Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Bleach or any related characters or properties.
The cloak was supposed to hide all spiritual pressure from detection, but she felt nervous and utterly helpless. No matter how much training she had had for this moment, it was still terrifying to imagine that she was here, surrounded by enemies. Though most of them were inferior to her, she wasn't positive that she ever wanted to face a captain in a brawl. She figured she could face most lieutenants without a hassle, but since she'd only ever sparred against her own kind, she wasn't positive.
Her shinobi memories allowed her to see the easy weak spots in the defenses. It seemed that inside the Shakonmaku, the spiritual barrier formed by the sekkisekki walls, the shinigami were lax in their planning. Breaches in the city happened so infrequently that creating a crisscrossing maze of streets simply did not make practical sense for the people that lived there. But even so, she could see the problems in their defenses as clear as day, despite the fact that the moon hung high in the sky.
She marveled at its appearance, perpetually full and giving enough light that seeing was easy, even without her particularly good eyesight. The chakra of the Nibi ran through her body, giving her feline qualities that more thoroughly matched her own and enhanced her sense.
Every time some patrol passed her, she snuck into the shadows and was able to hide so easily. It frightened her how easy it was; were they so inferior that they couldn't see an enemy with their own two eyes?
She suddenly felt much better about their chances in this war. She was confident they would win: how could they lose? But she wondered how many of her allies would be alive on the other end. She was sure the shinigami would be completely exterminated and Aizen would rule in their stead, the Arrancar his fellow subjects.
Yugito kept walking, finally discovering her destination: the Shinigami Research and Development Institute. Eyeing the cloak, she realized that that couldn't be good enough and grabbed a tiny object from her pouch. Snapping it in her fingers, it broke in half and produced a split in reality in front of her, shaped like a golden crack in the wall.
Sure that no one was watching, she slipped inside and closed it behind her, projecting her spirit energy in front of her to create a pathway. Inside the alternate form of the Caja Negacion was the most interesting space, a black and purple realm with gray blocks of assorted sizes and shapes. She was using it to close short distances without a fuss.
Yugito had used it to hide in the Soul Society without a fuss, their scanners unable to detect such localized dimensional tearing, and it could bypass everything inside quite easily. The only problem was the distance you could travel within was not without a limit; a hundred meters seemed to be the limit before you were supposedly trapped inside forever. There was no limit to duration, however, so she could stand in the same place all day if she wished.
She angled it downward, imagining what it looked like and being careful not to open it until she was sure she was ready. After several more minutes, she held up the cube and slashed her knife-like zanpakutou against it, opening another hole as it solidified into a whole again to be reused.
She stepped out into a secret tunnel, the entrance to the now-dead Kurotsuchi's private lab not even fifteen meters behind her. Yugito had no idea who committed the crime, but she wanted to thank them, because it certainly made their job much easier. She had a lot to tell Gin and Aizen when she returned.
After several minutes of walking calmly, she discovered what she was looking for. A room underneath the Daireisho Archives, the Great Spiritual Library as it was aptly named, was her destination. And the prize was lying against the wall on a pedestal.
She tentatively raised a hand, touching the sword and smiling carefully as soon as she did, feeling the jolt of energy running along its length. It was as though it was calling home, which she supposed was appropriate. Her fingers grasped the handle and jerked it from the pedestal, instantly charging her spiritual pressure underneath her palm as to give it power.
A blast of dark red energy suddenly surged from the blade, forcing her to drop it and back away, her Hierro damaged from the heat. He's strong...
The walls around her suddenly cracked from the force of his reiatsu, dark red reflective energy blasting toward the ceiling from the sword, threatening to bring the entire tunnel down. Yugito was suddenly having second thoughts about being proud she was the one who was given this mission.
Laughter suddenly flooded the room, and the jinchuuriki leaped backward as far away from the sword as possible. This reiatsu is stronger than mine...!
Another wave of energy hit her, smacking her against the tunnel and caving an entire section in, blocking off the tunnel to the SRDI. The only other way out was through the Archives, or through her Caja Negacion. She prepared to use it, holding it in her hands just in case she needed to separate herself from him, or lock him inside it.
The energy suddenly dropped, dying down to a bare minimum. When the light show ended, she looked up in surprise to finally see him. The only complete Arrancar to ever occur naturally, a viable ally on par with the Primera from reiatsu levels alone. His almost green hair and jaw bone like mask spoke levels of his power, his uniform the same stark white as hers. The Arrancar reached down and placed the sword back in its scabbard at his waist. An aura of power surrounded her, commanding her to stand in awe.
"I have to say, I'm incredibly glad you arrived," he said with a grimace. "Although I would have loved for the human girl to have been the one to free me. A little touch of her power would have been enough to unseal me weeks ago. I suppose it is fitting though, for an Arrancar as beautiful as yourself, to have freed me."
She gulped, afraid. "Arturo Plateado, my name is Yugito Nii. My leader requests your assistance."
"The destruction of Soul Society."
The man smiled. "You have my attention. Go on."
The Garganta opened with a swipe in the air, Hueco Mundo's forces stepping into the skies above the city in stride. Karakura Town stretched before them, the humans unable to tell that they were going to die in seconds at the onslaught of their powers. The Espada smiled almost in joy at the possibility.
