Prologue: A Different Fate
A single thrust was the final blow that ended it all; it was all that was needed to finish the gritty and bloody bout between the two rivals. The dark metal blade pierced through the white bone-like hide easily, sending out a stream of fresh red blood spouting from the Arrancar's stomach.
The one who took the blow was a man, though not like anyone you would see in the world of the living. For he had a human face, but his body was feline in structure and shape. Long light blue hair flowed down his back, sitting behind long feline ears. His body was long, lithe and powerful, a strong tail and sharp black claws growing from his fingertips.
"Sh…it…," Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez wheezed, one last curse before consciousness slipped away and he fell back and away from the one who had defeated him.
The black blade sliding free from his body, its owner watching as his opponent not only fell back but also down. Reaching out he grasped the Espada's wrist and saved him from plummeting to the sands several hundred feet below. Looking down at his defeated opponent who lay motionless in his grip, covered in serious wounds and blood, Ichigo could not help but feel relieved at the conclusion of his fight.
Many who would see the one who defeated the man who claimed to be a King would always be caught by his orange hair and piercing brown eyes. His clothing was in tatters, soaked in fresh and dry blood, and filled with many holes and tears. In his hand was a long midnight black blade that resembled a Japanese long sword – better known as a Daito – with a small chain attached to the pummel of the hilt.
Lowering himself and Grimmjow to the white sands; Ichigo let the Espada collapse onto the ground, what little blood that seeped from his wounds dampening the soil beneath him. As much as Ichigo did not want to kill or let him die, despite their obvious hatred towards one another, he couldn't waste time on gravely wounded adversary.
'It is a show of strength to sheath a blade than draw it,' Ichigo thought, remembering it from somewhere, but not exactly sure.
He had come here for a single reason, and that reason lay behind him and up on top of the massive pillar. Turning he saw that it was one of the few remaining pillars that had not been completely destroyed, on its peak he saw a glowing orange shield.
Channeling his spiritual power he soared through the air and moved to its peak, as he drew closer the shield disappeared and revealed the person he came to this empty world to save, Orihime Inoue. Her long orange hair was the first thing he noticed; it reached down to her waist, and was kept in bangs with two identical hairpins that sat over her ears.
As he hovered near the precipice of the pillar's edge, he could see her scared grey eyes. Something he could understand as his hollow transformations and mask were not something that he was proud of.
"Are you…," Ichigo started, finding his words as she looked at him in anxious anticipation of his next words. "Hurt at all, Inoue?"
Ichigo smiled, trying to show her that it was him and not some monster, and he was rewarded when relief flooded her eyes.
'I'm so glad, Kurosaki-kun has returned to his usual self,' Orihime thanked kami for that; she did not want to lose him as she lost her brother, not again.
"No… thank you," She replied, not only to Ichigo but to the fact that he was still who she remembered.
With tired eyes and a small smile Ichigo was grateful that she had not been hurt in his battle with Grimmjow. But before he could speak again or even check on the second young lady who was present, he was violently struck in the stomach by said young lady.
"Itsygo!" He felt the air leave his lungs as the ram shaped mask on the top of the little Arrancar's head slammed into his abdomen.
Flying away from the pillar, he was dangling in mid-air with the little – pain in the ass – Arrancar clinging to his robes. Glancing down at his chest he saw the green haired Arrancar child named Nel. She was a cute little thing, aside from her little quirks that made her a slight pain, no larger than a small child. Her hollow mask was a cartoonish ram skull that sat on the crown of her head, with a crack that split it distinctly in two.
"You idiot!" Ichigo shouted, riled up at her completely senseless action, she could have been hurt had she not grabbed him when she hit him. "What were you thinking? You're in mid-air! If I fell right now, you'd die!"
"I'm tho glad," Nel mumbled into his robes, her already lisping words harder to understand as she sobbed. "Itsygo didn't die… I'm tho happy!"
