A/N: Some people to thank for reviews: "Guest," anon, Dragon and Sword Master, and Assault Godzilla. And thank you to anyone who put this or its author on their lists. Here's gift chapter number two.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Bleach characters, manga, anime, movies, etc. They belong by copyright laws to Tite Kubo et al.
Consequences of War
Sometimes the Cycle Repeats
Ichigo and Ishida watched as the Sternritter burst through the portal. "Go, and lay waste to the city, my children." Yhwach's booming voice carried over the distance, following his soldiers as they spread out into the already ruined city. Haschwalth and another stayed with their leader. "So, my traitorous lost sons have decided to face me. What can you do against the Almighty?"
"You're really full of yourself, Yhwach. We're not your sons, lost or otherwise. And in case you haven't noticed, our powers can't be used by you anymore either."
"Kurosaki…" Ishida warned. There was no reason to give the information away if the bastard didn't already know it. It would have been an ace up their sleeve.
A flicker of unease shown in the madman's eyes, making Ichigo grin. Yhwach was starting to realize that he was not going to be able to carry out his plan. Ichigo and Ishida had already thwarted his entry into the Royal Realm. "You have done something hideous to the glorious Quincy power your ancestors and I gave you. What atrocity is this?"
The two other Quincys glanced at each other, a light bulb going off in their heads. Their king shouldn't have had to ask. "Your Majesty?" the one asked, wondering what was going on. The Almighty power saw everything.
"Bazz-B, go and do as your king commanded. I will handle things here. There's no need for two of us," Haschwalth ordered, not wanting the other man to find out that there was glitch in the Almighty.
"What's the matter, Haschwalth, don't you want your childhood friend to know the truth?" Ishida goaded. "You know exactly what's happened. Go on, tell him. He is one of your trusted men, isn't he?"
"There is no need to bother him with this triviality."
"You sure?" Ichigo asked, following his cousin's lead. There was some mistrust between the commander and the one known as Bazz-B. How Ishida had picked up on it was anyone's guess but they would exploit it and use it to their advantage.
"If you know something, just tell me. They sound like they know." Bazz-B scowled at his once friend, wondering what was going on.
"They know nothing, Bazz-B. Go as you've been ordered," Yhwach cut in.
"Fine." The Sternritter left, not bothering to try to attack the younger men. Haschwalth could handle them both with one hand tied behind his back.
"You would have him turn against me," Yhwach stated.
"No, just against Haschwalth. He already hates you. I'm guessing you did something to someone he cared about and wants you dead as much as the rest of us. Bazz-B was probably hoping his childhood friend could still be trusted, but that's clearly not the case. You know that if he knew that your Almighty power was being blocked, he'd go after you himself."
"Your foolishness in awaking my sister will be the end of you," Yhwach stated. "She cannot be trusted."
"Funny, she said the same about you. And seeing as you've already proved that, I guess we'll go with her." Ichigo pulled both of his swords out of his sash and faced the man who had been instrumental in his mother's death.
"Your Majesty, allow me to deal with these traitors. Perhaps it's best if you distanced yourself from the affects of the Omega."
"Good luck doing that," Ichigo mocked. "In case you haven't noticed, there's a strong aura blanketing the city and surrounding districts. I'm guessing Omi-san's making sure that there's isn't anywhere you can go that her power won't reach."
Both high school students saw the moment the truth reached the older men. Yhwach's anger was palpable and Haschwalth was no longer overconfident. The king left his advisor's side and went in search of his sister, leaving the commander to face both cousins. "Kurosaki, you go after him. I'm not sure how well the princess can fight if she's busy using her power. I'll handle Haschwalth. I've been declared the true ruler of the Quincys so I should be able to discipline him as I see fit."
"Sure, go for it. Just remember what Omi-san said." Ichigo left his classmate's side, chasing after a reiatsu he knew all too well. The disgusting spiritual energy of the Quincy king's was blanketing everything it passed, including the people fighting. Bazz-B had stopped to fight Toushiro and Rangiku but the daiko didn't stop and offer aid. Together those two could handle the Sternritter and he had to trust that they would win.
He passed others on his way but was forced to stop suddenly when a giant wave of frozen reiatsu washed over him. Glancing to his right, he found Rukia in her bankai form. The white kimono gracing her form along with her half crown of ice made him think of royalty. "Holy Sh…"
"Ichigo, do not tarry here. Go, I will handle Äs Nödt."
"Sure… Just don't crack yourself to death," he muttered as he left. He'd get her to show it to him another time, when they weren't surrounded by enemies and on the verge of annihilation. Byakuya would have been overjoyed to know that she'd gotten her bankai. Or as "overjoyed" as was possible for the captain. He'd probably be just as worried too. Rukia had shown that she was a lot stronger than she appeared though so he couldn't let his mind dwell on it. He had bigger fish to fry.
When he finally caught up to Yhwach, the madman was fighting Omi. The two siblings parried blows that sent waves of reiatsu washing out over the area. Ichigo's hair and clothes were ruffled in the resulting wind, causing him to lift an arm up in order to shield his eyes from any debris. The orange haired young man stood in midair, watching as a queen and king traded blows, equal as far as skill went. Omi had never indicated that she had trained to fight physically and he had to wonder just how much she'd been able to learn before being locked away in a death-like sleep.
