The Depths of Our Hatred
Right my apologies that this is not a chapter to one of my existing stories, but since I am prone to fits of madness in December, you can expect utterly random things from me. It might be a new one-shot, or a chapter for a story that hasn't been updated in some time…or it may even be that I regain my sanity and actually do something constructive like editing my stories (thought this is a rather boring option).
Anyway this idea was born after several readers asked me if I had any plans for the Vandenreich in my stories. Due to lack of information on them I generally said no, but I think I can manage a one-shot now. So as always, read on and enjoy.
PS. This diverges from canon during the Invasion of Las Noches and onwards.
As the moon rose high above the Seireitei, a single figure sat imprisoned within the Sixth Division's barracks, their thin lanky frame clothed in a pale white yukata, their feet bare and their wrists bound with reiatsu disrupting shackles. Hearing the faint creak of the wooden door to the detention area opening, the lone prisoner looked up, a single blue eye visible behind a curtain of shoulder-length black hair. Seeing his visitor, he smirked and lowered his head as they drew closer.
"Ishida," she said in a cold, emotionless tone, her violet eyes hard as she stared down at the boy before her.
"Lieutenant Kuchiki," he replied back in a mocking tone, "to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit to?"
"Answers," she said curtly. "Your trial will be held tomorrow…"
"But you want the answers now, don't you?" he cut in, silencing her as he looked up at her with a small smile. "I wonder why though? Is it because you truly wish to know my side of the story and can put your mind at ease…or is it because you just want to kill me yourself after I tell you?"
Not losing herself to his taunts, she kept her rigid Kuchiki mask on her face. "I will not kill you Ishida…it's not what he would've wanted," she replied, causing Uryu to growl and turn away at the mention of…him.
"Then I guess we need to go back to the very beginning don't we?" he replied in a mocking tone once again. "You know parts of this tale already, but you still don't know its true depths. It all started on that day, the day of our challenge. The day I regret giving into a fool's hope.
You remember that day don't you Lieutenant Kuchiki? The day I crushed that piece of hollow bait and Ichigo and I began our competition. Of course you also know how it ended, but this is more to reveal my feelings on that day.
"Ishida!" I heard the barbarian, for lack of a better word, yell at me as he came recklessly charging through a horde of hollows, planting his foot down on the skull of one as he stood atop a mountain of them.
He told me a bit about it, he said that you came to an agreement as it were. That you would fight together and honour your grandfather's dream that Quincies and Soul Reapers could work together.
Correct and it was the first time since my grandfather's death that I willingly forgot my hatred for Soul Reapers, a decision I regret for maybe if I hadn't…maybe she would still be here.
"Wait, you regret that? Why?" Rukia interrupted him, bringing them both back to the present.
"It is my belief that if I had kept my hatred of all things related to soul reapers; then maybe they would have found me sooner," he answered in a bitter tone, his eyes narrowed in anger. "Maybe then I would have been strong enough to change her fate. But no, I joined forces with him and in doing so we shared our weakness instead of growing stronger."
"But you did grow stronger; you were strong enough to invade Hueco Mundo despite the odds thrown against you and the others."
"But we weren't strong enough Kuchiki!" he spat at her, his anger directed at her now. "If I was strong enough, I would've prevented her from being taken in the first place! It was that moment when I first discovered my pitiful weakness."
Here's something you probably didn't know, after our invasion of Soul Society, I was left powerless after removing the Sanrei Glove during my battle with Mayuri Kurotsuchi. My father offered to restore my powers, but only if I promised to never aid or come into contact with any Soul Reapers. Of course in my mind he was not part of the Soul Reapers, so I could easily circumvent that particular condition. The reason for going around it though was just so I could help save her.
"You know Kurosaki-san will head after her, even if they explicitly forbid him from doing so," Kisuke said in a light tone, idly waving his fan to cool himself as he sat with the young Quincy. Staring at the young man from the corner of his eye, he smirked and snapped it shut. "I merely wanted to know whether you will be accompanying him."