Ichigo looked a little startled by her words as she continued to sob quietly into his robes. Placing his hand on her head he soothed the crying Arrancar, he tried to channel some of that same emotion he used when speaking with his sister.
"Yeah… Thanks Nel," Ichigo said, his words as kind as the smile on his face, before looking up at Orihime. "I'm also happy. That Inoue isn't hurt either."
Orihime quickly returned to her normal ways and chuckled nervously while rubbing the back of her head.
"You know me! I'm always in good health!" Orihime said, realizing who she was talking to and her timidness being around her crush coming to the forefront. "Ever since I was little, I'd never even get the smallest cold…"
Before she could finish her little tirade she was hoisted off the ground, and placed over Ichigo's shoulder.
"Wai… Wait Kurosaki-kun? What are you…?" She stuttered out, a blush coming to her face as she tried to understand his actions, so many different thoughts going through her mind to find a reasonable one.
"Where heading down," Ichigo stated, saying it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "With all this rubble, there's no point in searching for a stairwell. It would be quicker to carry you down."
"B-but…," Orihime started, covering her face and hiding a blush of embarrassment, Ichigo looked at her and raised an eyebrow.
"What is it? Is something wrong?" Ichigo inquired with slight bafflement.
Hesitating before she spoke, a heavy blush burning on her cheeks as she tried to think of something to say. "I-I'm pretty heavy…"
"Ah…," Ichigo said, thinking he understood what she was trying to say. "Don't worry about it. It's not as bad as I expected."
Ichigo had said it as if his statement was nothing of importance, but apparently that was not the case for the green haired Arrancar under his arm. She made that known with a swing fist to his crotch, which nearly made him buckle over in pain. As he struggled to stand he could only utter a few words to curse the little brat that had done it.
"You… you little… bitch…," Nel scowled at him fiercely.
"You can' talk to a lady like that! There'th a totally theparate way of talking geared thpecifically toward ladieth!" Looking at the Substitute Shinigami with wide and serious eyes; that continued to grow as she kept ranting about how to be chivalrous towards women.
"Even if they are heavy, you thould thay that they're light inthead!" Yelling at the orange haired Soul Reaper who was still sweating from the savage swing that struck him right where a man should never be struck. "Even if they are heavy!"
Orihime spoke up nervously. "S-Stop that Nel-chan… I'm getting even more depressed…"
Ichigo recovered soon enough, deep breathing and a heightened pain threshold helped but only so much, before taking them down to the sands. As he landed he placed down his passengers, depositing them softly on the ground, and making sure that he did so with some amount of Chivalry to prevent another scolding from the little one.
"Alright, now I've gotta rescue Chad and Rukia…," Ichigo said, looking off in the distance, searching for them with his spiritual senses.
"Wha… What about uth? Are you gonna leave uth behind?" Nel cried out, scared that Ichigo was going to leave her alone in a dangerous place.
"Of course not… come on. It'd be more dangerous if you stayed here…," Ichigo stopped when he felt a presence right behind him; quickly turning he saw the battered and bloodied form of the Sexta Espada. "Grimmjow."
With every step that the Sexta took towards Ichigo his wounds spouted blood onto the white sand. His breathing was heavy and appeared to only just be able to stand, from the way he swayed with every step showed he was about ready to collapse. Ichigo hardened his expression and readied Tensa Zangetsu, but this was an unnecessary act, Grimmjow's powers began to recede. His body glowed a dull blue before his from began to revert back to its original state, his power sealing itself back into the shape of a zanpakuto.
Within a few moments his resurrection had reformed into the familiar blade called Pantera, and was in its master's hand. Despite his relapse, the ferocity in Grimmjow's eyes did not lessen; they only intensified as he glared at the orange haired Shinigami.
"Like I'd lose…," Grimmjow panted out, taking several more staggered steps forward. "There's no… way in hell… I'd lose to someone like you!"