His Fraccion stood behind him, a comrade and his own two warriors behind him. Grimmjow was surprised that it had been that easy to convince him to come, the mask on his face and long tan robe, over the standard white uniform. His two Fraccion were anxiously awaiting their task in all this, ready to get it started.
"Is this everyone?" he asked, uncertain if more of their army had decided to follow than just these. "Did anyone see you follow me?"
"Of course not," Shawlong said, annoyed at his question. "Grimmjow, on the journey to meet with you, I detected many spiritual pressures, very strong and contrary to Ulquiorra's report."
Grimmjow huffed. "Everyone, open your Pesquisas!" As they did, he opened his own and could feel the rush of several different sources of reiatsu, some of them the same and others much stronger than before. "Just as I thought. There are many more. Well... the Soul Society, I guess. Must be reinforcements." It's grown complex, all thanks to you. If you'd have done your job, this wouldn't have happened. You're soft, Ulquiorra!
The night air was cool against his skin, and it was so nice that it almost removed his anger at people's idiocy. Almost.
"D-Roy! Shawlong! Edrad! Ylfordt! Nakeem!" He paused, thinking hard and looking down to watch the street below. "There's no need to hold back! If they have any spiritual pressure at all, I want them dead!"
His Fraccion immediately accepted his orders and buzzed out of sight. There was no way any of them would die, because all of the people here were chumps and would meet their end.
"Are we to move as well?" asked the man standing to the side, the two twin female Arrancar at his side. "Our orders are paramount, but I can feel a certain someone here that I have to face."
Grimmjow nodded. "Yeah, sure. Go for it. I'm not here to judge." He remembered their part in the plan. "Although I have no idea why Lord Aizen wishes to set those up, to be perfectly honest. Do we really need those if we already have the ability to form Garganta and all of Hueco Mundo at our control?"
The man shrugged lightly. "I'm simply following orders, sir. I'm here with you, but I have no relation to your actual plan here, just so we're clear."
Grimmjow just rolled his eyes. "However you can split hairs to avoid getting into trouble, be my guest. Although you coming along will help me and my Fraccion, I'm sure, when the shinigami realize we're coming and move to investigate all the foreign reiatsu."
The man waved it off. "Yeah, but that's their intention. We just need to set these up for the Novena Espada." He smiled brightly. "I think I know of a place where I can do that right now. And if I happen to run into a certain shinigami near that place, then I suppose I'll have to fight him, won't I?"
The Sexta Espada just grinned. "I like your style."
Naruto stretched with a smile on his face, already feeling the exhaustion creeping in. He hadn't realized it, but it had been more than twenty-four hours since he had actually slept. Far too many things had happened in the past few days, he was ready for a thirteen hour nap.
But he didn't have time to do that, nor did it feel like he ever would. The cup of coffee that Ururu slid in his direction, presenting an identical cup to Renji who sat across from him, was tempting, but he wondered if it would be better to sleep.
He knew he needed to find Ichigo, to talk with him so that he could complete his end of the bargain with the Visored, but he figured he had some time to rest. He tasted the coffee and realized that it was actually really good.
"Thank you for this, Ururu," he said with a grin.
"Yes, it's really good," Renji added. He too looked nervous, like there was something seriously bugging him. Naruto wanted to ask what that was, but something suddenly hit hard, seemingly shaking the very foundation of the air around them. A huge reiatsu signature was heading right
Naruto met Renji's gaze and the two immediately jumped to their feet. "What's happening?"
"They're here!" He popped a Soul Candy, leaping out of his body with a flutter of reiryoku, and the two of them ran outside, both in spirit form and moving as fast as they could.
The Arrancar arrived with a burst of sound, flickering into sight so quickly that it seemed impossible. A tall man with a youthful face appeared, his mask covering part of the top of his head and long blonde hair framing his face. The hollow hole sat in the center of his chest.
Renji smirked. "I can take him, Uzumaki. I'm certain of it. Go help the others!"
Naruto took him at his word, slightly glad that he had a moment to breathe, adrenaline running through his body and removing any pretense that he needed to sleep. "Okay. Be careful." He used Shunpo to speed away from the fight, trying to keep up with where he could sense everyone around him. Thinking hard about all the different signatures, he could feel far too many enemies alongside the friendlies. But when he finally found Tatsuki's familiar signature near her home, alone with an enemy bearing down in front of her, he flickered towards her location to help.
He barely drew his sword in time to block the strike that intercepted his Shunpo, pure instinct allowing him to move quickly enough. He pushed away from the Arrancar, a skinny man with a helmet-like mask on his head, some part of it extending downward to cover his eye. A braid of brown hair billowed in the wind behind him.
"Pleasure to meet you," the man said.
"Sure," Naruto agreed. "I'd like to make sure my student is okay, however, and you're in my way."
The man studied his expression. "Oh, she's the one who is fighting Nakeem now, isn't she? The other jinchuuriki."
Naruto's eyes widened. "How do you know about that?"
"Does it matter?" the Arrancar said, uncaringly. "My name is Shawlong Koufang, Arrancar Number Eleven."