I followed him of course, mocking his strength only a little as we left. Of course in the end, we both proved to be utter weaklings, not even an annoyance to the foe's we faced there.
"We were more than annoyances to the arrancar and Aizen," Rukia said as she cut him off again. "We defeated several of his most powerful soldiers and still kept on going."
"Did we Kuchiki? As I recall our group only defeated a handful of weaker arrancar and two Espada before the Captains arrived and of those two Espada, we were left utterly broken and defeated afterwards."
Silent at his retort, she listened as his chest heaved and he clutched his chest as he coughed; his throat dry from lack of water and disuse after so long.
"Our weakness was of course proven when we finally found her," he wheezed. "You, me, the Captains, Chad and…him, we were all fools to think Aizen would just leave her unharmed. If he had killed her…we would have mourned and moved on, promising to avenge her death. But no, he was smarter than that, after all, isn't it the hardest thing in war, to fight a friend that has become a foe?"
We all made our way towards the tower that Aizen had said she was being held in, you, me, Chad, Renji and him. We'd all been through Hell against the Espada with only you and him actually defeating one, while the others had to be bailed out by the Captains. See our weakness again? Cleaving our way through the hordes that stood before us, we finally reached his throne room and what did we find? The Fourth Espada and a shadowy figure that none of us could even see.
Breathing heavily as their little group burst into the throne room, they staggered back as they found themselves faced with the stoic Ulquiorra Cifer.
"Where is she?!" Ichigo yelled at him, everyone tensing slightly as the Fourth Espada cast his gaze over his shoulder, gesturing ever so slightly for the figure veiled in the shadows to come forward.
"Inoue…" Uryu said meekly, his expression of shock mirrored by everyone else as they stared at their friend, her waist-length burnt orange hair, streaked with white strands, shadowing her face from view, while her hands were clasped in front of her. When she looked up at them, they all gasped as her once bright grey eyes were now a dull black with white irises, her hairpins now bone-white and embedded in her cheekbones like a hollow mask.
"She gave herself to be used by Aizen-sama as he wished and so he turned her into what she is now, a tool to be used in whatever way he saw fit," Ulquiorra told them in his emotionless tone as she walked over and stood next to him. "I must confess that I did not believe that he had this planned after ordering me to capture her, but if Aizen-sama wishes, so shall it be done."
Whilst the others were still reeling in shock, Ichigo grit his teeth in anger, his fist tightening around his zanpakuto. "So what you're saying is that you're the one who kidnapped and brought her here?" he asked with thinly veiled anger, letting his rage and frustration burst out of him as the Espada nodded his head. Charging forward with his Bankai, his eyes widened in surprise as his blade was halted inches away from the arrancar's face by a translucent blood-red shield. Barely a moment later though and he was sent hurtling backwards with a pained cry, his chest carved open by a devastating gash.
"Ichigo!" Rukia screamed in horror, while Chad, Renji and Uryu watched perplexed as the bone-like hairpins floated back to Orihime and settled on her cheeks again.
"The woman serves Aizen-sama now and he has declared that you are to be eliminated," Ulquiorra said slowly, turning to face Orihime. "Woman, see that it is done."
"Of course Ulquiorra-sama," she replied in a dead tone, moving to stand in front of him and staring down at the others. "As Aizen-sama wishes it, so shall it be done. Koten Zanshun, I reject," she muttered as a bright red spark flew off from her cheek and charged at their little group, forcing them to leap to the sides as it carved through the ground with ease.
"Stop this Inoue!" Uryu shouted at her, cursing as he felt the blood-red spark connect with his side, easily cutting into his skin and leaving a deep gash. Leaping away from it as it charged him a second time, his eyes widened in fear as it quickly changed course and appeared in front of him. Shutting his eyes as it started to charge at him, he cracked an eye open when he felt nothing. Standing in front of him with his shield arm up, Chad grunted and strained against Tsubaki, his feet digging into the ground as he was pushed back.