Lunging forward he speared his sword right towards Ichigo's heart. Ichigo narrowed his eyes and moved to intercept the sword, but not before relinquishing his own. Ichigo caught the Espada's sword arm almost effortlessly, tightening his grip on the Espada's wrist to keep him from attacking while he spoke.
"Stop already Grimmjow, you've lost," Ichigo stated calmly, some pity in his voice for the man who couldn't accept the outcome of their fight.
"I don't know whether your king or not…," Grimmjow sagged forward, losing some strength from the simple lunge. "But crushing those who piss you off and being king by yourself… where's the enjoyment in that?"
Ichigo's pity quickly evaporated as a fierce scowl formed on his brow. He had enough of fighting and blood, he wanted to rescue everyone and stop this entire war from going on.
"If I really piss you off that much, I'll fight you as much as you want," Ichigo said, actual conviction in his promise for the future, but it came with an agreement for the present. "But for now… just stop already."
A moment of silence fell between the two warriors; Grimmjow simply stared at his enemy with no clear emotion that could be seen on his face. Ichigo thought for a moment he may have gotten through to him, given him a reason not to fight for now. But his words were not to the Espada's liking, he looked at Ichigo and snarled in outrage, ripping his wrist free and shouted back with utter fury as he prepared another strike.
"Fuck you! You're…!" Before Grimmjow could make a second attempt or even finish his curse he was struck down.
Appearing from nowhere a large duel crescent shaped blade collided with Grimmjow and threw him to the side. Piecing his side and shoulder, releasing a geyser of blood, Grimmjow glanced to the weapon in shock as he fell away as his freshest wounds likely put him out of combat for good. Ichigo stared in shock at the sudden and unexpected attack, as did Nel and Orihime, the latter covering her mouth as she watched the scene play out.
A second after the blade had struck it was gone, pulled back in the direction it had come. Ichigo followed the weapon as it glided to the one who threw it, a long wide looped chain connecting the weapon to the hand of its master.
Ichigo's eyes quickly found a tall lanky figure standing a few paces away. There was no mistaking he was an Arrancar; his fully white uniform said that, with a few alterations that made it his own. A large rounded collar and shoes with curled ends being the most noticeable differences. His hair was long and greasy in appearance, but it was his toothy smile and condescending squinting eye – the other hidden beneath a white eye patch that covered half his face – that showed he was a slimy scoundrel.
"What a sore loser," the tall lanky man called out, a massive smirk on his face as he caught his weapon deftly with one hand. "Hurry up and die already, the Shinigami's mine."
The Arrancar advanced towards Ichigo, his sadistic smile never leaving his face for a moment. Ichigo prepared himself for an attack, getting ready to retrieve his Zanpakuto and fighting this guy off like he did Grimmjow.
"Who are you?" Ichigo asked, anxious about the new arrival and who he could be. "Another Espada?"
But his question was never answered, leaving him only to speculate as to who this new arrival may be. Many thoughts on who he could be facing made him wonder; it could be one of the Numeros, or at worst another Espada. In his current state he didn't know if he could handle one of them, especially if he could swing that massive axe of his around like he did a minuted ago.
"I said, who are you?!" Ichigo called out again, his temper rising as he was met with silence. "Answer me!"
A low groan was heard before the newcomer could either speak or not; turning Ichigo looked to the gravely wounded Grimmjow. He struggled to rise, but was barely able to lift a finger let alone his entire body. Despite it all he still wanted to try and fight, he was either to stubborn to die or just plain resilient.
"Nnoitra… you bastard…," Grimmjow wheezed out painfully, this brought a frown to the tall Arrancar's face, who looked at the fallen Espada.
"What the fuck? You're still alive?" Nnoitra asked, sounding as if he had been offended in some manner due to him not being dead.
Without warning or provocation, Nnoitra, leapt up and over the substitute Shinigami, his target the severely wounded and defenseless Grimmjow. Ichigo seeing Nnoitra's plan quickly Flash Stepped over to Tensa Zangetsu, retrieving it and then Flash Stepping again to block the attack aimed for the downed Espada.
