One of a Kind
Welcome back boys and girls, to another concept-shot that's been plaguing me since the Fullbringer Arc (Lost Substitute Shinigami). Let's just say it's different.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or any associated intellectual property mentioned within.
As the rain poured from the heavens, down onto the ground below, seven individuals stood on a rooftop, some grim faced, some shocked and one even smiling. Looking over his shoulder at the woman he had not seen in over seventeen months, Ichigo's eyes widened even further as her grip on the glowing blue sword shifted slightly, before they were all engulfed in a swirling vortex. As the winds swirled around them, Ginjo and Tsukishima were forced to shield their eyes from the miniscule amounts of debris floating around in the air. As it died down though, they were shocked to see Ichigo with Zangetsu resting on his shoulder, clad in a shihakusho once again.
Within his inner world though, Zangetsu and his hollow opened their eyes groggily to the world once more, the zanpakuto spirit blinking for a moment, before standing in a slow dignified manner. His hollow though was far less dignified and sluggishly stood up, swaying slightly as he titled his head side to side, sighing in relief as he heard his joints crack.
"So…the King's back," the horse said with a hint of glee in his voice, smirking dementedly at the other half of Ichigo's soul.
"It would seem so," the spirit replied, looking to the sky as a faint ray of light shone through the surface of the water.
"Tch, about time," the hollow grumbled, looking around at the city scape. As his eyes scanned the area though, his eyes widened in shock at the sight spread out behind them. "Eh Zangetsu, we might have a problem here…"
"What is it now?" the elderly spirit asked as he turned towards his other half, his own eyes widening considerably behind his sunglasses. "Yes we just might have a problem here."
"Well don't just repeat what I said, how the hell do we fix it?" the hollow asked in exasperation, his eye twitching as he continued to stare.
"I…don't know. For now I believe that we should refrain from using too much power and if possible restrict Ichigo how much power we give Ichigo. In the meantime…" he tried to say, only to stiffen and double over as his form warped and blurred around him, shrinking ever so slowly. Once it was over, Tensa Zangetsu stood before them, a look of worry on his face.
"So he went Bankai…now what?" the hollow asked warily, noting that he was clad in his own version of Ichigo's Bankai. His question was answered though as the world suddenly rumbled around them, a dull roar echoing across the landscape. "You know what Kingy…I think I was happier asleep," he grumbled, before the world suddenly stilled for a moment, before a brilliant flash of white blinded them and they knew no more.
Outside Ichigo's inner world, the assembled Captains and Lieutenants of the Gotei 13 watched on as the release of Ichigo's Bankai tore the pocket dimension he was in to shreds, their eyes downcast as they waited. What they hadn't expected though, was to be forced to their knees by the sudden outburst of reiatsu. Looking to the sky in surprise, they could see Uryu and Ginjo struggling similarly under the strain of such power, while Ichigo himself clutched as his sword with shaky arms.
'The pain…the pain is…indescribable,' he thought through clenched teeth, feeling like his bones would soon crack and splinter under the pressure. Raising Tensa Zangetsu above him, it seemed to burst into black flames as he gathered his reiatsu into the blade.
Panicked at the sight in front of him, Ginjo quickly released his own Bankai, rushing at the returned substitute as reiatsu continued to charge into his blade.
"Getsuga…Tensho!" Ichigo roared as Ginjo closed in on him, the pain finally reaching its breaking point and forcing him to unleash the devastating crescent of black and red energy at his opponent. To the spectators' surprise though, the Fullbringer was not simply cut or cleaved in two, but seemingly reduced to ash under the weight of Ichigo's attack.
Falling unconscious as his mind shut down from the pain, Ichigo fell towards the ground, while Rukia and the others rushed forwards to try and catch him. As he neared the ground though, he was suddenly engulfed in a brilliant white light and vanished completely from their senses.
Skidding to a halt where his body should have fallen, Rukia and Renji looked around in dismay, while Ikkaku, Byakuya, Toshiro and Kenpachi were far more reserved.
"I see I'm too late then," Kisuke said as he flash stepped into view, his eyes downcast as he looked to the sky.
"Do you know what happened to him Urahara?" Renji asked, restraining a struggling Thirteenth Division Lieutenant as she growled and glared at the shopkeeper.
"I have a theory, nothing more," he replied, turning to face them, his gaze settling on Toshiro and Byakuya. "You felt it to didn't you?" Turning their gazes on the Captains, the others saw the two of them give the slightest of nods.
"You said that the sword would simply take a portion of power Urahara, but what I felt from him was so much more than just that," Toshiro said with a blank face, his eyes boring into the former Captain.
"There are always risks when dealing with new technologies Hitsugaya-san. Never in history has something like this been done before. Nor has there ever been records of such a thing happening during a transfer of power," Kisuke replied, sighing to himself.