"You're not going to get anywhere unless you disable her!" Renji growled at them, leaping into the air and releasing his blade. "Howl, Zabimaru!" he shouted as he swung at the girl, gritting his teeth at what he was about to do. Without missing a beat, three more blood-red sparks flew from her cheek, her shield catching the whip-like blade with ease and deflecting it in a shower of sparks. Surprised that he had failed to even scratch the surface, Renji yelled as Tsubaki was redirected and carved a deep trench into his back.
"Inoue please listen to me," Uryu yelled again in vain while Rukia clashed with her now, her snow white blade in startling contrast to the blood red shield. "It's us, Ishida, Kurosaki, Sado, Kuchiki and Abarai, don't you recognise us?"
"She's not listening to us Ishida," Ichigo grunted as he appeared next to the Quincy, his chest heaving as he clutched at his bleeding torso. "We need to knock her out at least and take him out before we can try to bring her back. Now will you get off your ass and fight before she kills us all?"
Easy for him to say, after all she was just a friend to him. A good friend, but he wasn't looking at her at all. No, his heart was set on someone else entirely. And so we fought on.
Gritting his teeth in anger, Uryu stood up and summoned his bow, firing off a volley aimed solely at distracting her. She didn't even try to block them though, instead disappearing in a low buzz as she used sonido. Feeling a presence behind him, Uryu grunted as she backhanded him away, sending him tumbling across the ground to slam into the wall with a sickening crunch. Looking across the room with hazy eyes, he could just barely make out Ichigo trading blows with Ulquiorra, while Chad and Renji pressured her again. His gaze finally landed on Rukia, the petite soul reaper chanting under her breath.
"Bakudo no. 61, Rikujokoro!" she yelled, pointing her fingers at Orihime. As the rods of light slammed into her though, they were almost instantly snapped as Tsubaki came in and shattered them all in one fell swoop, before charging at Rukia.
"Move it Rukia!" Renji shouted as he was thrown back by a bala, his eyes wide in terror as his childhood friend was frozen on the spot. As it was about to strike her in the head though, she was shoved out of the way, her place taken instead by Ichigo with his hollow mask on, the projectile going straight through his heart and bursting out of his chest in a shower of gore.
He took the blow for you and the old me would say he did the right thing, but then of course we all know what happened after that. He left us an immature teenager, he returned as a monster.
Watching Ichigo's body slump over, the others froze in shock, their minds frantically trying to deny that their friend had so easily killed one of their own.
"Ichi…go," Rukia mumbled with tears in her eyes as she crawled over to his lifeless corpse, his eyes wide and lifeless as he stared back at her unblinkingly. "Please no, not like this," she said as she sobbed over his body, holding a glowing green palm to his wound, trying in vain to heal it. "You can't leave now Ichigo, you can't leave us like this!" she screamed.
As her screamed died away, everyone in the room froze at the wave of reiatsu that washed over them, the pulse coming from his body. Falling back as his body rose to its feet, Rukia watched horrified as his body was enveloped in a pillar of black reiatsu, before fading away and revealing him. His tan skin was now bone-white with sharp black claws on his hands and feet. Red fur sprouted from his wrists, ankles and collarbone, while his spiky orange hair grew down to his waist. Around the hole in his chest, six black lines spread out from it, two wrapping around his upper arms, two over his shoulders and the top two extending up his neck and over his fierce new mask.
"Those bull-like horns and fanged teeth still haunt my dreams as I remember his chilling visage," Uryu mumbled, shutting his eyes tight as if to ward off the images. "But his actions during that time are even harder to forget."
"He wasn't in the right state of mind Ishida; surely you don't blame him for that?" Rukia asked him, the hint of tears in her eyes as she remembered that day.
"I can and I do Kuchiki!" he spat again. "He tore Inoue and that Espada apart with his bare hands, even as we screamed at him to stop. But no, he only stopped when we figured out that we needed to destroy that mask he was wearing. The girl that would give her everything for him, killed by the man she loved! We don't even know what happened to her soul since he was completely hollowfied at the time!"
