CHP35: Escalation of Plot
It was after hours in the youkai realm most everyone asleep except a few. Being one of the few that wasn't Ruby received word of the headmaster's arrival and was among a couple there to greet him as his plane landed somewhere near the border of the hidden academy. His business in question took place in the human world lasting longer than he originally planned. Three handpicked staffers of his choice accompanied him on the job exhausted from the travels, "I take it all went well sir?" Ruby inquired.
The headmaster nodded, Ruby leading the way down a brick path leading to parked vehicles that would serve as transportation back to the Youkai Realm. Biting back Ruby prepared for how she wanted to present the news, "Hate to bring this to your attention now especially since you're just returning but it's really important and something you should know."
All at once they stopped in their tracks, including the others assigned to the journey. The headmaster looked at Ruby, "Go ahead and speak."
"Where to begin I'm not sure but I'll be clear as I can. It took place during the opening dance and as I speak five of our own are missing."
"How so?" The headmaster re situated intrigued to hear what she had to say.
Ruby thought to herself for a number of seconds contemplating where to kick off and put her thoughts into words, "Since the night of the occurrence no one has been able to find or get a hold of Katsura Nagirrom. I'm sure you recall interviewing her a couple months back and ultimately signing her in as one of the sensei instructors, working in the art department. She's the reason Tsukune, Gin, Ichigo, Kurumu and Moka-san are no longer under the academy's roof."
"Nagirrom huh…tell me everything. During the hiring process neither I nor the rest of the staff noticed anything suspicious about her."
"Can't say I did either, she seemed really sweet and kind the first time we met; that aside she was very deceptive and according to Tsukune her real name is Morrigan Aensland. Whatever her real agenda it was strongly evolved around Kurosaki Ichigo. Her plan was to kill him but for what reason I do not know. For the sake of entertainment she involved others Ichigo developed relationships with, I can think of no others reason why she did things the way she did."
"It's unfortunate something like this could happen under my tender but doesn't surprise me. Succubi's can be tough ones to figure out and can be easily misled by them if not careful."
"Then you knew about her true nature this whole time?" Ruby questioned.
"There isn't a single staffer or student in the Youkai realm that I don't know of his or her true being. Part of my job is knowing about such things, even if it's against the rules for single individual to reveal that info to one another. You said five were missing from the academy, how did this come to be?"
"Morrigan made it appear as though Ichigo killed Tsukune right in front of us using an illusion. From that point we tracked down and attacked him, which with the circumstance made sense you would have done the same. Ichigo appeared confused when we confronted him and with all our efforts and strength combined we accomplished little against his own. I'd even say he held back and still defeated us with little effort. I might be out of line for asking but…what is Ichigo really? His true form I mean?"
"Ichigo was a late enrollment and the energy signature reverberating from him was highly irregular. Because of that I had some of the staff keep a close eye on him, reporting to me constantly. After the first couple days of no dubious activities the scouting was suspended. He is one of the few I don't know much about, including what he truly is."
She couldn't believe her ears and the reveal only made her want to know more about him. Not only that, but what the connection was between he and Morrigan. She wouldn't be after him for no reason there was something else more she nor anyone else were aware of.
"We later realized it was all a hoax and Tsukune was alive and well. By then we managed to catch up to Kurosaki but he'd already stepped through a portal. Tsukune, Kurumu, Moka and Gin went in after them and haven't heard from them since. It's possible they're in the human world but there's really no way of knowing. If there was anyone who would have a way of finding them it'd be you; so that's my question, can you do it?"
The headmaster grinned, his eyes glowing a bright white.
"You said Moka-chan was among them, if that is correct I will have no troubles tracking them."
"Wait, but how?" Ruby asked.
"Are you forgetting the Rosario around her neck? It contains magical energy that can be traced so long as the others remain around her finding them all shouldn't be much a task. However depending the distance of how far they went could hamper the search. I've got something back in my quarters that will do just the trick. I will look more into this Nagirrom or Morrigan as you call her. There's probably something in her application that was overlooked that might lead to answers. I will ensemble a search team and we will start from there."
Ruby was just about to reply but cut off by footsteps approaching from a distance; it was dark and difficult to see but looked to be three of them total from her standpoint. It wasn't long before they stood before Ruby, the headmaster and his assistances. Two were male, one standing at 5'9 and the other 6'1 both in black suits with shades. In between them was a woman of average height, pale skin, red eyes with a slit through them, and black hair. She wore a black cheongsam and black boots extending up near her knees. Ruby bit at her tongue unable to believe her eyes! How did she find them and what did she want?!
"Waai wait, you're Akua-chan! Why are you here?" Ruby questioned.
"Aiya I think you know the answer. You will tell me all you know regarding the disappearance of nee-chan. If a search team is to be assembled it begins and ends with me; I will find and make certain Moka is brought back safely."
Much as she was shocked Ruby was at lost for words and couldn't figure how Akua or anyone outside the Youkai barrier would know of the incident. No student within the academy was informed of what happened; only those involved had any knowledge of the episode. That aside Ruby would rather have Akua as an ally than enemy so the decision between she and the headmaster wasn't hard to make.