The blonde raised an eyebrow. They have a numerical ranking system? "Does that make you the eleventh strongest, or something else? Because you're going to want to have a much higher number if that's the case, to fight against me."
Shawlong swung his sword once in his hand, spinning it around his bony fingers. "I'm simply the eleventh Arrancar created, although the ranking system is different for numbers ten and below."
"Do you expect me to sit here and explain the entire composition of the army to you?"
"Would you? Because that would be fantastic for our side."
Shawlong laughed, actually laughed, and Naruto moved in that moment to attack.
"They're making a hitlist!" Rukia shouted, staring into Ichigo's eyes with fright, her Soul Phone in her hand. "They're targeting anyone with the slightest amount of reiatsu in the atmosphere!"
Ichigo understood the implications immediately. "Chad and Orihime are at Urahara's shop!"
"Renji and Naruto are there, as well as Urahara himself," Rukia said, feeling like they would be the safest. "What about anyone else? The enemies are spreading out so diversely that not all of them are going in the same direction!"
"Are any of them heading here?" asked Ichigo, prepared to fight with his badge in hand.
"It doesn't seem like it," Rukia explained, eyes focused carefully on the phone. "Wait, I take that back! There's one coming right now!"
They barely got outside fast enough, Zangetsu at the ready, when the Arrancar arrived, stopping them from being able to get very far away from his home and his sisters. He vowed to fight harder to protect them, but Rukia stepped in front of him.
The child-like enemy had half of his oddly-shaped head covered a cloth, his blonde hair stringing over his face. There was a dopey expression to him, like he was hiding some kind of brain damage behind that cloth.
"I can take him. You be ready to back me up if I need to," Rukia said, drawing her blade. "My powers have fully returned. You don't have to worry about me. Just watch my back and protect Yuzu and Karin."
At the mention of his sisters, the Arrancar smirked.
Ikkaku leaped onto the top of the building, legs spread in a wide crouching stance and ready to jump into a fight. "So they're finally here, huh? It makes sense! C'mon, Yumichika!" He jumped from the side of the building, eventually followed by his closest comrade.
Almost immediately, something flickered into sight before them, a huge beast of a man with a mask running underneath his eyes that made it look like he had odd glasses shifted down from his eyes. His red hair went wild on the right side of his head, while his left was nearly shaved thin black. His white jacket was open, revealing a hollow hole in the center of his chest.
Ikkaku's gigai was stripped away, the bald shinigami pressing his sheathed sword against his shoulder, ready to intercept at any moment. "You must be one of the Arrancar I've heard so much about. I have to say, you do look impressive, but your mask looks stupid."
Yumichika laughed, removing his own gigai to enter spirit form. "I have to agree with you, Ikkaku. It makes you look truly ugly."
"Ugly!? I'll show you, ugly!" The man suddenly burst forward, a sound ringing in his ears, and Ikkaku barely raised his sword to block the powerful strike with his one-handed grip, other hand on the sheathe.
"Not bad, but you probably should have added some actual skill behind that attack, or you'll never give me an interesting fight."
Hitsugaya realized it immediately. "They're coming."
Matsumoto stared at him oddly. "What do you mea-" She paused, making it obvious to her as well. "Oh. That."
A single enemy stood in their way, a tan cloak over the expected white uniform of the Arrancar. A mask adorned the man's face, dark hair tied in an all-too-familiar way. He narrowed his eyes, unsure of why this man seemed so familiar. He doesn't have the reiatsu of the other Arrancar... He's a shinigami.
"If you think you're going to fight us, think again!" Matsumoto yelled, hand behind her back ready to draw Haineko. "You're sure to lose if you do!"
The man just laughed. "Is this one your lieutenant, Toshiro? Amazing. I would have never thought that you would let someone so ditzy around you."
How does he know who I am by name? Surely Aizen must have told them all the names of the captains and lieutenants... but why does his voice sound so familiar?
"Ditzy! Where the hell does that come from?!" Matsumoto shouted, prepared to engage on her own, but she wouldn't without his orders.
"My lieutenant is one of the most capable in the Soul Society, and I am offended by your words against her," Toshiro said automatically, drawing his sword, glimmering at his side in the moonlight.
The enemy stared intently at the blade in hand. "The magnificent Hyourinmaru! The most powerful ice-type zanpakutou in all of the Soul Society's history. What a fascinating blade." The man suddenly drew his own sword, immediately catching his attention. It can't be...! "I wonder what Hyourinmaru would feel like when it meets its twin in battle!"
A Shunpo-infused strike to the face was parried by a quick diagonal movement, before Toshiro himself made a counter-stab, putting as much force behind it as he dared without leaving himself open on too many angles. Another quick strike was met in the middle the two blades matched equally in force and shape.
Tatsuki was already breathing hard, a kunai in her hand that was rimmed with yin chakra. Despite her status as a jinchuuriki and the stamina level that accompanied it, having to fight against someone when there was so much ambient spiritual pressure in the air from multiple fights was exhausting. She was sure that if her fight with the Arrancar before her was the only fight, she'd be winning.
Maybe that was overconfidence talking, however, because she had yet to actually make more than two scratches and a few bruises on this Number Fourteen, Nakeem Grindina. Her own body was riddled with wounds and sore joints, and she was barely able to keep up with his speed.