Ichigo halted the attack, but he could feel the force of the strike actually push his feet into the sand and made his legs and arms struggle to keep the axe away from splitting him in two. Nnoitra looked surprised slightly, looking down at the Shinigami with a mix of irritation and puzzlement.
"What do you think you're doing, asshole?" Nnoitra asked, not particularly caring if the Shinigami answered or not, he was going to kill him anyway regardless.
"That's my line…," Ichigo shot back, glaring at the Arrancar above him. "Why the hell would you try and attack someone who can't move?"
At the reply the Arrancar snorted with a laugh before throwing Ichigo aside with a push of his massive blade. Ichigo slid across the sands and gained some distance from his new opponent, he was surprised that he had been push away so easily from the position he was in just a moment ago.
"God damn! I can't stand the sight of you, Grimmjow!" Nnoitra yelled out, despite the man he was insulting being only a few inches to his left. "Losing to the enemy, and then, having your life saved by them!"
Grimmjow could do nothing but glare up at the Arrancar with all the hate he could muster, either out of anger or shame that he had been taken by surprise or saved by his enemy was not known.
Nnoitra glanced at Ichigo and asked. "What's your name, Shinigami?"
"Ichigo Kurosaki," The substitute replied quickly, raising Tensa Zangetsu up and waiting for the Arrancar to make the first move.
"Kurosaki, huh?" Nnoitra repeated, smirking as he glanced at his prey. "I'll remember it."
Crossing both his arms over his chest as well as the axe as if it was but a feather in his hand, he released his spiritual pressure. Ichigo's eyes widened at the density of the force that assaulted his senses, not believing that this Arrancar could be so strong.
'He's got to be an Espada,' Ichigo thought.
"For the short time until you die, that is!" Nnoitra finished before swinging his massive axe right toward Ichigo.
The world erupted with an explosion of sand and stone, large chunks of debris and rock were thrown up into the air from the sheer force of the backhanded swing. Ichigo leapt from the dense cloud of sand, using the stones as jump points to push himself away faster.
As soon as he left the cloud however, he was forced to defend himself, after noticing a familiar looking shadow from within the sand veer towards him. Blocking the attack, he found the weapon's master right in front of him. The same smirk on his face as always, taking great pleasure in keeping Ichigo on the ropes and not giving him a chance to counter. Ichigo knew this first hand, he was struggling to actually hold himself aloft in the air and hold back the weapon.
'This guy… despite his slim body, he's incredibly strong,' Ichigo processed, but to his surprise he felt himself being pushed aside no matter how hard he tried to push back.
In an instant he went from the sky to the sands, rocketing towards the ground uncontrollably, creating a massive outburst from his violent landing. Ichigo straightened up and groaned, his wounds from Grimmjow giving him grief, the two along his abdomen being the worst. But despite the pain he kept his eyes on the Arrancar above him, not willing to risk taking his eyes of the man for even a moment.
Nnoitra wasted no time in attacking again, descending and swinging his massive weapon in a similar manner. Ichigo raised his zanpakuto and blocked the attack, but still he staggered from the strike, feeling his legs turn to jelly for just a moment. While his arms slowly surrendered to the pressure being put on them.
"Kurosaki-kun!" Orihime yelled out in worry, moving towards the fighting, desperate to help Ichigo in whatever way she could. But her movement did not go unnoticed.
"Tesla!" Nnoitra called out as he glanced to the woman, in that instant Orihime was halted with an arm around her neck.
"Yes sir," Came the calm reply, as he grasped Orihime by her shoulder and pushed her to the ground roughly.
"Inoue!" Ichigo cried out, his worry taking away his concentration from his fight, but was quickly brought back by the next attack aimed for his head.
"Where are you looking?" Nnoitra asked, swinging his weapon casually at Ichigo to bring his attention back to the fight.