The final class of the day wrapped up two hours ago, one girl walking the school yard alone. She was at the top of her class concerning academics and considered the prettiest girl by most male students. All was well surrounding school work and grades but something bothered her and had been for the past several weeks. It wasn't irregular for him to disappear and be gone for long periods of time but didn't make her worry less. He was one of her closes friends and being in the dark when it came to his whereabouts drove her insane. Much as she worried, deep down she knew he was ok; there was no one that could overcome obstacles the way he could. He was truly one of the most magnificent people she ever met.
"Kurosaki-kun…" She muttered stepping off the school premises.
At times he was the only thing she thought about and normally engaged in other activities to take him off her mind. He was doing well and would return home soon and tell her all about it…well at least that's what she hoped. Most days went the same; go to class, study, eat, sleep and go to work. Today however she had something else in mind, fed up with not knowing. If there was one person that knew anything about the whole ordeal it was him, and the time to pay his shop a visit was long overdue.
She turned and running her way was arguably her best friend, "Tatsuki, I had no idea you were still here."
"I have practice in about thirty but maybe sometime later this evening after you get off work we can hang out. That is of course if you don't have anything planned later."
"No no of course not," Orihime shook her head back and forth, her fingers fidgeting over three books held close to her chest. She thought through what was on her schedule for the day, "Yeah that will be perfectly fine, I'll give you a call or you give me one if I forget." She smiled.
"Sounds good, I better go; promised the instructor I'd arrive a little bit early to go over a few things. Hope to see you later." Tatsuki waved walking off to Orihime's left and out of sight turning a corner.
Pulling the left strap off her shoulder Orihime dropped both books into the bag before carrying on. The first couple blocks walked she didn't realize how quiet the surrounding was, caught up in her own thoughts. Her destination wasn't much further, perhaps just a block and a half. Little by little her excitement grew and was just about ready to take off and run but held back. After another step her heart jumped freezing in place.
"No it can't!" She bit at her tongue, eyes widening.
She didn't understand why now of all times? The presence was certain and there seemed to be groups of them invading the town out of nowhere. Because of distance couldn't see them with her two eyes but sensed each and every one of them. By the second more disembarked on Karakura town. Eventually the surge stopped and if she had to guess there had to be at least fifty to eighty, "Hollows…how and why so many?!"
Considering the possibilities and different scenarios behind the incursion made her want to find the nearest corner and hide. In the past that might have been an option but she'd put too much time into increasing her abilities for moments just as the one at hand, "Kurosaki-kun would never run away and neither will I."
No knowledge of what went on Orihime re routed heading toward where most the hollows lurked. If she would get answers was uncertain but was one of the few that could see and combat against them. In Ichigo's absence another shinigami was assigned to watch over the town and would soon be on scene if he or she wasn't already. She again stopped just as something zoomed over the top of her situating atop a roof. One soon became two and then five.
"This human looks rather tasty; I shall take the first bite."
"You don't have to say that again, her spirit is calling out to me. This one is sure to be a delicacy of epic proportions. Gobbling her soul down will be refreshing indeed."
"Instead of talking about it let's feast on her now," One of the five hollows drooled from its mouth, "Then we shall go on a feeding frenzy and devour every lost soul in town."
Orihime glanced back and forth between them listening in on their somewhat childish banter. Taking them all at once would be rough and succeeding would be difficult and doubted she'd be able to do it alone. From what she sensed from each separate one they greatly exceeded the strength of typical hollows and would give a lower ranked shinigami trouble. The situation was deadly and had no way of getting out of it. Nothing off the top of her head suggested anyway out and though she was somewhat panicky did what she could so it didn't show.
"Well if none of you are gonna take the first bite then I will!" One hollow shouted darting off the roof at her.
She prepared for what she'd do, the idea of Santen Kesshun(her most powerful defensive attack) coming to mind. Just as the hollow came within a foot of her a bright object zipped out of nowhere piercing through the hollow's head disappearing right in front of her. Immediately Orihime threw her head around and that's when she spotted him nearly forty yards away over another roof, a bow in his hands. He lowered the bow re positioning the glasses over his nose, jumping from one roof to the next drawing closer, "Inoue get out of here while you can, more of them are headed this way and will be much too dangerous. Go hide somewhere safe, I'll handle things here."
"Ishida-kun," She whispered taking a step in his direction, "I can't leave you here alone I would never be able to forgive myself if something happened to you."
"You'll only get in my way if you stay, I can't fight them off and worry about you at the same time. Please get as far away from here as you can I'll be fine, don't worry about it."
Much as she wanted to argue back Orihime took off running doing exactly as asked. She hated abandoning a friend in battle but if it was for the better the decision was simple.
"Where does that brat think she's going, we never gave her permission to run off like that? That's all fine, I love it when they take off in fear it makes for an even more delicious digestion." The hollow soared through the air going after Orihime but in a flash its path was blocked.
"She is no concern to you, I'm your opponent." Uryu aimed at the hollow.
"Out of the way four eyes I'm not yet ready for dessert just yet!" The hollow roared.