"You're not a bad fighter," she said, leaping into the air and hurling the kunai, hoping to distract him long enough for her to prepare another ninjutsu. Nakeem didn't bother moving out of the way of the kunai, that bounced off of his shoulder's thick skin, despite leaving a small stab wound in its wake. She was making a mark, just not doing more than that.
"Earth-Style: Earth Spears Jutsu!" She landed hard and immediately summoned several rods of earth, sharpened to a fine point, and fired them at the Arrancar. He used that speed technique to suddenly flicker behind her, and her battle reflexes were in tune enough to swing back around with a yin-chakra enhanced punch. It collided hard with the soft part of the hollow's cheek, still comparatively harder than normal skin, but the force was there.
"Wow. Where does that speed come from?" she asked, curious. "It's not like the kind of speed techniques I've seen before."
"It's called Sonido, and it is faster than the shinigami's Shunpo!"
She jumped hard and kicked upward, landing a foot hard on the creature's chin and feeling like she might have sprained her ankle at the same time she broke his jaw. He cried out in pain and grabbed at her leg, but the second he did, she tucked her whole body inward and flipped upward, planting both feet on his face and then jumping off of him, spinning through the air and landing rough.
Tatsuki took approximately three breaths before the Arrancar was at it again, swinging his zanpakutou faster than she could actually recover from. Making another series of hand-signs, she flipped backwards before her head could get chopped off and landed hard. "Earth-Style: Mud Wall!" The street underneath her suddenly rose in front of her, blocking a fatal strike that would have certainly stabbed into her gut.
There was no way I'm going to live if I don't use it, Tatsuki realized carefully, using the moment to call on the power within the ring. That seals burned to life as she let the chakra of the Nanabi rush into her body, enhancing her in every way. A thick column of chakra rose and splintered off in nearly the same moment, some of it rushing around her body in a cloak that also manifested wings, two-tails worth of chakra.
Using her wings and the speed that it granted her, she flew into the air to avoid Nakeem's sword, dropping a weighted kunai down to the ground that suddenly exploded with the paper bomb attached, smoke surrounding her opponent's body.
"So this is the power of the Nanabi," Nakeem called out through the smoke, sounding surprised. "I always wondered how strong the jinchuuriki really were, and if they hold a candle to the Espada. You don't, of course, but you've grown so much stronger after using it that it makes me intrigued."
Tatsuki fluttered above him, prepared to once again use her speed if the Arrancar tried any sudden moves. "You don't seem the type to use words like 'intrigued.' I would have pegged you for a dumbass, to be honest."
Nakeem laughed as the smoke finally cleared. "No, I'm afraid not. That honor belongs to someone else." He jumped into the air suddenly, aiming to slice her in half, but that was just the moment she needed.
Tapping into insectoid flight, she whizzed by him so fast she nearly blurred out of sight, holding a kunai in her hand she did. Aiming for any of his vital spots, she managed to tag him in the back of the knee, stabbing the kunai straight through his kneecap.
Nakeem screamed in anger, spinning around with his zanpakutou, but she was already gone, far enough away that he couldn't hit her. He used that speed technique again, this time significantly slower either due to the injury or due to her increased levels of perception. Still, it was enough to nearly pierce her if she had not thrown up a foot and kicked away the flat side of the blade.
Panting, she moved into his guard and slammed a knee hard into his chest, and then grabbed his shoulders. In one circular motion, she brought her entire outstretched body around in a magnificent arc and then planted her feet again onto his shoulder blades. Nakeem spun out of control, landing hard on the ground.
Tapping into a third tail, the chakra shroud growing to extend a glow-worm like tail from the base of her back, she whirred through hand-signs as she dropped to the ground nearby. "Earth-Style: Earth Fist!" Throwing her fist to the ground, she came up with the earth having completely incased her arm.
Nakeem had barely recovered before she flew up as high as she could dare, using three tails to increase her speed. The second she reached the correct height, she spun around and fell toward him, folding the chakra wings inward to increase her speed. The tail straightened out and her rock-covered fist extended before her.
Holding another hand-sign in her other fist at the ready, she slammed hard into Nakeem's stomach, causing him to scream out in anger. The attack was strong enough to pierce his skin, leaving a huge bloody hole in his body that was not unlike the other hollow-hole, just messier.
She shook the stone away, landing on the ground and withdrawing the beast's chakra, almost immediately suffering from exhaustion without its power to keep her going. She ignored it long enough to whirl through another combination of hand-signs. "Earth-Style: Double-Suicide Decapitation Technique!"
She pressed down on the Arrancar hard with her foot, her earth chakra forcing Nakeem to go underground. Only his head remained above, and she picked up his zanpakutou.
"You're not going to actually kill me with that, are you?"
She nodded. "Yeah, actually. I figure it'll be a little poetic to die by your own blade." She lowered the sword and stabbed him in the eye, and Nakeem almost immediately began to scream and then disintegrate, his zanpakutou remaining for a few seconds before it too vanished.
She dropped to the ground, unable to move anymore, as exhaustion set in. Am I ever going to finish a fight against a tough opponent without knocking myself out?