"He regretted his actions every second of every day Ishida. He never had a moment of peace from that day on, always throwing himself into battle or isolation in order to numb the pain," she mumbled softly. "Lives are lost in war, that is what we told him, but even so he was trapped in that living nightmare."
"He was trapped within it, because we were all too weak. It was that day when my hatred for soul reapers and hollows returned and the day I vowed to never be weak again!"
"So it was during that time after the war when they found you?" she asked, seeing him nod his head.
"I was training…training to put him down like the beast I saw him as and that is when they found me."
A boulder exploded into dust as the arrow struck it, showering the area in dust and sharp shards. Off to the side Uryu panted for breath as his fingers bled from overuse of his bow. Gritting his teeth, he took aim and let loose another arrow, shattering that boulder too.
"You won't grow stronger like that boy," a gruff voice said, causing him to spin on the spot and face it, another arrow nocked already. Staring down at the young Quincy was a middle-aged man with long black hair that went past his shoulders and a neatly trimmed moustache and mutton chops. He was clothed in a white double-breasted trench coat with equally white pants and boots. Around his neck was a ragged black cloak, clasped with a single large silver button.
"Who are you?" Uryu asked, his once cool and collected demeanour, replaced with a rage and hate towards others.
"To help you grow stronger," the man said with a smirk. "At this rate, you won't be able to take revenge for her now will you?"
"How do you know about that?!" Uryu shouted at him, his fingers wound tight as he prepared to release an arrow.
"It is only natural to know the history of your enemies," the man replied nonchalantly. "After all that's exactly what the soul reapers are to me…enemies."
Hearing that, Uryu relaxed ever so slowly and eventually put his bow away. "What exactly do you want?"
"Your cooperation will suffice and in return, I will teach you techniques that you could never have hoped to have found on your own." Holding out his hand to Uryu, the young Quincy was initially hesitant to accept, but as his eyes bored into the man's own, he reached out with his own and shook hands with him.
"Excellent, now come. We have a lot of work to do," the man said as he turned on the spot, his cloak fluttering behind him, while Uryu trailed after him.
"So that's when you joined the Vandenreich?" Rukia asked, resting her forehead against the palm of her hand as she leaned against the wall. "And you joined him, because he promised you the power to eventually kill...him."
"Yes, they taught me how to infuse my reiatsu into my blood, how to use it both offensively and defensively. They showed how even a mere human could gain enough power to rival a Captain's Bankai," Uryu explained with a smirk. "It took over seventeen months, but with their help I was able to gain the power that I had craved for so long, the power to prove that soul reapers were inferior to Quincies. I didn't want to kill him when he was powerless, but then you came in and restored his powers once again."
"And so that's when you called him? How did you convince him to meet you?"
"I was a friend that disappeared during a time when he was frantically trying to protect the few he had left; all I had to do was call him. Apparently there was something that he wanted to tell me too, but he wouldn't say unless we met. I didn't really care about what he wanted; it just made my job easier."
"Yo Ishida, it's been a while," Ichigo greeted the Quincy with a wave, his brown eyes shining with a hint of life that had not been present since the end of the war. "I should kick your ass for disappearing on us like that and worrying us to death."
"I was training Kurosaki, there was something I needed to prepare for," Uryu replied back in an emotionless tone, while Ichigo shrugged his shoulders.
"Whatever listen I just came back from…" he tried to say, only to feel the familiar sensation of his soul being ejected from his body. Looking up at the archer in confusion, he could see a glove, similar to the one Rukia used to use on him, on his right hand. "Ishida? What's with the glove?"
"I told you that there was something I needed to do Kurosaki," the archer replied as he removed the glove and pocketed it. "And that requires you in your soul form."
"What do you mean 'you need me in my soul form'? Ishida, what's going on here?"
"We're here to settle our competition when we first met Kurosaki…but this time, there are no hollows to kill. This time whoever leaves here alive is the winner," Uryu explained, while Ichigo looked shock and horrified at the idea.