"You have these children believing that they will win," Yhwach told his sister, clearly trying to distract Omi.
"Because they will win. Did you think that Father had not seen the potential outcome of you having such power, Elder Brother? Did you think that he would simply stand idly by while you invaded the home you were kicked out of and let you kill him? Did you think that he would let you reshape the universe regardless of the consequences? Shame on you for believing your 'Almighty' was truly that. Your power is the 'Alpha,' not the 'Almighty.' Perhaps once you no longer have it, you will realize your mistakes." Omi's voice was filled with censure and anger. Her usual gentle tone was missing and her eyes were once again sharp.
"Okay, now I just feel useless," Ichigo said to himself, tempted to just stay and listen to the argument between brother and sister. He had a feeling that Yhwach was underestimating his sister and would pay dearly for it. A familiar and terrifying reiatsu exploded off to his left and he turned to see a familiar pink blur shoot through the air towards him.
"Ichii! Kenny's awake and Braid-san gave him more power! He wants something to kill!" Yachiru landed on the daiko's shoulder, giggling.
"Great, there are a lot of people that he can fight. Why doesn't he go take care of that…" Ichigo trailed off when he saw Kenpachi attack the giant Quincy Toushiro was having trouble with. At least he thought it was Toushiro. The captain had had a sudden and inexplicable growth spurt and now resembled a man nearing thirty. "Never mind. What about you, are you ready to jump in?"
"Good, go check on Inoue. I haven't seen her in a bit and bet she could use a second to catch her breath. She's got a new shield so watch how you approach her. We wouldn't want you to end up on the wrong side of it."
"Got ya. Can I use my shikai, Ichii?"
"Use everything you have, Yachiru." Ichigo let her go, a sense of foreboding filling him. He hated sending a child into battle but he had to trust that Yachiru could take care of herself. Kenpachi wouldn't have let her be the lieutenant nor would he have let her come if he didn't think that she could take care of herself. Her men seemed to be terrified of her on a regular basis so he shouldn't be so concerned. "Wait a minute… What did she mean Unohana-san gave him more power?" The foreboding feeling deepened and he desperately searched for the captain of the Relief Squad. The captain's reiatsu was nowhere to be found and it scared him. Rukia had once told him that she was a contemporary of Ukitake and Kyoraku's so that meant she was older and more powerful than she looked. He couldn't imagine much would get the best of her.
A howl of rage and pain echoed above the sounds of war and Ichigo turned back to the fight between Omi and Yhwach. Omi's sword was sticking out of her brother's heart, her hands still on the hilt. Yhwach's face was contorted in pain and a dense, dark energy poured out of him. It ascended into the sky and dissolved like spirit particles. "Final Stage, Light of the Angels," Omi said calmly, as if she hadn't just stabbed her brother in the chest.
"Omi-san?" Ichigo questioned, rushing to her side. The fight had put a strain on her and sweat poured down her face. A giant crack was heard and the rest of Yhwach's Almighty was destroyed. Omi pulled her Zanpakutou out, collapsing against Ichigo while her brother jumped away and sank to his knees. He held a hand to his chest, his eyes showing his disbelief and continued pain. "Omi-san, what's happening?" Ichigo asked, noticing that she was becoming transparent.
"Once the Alpha is gone, the Omega ceases to exist as well. I am no longer needed. My very existence was brought about to counter and balance my brother's. My brother can live without his power, I cannot. We are opposites, after all."
"No…" Ichigo uttered, his mother's image momentarily overlaying Omi's. Grief threatened to overtake him and he had to force back tears.
"Listen to me, Ichigo-kun. You must steady yourself. Your heart and mind must be firm. He is still powerful and he is still intent on killing you. Do not let yourself be distracted. I leave my people in your care." Omi gave one final, gentle smile before disappearing for good.
Ichigo stood, taking a deep breath before facing his enemy. Yhwach cackled, delight in his insane voice. "Her attempt is futile. I can simply absorb more power, my power cannot be stopped."
"You can perform all the Auswählen ceremonies you want. Eventually you'll run out of Quincys to exploit and we'll win. You can't take Ishida's powers and you can't take mine. You might as well give up now."
"The Seireitei will fall to me." Yhwach shouted his claim to the sky before attacking.
Ichigo tightened his grip on his swords and raised them to defend himself. He really shouldn't have wasted his breath. Villians never surrendered when they should. Despite wishing otherwise, he was going to have to fight Yhwach until one of them was defeated. Yhwach wouldn't stop until he either killed or was killed and Ichigo knew he couldn't afford to be merciful. He had never gotten used to killing and he prayed he never would. Death might only be part of a never ending cycle but the souls that went through the process were never the same when they started it all over again. Feeling the reiatsus around him rise and fall, he wondered just who he would be mourning this time around. Shaking his head, Ichigo refocused his attention. He could worry about everything later.
Now he had a megalomaniac to stop.