When Chad finally awoke, he was shocked to see that he was in an unfamiliar room, surrounded by unfamiliar people. A large man with pink hair was holding a barrier over him and the person next to him. The girl was unconscious, but seemed healthy from his first impression. "Orihime! Is she okay?"
The man nodded. "My name is Hachi. She will live. And so will you."
Chad looked around the room, the only other person there being a brunette girl wearing what looked like a school girl uniform from a long time ago, glasses on her nose. "Where am I? What happened?"
He shook his head. "You are in Kisuke Urahara's shop, recovering from the battle with the Arrancar where you were wounded." Chad reached up with his left arm to touch his right, and it seemed like there was almost no damage, although it still hurt to move.
He radiated his spiritual senses, realizing something huge was going on outside, but he couldn't move. He tried to raise to his feet, knowing that there had to be a battle going on, but the barrier zapped him and forced him to stay down.
"I need to help them!" he shouted, moving his injured arm and testing the pain. It was definitely bearable.
"No. You can't," the girl explained. "Chad, if you go, you'll strain your spirit energy as far as the girl beside you did." She gestured to Orihime.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "Is something wrong with her?"
The man frowned. "Her soul... her soul can't hold onto her powers correctly anymore. The connection has been almost one hundred percent severed, and there might be no way to repair it." He gestured to her hairpins, both of which had a crack that ran down the length, nearly unable to hold together. "I can't repair the physical manifestation of her powers, nor can I heal the source of the powers within her. Within a few days time, her powers will be gone."
Chad's eyes widened, but he didn't want to comment. Lowering his head back to the pillow, he sat and waited, feeling the conflicts happening outside. He simply couldn't take it anymore, turning carefully to them. "If I leave now, and fight against them with my full strength, would I be able to make a difference without losing my powers?"
The girl frowned, thinking hard. "Based on their reiatsu levels, no. You need to fully recover, or you'll be as human as anyone else."
Naruto summoned Kusaritane quickly, trying not to think too hard about the battles going on around him. The enemy before him was powerful, although not nearly as powerful as the Arrancar he had briefly fought before, Yammy.
Using Shunpo, he flipped around the battlefield, launching his blade from all sides and angles in an attempt to skewer him quickly to end this. Shawlong seemed to have expert reflexes, able to evade them or block them away. The Arrancar side-stepped away from an attack that would have slashed into his neck from a diagonal angle, bringing up his sword in precisely the wrong way.
Naruto smirked and immediately flexed his reiatsu, guiding the dagger's trajectory in mid-air until the blade was wrapped around his torso so hard he couldn't move his arms. The dagger's prongs had latched into its chains, unable to get loose. "You're no match for me. Hado Number Thrity-three: Sokatsui!"
The huge wave of blue fire cackled to life and enveloped the creature, who did not attempt to move or block it. He pressed more reiryoku into the attack, allowing it to become ever brighter and more powerful. Lesser hollows would have been completely incinerated just by the power, and he could feel the heat from his own attack against his skin.
When the smoke from the Kido cleared, however, the monster had nothing more than mildly burned clothing and burned skin in a few places, but was otherwise unharmed.
Shawlong merely looked at him, unimpressed and not bothered by the pain at all. "No. Your attacks are no match for my Hierro. Our iron defenses are incredibly dense, able to block the damage," he explained. "We have the advantage, able to take quite an assault."
He suddenly used that speed technique, the extended chain slacking while still attached to his body. Naruto brought up the gauntlet, defending a stab to his face without much effort, but the speed was nearly too great. He narrowly avoided a slash to his stomach, inches away from doing potentially fatal damage, but it didn't matter.
"Bakudo Number Sixty-one: Rikujokorou!" Yellow rods of light impaled him in mid-stab, preventing him from escaping. Naruto retracted his blade, returning it to the gauntlet easily. "For someone so confident, why do your eyes looked terrified?"
It was easy to imagine that the Arrancar was scared; it was about to die, and hollows were creatures of instinct, driven by their need to survive. So when Shawlong was in a situation where he couldn't easily escape, he was sure to be scared.
"I'm not." His eyes suddenly flickered darkly, hands still holding his zanpakutou. "I can see your powers very clearly. You mainly employ binding attacks, both with your zanpakutou and your Kido, and then finish off your opponent. However, you hold back quite a bit of power however, and I wonder if you even know that you do it."
Naruto looked at the man quizzically. "What the hell are you talking about? Why would I hold anything back?" True, he wasn't using Bankai and he had not used his zanpakutou's special abilities yet, but the battle had lasted a few minutes. He'd not had a reason to do so, because he was still confident he could win.
"Tell me, Uzumaki, why you have not used the Kyuubi's abilities," the man stated simply, looking at him expectantly.
"Yeah, right. Like you're going to bait me into using that," he said automatically. "What, are you going to try to capture me somehow once I do? Bring me back to Aizen on a silver platter? No, I'm not falling for that trick, not that you would have the power to capture me anyway."
"Then taste my released state, jinchuuriki! Snip, Tijereta!" Immediately, a blast of incredibly dense reiatsu blasted him backward, holding an arm up to his face as though that would block it.