Ichigo ducked under the weapon and raised his Zanpakuto defensively across himself, a scowl of anger creasing his brow as he glared at Nnoitra.
"Let Inoue go!" Ichigo shouted, which only made the smile on the Arrancar's face stretch further over his face.
"Hilarious! That's the line of someone thinking 'As long as the woman is unharmed, I can defeat him!'" Nnoitra hollered, and then he stuck out his tongue, which had an archaic number five tattooed on it.
Ichigo's eyes widened at the sudden reveal of who this man was, as well as the cold hard truth of what kind of opponent he would be dealing with.
"This is my rank, know what that means?" Nnoitra said, but Ichigo did not answer him.
Ichigo knew exactly what it meant, as well as the ramification on himself now that he was facing him. Those numbers were a testament to the power of the Arrancar; each number had significance to rank and power. The top ten were the Espada and Aizen's most powerful Arrancar, the lower the number the more powerful the Arrancar.
"That trash you got all beat-up fighting with and barely won against? I'm stronger than him," Nnoitra continued, pointing right at Ichigo with a smirk. "It's over…"
Stopping for a moment, he let out an amused snort, before he finished with. "Sorry. I forgot your name."
Ichigo could only stare at the oncoming weapon with wide eyes, and the thought that he didn't stand a chance against this Espada weighed on his heart and mind.
Ichigo dodged to the left, avoiding the strike entirely. But no sooner had he done so did it come for him again, this time from his right. Raising Tensa Zangetsu, Ichigo blocked the swing and was only knocked aside. Losing his footing for a moment he rolled along the ground, before quickly regaining his balance and rolling back to his feet just as another attack came down toward him. Flash Stepping out of range from the attack, ending up as far as he could away from the Arrancar, he tried to get some breathing and try to figure out his next move.
'Damn it, he's moving too fast!' Ichigo thought as he continued to dodge and evade, trying to get the rhythm of this guy and make up a strategy to beat him.
As another attack came Ichigo acted on instinct and retaliated. Leaping over the swing he used the back of the weapon as a jump point to push himself toward the Espada. His attack did not connect; Nnoitra ducked to the side and avoided the slash to his neck with ease.
"Seems like you can move pretty well!" Nnoitra mockingly praised as he glanced at the Shinigami who shot over him. "This isn't the first time you've fought against someone with a long weapon, is it?"
"It's the second," Ichigo shouted back, to which Nnoitra smirked.
"Is that so?" Swinging his weapon around, he hit Ichigo in the back with the shaft of Santa Teresa, catching him by surprise and sending the substitute sprawling across the sands.
On the sidelines Orihime watched as Ichigo struggled against Nnoitra. He was hurt and tired and stood no chance of winning against him in such a condition.
"Stop! How can you do such a thing when Kurosaki-kun is already injured?!" Orihime shouted, horrified at the one sided battle that seemed to be happening.
"Shut the fuck up!" Nnoitra turned on her, glaring at the girl that Aizen had sent him to recover, for what reason he couldn't give two shits. "I'm doing this because he's injured!"
Turning he paced towards the injured Shinigami who was struggling still to rise to his feet.
Ichigo groaned slightly, grasping his shoulder, the wounds he suffered against Grimmjow were starting to hinder him and he didn't know how much longer he could fight without medical attention. He was lucky that he could actually raise his sword let alone raise himself to his feet; he just hoped that wasn't a delayed reaction to come.
"This is a battle, of course it isn't fair!" Nnoitra ranted on, drawing closer to Ichigo, who struggled all the harder to even look at his approaching enemy. "Fighting, after all, is a monster born from unfairness and intolerance."
"I can't stand that guy… I can beat that guy… I won't forgive that guy…," Nnoitra ridiculed, looking down at Ichigo with disgust. "Enemies are made for all sorts of reasons. From the moment one makes an enemy, until one breath's their final breath, they are in battle."
With narrow eyes he looked down at Ichigo, accusing him of some crime that he had committed in the Quinto's eyes.
