one to fight, especially if she kept aging his attacks into nothingness.
Of course, there was one way to defeat her: "Inoue!" he yelled, "Come over here if you can!"
The young girl looked around with wide eyes and glanced at the barrier which she was keeping around Muramasa before she nodded and ran towards him, ducking a flying Zanpakto as it was thrown in her direction and shielding herself with another barrier as a cero gone awry nearly hit her. She danced her way across the field towards him.
"What is it Kurosaki-kun?" she asked as she finally reached him.
"Can you make another barrier? Without releasing Muramasa?" he asked, pulling her out of the way as a plume of purple time consuming energy moved towards them.
"Of course, it's as easy as breathing Kurosaki-kun. Where do you want it?"
He swallowed, "I will need it around my left hand, and do it as soon as you see that purple stuff eating away at my fingers okay?"
"K-Kurosaki-kun... You can't be serious?" she stared.
"What has to be done has to be done, without question." He replied, "If she isn't stopped she'll age everyone here to death."
"O-Okay... I understand." She nodded and gulped.
The strawberry haired male sucked in a breath before he flash-stepped forwards, reaching out with his left hand, "Ye lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all of creation, flutter of wings. Ye who bears the name of man! Inferno and pandemonium, the sea barrier surges, march on the south. Hadou Number 31: Shakkaho!" he yelled, watching as the red ball of light swirled into being and shot towards the girl.
As he had predicted her power ate through the Kidou and headed straight for him; he pressed himself harder, gritting his teeth as the purple mist engulfed his fingers; he stuck the tip of his Zanpakto into the ground and used it to spin and propel himself away from the mist again, "Inoue now!" he yelled as he held up his speedily aging and dissolving arm.
"Santen Kesshun, I reject!" she yelled, cringing at the sight of his bones as his skin was eaten away. A barrier formed around his hand and separated it from his arm; he turned and kicked the barrier surrounded hand with all his might, watching as it shot towards Arrogante with perfect accuracy.
It sped through the purple mist and hit her body squarely, at the same time the barrier broke down and the limb touched her, spreading the purple over her body. Ichigo skidded to a stop and crouched down, holding his arm gently as he watched as the green haired child was aged by her own powers; he looked away as she faded from sight but glanced up as a broken yellow hilted sword clattered on the floor.
He stood up slowly, staggering for a moment before he found his footing and watched as Barragan himself walked over and picked up his sword, "Well handled, Kurosaki." The old man smirked slightly, "I would never have thought of such an ingenious way of defeating my power."
"Yes... Well desperate measures and all that." He muttered before glancing around, he spotted Stark a short distance away, fighting with Kurotsuchi's Zanpakto; he looked around again and saw a fracture in the barrier which was containing Muramasa, "Inoue... Get ready." He breathed.
A/N: I'm going to cut it off there, I think if I tried to fit the rest of my plan into this chapter it would go downhill haha! Hope you enjoyed!