"What? What happened to Ichigo?" Rukia shouted at him, while he turned towards her, a sad expression on his face.
"Think back to what you sensed when his power washed over you Rukia-chan, did anything about it feel…familiar?"
Frowning at his question, she looked to the ground as she thought back to that moment. She could feel hints of the Captains and Lieutenants signatures in it, but they were overwhelmed by his own power. As she played it through her mind once again, realisation flashed across her face and she looked up at Kisuke fearfully.
"It seems you finally understand," Kisuke whispered softly, looking to the spot where Ichigo had disappeared from again. "For now…all we can do is sit and wait, and hope that he comes back to us."
Gasping for breath as he fell through the water in his inner world, Ichigo grunted as he finally landed on the side of one of the buildings. Lifting himself up so that he could at least sit and look around, he jolted upright as someone lifted him up by the back of his collar.
"Long time no see…King," his hollow greeted him, his face bare of his mask, while Tensa Zangetsu stood at his side.
"You're…back," he said slowly after a few moments, prompting his hollow to sneer and shove him away.
"You don't say, why I would have never guessed that we were back unless you pointed it out to me," he growled, stilling when Tensa Zangetsu placed a hand on his shoulder. "Tch, we may be back King, but why don't you tell us what they're doing here?" he said, gesturing over his shoulder with his thumb.
Looking past the two of them, Ichigo was surprised to see a horde of zanpakuto spirits behind them, each of them passed out and lying about in a heap.
"I…I really have no idea," Ichigo said as he stumbled over to them, recognising several of the spirits. Rolling a woman in a white kimono onto her side, his eyes widened as it was in fact Sode no Shirayuki in front of him.
"So if he doesn't know. And neither of us knows. And they sure as hell don't know…who the fuck knows what's going on here?!" the hollow shouted in frustration.
Standing in silence as they pondered the situation, the three of them were driven to their knees as an earthquake rumbled through his inner world and Ichigo grit his teeth in agony. Rolling over onto his back, he was forced to endure, as wracking pains caused his body to convulse, worrying the avatars of his power. As the pain reached a climax once again, Ichigo surrendered to it and blacked out.
"Curious…how very curious," a blank, emotionless, male voice said as it stared down at Ichigo's prone body. "Wake up boy, for now is not the time to rest." Almost as if by a sudden impulse to obey, Ichigo's eyes cracked open and he found himself floating in a black abyss.
"Where the hell am I now?" he groaned, shifting his body so that he was at least standing…floating upright.
"Over here boy," the voice said again and Ichigo's gaze was drawn to a blinding yellow sphere. Peering into it with narrowed eyes, he could barely make out a human-shaped figure floating within it.
"Who are you?" he asked hesitantly, shutting his eyes and looking away as the glare finally became too much.
"I am the one that keeps the universe in balance Ichigo Kurosaki, a balance that you are threatening."
Confused, Ichigo's eyes widened in understanding as his mind flashed back to the day Aizen was sealed away. He remembered listening vaguely as Kisuke explained that the Spirit King was the one that kept the balance of the worlds. Concentrating on the here and now though, he growled and turned back to the glowing sphere.
"What do you mean I'm a threat to it?" he asked through gritted teeth. "What have I done to even warrant being labelled as a threat?"
"Silence Kurosaki," the King replied with a hint of anger in his otherwise emotionless tone. "You are a threat yes, but not of your own choosing."
"Not of my own…what's that supposed to mean?" Ichigo asked, before doubling over as pain lanced through his being once again.
"Kisuke Urahara has certainly done it again," the King commented and Ichigo felt a soothing balm wash over him, numbing the pain if only momentarily. "First he creates an object to rival my powers of creation and now he has unwittingly transferred the essence of thirty zanpakutos into you. Maybe I should just recruit the man into the Royal Guard to keep an eye on him and his experiments."
"Thirty? What do you mean?" Ichigo asked as he gasped for breath, feeling the pain slowly beginning to return.
"When he convinced the Captains and Lieutenants of the Gotei 13 to give a portion of their power to that sword, he failed to see that their zanpakutos also gave a portion of themselves away. Now those fragments are beginning to wage a war for dominance within your soul. If you were any other soul then you probably would have died, but we both know how special you are don't we. As it stands now, your soul is trying to give each of them the power to exist and in doing so it is ripping you apart."
"It's what?!" Ichigo shouted in shock, cutting off whatever the King had planned to say next. Staring at his hands as they started to shake, he looked up fearfully as the King's own power pulsed and nearly crushed the life out of him.