"Bursting right into the center of the enemy's headquarters, acting like such a show-off, and thinking no one will come after you?" Nnoitra reproached, actually wanting an answer from him to see if he was that naïve. "That's a bad joke, Shinigami!"
Despite this Ichigo looked on with a determined scowl, one that brought a vicious smile to the Quinto Espada's face. He hated it when they didn't give up, but he loved it when he took away that determination and shattered their hopes. Nnoitra loved to make those he fought suffer.
"I was watching your battle with Grimmjow since the very beginning," Nnoitra said, wondering if he could break his spirit before he killed him. "And I already know everything you're capable of."
Standing on shaky feet Ichigo could barely raise the tip of Tensa Zangetsu from the sand. His breathing was labored and his face was covered in blood and sweat. Ichigo waited for any sort of advantage he could use. He couldn't beat him in a straight up fight, as much as he loathed not going at it fairly; he had to win this otherwise he would die and likely everyone else.
He found his chance when he saw Nnoitra's eye close, Ichigo didn't hesitate for a second before lunging towards the Espada. Ichigo hoped he could reach him before he opened his eye, but that hope was shattered when the Quinto did just that.
"Too slow," Nnoitra said, spearing his massive blade forward. But to his surprise, Ichigo dodged and was able to get the drop on the Espada.
Ichigo plunged Tensa Zangetsu towards the Espada's face; that once appeared surprise expression now twisted into a devious leer. Mere inches from contact Nnoitra caught the blade with his bare hand, and dragged it off course. But for Ichigo, the shock came when the blade moved within his grip and grinded against his skin as if it was made of iron.
"What the hell…?" Nnoitra said in mock surprise, looking at the surprised Ichigo with an amused sneer. "I guess this sword only looks sharp."
Before Ichigo could react Nnoitra head-butted him, with enough force to actually send him through the air and through the remains of a stone block. With what little strength he had left Ichigo pushed off a slab of rock and hoisted himself up beside another block, his legs quaking as he tried to stand.
Ichigo felt his wounds aggravate him even further, his back was killing him, and his left shoulder and arm felt so numb he would doubt it was still attached to him if he didn't confirm it with his eyes. Those spikes that Grimmjow shot at him really did a number on him, and with the two stab wounds in his abdomen he was in even worse shape.
'I can't fight like this,' Ichigo groaned within his mind, struggling with every breath not to fall down.
After his fight with Grimmjow he was in bad shape, definitely in need of healing. The only reason he was still standing was because the adrenaline hadn't worn off yet. But with each passing moment the pain and exhaustion was catching up, he was in trouble.
Looking up, Ichigo saw the massive blade moving to cleave him in twain yet again. With speed that surprised even himself, Ichigo blocked the attack, but fell right to his knees, his legs not even able to keep himself standing. But as soon as the blade forced him low, it was pulled back. Nnoitra pivoted on his feet and swiped at Ichigo from the left.
Ichigo groaned as he raised his zanpakuto over his head and braced his forearm on the blunt side of his blade, and waited for it to connect. It was not surprising he was thrown off the ground, crashing into the sand several times before finally coming to a halt several meters from where he was thrown. Ichigo let out a rasp cough as he got to one knee and tried to stand, using Tensa Zangetsu as a cane to prop himself up. But he halted momentarily when he saw Nnoitra standing almost right over Nel.
"You're Nel?" The Quinto asked, looking down at her with a squinted eye, before smiling dangerously and running his finger under his eye and over his nose. "I knew it! That estigma!"
Ichigo's eyes widened, he knew her?
"You really became a pathetic piece of shit, you know that!" Nnoitra said, advancing on the terrified Nel, who could do nothing but mumble incoherent words. "How does it feel? Does your broken mask ache?"
"What's the meaning of this," Ichigo panted, sending a worried glance to Nel and trying to understand how he knows her. "You know Nel?"