The reiatsu faded away, but the creature was forever changed. Somehow, the sword in his hands fused to his fingers, becoming like sharp, long claws unto themselves. The helmet like bone mask on his face extended, one half completely covered and the other looking positively confident. His hair braid was now a long appendage, ending into a two-pronged blade that could probably be used to skewer the enemy at his command. Bone incased his shoulders, and Naruto had no idea what was going on.
His powers had ultimately skyrocketed, and the implications of that were disastrous. All Arrancar zanpakutou have at least one released state?
Toshiro flickered out an intense Shunpo battle, the man able to keep up with him easily. He was terrified as to what he could be behind that mask, who the identity of the man before him truly was, but he couldn't let that interfere with the mission.
His zanpakutou was in its Shikai, but so was the opponent. The blades were truly magnificent, both as equally vibrant as the other. They matched in ability and differed in strength, although he had kept up with the other very easily.
"Amazing, isn't it, Toshiro?" the enemy suggested, marveling at the blade under his fingertips. "It's clearly not some poor imitation, unlike what the Soul Society would have themselves believe. It's the real thing, just like yours. If I had been the chosen wielder of Hyourinmaru, do you think I would have been Squad Ten's captain as well?"
Toshiro gulped, all his suspicions confirmed, but it was still impossible. Rangiku stared openly at the two of them, absolutely horrified by what she was seeing. "Kusaka?"
Without warning, the man swung his blade and ice shot from its tip, condensing in the shape of a great dragon, twisting toward the Squad Ten captain without mercy. Toshiro blasted forward with Hohou, not letting the ice touch him, before mimicking the same attack and watching the dragons clash with each other like they were alive. He didn't stop there, however, getting into Kusaka's guard and attempting to skewer him, to end this once and for all. But the two Hyourinmaru connected in the center once more, sparks flying.
"I have to say, I didn't expect you would fight so ferociously, but even I know that you could do better," the man said behind the mask. "Physically, mentally, spiritually; in almost all facets of battle, you should be crushing me, and yet, here I am, a testament to Lord Aizen's genius by being able to keep up with a captain."
Toshiro's eyes narrowed, but before he could say anything, a buzzing noise hit his ears, two Arrancar women suddenly arriving. They had a red and blue color scheme respectively, wearing the same uniform with different colored hair; they had to be twins.
"Have you succeeded in your mission?" the man asked.
"Yes." The red Arrancar answered, hand on her hip as she watched with an analytic eye.
"Should we head back to Hueco Mundo?" her twin asked, eyes glimmering at both captain and lieutenant.
Kusaka, or the impostor Kusaka, shook his head, still locked in combat with Toshiro's zanpakutou. "No, let's have a little fun. I'm sure we're justified in doing so, right?"
Naruto continued his onslaught, still confused as to why the man thought he was holding back. Regardless, he kept that in the back of his mind and chose to hit harder, to use all the power he could with every blow, and it seemed to actually make a difference.
The Resurreccion was a remarkable ability, Naruto realized. He'd tried to analyze it as he fought, trying to keep his distance and unable to do so, his base ability of that speed technique increased exponentially. The strength of his blows and his fighting style were all improved, as though the shinigami nature of the Arrancar conceded to allow it to become less human and more hollow, as though that somehow made him stronger.
He ran along the side of a building, flickering out of sight at the right moment and forcing the monster to collide into that apartment complex, the entire floor collapsing as he did. Flickering again, he shoved a fist forward, his dagger attached and tried to pierce the Arrancar's shoulder, but it suddenly spun its arm around and grabbed the space just after the elbow, flinging him back around as hard as he could. Naruto was unable to recover, slamming against the pavement hard enough to leave a crater of cracked tar.
The pain ruptured on his back, but he had to keep going, flipping onto his feet just in time to avoid being skewered by Shawlong's claws. The tail, however, whipped around and managed to hit him, leaving a long scrape on his left side that almost immediately began to bleed profusely.
"Damn," he muttered, jumping backward and immediately gathering spirit energy. "Rasentane!"
The spinning extended attack fired so fast it was like a missile, surrounded by orange reiatsu that spun so fast it gave off energy trails as it went. The creature held up both arms to block it, and as it hit, the energy exploded in a fiery display of his spiritual pressure, resembling a sprouting speed.
Without missing a beat, Kusaritane still extended, he raised his palms, hands brimming with concentrated reiryoku. "Hado Number Seventy-Three: Soren Sokatsui!"
The two huge attacks mixed into one fiery blaze, enough power to surely destroy the creature. The night sky was enveloped in bright blue light, probably able to be seen around the town by all of the other fighters.
Falling out of the blaze, Shawlong dove toward the ground, smoke trailing his body as he collided hard against the side of a building, once again causing the wall to collapse. Naruto flickered toward him, knowing it was still alive, and retracted his blade.
"You're done," he said, preparing to end him. "I have no idea why you thought I was holding back, but you weren't going to get me to use the fox, so I don't know why you would ever assume that."
Shawlong coughed, blood falling from his charred skin. He had the look on his face like he was surprised that it was going to end here, shocked by his state of affairs. "I just wanted to help Grimmjow, to help Lord Aizen." Coughing again, he meekly met Naruto's glance. "I owe everything to them. Surely you understand this!"
Naruto had to admit, he did understand the man. It wasn't his fault he was here. "Who is Grimmjow?"