Uryu responded by firing an arrow which the hollow dodged, its tail wrapping around his ankle swinging him around. He was impressed with the hollow's speed. In all his encounters previous to that a hollow had never gotten the better of him in that way. Using the edge of his bow he sliced at its tail and in that instant the hollow released its hold over him, Uryu firing two arrows through its head. Like the last, disappeared.
Down the block Orihime stopped hiding behind a dumpster. She refused to go any further. From the particular position she had a great view of what went on and if it looked as though Uryu was in danger and needed her assistance she could be there in no time. It was three that remained and all at once came at the Quincy using his superb speed to escape from in between them. They zoomed around showing great speed and quickness of their own eluding his arrows. One of them was taken out through the process of moving in.
Another of them managed to get its paws around Uryu's throat forcing him back through the air. Luckily he had enough strength in his arm firing off a single arrow that passed through the hollow's head. The two remaining gave him a run bringing about a few bruises and cuts but nothing serious. Out of breath Uryu took a knee recollecting himself. Something was bizarre about the hollows in question for sure. It seemed as if every blow they landed upon him dished out 10X the usual damage. From the corner of his eye he perceived her approaching.
"I thought I told you to get away from here." Uryu said.
"Yeah I know it's just…"
"Behind you move out of the way!" Uryu shouted.
The hollow blitzed and was within inches of her and at the last instant was cut down in a flash. Standing in the destroyed hollow's place was a tall, lean built man with gray eyes. His hair was blond with strands framing the sides of his face and hanging between his eyes. He wore a dark coat, sporting a white diamond pattern along its bottom half, with a dark green shirt and pants underneath and a striped dark green and white hat. He held a blade in his right hand.
"Looks like I was in the right place at the right time." A smirk shaped over his lips.
"Urahara…"Uryu murmured standing upright, Orihime bowing and thanking him for the save.
"To be honest I was just on my way to your shop and was hoping you might know something about Kur…"
"Ichigo right? You wanted to know if I knew anything about where he's been the past couple week's right. You're in luck in fact it has everything to do with this new brand of hollow that appeared in town today if you didn't already notice. I'll go more into detail if you meet with me back at my shop in the next hour. I must first deal with what remains of them."
Uryu took a step forward holding his bow off to the side, "Can't you feel it? They seem to be scattering all across town, if we work together this invasion or whatever this is will be over sooner rather than later."
"Sure thing, be careful not to get yourself killed these aren't your everyday hollows. I'll explain everything when we return to my residence." Kisuke informed.
Uryu nodded and with that both took off in opposite directions leaving Orihime all alone. There wasn't much she could do except wait for them at the shop and hope for the best.
It had been the same for the past couple minutes, Morrigan falling back on the defensive trying desperately to counter and follow up with moves of her own against the Shinigami. His speed and power increased from before giving her a much harder time than before. Kurumu had since awoke, she and Moka watching the battle from afar. The vampire explained the change in situation regarding Tsukune and Gin taken through yet another vortex. She only went into small details of what happened trying to give the big picture.
"Why doesn't he just end it already so we can go after Tsukune! I know Ichigo must have enough power to end her, especially after what he did to us during our assault on him. We have to get on Tsukune's trail before he gets too far!" Kurumu grumbled.
More than anyone she was extremely annoyed with the situation. Just to think they were in such a predicament all because Omote felt it in her heart Ichigo deserved an apology. All they accomplished entering through the portal was further separating themselves.
"You might want to sit back and relax, when Ichigo's mind gets absorbed into a battle his actions can vary depending the level of technique and power his opponent posses." A voice spoke from behind them.
Kurumu was startled at his appearance jumping back with a hand to her heart, "Wait how are you here and there!" She pointed to the sky where Ichigo battled against Morrigan, "You can't be in two places at once! What the hell are you?!"
Moka came up on Kurumu resting a hand over her shoulder, "I should have explained this earlier the moment we reunited. What you see here is Ichigo's physical body taken over by a mod soul while he does battle in soul form. The mod soul goes by Kon and looks after Ichigo's body so it isn't left unguarded. Careful though, his hands tend to go places they shouldn't." Moka glared.
Kurumu blinked a couple times before raising an eye brow.
"Oh, ok…" The succubus didn't know what to think of the information, "That still doesn't answer what he is."
"Ichigo never revealed that to me and this Kon accomplice of his is unwilling to comply either."
"You lack a certain spark Moka and getting information from a man really isn't all that hard." Kurumu grinned looking to Ichi/Kon striking a sexy pose, watching his mouth drop open.
Moka looked the opposite way halfway embarrassed by Kurumu's actions but wasn't surprised. The succubus slowly walked toward Ichi/Kon winking and sending him all sorts of looks getting him excited, "Tell me what I want to know about Ichigo and I'll let you…"
A loud bang resonating from the sky shifted their attention directly to where it originated. Another dimension hole took shape just above Ichigo and Morrigan, four times the size of the one Batman, Gin and Tsukune went through.
"What the hell!" Ichigo's grip over the handle of his blade tightened.
If things weren't already congested enough hollow after hollow departed from the dimension hole and by the looks of things were headed for him, "Great, just when I didn't think things could get any worse." Ichigo voiced.
To Be Continued