"Come on now Ishida, you're kidding ri…" he tried to say, only to leap to the left as he dodged a vicious looking blue arrow as it sped past him. "Idiot that almost hit me!"
"That's the point of this duel Kurosaki, I'm here to kill you," the archer calmly replied, nocking another arrow and letting loose.
Growling Ichigo drew Zangetsu from his back slicing through the arrow with ease. "Stop this now Ishida, there's something I need to tell you. It's about…" he said, but was cut off again as a volley of arrows forced him into the air. "Would you just stop for one second?! I want to talk to you about Orihime!"
"Don't you dare say her name in my presence," he hissed at the substitute soul reaper, continuing to fire a deadly barrage.
"This is nuts Ishida!" Ichigo shouted at him as he weaved in between the arrows, charging towards the archer and grabbing his bow arm as he landed next to him. "You can't fight back now."
"Can't I?" Uryu asked mockingly, before summoning a sword of reishi to his side and slashing at Ichigo's hand, catching him off-guard and leaving his left hand numb and useless.
"Why are you doing this?" Ichigo asked through gritted teeth, wrapping his left hand in the cloth that covered Zangetsu, tying the knot with his teeth as he glared at the archer.
"Because you took her away" he whispered, almost too softly for Ichigo to hear. "You tore the very life from her bones and still stand here breathing. Because a monster like you survived while she died. We were too weak to save her, but you did the unthinkable and killed her!" Uryu shouted at him, spittle flying from his mouth, while Ichigo bowed his head in shame.
"I regret that day more than you can imagine Ishida," he mumbled as his shoulders shook slightly. "And not a day goes by that I don't think to myself it would have been better that I had just stayed dead. Tatsuki hates me, Keigo and Mizuiro stay away from me and Chad can't even look me in the eye anymore. So is that why you're here? Trying to be my executioner and end this nightmare I've been living?"
"I'm not here to put an end to your suffering Kurosaki," the archer replied, nocking an arrow. "I'm here to carry out your punishment for killing our friend!" Tapping into his Blut Arterie, he fired the arrow, watching as it punched clean through his blade and into his right shoulder.
Falling to his knees in shock, Ichigo stared blankly at the hole in Zangetsu and his shoulder, his blade clattering to the floor as it fell from his limp hand. "But Inoue's…" he tried to say, only to be cut off for the third and final time as three more arrows punched into him, one through his left shoulder, another through his gut and the final one through his left thigh. Lying face down on the ground as his blood pooled around him, Ichigo could only stare as Uryu walked over to him, kneeling down next to him and looking down on him with contempt.
"I was prepared to fight your Bankai today Kurosaki…but you were too stubborn. Doesn't this all seem so familiar? A long time ago you said we should attack at the very least, but here you refused to. That is what makes you a weakling Kurosaki. You've clung to the past instead of moving on." Before the he could say much more though, he heard a faint whisper of movement, before feeling a sharp pain on the back of his neck and surrendering himself to unconsciousness.
"And that's how I found myself waking up in this holding cell in the Seireitei. And of course none of you will tell me his fate, but I highly doubt he survived." Seeing that she had her back turned to him, he continued. "Not how you thought he'd die was it? You thought he might have at least fought back, if only to save his own skin."
"No…he acted exactly like we both knew he would. He refused to raise a hand against a friend, no matter what they did to him," she said with a soft sniffle, turning to face him again. Reaching into her shihakusho, she withdrew a single sheet of paper. "Here, it's what he was trying to give you that day," she practically whispered, throwing the paper at him and turning on her heel to leave. "This winter is expected to be the worst we've ever had, I hope your vengeance is enough to keep you warm through it."
Hearing the door slam shut behind her, the confused Quincy turned towards the paper in his cell, the information face down. Lifting it up and holding it up to the moonlight to read, his eyes widened considerably and a gasp escaped his lips as he stared at the page as it fell through his limp fingers.
Shino Spirit Academy Student Information
Subject: Inoue, Orihime
So something I don't think I've read before and I hope you enjoyed it. I wonder what my mind will bring up next, till next time guys and girls.