"I was wondering why she was here, so I figured you must have brought her with you," Nnoitra said, sneering at him as he turned his full attention onto Ichigo. "But, after looking at that face of yours, I guess you just brought her with you not knowing what she truly is."
"What do you mean?" Ichigo demanded.
"This little shit is Nel, 'Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck'," Nnoitra intoned, before he became visibly angry. "An ex-Espada."
Ichigo looked on in shock at the sudden revelation; the young Arrancar he was travelling with was a former Espada. But that didn't make any sense, there was no way she could be an Espada. She was only a kid.
"What, you thought she wasn't dangerous or something?" Nnoitra said, mocking Ichigo for not being able to figure it out himself. "How stupid are you? She's been fooling you all since the very beginning!"
"That'th a lie… there'th no way… Nel could be an Ethpada…," Nel said, despite her fear she denied the claims of the Quinto Espada, afraid more of losing Ichigo's trust than earning the ire of the Quinto.
"What are you talking about? You fuckin' with me?" Nnoitra asked, thinking the little Arrancar was messing with him as she was messing with the Shinigami. "Don't tell me you forgot?"
He advanced towards Nel, his smile gone and replaced with an unemotional mask of indifference.
"I-I-I haven't forgotten. I'm jutht not an Ethpada!" Nel cried out, scared of what was to come.
"Even after all the time you've been gone, it looks like your still an irritation of mine – but for an entirely different reason," Nnoitra raised his foot and planned to flatten her skull.
Ichigo's eyes widened before he took off, speeding across the distance between him and the Espada. Ichigo's pain and weariness were forgotten for a moment as he intercepted the Espada's foot, knocking away his leg before he could kill Nel and getting between him and her.
"I want you to believe me Ichigo," Nel cried, scared that she would lose him to Nnoitra's lies, scared she would be alone. She didn't want to be alone, she wanted to stay with Ichigo. "Nel… hathn't been trying to fool Ichigo…"
"Of course you haven't," Ichigo replied back confidently, with a smile on his face as he looked back at her. "There's no reason for you to trick us."
Nel was surprised that he accepted her so quickly, she had tears well in her eyes, not out of fear or sadness, but of relief that she had not lost someone she cared so deeply about.
"Don't worry, we'll…," Ichigo started, before he was brutally interrupted by a kick to the face, courtesy of Nnoitra.
"Hah!" Nnoitra laughed as he changed his target from Nel to Ichigo. "It does seem like you've lost your memory. But whatever."
"After getting your head broken like that, it's no wonder that you've forgotten all that happened," Nnoitra laughed, which made Ichigo think of something, something that made his blood boil.
"Wait, what did you mean by broken," Ichigo asked, though he had a good idea; he just wanted it from the cock-suckers mouth.
"Just like I said," the Quinto replied, laughing as he grasped Nel by the head and lifted her up above him. "I'm the one that broke this little shit's head."
Nel screamed in panic and tried to get out, her muffled cries could be heard as she wailed in fear.
"Stop!" Ichigo shouted, taking off and charging in to try and save her.
Ichigo dodged to the side of one of Nnoitra's attacks before slashing at his chest, but to his surprise his blade did nothing. No cut, no blood, not even a damn dent, Tensa Zangetsu didn't even leave a mark on the guy.
"Have you forgotten?" Nnoitra asked, looking at Ichigo with a smug superiority. "There's no way for you to cut me with that blade."
The sudden realization hit him hard; he had no way that he could actually harm the Quinto Espada. But what struck him harder and hurt a lot more was the savage kick he took to the chin. Ichigo felt his world go black for a few seconds, consciousness returning only when he felt his body groan in agony as he lay face down in the sand.
Ichigo looked up to see Nnoitra several feet away, Nel's skull still between his fingers, as she struggled and sobbed trying to free herself.
"Let her go!" Ichigo demanded, lifting himself to his knee, ignoring his body's protests for him to stop.