"Yes, yes a most unfortunate experience for you, but my concern lies with what such an implosion of power would do to the balance of the worlds," the King muttered, drawing Ichigo closer with a mere thought, until the former substitute was floating mere inches from the surface of the sphere's surface. "I believe I can stop this from happening of course, but I will be using that same instability of yours in return for saving your life."
"What exactly do you want me to do? You're the King after all," Ichigo asked, only to flinch as he felt a wave of power wash over him again, evidence of the King's displeasure.
"I do not appreciate having to focus on little insects when they threaten to undo my hard work boy and as such that is why I have others to do that for me," the King explained. "Now as I said you are currently producing more power than your soul can safely contain, thus I will be using you as a…battery as it were to fuel some worlds that have come under great strain lately.
"Wait, wait. Hold on just a second," Ichigo coughed, feeling the pain beginning to intensify again. "You want to hook me up like a battery to keep some worlds running?! What do I look like a Duracell bunny?!"
"No that rabbit is pink if I remember correctly, but I'm sure there is an orange rabbit somewhere in the universe for you to imitate. But I digress, you will do this for me whether you want to or not Kurosaki, for all you need to do is survive wherever I place you until I deem the balance has been restored on that world."
"But what about my life back in Karakura? I just got my life back and now you're here telling me to give it all up."
"I am concerned only with the balance Kurosaki. If it is any consolation to you, if you were to return now you would in fact doom that town that you care so much about. I will have a missive sent to the Gotei 13 and they will inform your friends and family of my decision."
Shoulders slumping in resignation, Ichigo looked up as a small pulse washed over him.
"I am not without mercy though Ichigo, if I find a solution to your plight, I will end your isolation, but consider that by doing this for me, you will be saving countless lives," the King murmured. "Your soul is too twisted and confused for me to safely seal away the other powers within you, but I have placed blocks on it all to prevent you from being overwhelmed and have created a link between you and the currents of power that flow through the different worlds. The consequence of this is that you may only have access to one zanpakuto at a time. Who that is will be determined by your soul."
Seeing a golden light pulse from within his chest, Ichigo could finally breathe easy again. Unsure if it was a permanent reprieve or a temporary solution, he tried to enjoy it for as long as possible.
"I see that our time is up, farewell then Ichigo Kurosaki. I hope that you will survive long enough that your soul mends itself, or that I find a solution to this quandary, otherwise you die and I am left with a difficult decision to make."
Feeling himself become light-headed, Ichigo turned his gaze one last time to the King. "One question…these worlds are like the Earth right?" he asked, feeling a shiver of fear run down his spine as the King chuckled.
"Oh if only it were that simple Kurosaki, I do believe that I will be amused when I check in on you every now and then."
Before Ichigo could utter a retort, his eyes rolled up into the back of his head and he blacked out, disappearing from the lonely black abyss.
As a tear in the fabric of space and time was ripped open, an orange-haired teen was unceremoniously dumped through it, before it sealed itself as if it was never there. As said teenager fell to the ground, his eyes blinked open slowly and he jolted awake as the wind roared in his ears. Rolling through the air, he braced himself as he struck the ground hard, cracking and uprooting several large pieces of it. Falling to his knees as his legs buckled from his landing, he looked around to find himself in the middle of grassy area, trees sprouting up from the ground here and there.
"Great now just where in the hell am I?" he groaned as he stood, brushing the grass and dirt of his clothes and hair.
"We have bigger problems than that King," his hollow said, surprising Ichigo that he was still there.
'And that would be?' he asked, almost seeing his hollow roll his eyes at him.
"Notice anything on your back…or rather the lack of a certain something?"
Realising what his hollow was getting at, Ichigo frantically reached over his back, his fingers not finding any hilt to wrap around. Shuddering as he looked to his waist, Ichigo groaned as he found a blade sheathed there.
"Oh but it gets worse King. So let's give a warm round of applause to our temporary zanpakuto," the hollow said in a mocking, sing-song tone, while Ichigo drew the blade.
Seeing the bronze guard and the lavender wrapped hilt, Ichigo groaned in frustration again, just as two ethereal figures appeared in front of him. Ignoring the glare his hollow was giving the other figure, Ichigo couldn't help but run his hand over his face as a man with long, dark brown hair, clad in full samurai armour with a red and gold mask appeared in front of him.
"Hey King, if you grow even slightly attached to the glowing pink petals…I really am going to kill you," his hollow muttered, while Ichigo stared at the masked face of one Senbonzakura.
Ichigo using Senbonzakura…don't think I've ever read a fic that's done that, but I think it might be interesting. Anyway this is an idea that I'm quite surprised hasn't shown up by now on and so thought I might give it a go. Now this is a mass crossover idea, so I don't really know where to put it under other than Bleach. Might throw in another teaser if I feel like it, but let me know what you think of it so far.
Till next time, bye-bye.