The man coughed again. "One of the Espada... They are ranked one through ten, the strongest of all the Arrancar in Hueco Mundo. He is here tonight, and I doubt any of you can stand against him."
Naruto looked away, thinking about the battles that were taking place elsewhere. Was this Grimmjow fighting someone? Because if so, they needed back-up, pronto.
He felt the rush of reiryoku before it actually happened, and managed to Shunpo out of the way. Shawlong poured the last of his energy into a powerful Cero, the red energy beam streaking toward the sky right through where he had been standing. Naruto appeared again when it faded, instantly piercing the Arrancar's head with Kusaritane's blade.
Matsumoto tried to use Shunpo to get out of the way of the arcing blasts of fire and the lightning fast whip coursing with electricity, but they were too fast, able to stop her from having that advantage. They have some kind of speed technique that is similar to our own. Combine that with their defenses, and they are terrifyingly powerful.
While she was fighting his subordinates, the strange shinigami who might be called Kusaka was able to match Toshiro blow for blow, and was actually in the advantage. Witnessing her captain's Bankai was always impressive, but it wasn't as impressive now. The shinigami's ice flowers were breaking apart, proving that he can't fight against the man at full power.
Elsewhere, she was almost certain she could feel Ikkaku's spiritual pressure skyrocket to an amazing degree, and she had just felt Uzumaki's fight end. Renji Abarai had his Bankai activated in the direction of Urahara's shop, probably defending against a powerful enemy. Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki were fighting somewhere else against perhaps the strongest of the signatures, and another of the Arrancar just went down.
"Roar, Haineko!" Her zanpakutou turned to steel dust just in time to block the whip from striking her, a defensive cloud able to make the lightning useless. A roaring blaze headed right for her, shaped like two fireballs spinning around each other in a perpetual ring, but she threw up her zanpakutou's hilt and was able to block that attack as well, before using her high speed technique to move out of the way.
Surrounding the blue Arrancar in her dust, she tried to suddenly compact it all in the center, to destroy the girl with the pressure. But the Arrancar's skin was too dense, unable to be penetrated, and the whip hit hard, electricity coursing through her body just as she heard the horrifying scream of her captain.
She screamed herself and tried to get out of the way, but only barely managed to bring Haineko up to absorb some of the fire heading for her, the ash dust not proving good enough as she was shot toward the ground by the hit, landing hard against a tree along the sidewalk.
Her captain was falling to the ground, most of his wings gone and she was only fifty percent certain that he was conscious.
She had only a few seconds, at most, before she needed to remove it, or they would all die. She grabbed the communicator from her pocket, pressing it to her ear.
Rukia watched in horror as the powerful man was able to completely overwhelm Ichigo, despite her every warning against fighting him. The Arrancar had bright blue hair, bone covering his jaw line and brimming with teeth, his jacket open to expose his bare skin. The hollow hole was in his chest, but the man was obviously unharmed by anything that happened.
She herself could barely stay conscious or aware of what was happening, unable to hear what they were saying to each other, the blood pooling around her as she bled to death on the pavement. The feeling of Grimmjow's hand gripping her internal organs might be the most chilling, painful thing she had ever experienced; she wondered if being destroyed by the Sokyoku would have hurt more, because the end result would still be the same. This man would kill them all, and Ichigo was next.
There was nothing she could do to stop them. After finally displaying her powers in a real fight after losing them to Ichigo months ago, she had easily destroyed D-Roy with her Shikai, but this man was on an entirely new level. Able to stop Ichigo's Bankai without a moment of trouble, Rukia was terrified.
Ichigo's spiritual pressure suddenly skyrocketed, a blast of red and black energy rushing from the tip of the blade and colliding hard with Grimmjow's body, flinging him through the air as he brought up his hands to defend his face against the crescent attack.
Rukia could barely see it, but Ichigo's fluctuating spiritual pressure must have proved strong, because the Arrancar was bleeding from an attack on his torso.
She knew it wouldn't be enough; the end was inevitable, and as she slowly slipped from consciousness, she prayed to whatever god was out there to protect him from harm.
The second the tattoo was removed, Toshiro could feel his power skyrocket to normal levels. Fighting with eighty percent of your power sealed away was the most arrogant thing he could imagine, but who was he to question protocol?
When he stood up, despite having been stabbed through by Kusaka's Hyourinmaru, he grimaced. "How are you alive?"
"Does it matter? I should ask you the same question, because I was sure you had already died," the man said, pointing to the bloody haori. "Although I guess this is similar to my own story, so yet again, we parallel. Both of us get a second wind to come back from certain death."
Toshiro's cold reiatsu froze the blood surrounding his wound, to keep him from bleeding out. He held the dragon's hand, prepared to unleash Hyourinmaru for all it was worth. His Bankai was already regenerated, restored by his power to control the water moisture in the air. But the man before him knew all about that all too well, able to perform nearly every ability. Toshiro was honestly terrified for what could happen if Kusaka used Bankai as well, because he knew what terrifying attacks it held.
"So how did you get up again anyway?"
"Gintei Kaijou was released," he said, gesturing to his lieutenant who was fighting against the two Arrancar women on an equal playing field now. "Shinigami of lieutenant class or above seal most of their powers away in order to avoid aversely affecting humans."