"She pissed me off so much, just like what you're doing right now," Nnoitra said, lifting her up and glaring at the little Arrancar as he applied some pressure. "That is why I broke her head from behind and threw her out of Las Noches!"
"I said, let her go!" Ichigo roared, launching himself into the air and right at the Quinto, not caring for his wounds or at the fact his sword couldn't hurt him.
He would save her no matter the cost. Pulling Tensa Zangetsu back he planned on carving right through that iron hide and take off that arm of his. But when Nnoitra brought Nel in front of him Ichigo hesitated in his attack, and it cost him dearly. As soon as his guard was down Nnoitra attacked, slicing his massive blade down and right on top of Ichigo.
Ichigo felt some of his ribs break, possibly somewhere along his spine as well; he couldn't move a muscle without agony accompanying it. Coughing up some blood he tries to get up, but is halted by a boot landing on his chest.
"I don't fucking know why I came out here, you're so weak!" Nnoitra said, pressing down harder with his foot and causing Ichigo to actually feel his ribs flex uncomfortably at the action, eliciting another cry of pain.
Nnoitra scowled at the beaten mess he had made, he had expected more from this guy. But it turns out this Shinigami was just an annoying pain in the ass.
"If there is one thing I can't stand, it's losers who keep on going even though they know they can't win," Nnoitra growled out, grasping Ichigo's sword arm and lifting him up. "Aizen even said you could be a legitimate threat to me, even gave me something to deal with you if things got out of hand."
Nnoitra threw away Nel and looked at the pain etched face of the Shinigami he had beaten to a bloody pulp.
"Time to end this," Nnoitra said, twisting the wrist in his grip and shattering it.
Ichigo let out a pained yell as his wrist was broken, further agony coursing through him as the Espada continued to grip the area tightly. With one last act of defiance he punched the Espada in the face, which actually made his head shoot back in surprise. It felt like he had punched a brick wall, but if there was a dent then he would be satisfied with it.
Nnoitra looked back at him, a noticeable bruise on his forehead, and a furious expression on his face.
"You little shit; you're going to pay for that!" Nnoitra said, planning on simply gutting the bastards there and then, but then a thought came to mind and a sinister smile to his face. "Oh, I've got a great idea for you!"
Planting his blade into the sand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black crystal, he channeled some reishi into it and it began to emit a strange purple glow. Throwing the stone aside he watched as a rift formed in midair, sucking in anything around it.
But the sound of wailing and unknown creatures crying and yelling beyond the veil that had been created was audible to all. An intense feeling of dread filled all within the vicinity of the tear, some more than others. Nnoitra smirked at the special Caja Negacion he had been given, he remembered the time when this little baby had been created.
Caja Negacions were a by-product of the research in artificially creating Gargantas, from it they learnt that they could create separate dimensional pockets. This led to another area of research, and like all research there were accidents.
Apparently the realm they opened up to was inhabited by some nasty creatures. When they opened the rift these creatures came right out and started tearing up the place. It was one hell of a fighting frenzy; all sorts of things came out of that rift. In fact, there were things in there that actually nearly put him down. But they sealed it and the realm was never opened again, aside from the occasional ceremony where they would punish a traitor.
Though dangerous, they used this as the ultimate punishment for Arrancar who go against Aizen, banishment to a place that even an Espada couldn't hope to escape from. Looking down at the gravely wounded Shinigami who was staring at the tear in space with shock and some hints of fear, which made this all the sweeter to the Quinto Espada. He was a dead man; there was no way he would survive there.
"I hope you like your new home, because you're going to be spending the rest of your very short life there," Nnoitra smirked, grasping Ichigo by the throat and lifting him up. "So long Shinigami, have fun in hell!"
Nnoitra threw Ichigo towards the rift. Ichigo tries to stop himself, but he could do nothing as his body struggled even to move. His last sight was of the horrified Nel as she reached out for him and cried out his name. Darkness overtook him quickly and his mind went blank just as quickly as he fell through a realm filled with chaos.