Kusaka seemed to understand it. "So you're at full power once more?" He gripped the blade tighter, prepared to send another onslaught of ice again. "Good."
"Hiyouruu Senbi!" Toshiro's blade arced through the hair, sending a horizontal arc of ice that spread even farther as it traveled, but Kusaka merely moved out of the way, slinging his sword down. Toshiro caught it with the flat of his blade before pressuring him forward onto his knees, his power much stronger now. But Kusaka suddenly unleashed a dragon of ice from his Shikai, the close quarters making it difficult to avoid, and Toshiro was forced to jump back from the now huge form of ice that could have been a statue of himself.
He brought up his wings to defend against a fast-moving strike to his back, before turning around while preparing another arc of ice. "Guncho Tsurara!" Several spears of ice suddenly launched at the opponent, but Kusaka flipped backwards and then stabbed forward.
"Ryuusenka!" A wall of ice extended from the stabbed point, rushing towards him to block the spears, but the Bankai was too powerful, Toshiro's attack winning out. The icicles crashed through it and littered the ground around Kusaka's feet, two of which collided with his sword arm and left leg, impaling him.
Toshiro wasn't going to let that moment end, using Shunpo to blast forward, his wings tucked in behind him. He prepared to stab him and end it all, but Kusaka suddenly fled, managing to get out of the way.
"You're strong, Toshiro. I am not surprised that you've managed to best me for now," Kusaka explained. "But the next time we fight, don't expect it to end the same way."
His two Arrancar women suddenly fled their fight with Matsumoto, their bodies riddled with small cuts from her zanpakutou, and joined his side. A Garganta opened behind the twins, each gesturing carefully and splitting the hole in the sky toward Hueco Mundo. Hitsugaya jumped forward, using blazing speed, but the man was able to get away, the gateway closing just in time.
"Who was this Kusaka?" Matsumoto finally asked after a moment of rest. "And why did he wield a second Hyourinmaru!?"
Toshiro sighed and refused to comment, keeping it to himself. For now, no one else needed to know that.
With an unconscious Tatsuki over his shoulder, Naruto arrived with a flourish, finding Ichigo quickly. Both Ichigo and Rukia were incredibly wounded, the former conscious but unable to do anything to stop the bleeding. The Arrancar were gone, most of them having been defeated, and he had to be glad about that fact, but there were still several troubling facts going on.
"What happened?!" he shouted.
"They got away," Ichigo said, annoyed like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "If Tousen hadn't shown up, Grimmjow would have killed me and then killed Rukia, if he hasn't already." He suddenly looked back, but Naruto assured him she was alive. "And my sisters are barely a few blocks away, and they were next. I can't believe this!"
Naruto frowned. "I can. You were horribly unmatched to fight them, your powers too in flux to make a difference. If you could harness those moments when your spiritual pressure is highest, I don't doubt you would have been strong enough. You're scary strong, Ichigo, for someone so untrained." The deal was still fresh in his mind, but he didn't know if it would actually be a good idea to waste time on this, while Rukia could be dying. Eventually, he decided the overall picture was more important, and was sure that she would be fine anyway. "Look. You need to go to the Visored. Accept Shinji's offer, and he will help you deal with your powers. We need that strength, Ichigo, because without it, I'm not sure if we'll be enough."
The boy forced himself to stand, running over to Rukia and placing her on his own shoulders, holding her wound tight to his hand. "You're right. Let's get her to some medical attention. Chappy, Kon, protect my sisters until I get back!"
Rukia's gigai and Kon nodded, having watched over the girl's unconscious form after Grimmjow nearly killed her.
Naruto patted him on the back. "Everything's going to be fine. The pressure is on, because if they decide to make this a nightly occurrence, then I'm not sure how this will end. Wars of attrition are fought by the side with the most numbers, and do we have enough highly-skilled fighters to outlast them?"
Ichigo seemed to understand what he was saying. "So I have a time limit. That's just great."
Hopefully that was a good chapter. Speaks to some other things going on, while getting into the fun stuff that I've had planned since the early Academy chapters.
Just so we're clear, Naruto is not under Gintei Kaijou, so he should have had no problem defeating someone like Shawlong, even in Resurreccion, with just his Shikai. He was in the same situation that Rukia was in, both here and in canon, because she was fighting at full strength and was able to obliterate D-Roy. Shawlong is stronger than D-Roy, so that's why he had a little more trouble than she did.
I also hope no one takes issue with the Tatsuki fight either. When she fought Yammy, she used the maximum number of tails she can use without losing herself, and was not able to do more than bruise him, before he stopped her. I figured her beating Nakeem, easily the weakest of Grimmjow's Fraccion, with three tails wouldn't be an issue, especially when I didn't want to make up a Ressureccion for him since he never showed his. If she had fought against his Ressureccion, she would have had to pull on at least five tails, if not more, and would have lost herself in the process. Hopefully that explains her power level a bit better as well.
All the other fights basically happened as canon dictated, with Ikkaku releasing his Bankai and Renji winning with Ururu's help, after Gintei Kaijou was released.
Leave a review and let me know how I did!